I’ve often been asked what Khadaffi was like. He was a simple Bedouin born in a tent. Khadaffi was disgusted by the poverty and corruption of the Arab world, and its domination and exploitation by the Americans, French and British. He saw himself as a champion of Palestinian rights, and Libya, with only 6 million people, as the leader of modernized Africa.
But he was also a dreamer who often had fanciful schemes, like the Great Manmade River to draw artesian water from the Sahara. He loved to insult his fellow Arab leaders, branding them cowards, thieves and liars. Khadaffi was theatrical and flamboyant and loved to show off.
After spending an evening with Khadaffi in his Bedouin tent, I told him, tongue in cheek, “Leader, we may bomb you but I must confess our women think you are the most handsome and dashing Arab leader.” He beamed and showed me some of his Italian-tailored faux combat wear and kid-skin jump boots. At times he seemed like a kid in a toy store – zany but also serious and determined. According to his many critics, Khadaffi was a dangerous, anti-western megalomaniac.
He was also vilified and demonized by the western media, a process that happened to all third world leaders who refuse to accept western dictates.