One of Qaddafi’s early women body guards stands by the Libyan leader’s limousine in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia while he attended a meeting with other African leaders to prepare the opening of the 19th Organization of African Unity, June 6, 1983. (Photos from here)
Things come and go in the news cycle like waves of fever. A year ago Colonel Gaddafi was killed and an avalanche of camera phone footage of his last minutes was played again and again on the news channels. Then it stopped - and Gaddafi disappeared off into the dark.
What remains is all the footage recording Gaddafi’s forty year career as a global weirdo. But the closer you look at the footage and what lies behind it - you begin to discover an odd story that casts a rather unflattering light on many of the elites in both the British and American establishments.
Because over those forty years all sorts of people from the west got mixed up with Gaddafi. Some were simply after his money and they flattered and crept to him because they wanted to be his friend. But for many others he was more useful as an enemy and they helped to turn Gaddafi into a two-dimensional cartoon-like global villain.
Those involved were not just politicians, but journalists, spies from the CIA and MI6, members of Washington think tanks, academics, PR firms, philosophers of humanitarian intervention, posh left wing revolutionaries and the leaders of the IRA.
They all had different aims, and were trying to use Gaddafi in different ways. But underlying almost all of them was a common fear - a feeling that power and influence was slipping away from them, and that increasingly they didn’t understand what was going on in the world.
In response, all these different groups began to simplify the world. They all did this in their own ways, but whether they were politicians or journalists or spies, they all began to create an almost pantomime-like picture of the world that maintained their own illusion of control and helped to disguise their loss of power from the general public.
And Colonel Gaddafi happily played a starring role in that pantomime as an absurd clown because it too gave him the global power and influence that he craved.
Together the western elites and Gaddafi helped to lead us into a simplistic two-dimensional vision of the world - full of exaggerations and falsehoods. A fake bubble of certainty that has imprisoned us in the west - and is now preventing us from understanding what is really going on in the world outside.