Qaddafi was not the worst of the modern world’s dictators; the smallness of Libya’s population did not provide him with an adequate human canvas to compete with Saddam or Stalin. But few were as vain and capricious, and in recent times only Fidel Castro—who spent almost half a century as Cuba’s Jefe Máximo—reigned longer, says Jon Lee Anderson in a profile on the late leader.
What’s the Big Idea?
Regeb Misellati, the former head of Libya’s central bank, says the country had been held as if in 1969, “even intellectually, we are retarded. …There were no civil institutions, no civil society. Qaddafi did not leave anything behind except material and cultural destruction.” And some Libyans want to know why the U.S. despite all its talk about human rights, “hosted him—they didn’t arrest him.”