As the Arab Dominoes Fall, Is Gaddafi Next?

Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt... Libya? Could it be? But why not? Why should Gaddafi be immune to the righteous Arab lust for freedom? He is after all one of the longest-serving, most brutal dictators in the world.
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Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt... Libya? Could it be?

But why not? Why should Gaddafi be immune to the righteous Arab lust for freedom? He is after all the long-serving dictator in the world and arguably the,most brutal, making even Kim Jong Il seem like a petulant schoolboy. Gaddafi has ruled over Libya with an iron first for four decades, plundered its wealth, making himself into one of the world's richest men, and exported murder and terror throughout the globe, particularly to American air travel passengers and servicemen. But we have yet to see any demonstrations against the tyrant's rule in Tripoli.

One would assume this is because the moment ten people get together in a public square to call for Gaddafi's removal in the Libyan capital they will be mown down with machine gun fire as the first syllables escape their lips. Gaddafi has a history of torturing and slaughtering his political opponents with impunity. Brutality is in his very DNA. And unlike Mubarak, who still gives just enough of a damn about Western TV cameras not to have his tanks squash protesters in Cairo, Gaddafi truly couldn't care less. This is a man who openly pressured the semi-corrupt British and Scottish governments to release one of the world's most famous terrorists, Al Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, and then gave him a Mardi-Gras scale celebration upon his return home.

In short, Gaddafi will kill whomever he has to in order to remain in power. So, presumably, will his son and possible successor, Hannibal who, along with his wife, Motassim Bilal, was arrested in Switzerland for beating up their domestic staff and then, for good measure, Hannibal was nearly rearrested again, this time at London's Claridge's hotel beating up his wife.

Faced with a regime this brutal the people of Libya need their own impetus but also external assistance in getting their own revolution started. How the United States, the world's greatest power, interacts with Libya and the signals we send are of monumental importance. If we treat American-based Libyan diplomats as welcome gentlemen we send the message that Gaddafi's is a legitimate government. But if we shun them, offering them the bare minimum of diplomatic niceties and confine them to a small circle of movement within a few miles of their embassies, shows the Libyan people that we're on their side.

By now most people know that Gaddafi tried, in September, 2009, to pitch his terror tent in Englewood, New Jersey, immediately next-door to me. The people of Englewood got together and we staged a mass rally on my front lawn that featured, among others, New Jersey's governor and senior senator and family's of the victims of the Lockerbie tragedy. Our outspoken efforts and willingness to condemn Gaddafi ultimately pushed him out. But the house that serves as the residence of his henchman-Ambassador, who was his former foreign minister, remains, and he lives there tax-free, being fully supported by the decent citizens of Englewood so Gaddafi can save his money for more jails in Tripoli.

With Arab despots falling like dominoes in the Middle East the time has come to kick this terror government out of a state that lost 33 people on Pan Am 101 over Lockerbie. I have already publicly clashed with Congressman Steve Rothman who first joined us in pushing out Gaddafi but later put out a three-paged press release attacking me, rather than the Libyans, and explaining that nothing more could be done to expel the Libyan Embassy from Englewood. But that kind of thinking is over. A new world has emerged with Tunisia and Egypt and we should be putting as much pressure as possible on Arab governments to democratize or face serious penalties.

And in truth, as in Egypt, the fight for freedom here in the United States is going to have to come from the people rather than the politicians. Already we've seen with President Obama that he has watched Egypt like any member of the media, simply following the story rather than serving as any kind of catalyst for democratic reform, a fact that the Egyptian people will predictably hold against America. Worse, our President risked embarrassing himself by making pronouncements about Egyptian freedom well after events have overtaken him and when it was safe to do so. Only when it was clear that Mubarak had lost the Egyptian people did President Obama suddenly find his phone number, call him, and tell him the gig was up. Spreading democracy is something to which our President seems anemic. He has bizarrely shown particular warmth to tyrants, as when he hugged Hugo Chavez with a broad grin, curtsied to the despotic King of Saudi Arabia, and rolled out the red carpet for the President of China shortly after the Chinese threw even the wife of its Nobel Peace laureate dissident in jail. Few will forget how our President also initially failed to publicly support the Iranian people's uprising against Ahmadinejad's stolen election so as not to 'meddle' in internal Iranian affairs. Contrast this with the open contempt with which he treated Israel's democratically-elected leader Binyamin Netanyahu last March.

A freedom agenda is not likely to come from the political echelons currently in office. It must come from the American people.

More than three thousand years ago Moses told another Egyptian tyrant to free the enslaved Israelites. But it would take more than three thousand years for these seeds of liberty to fully blossom in the land of the Nile. The Egyptians have been ruled by Pharaohs, Ptolemys, Caliphs, Kings, and military strongmen. Now they are discovering Moses' ancient freedom-cry, that liberty and the right to determine one's own destiny is the birthright of every human being. And those of us who already enjoy that greatest of blessings must do our part to punish dictators and their cronies and make freedom ring worldwide.

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