The scenes are graphic. A dazed, wounded and bleeding man being dragged about by a howling mob of rebel fighters, thrown on the hood of a car, pleading for his life as the crowd shouts, "Allahu Akbar" and hurls insults at him. Somewhere in the maze of cell phone shots, the man is finished off, dragged around, and paraded for all to see.
Many commentators are lamenting the fact that the Muammar Ghaddafi saga ended this way in Libya. They say he should have been taken directly to jail and treated in a civilized manner. He should have been treated for his wounds and arrangements made to fly him to the Hague to face the World Court for his crimes. Then the world could see exactly what he did, not only to other peoples but his own. The rule of law and justice should have prevailed.
I respectfully disagree. This saga was not conducted in Washington DC, Paris, London, or the salons of New York. This was Libya, the Middle East, a boiling cauldron of violence, tribal traditions, and hate. Once Ghaddafi made the decision to stay in Libya and fight rather than fly off to exile in some sorry country that would offer him haven (there may have been none), his fate was sealed. There would be no sudden knock on the door, the snap of handcuffs, and off to jail to await a trial. Ghaddafi's fate could be no other than the howling mob.
I am every bit as much for the rule of law as the next person. I believe in fair and impartial trials, such as we conduct here in America. I was part of that system for 25 years, and I respected its rules even in the times when the outcome disappointed me. I would never want to see such a scene in America. However, I didn't grow up and live in a society such as Libya.
And I never arrested a man such as Muammar Ghaddafi.
This is the man who ordered the bombing of a plane filled with some 270 people over Lockerbie, Scotland. A large proportion of the passengers on that flight were in their early 20s, university students returning home after studying in Europe. Thirty-five of them were from Syracuse University. They would be in their 40s today, and only God knows what they would be doing with their lives now. Ghaddafi is the man who gave the one convicted bomber of that flight a hero's welcome when he was shamelessly released from a Scottish prison and allowed to return home.
This is the man who ordered the bombing of a Berlin disco frequented by American GIs in 1986, a bombing that killed two of them, as well as a Turkish woman. Dozens of others were seriously injured.
This is the man who gave his expelled diplomats a hero's welcome after the British authorities had to release them under the laws of diplomatic immunity in 1984; immunity for shooting at a crowd from the window of the Libyan embassy, killing a British policewoman named Yvonne Fletcher.
This was the man who supported and financed terror plots around the world.
And finally, this is the man who for four decades tortured and murdered his own people, even as he was able to periodically fly to New York and throw tirades at the United Nations. In his final years, he was even afforded a certain respectability by the US because he had given up his weapons of mass destruction after the Iraq invasion.
Shockingly, in his early years in power, Ghaddafi was considered an exotic and dashing figure among many leftists in the West. With his fancy uniforms and fashion sunglasses, many compared him to that other romantic revolutionary of the time, Che Guevara, who in reality, was a brutal and cruel executioner during the Cuban revolution. (He also faced summary justice in Bolivia.)
And to think that some wanted to see this man stand in the dock at the Hague in front of a tribunal of black-cloaked judges in powdered wigs who would send him to spend the rest of his days in one of those modern, civilized Dutch prisons with games, therapy sessions, and conjugal visits until he died in his sleep?
No. Muammar Ghaddafi got the end he richly deserved within the system that he himself ran. May those videos be seen by every dictator of his stripe-especially the one in Damascus.