How Gadhafi Blew It

Among other things: Libya's rich, but most citizens live in poverty
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2011 2:38 PM CST
This image broadcast on Libyan state television Tuesday shows Moammar Gadhafi as he addresses the nation.   (AP Photo/Libya State Television via APTN)
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(Newser) – Moammar Gadhafi has always talked about instituting reform—usually via his son, Seif—but has never quite gotten around to it, writes Andrew Solomon in the New Yorker. "The regime has always wanted credit for its beneficent decrees, without accepting blame for its failure even to try to turn them into results," he writes. Even though Libyans don't want democracy so much as a strong leader to keep tribal rivalries in check, they know that their leader's rhetoric "represents a higher degree of hypocrisy than is common in most of the rest of the world."

Gadhafi's decision to retreat from Seif's reform platform of 2005 is only the most obvious mistake he's made. Others:

  • Ignoring poverty: Libya has vast oil wealth, "yet most Libyans live in deplorable conditions," writes Solomon. "The state provides little by way of civil society and does not take care of even the most basic government obligations."
  • Ignoring youth: A big proportion of the country is under 25, but Gadhafi has done nothing for them despite high youth unemployment. "They feel that their voices are not heard."
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