The Jerusalem Post is reporting that deposed Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi has been killed “after being captured and wounded in both legs near his hometown of Sirte at dawn.”
The killing and capture of Gaddafi at the hands of the rebel forces is a tremendous psychological win for those brave Libyans who dared to mobilize against him. And make no mistake: their actions reverberate throughout the Middle East and North Africa, where people now know that tyranny is not something they must accept; it is, instead, something that they can change.
Gaddafi’s demise also strengthens America’s image in the Islamic world.
It may be a pure coincidence, after all, that Gaddafi was killed and captured just days after Hillary Clinton was in Tripoli visiting with wounded rebels and officials of the National Transitional Council. However, that’s not how Clinton’s visit will be viewed on the Islamic street. Ordinary Muslims will think, and rightly so, that the United States had a hand in Gaddafi’s killing.
For critics such as myself, the Obama administration acted too timidly and too belatedly. It foolishly and oxymoronically “led from behind.” Fortunately for Obama and Clinton, Gaddafi was weak enough, and the rebels strong enough, that it ultimately didn’t matter — or so it seems. We’ll have to see how events in Libya unfold in the weeks, months and years to come.
In any case, now the really hard work begins. The rebels must begin to resurrect a state and governmental institutions which were allowed to atrophy under Gaddafi. And they must guard against Islamists who would love nothing more than to hijack their revolution for illicit and illiberal ends.
And so, they will need the active help and good offices of the United States. Clinton’s visit to Tripoli was a good start. The Secretary of State pledged American aid and American support:
“I am proud to stand here on the soil of a free Tripoli; and, on behalf of the American people, I congratulate Libya,” Clinton said. “This is Libya’s moment; this is Libya’s victory. The future belongs to you.”