It's safe to say that Moammar Gadhafi has flamboyant taste. His clothing is always dazzling and extravagant, from his canary-yellow, blood red or pristine white tunics to his purple cashmere scarves and ochre socks. His collection of sunglasses looks as if it had been dreamed up by some eccentric avant-garde designer. The revolutionary leader once even wore a crown of sorts when he had himself symbolically celebrated as Africa's "king of kings" before assembled potentates in Tripoli.
His flamboyance also extends to other areas. For example, his "Green Book," distributed to millions in the country and required reading for schoolchildren, university students, civil servants and people in the military, is expected to be understood as an important piece of writing and as a "universal theory." Gadhafi himself put it this way: "The Green Book presents the ultimate solution to the problem of the instrument of government, and indicates for the masses the path upon which they can advance from the age of dictatorship to that of genuine democracy."
His Excellency Moammar Gadhafi, 68, Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution, a megalomaniacal, ruthless and brutal dictator who was long a pariah before becoming the West's partner, is undoubtedly a unique figure in international politics.
'Psychopath' and 'Mad Dog'
He is terrifying. In the past, he provided financial support to practically every terrorist organization around, from the Basque ETA to the Irish IRA to the Palestinian Abu Nidal group. He had his own intelligence agents hunt down American soldiers at the "La Belle" nightclub in Berlin. Then he renounced all violence in 2003, abandoning weapons of mass destruction and offering his services as a partner to the West, supposedly as a reformed man.
He is extravagant. He appears with his powerful-looking female bodyguards and, on foreign visits from Paris to New York, insists on staying in the Bedouin tent he has brought along, sometimes accompanied by one of his eight children. But he is always in the company of a Ukrainian nurse the American ambassador famously described in a diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks as a "voluptuous blonde." Or rather, he was: The nurse reportedly flew home to Ukraine on Sunday.
He is erratic. He speaks for five times as long as the time he has been allotted before the United Nations General Assembly and tears up the UN charter at the podium. In addition to making reasonable suggestions, such as changing the composition of the Security Council, he seeks to convince the world that Israel was responsible for the assassination of former US President John F. Kennedy and describes current US President Barack Obama as "our son."
"The guy is a psychopath," the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat once said. He predicted in 1978 that Gadhafi would see an early death at the hands of an assassin. But Sadat, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, was wrong: He, not the Libyan, was the one who would be assassinated.
Former US President Ronald Reagan called Gadhafi the "mad dog of the Middle East" and ordered his main base, the Bab al-Azizia military barracks in Tripoli, to be bombed in 1986. The Libyan dictator's adopted daughter was killed, but Gadhafi escaped unscathed.
The Clown among the Major Powers
This man has ruled Libya for almost 42 years. Since he and a group of young officers ousted former King Idris in a military coup, Gadhafi has seen eight American presidents and six German chancellors come and go. He once wore a single white glove to a summit meeting of the Arab League. The eccentric leader explained that he wanted to be sure not to "become infected" when shaking the hands of leaders who had already had contact with Israeli officials. All that was missing was a chimpanzee on his shoulder to make Gadhafi the Michael Jackson of the Arab world.
Gadhafi, with his fantasy uniforms and shrill remarks, has often been dismissed as a class clown among the major powers, being seen merely as someone who engages in extraordinarily bizarre behavior. But this does not do justice to his role. In his early days as a revolutionary leader, he was a sort of Arab Ché Guevara for many leftists. His convictions that education should be free and should be mandatory for girls, that people should not be allowed to earn money from housing and that the masses were capable of governing themselves through "people's committees" -- all of this sounded fascinating, at least on paper.
Gadhafi is the ruler of a country with more than 3 percent of the world's oil reserves, and until recently he was cooperating with the European Union to stem the tide of refugees from North Africa to Europe. Though not the West's favorite partner, he has been one with whom deals could be made, and someone whom it was best not to "disturb," as his "friend," Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, recently put it.
Is it even possible to say that he is the ruler of this country anymore, now that rebels have captured large parts of Libya?
And what happens if Gadhafi remains holed up in the capital with his brutal mercenaries, ordering those members of his air force still loyal to him to pick off civilians as if they were rabbits and sending out his thugs to loot and murder? Will the world be forced to intervene to prevent genocide, a second Rwanda or Cambodia, by imposing economic sanctions and militarily enforcing no-fly zones?
