Last week’s Courrier International which is published by the Le Monde Group, included an interview from the New York Times Magazine with Qaddafi back in January. This was a really long and detailed interview, with the journalist and the leader of Libya dicussing the past, the present, and the future. From this interview, usual media portrayals, and the infamy of his name Qaddafi is generally seen as a tyrant. Reading this interview and seeing the man, hearing him speak, sometimes proud and pompous, sometimes regretful and remorseful, you see a man that has shaped his part of the world as much as the world has shaped him. He admits that back in the eighties he believed armed struggle was the best way to advance your movement, he now says he was wrong. He denounces terrorism, and was the first arab leader to present Washington with his security reports on terrorist groups worldwide. Yet he never forgets how the Reagan administration targeted him, bombed Libya, killing his 1 year old adopted daughter while she slept. These days he seems obsessed with the new formed African Union, created in the spirit of the European Union, in order to unite Africa and promote developement.

Why are these things significant? Because Qaddafi represents man who was considered crazy and a threat to the world/United States. He was targetted. He was bombed. He was denounced over and over again by Reagan, Bush, and even GWBush denounces him. Yet the UN has lifted sanctions… after so many years of delay, Qaddafi released the Lockerbie bombing suspects to face trial. He has also agreed to pay the conpensation. He has also given over his powers as administrative/ government leader in Libya to parliament. He retains the title of “leader” wielding only symbolic importance in his country. He may not be a good man. But he is a clear example of what happens to semi-dictators in the Arab world if you approach the situation with patience and using measures besides war.

Qaddafi is not unique. Many aging Arab leaders, who used to be considered mad threats, later became old and quirky, but not crazed killers. Reagan used to refer to Qaddafi as “The rabid dog of the middle east”… but years later, it is clear that Reagan was just trying to get political attention… because that raging dog, has become a calm K-9, interested more in hanging nice pictures of himself in the streets and being remembered as a great leader.

And so once again there’s a president waging a vague Cold War Part II against terrorism, and he declares another middle east dictator a “threat”… history repeats itself… only this time, it could be far bloodier.