Sunday, October 23, 2011

More questions than answers

One of the trademarks of a dictatorship is the Law of Rule. When the forces of democracy finally topple the old regime (which they always do), the clarion call is for the Rule of Law. In order for civil society to evolve, the arbitrariness and capriciousness of the Law of Rule must be done away with.

But in nearly every one of those countries where the old regime has been replaced, the old dictator has either taken refuge in a friendly country or met a gruesome end. This past week in Libya was no exception. Col. Muammar Gaddafi was killed after attempting to escape from his hometown of Sirte.

The former dictator was found hiding in a culvert after his convoy came under fire from NATO forces.

Exactly how Col. Gaddafi met his end is not certain. What is certain is that it was an extra-judicial killing - in other words, Col. Gaddafi was murdered.

Sure, not too many folks are going to be too upset that he's dead. But, does killing a defenseless man who has just been captured make life in the new Libya any better than life in the old Libya? What does it say about the prospects of the Rule of Law?

A larger question is whether NATO forces should have been involved in what amounted to a civil war in Libya. Was there any justification for outside forces to align themselves directly with one side in an internal conflict in another part of the world? Let's not kid ourselves, by declaring no-fly zones in Libya, NATO was providing support for anti-Gaddafi forces in the country. What price will be paid by the new government? What promises were made? What was the cost of NATO's air power?

The task in Libya is now to establish a new government and constitution and to implement the Rule of Law so that all of the trappings of a democratic society can evolve. Unfortunately, the first chance the new rulers had to implement the Rule of Law was an abject failure.

See also:

"Another one down," Gamso for the Defense (Oct. 21, 2011)
"On the killing of Moammar Gaddafi," Koehler Law Blog (Oct. 21, 2011)
"Mystery surrounds Gaddafi's end," BBC News (Oct. 21, 2011)

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