Winds of Change
The winds of change began blowing in the Arab world eight weeks ago. What started as a fresh breeze became a storm and has now turned into a hurricane, one that promises to upset and sweep away everything that existed before it. Ironically, all of this is happening in a region whose problems have remained unsolved for decades, whose societies appeared to be frozen in time. The popular uprisings forced Tunisian kleptocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali into exile and the Egyptian "Pharaoh" Hosni Mubarak to step down. A class of committed and fearless young revolutionaries had successfully tried out the power of the street.
They denounced the corruption of their rulers, demanded jobs and called for democratic freedoms. Almost as astonishingly, they were not chanting any anti-American slogans and hardly any anti-Israeli ones. And the Islamists, so feared by the West and portrayed as bogeymen by the autocrats (who liked to cultivate the image of being the only bulwark against fundamentalist chaos), were at most just riding along on the bandwagon.
The revolution in Libya, where demonstrations began less than two weeks ago and where rebels soon captured the eastern part of the country and the second-largest city Benghazi, is not entirely the same as the other Arab youth and democracy movements. In this former Italian colony, no one knows how much the revolution owes to traditional tribal rivalries and how much to Libyans' hatred of the Gadhafi clan and its excesses. And there has been more bloodshed in Libya -- a lot more.
It is clear, however, that the colonel's children long ago abandoned all ideals of the early period of his rule and have shamelessly enriched themselves or simply squandered government funds. One son paid millions to have pop singer Mariah Carey perform on his vacation island in the Caribbean and, a year later, threw what was likely an even more expensive party, featuring top stars Beyoncé and Usher. Despite press censorship, the news about such escapades quickly spread among Internet-savvy Libyan youth who, in addition to witnessing the Gadhafi clan's excesses, have to deal with a decaying healthcare system and a lack of professional opportunities.
'Stay Up All Night'
Gadhafi made several bizarre appearances within the last week. First, on Monday night, he appeared before a television crew while standing in the door of his version of the Popemobile. He held up an umbrella and said that he would like to join the pro-Gadhafi demonstrators on Tripoli's central Green Square, but that it was raining too heavily. Hours later, he gave a dramatic address to the people from a venue he had apparently chosen for its symbolic value: the palace the Americans had once bombed.
Gadhafi ranted against the "dirty rats" protesting against him in the streets, announced that he would cleanse the country "house by house," and characterized the brutal actions of the Chinese authorities on Tiananmen Square in 1989 as reasonable. In his blind rage, the revolutionary leader went so far as to threaten to kill anyone who did not abide by the Libyan constitution -- apparently forgetting that Libya does not have a constitution. Giving up was out of the question for him, he shouted, adding that he would become a martyr if necessary and vowing he would fight "to my last drop of blood."
On Thursday, Gadhafi, who holds an honorary doctorate from Serbia's Megatrend University, issued another bizarre statement, speaking this time by phone and broadcast on government TV. Terrorist leader Osama bin Laden was the true cause of the Libyan crisis, Gadhafi postulated, adding that the protestors were high on drugs. His advice to his countrymen: "If you want to kill each other, go ahead."
Gadhafi's third outrageous appearance in a fateful week happened late Friday afternoon, when he appeared in person on the central square in the capital. Speaking to a few hundred supporters, and dressed in a plain hunting outfit and a fur hat with earflaps, he said threateningly that his government would arm everyone in the country if necessary. "We will continue to fight, we will defeat them. We will die here on the dear soil of Libya." He called on the youth of the county to "stay up all night" and dance and sing, adding "Moammar Gadhafi is one of you."
Twilight of a Despot
The twilight of the Libyan despot is painful and, because of Libya's unique structures, a special, more violent case in the Arab world. Nevertheless, it is part of the larger revolution that has seized the entire Middle East and could even spread beyond its boundaries.
The most optimistic analysis comes from -- of all places -- Israel, the country that has been the most skeptical about the current changes in the Middle East and whose prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, together with Saudi Arabian King Abdullah, has put the highest value on a frozen stability in the region.
"It is difficult to be a dictator when we live in a transparent world," said Israeli President Shimon Peres, pointing out that this new transparency comes from Facebook and other Internet platforms, the instruments of the democracy movement. In an address to the Spanish parliament in Madrid, he said that Israel is "happy to witness this democratic revolution which is taking place in the Arab world," adding that the process is irreversible.
