|Muammar Gaddafi, 69, killed after raid of hometown|
|Written by Andrew Steckling, Daily Vidette News Editor|
|Thursday, 20 October 2011 18:43|
Libyans near and far rejoiced Thursday after Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled the country under a repressive dictatorship for 42 years, was captured and killed by a group of revolutionary forces outside of his hometown of Sirte.
Initial reports, according to the Associated Press, said Gaddafi, 69, was barricaded in his hometown battling the advancing revolutionary fighters and, at one point, tried to flee in a convoy, until he was stopped by NATO airstrikes and shot to death by the fighters.
“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Muammar Gaddafi has been killed,” Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril told a news conference in the capital of Tripoli on Thursday.
According to reports, Gaddafi’s body was paraded through the streets of nearby city Misrata on top of a vehicle shortly after his death, with large crowds cheering, “the blood of the martyrs will not go in vain,” according to the Associated Press.
Additionally, Libyans celebrated by shooting their guns up into the air, chanting “Allahu Akbar,” and singing the national anthem.
Local political officials shared their thoughts or feelings on the news Thursday.
In a press conference following a speech about civic engagement in the Bone Student Center, U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger said the effects of Gaddafi’s death on the American people is “unknown right now.”
“I know that the death in general is a very good thing. This is a dictator who attacked Americans directly, that wanted really nothing but the destruction of Americans, with the Lockerbie bombing, and this is a very big victory, not just for the United States, but most importantly for freedom all around the globe, and for those in Libya who stood up and said they didn’t want to live under oppression anymore.
“So this is a positive thing and I hope we see this kind of discontent with the status quo in the Middle East spread, as it already is, but we’ll have to see what the end game is now, it’s really up to the Libyan people to say ‘we’re going to take charge of our country and we want to implement freedom and democratic principles,’” Kinzinger said.
Robert Bradley, politics professor, said the immediate short-term effect for the country is “extended euphoria.”
“People are going to be very happy, out celebrating on the streets ... and then it’ll strike some, ‘oh my gosh, now what do we do?’ One of the things that is difficult and one of the things that struck me as interesting is we, in this nation, take for granted democracy. In a manner of way.
“One of the things we have actually forgotten for the large part is that our road to democracy was long and fought with a lot of difficulties. Even after the Revolutionary War, and ultimately in this nation we didn’t think we were going to win, we didn’t think what we were going to do next, so we came up with some form of government sort of on the quick that proved to be really, very ineffective,” Bradley said.
The form of government, the Articles of Confederation, lasted until the government wrote the U.S. Constitution.
“And that took a while, and that was in a situation where we were already in a democracy, so we were used to having people participate.
“Egypt, Libya and these nations have no exposure to democracy and so when we say they need to run elections quickly ... how? How are you going to figure out who the candidates are? They don’t even have a thing known as political parties because basically you’ve had a dictator running the entire political system. Anybody that’s in opposition is dead or is in prison, so how do you do this?” Bradley said.
He added that the United States, as a whole, takes for granted the opportunity to transition power from one party to another peacefully.
“No matter what people say about the Republicans or Democrats, in the grand scheme of things, whoever the winner is doesn’t take the loser out and execute them. That happens in other nations. Nations that are not used to that haven’t a clue of how to do this,” Bradley said.
“One of the things that I’ve always thought is true is the old saying, ‘power abhores a vacuum’ and that when a leader or a political party starts losing disfavor and ultimately disappears into another political party, it’s not too long before another political party appears ... it doesn’t take that long, they’re not going to be floundering for that long. Eventually a new leader will appear. Power does not like the absence of power,” he added.
As for additional short- and long-term effects, Bradley said the number of factions that set aside their differences to work together to bring down Gaddafi will lose the sole reason for their cooperation.
“They are going to quickly evolve into, ‘you know, I hated you and now that our common enemy is gone, I’m going to go back to hating you’ and how do you deal with that? What a lot of people are talking about is that a not-too-far-down consequence of the Arab Spring is allowing the Sunni and Shi'ites to wage a war on each other that we have not seen the like of in the Middle East for a long time,” he said. “If you want to talk about something that frightens people in D.C., that frightens them.”
From a student perspective, Matt Tomlin, senior renewable energy major and president of the ISU College Democrats, said the news shows that it’s “certainly a bad time to be a dictator.”
“It shows that people aren’t going to tolerate that kind of rule anymore. I think it’s great that the Libyan people will now have a chance to form their own government and hopefully we will be able to see something more democratic and much less hostile and secretive than Gaddafi’s reign,” Tomlin said.
Andrew Larson, senior political science major and president of the ISU College Republicans, believed that the most important thing to watch is the reaction of the Libyan people.
“How do they insert a new system of governance for the Libyan people and represent the large variety of ethnic and religious groups in Libya? That’s both a short-term and a long-term goal to see whether or not they can bring those groups together in the short term and long-term having a government that is able to represent all those different groups.
“We’ve seen problems with it in Iraq and other places in the world, and it could be very interesting to see how Libyans choose to handle it with their very diverse religious and cultural heritages,” Larson said.