It’s a funny thing, but Gaddafi has really done us all a favor here.
As I said yesterday, he has secured himself a place on the list of history’s most hated leaders. Like a predator who shits in the carcass of his prey to spoil the meat for those who come after him, Gaddafi has done his best to ruin his country - one world or none, you might say.
I will not waste print with accusations of malfeasance - there will be plenty of time for that in the days and weeks to come. Instead I want to extend a measure of thanks to him on behalf of the Middle East.
Thank you Gaddafi.
Thank you for reminding the other dictators what tyranny looks like to the rest of the world.
Many years ago you made yourself into an icon of sociopathic megalomania - this week you have taken that to it’s logical conclusion.
Sure, the scale of your destruction won’t reach the magnitude of Pol Pot, or Mao, or Stalin, or Mussolini, or the other butchers of the 20th century. What will set you apart from them is the extent to which it is being watched by the world.
You unleashed ruthless foreign mercenaries on your own people and within hours the pictures of the dead and wounded were spread across the internet.
You made incoherent mumbling denunciations from underneath an umbrella on a rainy night and the whole world was mocking you before the sun was up the next day.
It’s not what you did, it’s that we all saw it as it happened.
You are now a symbol of what not to do.
If, for example, the people of Syria start to flood the streets of Damascus demanding their dignity and their basic freedoms, Bashar al-Assad will have to choose his course of action carefully lest he be labeled "another Gaddafi"
The Iranian government must now step a bit more gingerly when dealing with their own angry youth in order to distinguish themselves from the wickedness of the Libyan regime.
Bahrain and Yemen now have to second guess the potential repercussions from their own acts of violence against their subjects and citizens.
Force is no longer a reliable guarantee of regime survival, and brutality is harder and harder to enact unnoticed. The cost of control has risen sharply over the past few days.
Gaddafi has given the world, and particularly the Middle East, a striking lesson in what no longer works.
(Minor follow-up - congratulations Brother Leader, the statisticians over at fivethirtyeight.com have determined you to be the #1 ranked dictator)