Have we finally arrived, perhaps not at the "end of history" that some had prematurely predicted after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but at least at the end of the reigns of a host of brutal rulers? Is there a recurring pattern for how best to overthrow governments -- instructions for a peaceful revolution, so to speak -- that applies everywhere from Serbia in 2000, to Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004, and now to Tunisia and Egypt?
A Shy Revolutionary
If the young revolutionaries from Kiev to Cairo are to be believed, the answers to those questions can be found with an 83-year-old man who lives in a modest house near Boston. Gene Sharp, who was profiled in a 2005 SPIEGEL story, is the guru of a global network of freedom activists. The former Harvard professor wrote the bible of freedom that was recently used by Egyptian bloggers like Ahmed Mahir.
The thin volume is titled: "From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation." Sharp, an admirer of Mahatma Gandhi, lists "198 methods of nonviolent action." He insists that his principles have nothing to do with pacifism. Instead, they are based on the analysis of power in a dictatorship and how it can be broken -- namely by citizens refusing obedience at all levels of state power, including its institutions. Sharp also points out, however, that it isn't enough to topple a dictator: Once he has been ousted, everything possible must be done to prevent a new one from replacing him. Following the euphoria of liberation, the democratic successes achieved in Ukraine and Georgia were largely frittered away. Sharp, who modestly gives all the credit to the courageous protesters, says that the same risk applies in Egypt and Tunisia.
Nonviolent resistance worked in the overthrow of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, in the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia, because the system was rotten, a civil society was in the making and the autocrats refrained from using excessive violence. But can the same recipe work with despots who are prepared to commit murder?
Only the Strong Survive
The Obama administration has discovered a pattern in the current maelstrom of upheavals in the Middle East. In the words of the New York Times: "The region's monarchs are likely to survive; its presidents are more likely to fall." The advantage the royal families have is that they can replace the governments they have installed, and they are more flexible and willing to compromise. The White House is apparently confident that countries like Morocco, Jordan and Bahrain will be able to reform themselves.
In Bahrain, however, where a Sunni monarch rules an impoverished Shiite majority that makes up two-thirds of the country's population, the American optimism could prove to be premature. Although the ruler withdrew the military's tanks from the square where protestors had gathered in the capital Manama, it was only after shots had been fired and seven people died. In the Gulf emirate, where America's Fifth Fleet is based, more concessions to the protestors will be needed than monetary gifts and the release of political prisoners. The same holds true in neighboring Saudi Arabia, the country with the world's largest oil reserves, should the wave of unrest spread there.
Washington already appears to have written off one of its former strategic partners: Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, 68, who has been in office for more than 32 years. Saleh, who runs the country with near-dictatorial powers, declared in February that he would not run for reelection in 2013. Though meant as a major concession, the announcement only challenged the regime opponents to stage even angrier protests. Saleh is the type of politician that former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously referred to as "a son of a bitch, but our son of a bitch" -- he may be a brutal dictator to his people, but he is useful to the United States in its war on terror.
This almost cultish worship of stability has routinely failed in international politics: among right-wing politicians, who assumed that military dictatorships could remain a reliable bulwark against communism and then found themselves confronted with their liberal successors; and among leftist politicians who tended to see Eastern European dissidents as troublemakers and not comrades-in-arms, and were then astonished to find that leaders like Poland's Lech Walesa and Czechoslovakia's Vaclav Havel were not gradually changing the old order but sweeping it away instead.
And why shouldn't the revolutionary recipes now being applied in the Middle East be effective in other parts of the world? What should prevent dissatisfied youth in Africa, Asia, Latin America or even Europe from expressing their anger?
SPIEGEL presents an overview of a changed world, with a special emphasis on countries with revolutionary potential.
Members of parliament loyal to the regime in the theocracy had just visited their wrath upon opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, demanding "death to the traitors!" And now this: Religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on the one side, and the two "traitors," on the other, are in agreement. They wholeheartedly support what is happening in Egypt and called upon Gadhafi to meet the demands of his people.
Of course, they do so from different perspectives, and with opposite conclusions.
Khamenei sees a "sign of Islamic awakening" in North Africa, while the Iranian president is convinced that "we will soon experience a new Middle East without Americans and without the Zionist regime" (a reference to Israel). Both men completely ignore the fact that religious motives did not play a significant role in Tunis, Cairo or Tripoli, and that the protesters were interested, not in expressing anti-Western outrage, but in securing democratic freedoms -- in other words, all of the things that the mullah-led regime denies its own citizens. As the leaked US embassy cables revealed, Mubarak had called the Iranians "big, fat liars." Now Ahmadinejad was striking back, speaking with relish of what he called the end of the "good-for-nothings" in the region.
