Tuesday, February 03, 2009

who is muammar gaddafi?

I'm really intrigued by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. As a child, I remember seeing him on television, a dynamic figure, in expensive glasses and lots of bling. His life seems to be a map of post-WWII America's troubled and tangled relationship with the Middle East. He has been both condemned as a terrorist and praised as a humanitarian, depending on the current U.S. administration and the price of petrol. And in his newest incarnation, a champion of African unity and vocal opponent of Al-Qaeda, his political career has taken a turn Reagan-era politicos never saw coming.

While I maintain that Gaddafi is an odd choice, it would seem that Africa is merely seeking someone with experience in leadership... and while Libya may not seem the best source for a unifying figure, Gaddafi does have the distinction of holding together an African country for 40 years, and as the fourth-longest serving head of state (fun trivia: The top three are King Bhumibol of Thailand, Queen Elizabeth and Fidel Castro).

On the worlds' most troubled continent, perhaps Gaddafi is the closest thing to a constant.


  1. H really is a fascinating character. He's tried to be Mao (his book was green), Castro, and an Islamist. He's enormously popular in Africa--your sister may have noticed this, but in Cameroon and Nigeria he's on posters and magazine covers, and people name beauty parlors after him. He, along with Omar Bongo in Gabon (Mugabe doesn't count, because he can't turn the crazy on and off anymore, and because he only came to power 30 years ago) is the last of the old guard "crazy like a fox" African dictators who are adept at playing all sides off each other.

  2. I did see his name and picture on a lot of magazines, especially the ones printed in Nigeria. There also was quite a bit of talk about him during the Lesotho election in 2007.