We awake this morning to the news that Muammar Gaddafi has retired from his position atop a throne of skulls in the customary way. I would be churlish to note that “days not weeks” resulted in 216 of the former, the latter being an exercise left to the reader. If true, this is a huge victory for Nicolas Sarkozy, Prime Minister David Cameron, Italian oil consumers, and – potentially – the Libyan people. President Barack Obama may also be congratulated for the first successful demonstration of the former hyperpower’s ability to “lead from behind.”
The Libyan Transitional National Council had claimed that its fervent desire was to see the dictator tried and punished for his manifest crimes. In an age of abbreviated attention spans, the legal niceties have apparently been foregone.
Happy as I am to see a people unshackled, and satisfied to see a brutal thug laid low, yet do I wonder all the more what will emerge from the wreckage left in his wake.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
– W.B. Yeats