Muammar Qaddafi should not have been killed, and his surviving son should be captured.
By Christopher Hitchens|Posted
Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi speaks at a ceremony of loyalists to mark 34 years of "people power" in
Photograph by Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images.
Surrendering to a feeling of deep impotence and slight absurdity, I borrowed an iPad on Thursday afternoon and used it to send my first-ever message by this means. It was addressed to one of those distinguished Frenchmen who have been at the fore in pressing the outside world to remove Muammar Qaddafi from the obscene toadlike posture in which, for more than four decades, he has squatted on the lives of the Libyan people. Please, I wrote, intercede with your friends on the National Transitional Council, plus any other revolutionary tribunal however constituted, in order to stop the killing of the Qaddafi family and to ensure smooth passage to the dock at
Simple enough? It is some time since the International Criminal Court in
Among other things, this tacit agreement persuades me that no general instruction was ever issued to the forces closing in on Qaddafi in his hometown of Sirte. Nothing to the effect of: Kill him if you absolutely must, but try and put him under arrest and have him (and others named, whether family or otherwise) transferred to the
At the close of an obscene regime, especially one that has shown it would rather destroy society and the state than surrender power, it is natural for people to hope for something like an exorcism. It is satisfying to see the cadaver of the monster and be sure that he can’t come back. It is also reassuring to know that there is no hateful figurehead on whom some kind of “werewolf” resistance could converge in order to prolong the misery and atrocity. But Qaddafi at the time of his death was wounded and out of action and at the head of a small group of terrified riff-raff. He was unable to offer any further resistance. And all the positive results that I cited above could have been achieved by the simple expedient of taking him first to a hospital, then to a jail, and thence to the airport. Indeed, a spell in the dock would probably hugely enhance the positive impact, since those poor lost souls who still put their trust in the man could scarcely have their illusions survive the exposure to even a few hours of the madman’s gibberings in court.
And so the new
This is not to display any undue sympathy for Seif, or others on the wanted list. But he in particular is the repository of an enormous amount of potentially useful information, about the nature of the dead regime and perhaps even of the whereabouts of strategic material—to say nothing of vast illegal holdings of money that are the rightful property of the Libyan people. In more senses than one, it would be a crime to be party to this destruction of evidence. As for the usefulness of Qaddafi senior in the still-underdeveloped field of the study of megalomania, I should have said it was beyond price. And yet his numberless victims have to take such satisfaction as they can from seeing a blood-streaked and incoherent figure, handled roughly and in a panic and then put out of his misery by a shot that added exactly nothing to the security of the country.
I was in