This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Good riddance to Moammar Gadhafi, the homicidal, mercurial former dictator of Libya. Few will mourn his death Thursday at the hands of rebels who toppled his regime in August.
There aren't many cases in which deliberate homicide is justifiable, but this is surely one. The people of Libya, who suffered under his grotesque rule for four decades, certainly have no reason to be sorry at his death. In fact, they are jubilant.
Nor will Americans shed any tears. Gadhafi was responsible for years of anti-American terrorism, including the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 which killed 270 people, many of them Americans.
Gadhafi apparently was killed near his birthplace of Surt, though there are conflicting reports about precisely how he met his end. The important fact, however, is that his death brings an end to the grip he held on his nation.
Gadhafi had maintained that control through a deliberate campaign of terrorism against all opposition that spanned the many years he remained in power. The Libyan people were so thoroughly intimidated that the Transitional National Council, the interim government of the rebels who drove him from power in Tripoli in August, did not feel able to proclaim the success of their revolution until Gadhafi was confirmed dead. That day came Thursday.
What the future holds for Libya is uncertain. The interim government has said it will hold elections in eight months. How the government will function in the meantime is impossible to say. The Transitional National Council has been so focused on capturing Gadhafi and ending the resistance of his loyalists that it has not been able to begin the long, hard work of setting up a working government.
How traditional tribal rivalries and the role of Islamist organizations may affect that process also is unknown. That is for the people of Libya to sort out.
In the United States, President Obama will undoubtedly count the death of Gadhafi as a victory for his policy of military intervention in Libya to support the rebels. We opposed that intervention because we were skeptical that it would work. We were wrong about that. But we also opposed it because Obama plunged into a civil war on foreign soil without authorization from Congress, a violation of the Constitution, which reserves the war-making power to Congress except in an emergency. We were not wrong about that.
Still, the president has succeeded in helping the Libyans to free themselves to decide their own future. That's worth celebrating.