Moammar Kadafi's many vanities led the Libyan leader and his intelligence network into miscalculating the breadth of outrage against him in his own land. Long one of the Arab world's most perplexing personalities, Kadafi has traveled the globe with a tent, warning against foreign intervention while polishing his image at home as the country's "Brotherly Leader."
But the unrest sweeping the tribal nation is a sign that after four decades in power, Kadafi has lost the support of key clans and loyalists, and has steadily relied on repression to stay in power. It is as if he failed to grasp the dynamic of change emanating from Tunisia to his west and Egypt to his east.
"Kadafi's biggest mistake was that he built his whole regime on pure fear," said Omar Amer, a member of the Libyan Youth Movement, a protest group that spreads its message through Facebook. "He totally abandoned civilizing Libya. He neglected education and development projects. He left the majority of his people in the dark ages and built his might on fear through torturing and killing political dissidents in public.
"But the fear that Kadafi built his empire with is gone, and that was his last shelter," Amer added.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Governing By Fear
In our first chapter, we take a comparative look and note that some rulers suppress freedom simply to stay in power. As Jeffrey Fleishman of the Los Angeles Times writes, Libya is a case study: