Deterring Libya: The Strategic Culture of Muammar Qaddafi
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL
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In September of 1969, Muammar al-Qaddafi then a virtually unknown army officer in his late twenties rose to the leadership of Libya. Armed with a vision of Arab unity and anti-colonialism, he led a small group of his fellow officers who called themselves the Free Officers Movement. In a virtually bloodless coup, they ousted the aging and absent King Idris Al-Sanusi and established Libya as a republic. During the 30 years since, Qaddafi has emerged as a charismatic and complicated leader. Considered by Westerners to be bizarre and irrational, he has been branded a terrorist and a rogue. Among some of his fellow Arabs, he is praised as a virulent anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist, while others condemn him as a plotter and an adventurer whose zealous pursuit of Arab, African, and Islamic unity has only resulted in destabilization. Qaddafi remarked in 1976 that atomic weapons will be like traditional ones, possessed by every state according to its potential. We will have our share of this new weapon. In 1987 Reuters quoted him as saying The Arabs must possess the atom bomb to defend themselves, until their numbers reach one thousand million and they learn to desalinate water and until they liberate Palestine. 1 Qaddafi places little faith in his armed forces and dreads a repeat of the 1986 U.S. air strikes against Tripoli and Benghazi. Reflecting on the air strikes, Qaddafi has wistfully spoken of possessing a ballistic missile capability that could threaten New York.2 Few state leaders have expressed such single-minded determination to obtain chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. This determination, coupled with Qaddafi s long-term association with terrorism, has caused grave concern among other nations especially the United States and Israel.
- Government and Political Science
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics