Six months to plan and that was the best he could come up with? “Lure them into Tripoli, fight, lose, flee.” It’s looking increasingly certain that there is no great trap waiting to spring – the escape of Saif al-Islam wasn’t the prelude to some gloriously gruesome ambush where thousands of defected soldiers turned out not to have defected after all; the water-supply seems not to have been poisoned; the journalists at The Rixos Hotel weren’t used as human-shields or hostages; while the fighting that continues, with its snipers and Scuds, seems desperate and uninspired. Compare the siege of Tripoli with the siege of Misrata! Which means that Gaddafi’s strategic awareness finally went as deep as: “My people love me!”

Of course one of the many pleasures of watching dictators being toppled is knowing that, in the end, the bitter end, there must have been that realisation: “Not only do my people not love me, but they never were ‘my’ people.”

Good luck to the men and women of Libya! Let’s hope they don’t learn the hard way that “democracy” = “dictatorship” except and unless where preceded by a word like “constitutional,” “Jeffersonian,” etc.


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