The hunt is on for Moammar Gadhafi. Perhaps it won’t take as long to deal with him as it took to deal with Osama bin Laden.
The two are not quite in the same class, but Gadhafi does share bin Laden’s thirst for the blood of innocent people. That’s been central to Gadhafi’s hold on power in Libya for some 42 years.
Gadhafi might be dead by this afternoon. Or he might be captured. There certainly is no shortage of people looking for him. Even NATO forces are assisting in the search.
Gadhafi once was admired by many rank-and-file Libyans for whom he represented national pride. He’s also been fawned over by toadies and others who benefited from being on the right side of an unpredictable dictator. But one always sensed that there were as many people who simply feared him as truly admired him.
He’s also been an international pariah, and justifiably so, given his country’s support for terrorism. The explosion aboard Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 259 people in 1988 is only one example. Welcoming back the supposedly dying prisoner convicted in connection with that terrorist act only reminded the world of Gadhafi’s malice.
But until his own people rose against him, he hadn’t ever been a genuine fugitive, skulking about, constantly looking over his shoulder. That’s a new role for him but it hasn’t toned down his rhetoric. About the time his compound was under siege, he was vowing to turn Tripoli’s streets red with the blood of rebels. That did little except call to mind Saddam Hussein’s empty “mother of all battles” threat. Will Gadhafi also one day be pulled out of a “spiderhole.”
Gadhafi doubtless has loyalists, even if only because they can’t expect much mercy if they surrender. He also presumably has cash, probably lots of it. Despite his recent bluster, he couldn’t have been surprised by the recent turn of events. Surely he learned from Hosni Mubarak’s experience in Egypt. Gadhafi doesn’t seem the type to face his trial flat on his back in a cage. Then again, neither did Mubarak.
Is he really willing to fight to the death, or just allow his supporters to fight to the death? Will he find asylum or surrender to forces less hostile to him than his own people, perhaps citizens of a neighboring country? That might be his best chance of prolonging his life, though its quality won’t be what he’s been accustomed to for the last four decades.