Colonel Qadaffi — a consummate eccentric — leaves many legacies: stunning artificial rivers, tortured dissidents, state-sponsored terrorism, golden statues & palaces, legions of gun-wielding female bodyguards, dark stains on solicitous Western leaders, and what was (before the invasion) by some metrics the highest standard of living in Africa.
Yet surely his greatest legacy will be the impact that his deposition and death will have on paranoid dictators around the world and their ongoing hunt for nuclear arms. There are many differences between North Korea and Libya, but the fact remains that there has been no “muscular humanitarian intervention” with nuclear-armed North Korea, even while North Koreans starve. Kim Jong-Il has treated the West with contempt, issuing nothing but threats. Qadaffi frequently courted the West, and even parked Libyan assets with Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan. And ultimately Qadaffi — who by all measures did more for his people in terms of infrastructure, raising the standard standard-of-living, and upholding individual liberties than Kim Jong-Il — was slaughtered in the street after a NATO-backed invasion.
Eurasian despots will take two lessons from this:
- Nuclear weapons are an essential prerequisite to holding off NATO-sponsored regime change.
- Western nations and organisations — including NATO, the United States, Britain, France and the UN — cannot be trusted.