Advancing a Free Society

Let’s Face It, Gaddafi Has Won

Friday, March 11, 2011

As the Western powers dither and deliberate, Kadaffi has won. He will stay in power even if we establish no-fly zones or sanctions with large teeth. Short of actual invasion, Kadaffi will stay in power and will likely pass his power on to his sons when he dies. The Western press will continue to hope as a civil war continues, but its outcome is preordained.

There is a long historical pattern which explains why Kadaffi has won. There are virtually no cases of unconstrained dictators being overthrown. An unconstrained dictator is a Stalin, a Kim Il Sung, or a Saddam, who is willing to take any measure, no matter how brutal or repulsive, to stay in power.

Their state security organizations reach even down into neighborhoods and report directly to them; prison or worse is the price even modest dissidents pay; they shoot first, not particularly worrying whether their victim is a threat or not. They make the price of resistance of any kind so high that only a brave few are willing to take the risk. Any potential rival is a dead man.

These brutal measures have served unconstrained dictators well. Stalin in his three decades of rule faced not a single assassination attempt. (There were two attempts on Lenin’s life in the early days of Bolshevik power. He had not yet had time to build his state security network). Father and son, Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, ruled North Korea for a half century despite incredible economic failure and deprivation of their people.

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