Pragmatic Perspective: Gadhafi's death is telling of Libya's future

The death of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi has been controversial to say the least. While for some it is an incredibly happy day to see his bloody corpse plastered all over the news, for others, like myself, it saddens us despite the heinous crimes he committed.

Of course, I am not saddened in any way knowing that Gadhafi can no longer hurt another human being and I’m incredibly happy, while a bit terrified, for the liberation of the Libyan people, who have been freed of a terrible and tyrannical dictator. Their liberation is certainly something to be celebrated, but the death of one more human life, no matter how vile that life may have been, is not.

The details of Gadhafi’s death are still a bit vague, but, by most reports, Gadhafi was murdered, dragged through the streets and displayed on ice like some trophy animal just gunned down by the skilled hunter. Gadhafi’s death and the manner in which it was handled are frightfully telling of the possibilities and likelihood of a just and civil society emerging from the rubble of this revolution. There are two issues I see with how the death of Gadhafi and the manner in which it was carried out will affect the future of freedom in Libya.

The first is that justice was not served by murdering Muammar Gadhafi. This is a man who has oppressed millions, allegedly committed acts of terror and who is guilty of egregious crimes against the Libyan people. And how will justice be served? It cannot, because any hope of bringing Gadhafi to justice was lost with his life. Taking one more life cannot and does not justify the many deaths that have already been lost. No matter how despicable, pitiful and pathetic his life and reign may have been, a legitimate trial and sentence for each of Gadhafi’s crimes, and ultimately watching him rot in prison would have been the highest level of judgment. Instead, Gadhafi was dealt the get-out-of-jail-free card.

The second issue I for see is stable future for a justice system in Libya. If Gadhafi’s death and post-death activities are any indication of the future of the rule of law in Libya, then their future is not bright — at least, not as bright as we might hope. I can only have sympathy for the people of Libya, for I have absolutely no idea what it is like to live under the rule of such an oppressive regime, but I wish, for their sakes, that they had not returned such brutality, because an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth doesn’t typically sit well within the rule of law.

The death of Gadhafi will certainly have an effect on the future of Libya. Whether that effect if purely negative or positive is yet to be seen. I like to think of myself as an optimist and hope for the best in this situation. Learning from the oppression experienced during the Gadhafi rule, I hope that Libyans can rise up as a people and prove the critics wrong and turn around a seemingly rocky start into a hopeful future, not only in Libya, but the entire Arab world.