Thursday, September 24, 2009

Colonel Q: The Saga Continues

Colonel Qaddafi of Libya has been making headlines as Libya re-engages with the Occident, most recently yesterday with a 100 minute tirade presented before the UN. According to The Guardian:

He tore up a copy of the UN charter in front of startled delegates, accused the security council of being an al-Qaida like terrorist body, called for George Bush and Tony Blair to be put on trial for the Iraq war, demanded $7.7tn in compensation for the ravages of colonialism on Africa, and wondered whether swine flu was a biological weapon created in a military laboratory. At one point, he even demanded to know who was behind the killing of JFK. All in all, a pretty ordinary 100 minutes in the life of the colonel.

For those that don't remember my experience meeting the Colonel, it can be found here. I argued that he is more reasonable than he is given credit for, and despite his public bombast, I still think this is very much the case. Qaddafi has an outrageous persona, but that he has held power and popular support in Libya as long as he has speaks to his shrewdness. Qaddafi needs to make headlines through accusation in order to feed the propaganda he constructed around himself. This does not necessarily mean he expects what he has demanded. It merely means he has given himself a stronger negotiating hand. Sure he is re-engaging; however his speech gives him the ability to appear as though he is doing so on his own terms rather than those of the Western powers, an appearance that will play well throughout the greater Middle East and much of North Africa. As always, the Colonel is far shrewder than you think. There is, after all, ample reason that Qaddafi remains a political survivor.

1 comment:

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