Muammar al-Gaddafi (also transliterated as Kadaffi) (7 June 1942 - 20 October 2011) was the dictator of Libya from 1969 until his death, and held the record of being the longest serving head of government. His domestic policy was characterized by Islamic socialist economics and welfare statism, funded by having lots of oil. In foreign policy he was an Arab nationalist. He held the creepy title of "Brother Leader of the Revolution," and has pictures of himself all over the country and tolerated no criticism of himself in true Kim Jong Il style.
 Relationship with the United States
During the mid-1980s, Gaddafi (also transliterated as Qaddafi) made his presence known by supporting several high-profile terrorist groups. His support of terrorism earned him the ire of the Ronald Reagan administration, who dubbed him a "new Hitler" and "the Mad Dog of the Middle East" (despite actually being in North Africa, but that's Reagan for ya!).
Ten days after a discotheque bombing in West Berlin in 1986 which killed three and injured 230 including 79 American nationals, Reagan, suspecting Libya was behind the attack, unleashed a bombing raid on Libya, which Gaddafi claimed killed his 15 month old adopted daughter (evidence for this is lacking). Subsequently, evidence has shown that Libya was indeed behind the Berlin bombing. However, having laid low for a couple of decades and made some nice showy moves of dismantling his nuclear program, Gaddafi was once again being trotted out as an example of a (reformed) moderate Arab leader, at least until he started bringing in mercenaries to shoot at his own people in 2011.
 The Green Book
Gaddafi (also transliterated as Gadaffi) called his political views the "Third Universal Theory." Those political and economic ideas are spelled out in the Green Book, which is split into three sections. One deals with his proposal for a radically decentralized participatory democracy, in which voting, political parties, and representative government do not exist, and in their place are local popular committees which send representatives to a national assembly (in effect, a representative government even if he wants to pretend otherwise). This is claimed to be a direct democracy. The second section espouses socialism as his favored economic system, albeit a decentralized form led by a form of workers councils. The wage system would be abolished and goods produced would belong to the producers. Production for profit would be banned. The views in the first two sections of the Green Book are superficially similar to council communism, except that Gaddafi opposes Marxism and espouses Islam. The economic and political ideas in the first two sections are thus divorced from their left-libertarian origins and instead given a context of social conservatism and pan-Arab nationalism, which are the subject of the third section of the Green Book. That section contains Gaddafi's views on social and moral issues, and it is the sort of cranky stuff of which Jerry Falwell would be proud: women should bear children and stay in the kitchen, black people are more sexually active because they have little to do in the hot sun, and more similar batshittery.
The extent to which the Green Book has ever served as a real blueprint for Libya's governance is questionable at best. In practice, Gaddafi was an autocratic military dictator who let Libya's popular committees and workers councils have their say but then did whatever he wanted to anyway, with the popular democracy serving as a sort of steam valve for popular discontent and opinion but not exercising any actual governance over the country. If the committees decided something he doesn't like, Gaddafi simply overrode it. Key to how this worked was the Green Book's proposal that there should be no written constitution or body of law, but that society should operate on the basis of tradition -- in theory, organically emerging from a monolithic society sharing a single culture; in practice, whatever Gaddafi said went. In reality, Libya did have laws and a written body of same, but they originated in decrees from Gaddafi and the revolutionary council. Those laws include the banning of political parties, imprisonment of anyone criticizing the regime, and imprisonment of anyone discussing such heresies as Marxism and Islamism that depart from the One True Green Book. For a country supposedly based on the idea that there should be no "law," Libya sure does have a lot of political prisoners.
 Military History
Despite his background as a military figure Gaddafi (also transliterated as Khadaffey) had an impressively bad record of leading Libya into wars, losing, but somehow retaining his power. In 1977 Gaddafi tried to stop the Egypt and Israel from making a peace agreement that would later be known as the Camp David Accords. A planned "march on Cairo" to protest the treaty involved several Libyan tank divisions. The Egyptians easily repelled this invasion and Anwar Sadat was planning a campaign to push to Tripoli before other Arab states intervened.
After losing to Egypt Gaddafi turned his attention south to Chad, which had been fighting a civil war. Gaddafi was hoping to seize some of the northern portions of that nation and began backing some of the factions in the civil war. France, however, was concerned about Gaddafi extending his influence south out of North Africa and into Central Africa. The French (with American, Sudanese, and Egyptian assistance) began funding and organizing the Chadians, eventually reaching the point where Gaddafi had no allies left in Chad. In 1987 his army was defeated in what is known as the "Toyota War," where Chadian fighters literally piled into the back of modified Toyota pickup trucks and pursued his forces across the border.
In 2011 a civil war broke out between the government of Muammar Gaddafi and the National Transitional Council. Fighting started on 17 February 2011, and ended on 20 October 2011, when Gaddafi was killed in Sirte. There is no word on his smoking hot bodyguards, but they are speculated to be residing in the Italian embassy.
 Pan Am Flight 103
On December 21, 1988, 270 people were killed when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded mid-air over Lockerbie, Scotland. 15 years later on August 16, 2003, the Libyan government formally admitted responsibility (but did not admit guilt) for the bombing in a letter presented to the president of the United Nations Security Council. How much Gaddafi (also transliterated as... you know what, screw it) was behind the planning of the bombing is open to conjecture, but it soured relations between Libya and the Western world for many years.
 Idi Amin
When Idi Amin fled Uganda after the fall of his
kingdom country, he was offered safe passage to Saudi Arabia via Libya. Gaddafi (also transliterated as unpredictably as he was) had long supported the Amin regime, including supplying mercenaries to prop up his ailing regime.
Following the start of the Arab Spring, an armed insurrection began against the Gadaffi regime and was later backed by NATO. Following the almost complete defeat of the regime forces, Gadaffi went into hiding. He was later captured alive in a sewer, but severely wounded by bullets, during the fall of Sirte on 20 October 2011. Shortly afterwards he was confirmed dead, as was his son Motassim, also initially captured alive. The circumstances of their deaths remain unclear, and there has been speculation that they could have been summarily executed by rebel combatants. The UN Human Rights Office and Amnesty International have called for an official investigation. Various eye witness accounts and cellphone camera footage have emerged since, suggesting that rebels had beaten and killed the wounded Gadaffi, who is also alleged to have been sodomised with what was possibly a knife, a bayonet or a stick. The despot's last words are alleged to have been "What did I ever do to you?" and "what you're doing is wrong, guys - do you understand right and wrong?"
There is no standardised transliteration of Arabic into English and as such there are at least thirty possible spellings of Gaddafi's name. The west traditionally spell his name "Muammar al Gaddafi" while his passport gives his name as "Moamar al Gathaffi." To add to the confusion, the tyrant himself is alleged to have spelt his name "Moammar al Qadaffi" while his playboy son, Saif al Islam spelt it "Muammar al Kaddaffi." This has led to him being referred to as "Gaddafi, May His Spellings Be Many."
- ↑ The Beeb
- ↑ http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/14/world/4-guilty-in-fatal-1986-berlin-disco-bombing-linked-to-libya.html
- ↑ http://www.historyguy.com/egypt_libya_war_1977.htm
- ↑ http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/chad.htm
- ↑ http://news.yahoo.com/libyas-gaddafi-caught-hiding-rat-164753890.html
- ↑ "Gaddafi's murky death: summary execution suspected", RT.com, 21 October 2011.
- ↑ See the Wikipedia article on death of Muammar Gaddafi.