Qadaffi is an experienced despot; otherwise he would not have held office for forty years. He knows how to calculate the best ways to stay in power.
By my count, Qadaffi can be defeated in four ways:
- His inner circle overthrows him (and most likely kills him).
- He voluntarily leaves the country.
- He is defeated by an opposition army supported by foreign forces.
- He is killed by a targeted missile (or even a stray one).
Option 2 is hard to gauge. We do not know whether Gadaffi is a coward or, more likely, a pragmatic survivor. My own guess is that he will decide his best chance for survival is to stay in Libya and win. Once he leaves, his fate will be determined by others. Options 3-4 are a matter of chance and are unpredictable. Foreign powers, it appears, will not join forces with Libyan rebels, and the Anti-Gadaffi alliance does not seem to have the stomach for assassination by missile.
If history is a guide, the most likely option is number 1: The dictator is killed by his inner circle. Despots, contrary to the Hollywood scenes of an angry mob storming the palace, are killed by their closest associates (Caesar: Et tu, Brute?). The one execution of a dictator as the Soviet empire collapsed was Nicola Ceausescu, whose inner circle lined him and his wife up before a wall and shot them.
(photo credit: Yoshi 2000)