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Faces of Death

Deposing dictators in the age of social media.

3:55 PM, Oct 20, 2011 • By VICTORINO MATUS
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It wasn't pretty. In the end, Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi, soaked in blood, was jostled around by rebel forces and either succumbed to his wounds or was finished off. Thanks to digital technology, the entire world can now see the dictator in his final moments and later his lifeless corpse propped up against someone's leg. A phone camera caught the entire morbid sequence.

It's an odd time to witness history: From the abrupt hanging of Saddam Hussein to the brutal end of the brutal Colonel Qaddafi—all captured on video. (But why must the video be so shaky? Can't these people stand still? It's like the images of Big Foot.) No doubt this is only the beginning. President Assad of Syria should take note so as not to end up as a bit of snuff himself.

Still, at what point did Qaddafi realize he was going to get the Mussolini treatment? When he was dragged out of that drainage pipe? (In Mussolini's case, the Italian dictator had disguised himself unsuccessfully as a German soldier.) He surely must have known that desecration would await him and not a proper Muslim burial. But where exactly will he be buried?

According to a Reuters report, "The body of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is being taken to a location which is being kept secret for security reasons." Good luck with that. Mussolini's body was stolen from its grave and not returned to the family crypt until 1957 (it was kept in a steamer trunk at one point by a Fascist sympathizer and later at a convent). Osama bin Laden was dumped into the ocean but Saddam Hussein is buried next to his sons near Tikrit. The Nuremberg war criminals were cremated and their ashes strewn into a ditch. In short, the new Libyan government must decide how best to dispose of Qaddafi in order to prevent his enshrining by loyalists—the sooner the better.

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