There was a time, forty years ago, when Muammar al-Qadhafi represented the revolutionary aspirations of many of the people of the world. There was a point, though, probably sometime during the 1980s (or was it specifically between 1989 and 1991?), at which Qadhafi and everything that he used to represent went obsolete. He became the most sinister of bygone comedians, but he somehow still managed to hold on for two more decades. Then, finally, the Arab Spring came along to demonstrate once and for all that Qadhafi’s revolution had long since failed. A lot of things are changing in the world right now. Something new is being created. The Libyan rebels have proven — more so than anyone else this year — that in order to build the new, one must negate the old.
Qadhafi is dead. Qadhafi had to be killed! Hillary Clinton has already called for an investigation because — horror of horrors! — the apparent execution of Qadhafi did not follow proper juridical procedure. Who does Clinton think she is to criticize the Libyan rebels? Did anyone involved really want to create another circus sideshow in an international court, another Slobodan Milošević? Was there really any other choice? Would Qadhafi himself have bothered with juridical procedure if he had managed to drag any one of the rebels back to the king’s court in his bedouin tent? “L’état, c’est moi!” Robespierre had to do what Robespierre had to do, too, for a fight to the death is a fight to the death. The rebels had to kill him! And everybody knew that the rebels had to kill him. Nobody cares what some woman in Washington thinks.
Selecting Stones launched back in February with my commentary on the imminent demise of the Qadhafi regime, and of all the dreams and nightmares that it embodied. The first phase of the process in Libya has now been completed, and as the old wisdom goes, the difficult part for the rebels and the National Transitional Council begins here. Let’s wish them the best in the enormous task ahead of them! In the meantime, the year 2011 has gone in a number of different directions. Although the Arab Spring remains the most manifest sign of the motion in which this year finds our world, none of the other episodes of unrest should be discounted, for they all belong together as a whole. The death of Qadhafi is a great achievement. False illusions have been terminated, and the king’s head lies on a platter where it belongs. The only thing left to be built is the future.