Rogue Leaders

Libya Squandered Good Will

Can an anti-imperialist change his stripes? The International Herald Tribune reports that the hero's welcome that Col. Muammar Gaddafi gave Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing of 1988, may have ruined his reconciliation with the West. The Tribune said the incident was "signature" Gaddafi. After wringing a concession from Western powers and offering his thanks, he appeared to mock them for caving. The incident also spotlights what may be Gaddafi's naiveté: Libyan officials reportedly believed that the celebration at Megrahi's return was low-key, as Gaddafi did not personally greet Megrahi right away. The move may have scuttled Gaddafi's chances of proving to America and the U.K. that he's changed over the last 40 years. As a fellow at the Washington Near East Policy Institute put it, "The very concept of anti-imperialism is still at the heart of Gaddafi’s discourse."