by Michael Kaplan
|Downfall of a tyrant? A poster of Muammar al-Gaddafi is desecrated in Benghazi. Tyler Hicks/The New York Times.|
The account I have given . . . shews how the abuse of authority, by causing the misery of individuals, becomes eventually destructive to the power of a state; and what we may safely venture to predict, will soon prove, that the ruin of a nation sooner or later recoils on those who have been the cause of it, and that the errors or crimes of those who govern cannot fail of their punishment, even from the very misery and wretchedness of those whom they have governed.
—Constantin-François Chassebœuf, comte de Volney, Travels in
Egypt and , in the Years 1783, 1784, and 1785. Syria
The Mad Dog of the
Middle East (as Ronald Reagan called him) may finally be meeting his Götterdämmerung. That the world put up with the antics of Muammar al-Gaddafi, the psychopath masquerading as a buffoon, for forty-two years, says much about the sordid workings of international power politics. Leaving aside the horrors he perpetrated on his own people, Gaddafi has more American blood on his hands than anyone other than Osama bin Laden. But since Gaddafi sat on a pool of oil, the rest of the world, including the after 2003, was willing enough to do business with him. In September 2009, Gaddafi stood at the podium of the United Nations General Assembly, honoring that august body with one of the most incoherent and downright weird speeches it ever had to suffer through. United States
The people of
Now, as Gaddafi goes down in flames, pledging to take as much of his country as he can down with him, his own words have been turned into the theme song of the rebellion. Noy Alooshe, an Israeli musician of Tunisian heritage, took the phrase “zenga zenga” from a rambling, gibberish-filled, 75 minute speech delivered by Gaddafi on Tuesday February 22, and set it to a hip-hop vibe. Gaddafi, dressed in brown robes and a turban, spoke from what appeared to be the residence damaged in the 1986 bombing raid ordered by Ronald Reagan. Alooshe overlaid the video with footage of a scantily-clad woman dancing to Gaddafi’s trance music riff. The video, posted on YouTube, has gone viral throughout the Arab world and has captured the spirit of the Libyan uprising. The irony of an Israeli artist creating the theme song for an Arab fight for liberty is something we should all ponder. Here is the video.
You know a tyrant’s days are numbered when the people who had lived in absolute fear of his wrath can turn around and assault him with mockery. The speech itself was classic Gaddafi. The self-styled “Leader and Guide of the Revolution,” proclaimed his defiance of those who sought his downfall, blaming the uprising on everyone from Al Qaeda to American agents drugging Libyan youth with LSD-spiked Nescafé. More ominously, he threatened to unleash his security forces on all rebels, declaring that “when I do, everything will burn.” Rambling on, Gaddafi issued a call to his people: “Come out of your homes, those who love Muammar Gaddafi. Women, men, girls, boys, those who side with Muammar Gaddafi and the revolution. . . . As from tomorrow, no, as from tonight, actually, people in Libyan cities and towns . . . chase [the protesters], arrest them, hand them over to the security [forces].”