The Iranian opposition can feel encouraged by the people power of Tahrir Square and the struggle against an apparently all-powerful regime in Tripoli. Indeed, civil rights activists have organized new demonstrations in Tehran in recent days. Unlike in Cairo, however, the Iranian authorities did not exercise restraint and struck back with full force, just as they did in the past.
In light of events in Tunis, Cairo and Tripoli, the Iranian regime could very well be more concerned than it purports to be. The opposition, despite having acquired new momentum, faces an irresolvable dilemma, however: It will be nearly impossible to unseat the religious dictatorship, with its ruthless militia members, through civil disobedience and gentle pressure of the sort advocated by Gandhi and Sharp.
The opposition faces a terrible choice: To continue opposing the regime with small-scale action, or to confront it head-on with mass demonstrations -- and all the bloody risks associated with such protests.
The grand old revolutionary is still stating his opinion regularly, including on the matter of Libya. "You can agree with Gadhafi or not, but I have absolutely no doubt that the United States has no interest whatsoever in peace in Libya, and that it will not hesitate to give NATO orders to invade this oil-rich country," Fidel Castro, 84, writes in the party newspaper Gramma. He doesn't believe, Castro adds, that Gadhafi will abandon "his responsibility" and leave his country.
His brother Raul, 80, who succeeded Fidel as president three years ago, has made no comments on the situation in the Middle East. The Internet-savvy Cuban youth, who are mainly critical of the regime, are watching the demise of dictators across the Atlantic with fascination, however. "If Obama were to lift the embargo now, the Castro regime would be in trouble. Then the brothers could no longer capitalize on the American bogeyman, and we would have an easier time of it with our revolution," says a civil rights activist in Havana who doesn't want to be named.
Robert Mugabe, 87, a former hero of the liberation movement who transformed himself into one of Africa's worst despots, has set up a regime of terror in his country. Thousands of regime critics and members of minority tribes have already fallen victim to his thugs, and his persecution of white farmers is no less brutal. With the population focused on the daily struggle to survive, the political opposition has all but disappeared, the press has been forced into line and the government television station has removed all revolutionary images from its broadcasts. Nevertheless, the North Africa struggle for self-determination has set off a spark among Zimbabweans.
Using the Internet, a group of union leaders organized a workshop that 46 activists attended. The title of the workshop was: "Revolt in Egypt and Tunisia: What lessons can be learnt by Zimbabwe and Africa?" Mugabe had the authorities stop the meeting in the capital Harare and arrested everyone present. They could now be convicted of high treason.
The changes in North Africa are also being closely followed elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa. "Two coconuts have fallen, but there are still many left to harvest!" protestors chanted in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, cleverly circumventing the censors and yet clearly conveying their message. President Omar al-Bashir, 66, who was seemingly unimpressed by a 2009 warrant for his arrest issued by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, now seems shaken. He does not plan to run for another term.
Meanwhile other African dictators, like Idriss Déby in Chad and Teodoro Obiang in Equatorial Guinea, chose to support Libya's hard-pressed Gadhafi, even calling him with messages of encouragement. Last week, they still seemed to believe it was highly unlikely that the man who had always promoted himself as a unifier of the continent could truly be brought down.
Although sub-Saharan Africa is at least as much of a social powder keg as North Africa, its potentates can feel more secure. Twitter and Facebook are not widespread, the middle class is smaller, and the majority is too poor and weak to organize. In addition, ethnic fragmentation and a lack of nationalistic sentiment tend to create lethargy.
Fear of Upheaval in China
Since his rigged reelection and the ensuing demonstrations, which he used as an excuse to arrest all major opposition politicians, "Europe's last dictator," as Alexander Lukashenko, 56, is often called, has reacted even more sensitively than before to potential threats.
Although he did not specifically mention the uprisings in the Middle East, he did make it clear in a speech how he intends to react. Should "circumstances arise that threaten the nation," he said, he would not hesitate to deploy tanks. In other words, Lukashenko has no intention of making any compromises and is threatening his people with a bloodbath, should there be an uprising against him. It is unclear, however, why the dictator is reacting with such panic and pulling out the heavy guns: All domestic and foreign experts agree that he is firmly in control of Belarus.
