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What Qaddafi’s Fall Means for His Evil Minions in South America, Asia, and Africa

Author: Joshua Kurlantzick, Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia
August 26, 2011
The New Republic


Judging from the fervor of their celebrations, the Libyan people are acutely aware that they will benefit from the fall of Muammar Qaddafi. But Libya is hardly the only country that has reason to rejoice.

As committed as the dictator was to destroying his own country, he posed an equal—perhaps even greater—danger to developing countries in other parts of the world. From the time he assumed power, Qaddafi leveraged Libya's oil money, and his own willingness to have his country become a pariah state, to support insurgencies from East Asia, to South America, to southern Africa. With any luck, a number of long-running civil wars will disappear from the world stage together with Qaddafi himself.

Qaddafi always made it clear that he wouldn't follow the informal rulebook established by other Arab and African leaders, according to which they never meddled in other countries' affairs: Indeed, his political vision always extended beyond his own borders.

One of his pet projects, in fact, was the World Revolutionary Center, which he established near the city of Benghazi. Stephen Ellis referred to the institution as the “Harvard and Yale of a whole generation of African revolutionaries.” While many of his graduates shared an anti-Western ideology—which appealed to the Libyan dictator's own self-image as one of the few statesmen willing to stand up to would-be imperialists—sometimes the rebels on his bankroll had no discernable ideology at all. Qaddafi's ideological inclinations were often outweighed by his appetite for power, his desire to be seen as a dominant powerbroker in Africa, his fantasies of revenge against America, or simply his love of mischief.

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