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"Curb Your Messianism"

Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi speaks in Tripoli. Gadhafi lashed out against Europe and the United States for their pressure on him to step down, warning that thousands of Libyans will die if U.S. and NATO forces intervene in the conflict, Mar. 2, 2011.
AP Photo

"Curb Your Messianism"

Op-Ed, The Huffington Post

March 7, 2011

Author: Charles G. Cogan, Associate, International Security Program

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security


Certainly Muammar Gaddafi is a more despicable figure than his erstwhile neighbor to the west, Zein al-Abidine ben Ali — whom I knew in Morocco when he was military attaché there — an unexceptionable and affable officer. But to regard Gaddafi today, against his square-jawed and handsome visage at the moment of his coup d'état in 1969, is to recoil in horror at the Dorian Gray-like transformation that has taken place, be it presumably due to some kind of substance abuse. As Anwar Sadat described Qadhafi to me and others at Blair House sometime during the late 1970s, in the baritone cadences with which he expressed himself, "The man is veeceeious."

However vicious and ubuesque Gaddafi has become, he may not be destined to go away easily. Although the right of intervention for humanitarian reasons (the so-called "doctrine to protect") was enshrined by the United Nations in 2006, this does not mean that the U.S. should plunge into yet another military adventure, tempting and righteous though it would seem to be. We have to have the support of the international community, as expressed in the United Nations Security Council....

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For Academic Citation:

Cogan, Charles G. "Curb Your Messianism." The Huffington Post, March 7, 2011.

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