The dictatorship ruled by Kim Jong Il, 70, is probably the world's most sealed-off country -- an advantage in times of revolutionary upheavals in other parts of the world. Images of the protests in the Middle East are not being shown on North Korean state television. If the Kim dictatorship falls, it will not be as a result of the Egyptian freedom virus, but because of the military's conviction that the successor chosen by the country's seriously ill leader, his son Kim Jong Un, 28, is not up to the task. Another possibility is that China, Pyongyang's only major ally, could drop its support for the ruling family.
Beijing seems surprisingly daunted by the revolutions in the Middle East, with its senior political bodies meeting almost around the clock. The Communist Party apparently fears a spillover of revolutionary ideas and the emergence of a strong people-power movement that could threaten the party's leadership.
The Chinese authorities have been censoring the Internet since the Egyptian revolt began. The state-owned media either suppressed reports by jubilant young people on Cairo's Tahrir Square in the wake of Mubarak's ouster or subjected reporting to strict official guidelines. "The media covering the riots must only use the reports provided by (the official news agency) Xinhua," reads a directive issued by the information office of the Chinese State Council. Commenting on the events in Libya, the Foreign Ministry said that it was "extremely concerned" and hoped for a rapid "return to social stability." The Chinese have their own code word for stability, something they value above everything else: "harmony."
Despite the "Great Firewall," as Internet censorship is known in the People's Republic, regime critics abroad managed to send a Twitter message to China two weeks ago. They announced, in a reference to the uprising in Tunisia, a "Jasmine revolution." They called on Chinese to "go for a walk" at 2 p.m. every Sunday at specific locations in major cities and, in doing so, demand, in a nonviolent way, the departure of the Communist Party from the "stage of history."
On the Sunday before last, a few hundred people heeded the call in Beijing. Fewer did so in Shanghai. Assuming that the state security agency had deployed many plainclothes agents, it's possible that the informants even outnumbered the demonstrators. But on the previous day, the authorities had already arrested a large number of civil rights activists, applying a level of brutality that was unusual even for the Chinese. Some 22 years after the failed uprising in Tiananmen Square, the Internet-based revolution seemed to have arrived in China.
Chen Jiping, the Communist Party official responsible for law and order, sees China surrounded by "hostile" forces that are "waving the banner of defending rights to meddle in domestic conflicts and maliciously create all kinds of incidents." According to Chen, "The schemes of some hostile Western forces attempting to westernize and split us are intensifying." He proposed even tighter security measures to combat the problem.
China's form of government is hardly a classic or military dictatorship, and certainly not a dictatorship of the proletariat. Instead, it is a Marxist-Leninist single-party dictatorship with capitalist elements that offers rudimentary personal freedoms, provided they are not used against the party. There are also signs of an emerging civil society in the country. Perhaps this is precisely why Hu Jintao, the 68-year-old president and Communist Party leader, fears nothing more than social conflicts.
At a meeting of all key leadership figures a few days ago, it became clear how attentively the leadership is monitoring the revolutionary events in the Middle East. It is important to "correctly assess the characteristics of the changed situation" and draw the necessary conclusions, Hu said, without naming Egypt, "namely to improve living conditions, strengthen social management and search for new paths." In other words, Hu was saying, the Chinese government should try every possible approach to avoiding conflict -- except political liberalization.
China has excellent ties to countries with authoritarian governments, including Sudan and Angola in Africa and Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in Central Asia. Like Saudi Arabia, which is on good terms with Beijing, these countries are among the most important energy suppliers to the giant country, which is dependent on oil imports. Political turmoil in these partner countries would be a nightmare for Beijing, because only a global economy that functions "harmoniously" enables Beijing to achieve the growth rates it needs to provide jobs for its well-trained young people and, at least for the foreseeable future, keep them from becoming more politically active.
Otherwise, China, like the rest of the world, is keeping an anxious eye on Libya, a country that former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini once contemptuously referred to as a "big box of sand," and which lost tens of thousands of people during the three decades of brutal Italian colonial rule.
Looming Power Vacuum
It is still unclear whether Gadhafi will be able to stage a major counteroffensive, or counterrevolution. A number of major cities are in rebel hands, and international pressure is increasing.
But Gadhafi, like a weakened boxer forced into a corner, still seems capable of a bloody showdown. Everything seems possible. Gadhafi could cling to power. He might commit suicide or be captured by regime opponents and possibly brought to trial before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Perhaps he will benefit from the fact that his only daughter, Aisha, studied law and, as a member of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's legal defense team, acquired relevant -- albeit not very promising -- experience.
