Democracy,  History

From the Vaults: The Spectator, July 27, 2002

In 2002 Justin Marozzi met Saif Gadaffi at Claridge’s and he wrote up his encounter in an article for the The Spectator. I copy an extract from that article below. It can be noted that the younger Gadaffi prioritised the following for Libya: “First thing democracy, second thing democracy, third thing democracy.”

Son of Mad Dog

Justin Marozzi meets the much-feted Gaddafi junior, who is keen on democracy and weapons of mass destruction
Justin Marozzi

The Spectator, London: Jul 27, 2002.

SAIF AL-ISLAM GADDAFI glides into the Royal Suite at Claridge’s looking like an Italian football manager: all suit and no hair. A white handkerchief sprouts from his breast pocket. His silk tie is a muted red and green, and the slim black lace-ups look hand-made….

There is a feeling, given the frequency with which he is starting to pop up in the West – he recently won a libel action against the Sunday Telegraph – that the 30-year-old Gaddafi is being groomed to replace his aging father….

He shakes his head vigorously. `It’s an unthinkable idea, and you shouldn’t even mention it. It’s something from the past, from the period of the monarchy. It doesn’t fit now in Libya.’ Instead – and you almost have to pinch yourself to make sure you’re not imagining it – the talk is of democracy.

`We don’t have democracy in the Middle East, no doubt about it.’ Arab leaders routinely say they have their own versions of it, but Gaddafi thinks their claims are nonsense. `Democracy is democracy; either you have it or you don’t. We need democracy and it’s the most important thing. It’s policy number one for us. First thing democracy, second thing democracy, third thing democracy.’

I’m a little taken aback. This is from the son of a leader who presides over a regime recently added to the axis of evil, a list which takes in such democratic darlings as Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Cuba and Syria. But he seems to be serious. `Really, I’m very enthusiastic to see Libya as an oasis of democracy, a society that respects the environment and human rights and so on, and is a model in the region.’….

The reason Libya joined an expanded axis of evil was because Bush accused it of seeking weapons of mass destruction (WMD). America says Tripoli has a fledgling biological weapons programme which `may be capable of producing small quantities of biological agent’. Gaddafi senior’s armoury is also said to include chemical weapons, such as nerve and blister agents. Has Libya stopped trying to acquire WMD? For the first time, Gaddafi gets a little flustered. Everyone in the region wants to acquire weapons of mass destruction, he mumbles, but it’s hard work these days. `We are still far away from reaching that point.’….

`It’s not easy any more to obtain weapons [of mass destruction] and develop those programmes. I mean it’s not easy to create a nuclear bomb overnight or in one month or in one year. It’s a very complicated and expensive and long process. I don’t think we are capable of developing those weapons.’ If only, he seems to mean, it was easier and less expensive….

Does Gaddafi think suicide bombing is morally acceptable? He says there are two sides to the argument but doesn’t say which side he agrees with. Bush shouldn’t intervene in any case because it’s not his problem….

Given that you judge a man by the company he keeps, I ask what Libya is doing hosting a high– level North Korean delegation.

`We have an excellent relationship with North Korea. It’s a friendly country. The West has to accept it. Take it or leave it. We have our friends, like Iran, like Iraq, like North Korea, and we are not willing to get rid of them. They are friendly countries…. We are a sovereign country and we will do whatever we want.’

Hat Tip:

Paul Bogdanor

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