October 20, 2011
A video image taken from Libyan TV shows former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi alive Thursday and surrounded by revolutionary fighters in Libya.
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How leadership develops — and it will have to develop quickly — will determine whether this revolution was a success, or a merely a case of replacing one authoritarian government with another. We can only hope that the Libyans took a deep fresh breath of democratic freedom and will refuse to return to the foul, stifling stench of oppression.
Dragged from hiding in a drainage pipe, a wounded Moammar Gadhafi raised his hands and begged revolutionary fighters: “Don’t kill me, my sons.” Within an hour, he was dead, but not before jubilant Libyans had vented decades of hatred by pulling the eccentric dictator’s hair and parading his bloodied body on the hood of a truck. The death Thursday of Gadhafi, two months after he was driven from power and into hiding, decisively buries the nearly 42-year regime that had turned the oil-rich country into an international pariah and his own personal fiefdom. It also thrusts Libya into a new age in which its transitional leaders must overcome deep divisions and rebuild nearly all its institutions from scratch to achieve dreams of democracy.