What could come after Gadhafi? Who could succeed the man who, despite his many human rights violations, somehow managed to have his country voted onto the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2010? Who could follow the man who once said: "How should I behave, as the only healthy person in this sick world?" After making the statement, he laughed and, for a moment, resembled Jack Nicholson's character in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."
"All the prevailing systems of government in the world today will remain undemocratic, unless they adopt (my) method," he writes boastfully in his "Green Book." But the People's Congresses with which Gadhafi sought to guarantee "control of the people by the people" have become more and more farcical in recent years. Important decisions were always made by the revolutionary leader, who delegated responsibility to his protégés and provided them, as well as his clan, with generous benefits. Despite the country's high oil revenues, there was less and less money left over for the middle class and the "masses," even for the army that was so critical to his survival and for the leaders of rival clans who had grown used to generous payments.
A fall of the dictator would inevitably bring down his family as well. "It'll be zero hour for Libya after Gadhafi. His sons will not be able to hold their ground in key positions," says Lahcen Achy, a North Africa expert with the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. Saif al-Islam, Gadhafi's relatively moderate, second-eldest son, was long seen as a candidate to succeed his father, one who would have been acceptable to the West. But it is hardly conceivable that he could still play a role after having threatened, on state television, to unleash "rivers of blood" if the protests did not subside, and after having announced that he had no other plans but to "live and die in Libya."
Gadhafi deliberately thwarted the development of democratic institutions. He had no need for parties or trade unions in his system, which was tailored to his needs, and he also had several different intelligence services working against each other. There is no general military staff in the classical sense, meaning that a competing center of power could not develop. As a result, the Libyan army cannot serve as a stabilizing factor, as the military is now doing in Egypt -- despite the risk that it could decide not to relinquish power and delay democratization.
If a power vacuum develops in Libya, traditional structures could be decisive. They already seem to be playing a significant role in the liberated parts of the eastern coastal region known as Cyrenaica. The tribal elders could at least prevent the country from descending into anarchy during a transitional period. But this also entails the risk of fragmentation of the country.
Lack of Influence
Experts doubt whether Libyan politicians living in exile will be able to exert any influence in a post-Gadhafi era. They are largely unknown in the country. Their most prominent representative is Ibrahim Sahad, a diplomat who defected in the 1970s and formed the London-based National Front for the Salvation of Libya. Candidates for a transitional government could be found among the politicians and diplomats who turned their backs on the regime in recent weeks and campaigned for the democratization of the country.
Whether former Interior Minister Abdul Fattah Younis, whom Gadhafi vowed to track down and kill, could be such a transitional candidate seems unlikely, given his many years of close ties to the ruling clan. It will depend on whether Younis manages to convince the rebels that his disavowal of the dictator and his willingness to be part of a democratic new beginning are genuine.
But the development of a civil society and its institutions will take time, more so than in Tunisia and Egypt, where such structures already exist. At least Libya can rely on its substantial oil revenues to fund such a transition.
The ruler for life is apparently convinced that his rule can only be followed by chaos. When asked what his legacy would be, the egomaniac offered no visions of the future for his country, but merely said: "It will be written in the history books that I liberated my people and changed the world in a decisive way. I created Libya, and I can also destroy it."
Gadhafi's Deathly Prose
Like Saddam Hussein and other dictators, Gadhafi has also tried his hand at writing, and in doing so has revealed his idea of the end of everything. He hasn't completed a planned novel about the heroic struggle of the Libyan people against their Italian occupiers. The work is to be called "Death and Resurrection," Gadhafi confided to his Italian biographer Mirella Bianco. No one has seen the manuscript, but it is probably tucked away in a palace drawer or in a safe in one of Gadhafi's tents.
Gadhafi has already published a small book of stories with the cryptic title, "The Village, The Village, The Earth, The Earth and the Suicide of the Astronaut." In the work, the son of the Libyan desert contemplates the advantages of rural life. "How wonderful is the village. Leave the city quickly, that cemetery of social commitment," Gadhafi writes. He also addresses the subject of death and its "diabolical blood thirst," which, of course, can also be a form of salvation.
Then he turns to a different topic and shows that he has the makings of a prophet. He criticizes the "tyranny of the masses, which have a tendency to send their leaders into the desert."