Ever since Libya‘s former leader, Muammar Gaddafi has been pronounced dead, the international response has been more than favorable. One of enthusiastic triumph, it appears the global opinion is that the removal [in this case, the literal elimination] of such a dreaded figure is, well, just plain awesome. Even going so far as to place his body on display for public viewing* – a complete violation of Islamic burial procedures by the way – the National Transitional Council (NTC) is basically rallying behind his demise, praising it as a gateway to a “liberated Libya”.

A Question Arises:

Why the calls from the US for an investigation into his death, when no such calls were demanded after the deaths of Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden? Why do we care about how this bad guy croaked and not how the others did? In this country, when decidedly evil people die in war, in shootouts with police, or at their own hands via suicide, requests for intensive investigations rarely occur – most instances are approached as a cut and dry “wicked witch is dead, let’s all get on with our lives” mantra. In the case of internationally regarded villains such as Hussein and Bin Laden, very little probing (if any) occurred upon their announced deaths. The world – including a rejoicing America – jumped with triumphant glee, and brought out the chips and dip. For crying out loud, Bin Laden’s body wasn’t even photographed before he was [supposedly] chucked into the sea (also against Islamic law). Wam-bam, thank you Imam. And this was the world’s #1 most wanted dude. No questions asked, no investigations issued. Just a whole lot of celebrating and patting ourselves on the backs for a mission truly accomplished.

The message being sent is, at best, rather muddled. The head of the NTC, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, is claiming that Gaddafi was mortally wounded during “crossfire” between NTC fighters and pro-Gaddafi loyalists while he was being moved to Misrata. He was in the custody of NTC fighters when the shooting broke out, and was allegedly shot by accidental flak. However, apparently influenced by the US, Britain and other human rights groups, Abdel Jalil and the NTC are assembling a task force to further investigate the circumstances surrounding Gaddafi’s death – if anything, to quell the appeals (ie. shut them up) in an attempt to appear “fair”, and thus moving towards a democratic Libya. Because if there’s anything that the international community can unanimously agree on is that appearances are, quite frankly, everything.

The Plot Thickens:

The notion that Gaddafi loyalists purposely targeted the former leader in order to silence him from implicating them during any sort of trial is one shared by many calling for the investigation, as the issue of human rights also makes its way into the forefront of discussion. Yes, you read that correctly: human rights. In a country where those two words haven’t been put in the same sentence for a good long while, I keep wondering how they conveniently sneaked their way back in now. Interesting.

The Libyan people have long awaited the capture and prosecution of the dreaded Gaddafi for some time, with the overwhelming opinion that the tyrant should be tried, convicted for his crimes and made to suffer an extensive, dreadful sentence in jail. However, since the discovery of 53 decomposing bodies found in Sirte by the New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW), along with reports of looting, “trend killings” and other crimes by anti-Gaddafi supporters, the theory that these ‘freedom fighters’ have taken matters into their own hands – and considered themselves above the law – has instigated the demand for a more thorough investigation into Gaddafi’s actual assassination. Translation: we [the US, GB, etc] want to make sure that the people responsible for eliminating one of the world’s most despised figures are not officially associated with any “illegal” deeds along the way that could call into question the validity of the former ruler’s warranted – albeit ‘accidental’ – execution. We wouldn’t want our hands to be dirty with any human rights violations or anything like that – even though the bad guy is gone. Let’s just keep this clean, shall we?

What Do We Want? Control! When Do We Want It? Always!

What troubles me is this: when the situation can be controlled, and the forces that take down a threat are directly guided and managed by a unified entity (usually government), all investigations are considered mute and unnecessary. After all, the oppressive fiend was eliminated and it’s happy, happy, joy, joy. But when other forces beyond the immediate control of a government operate outside the confines of that governmental fence, by-the-book procedures are conveniently presented as the proper way to conduct any impartial business. The general public – domestic and international – can then be swayed to trust their government to implement fair and decent judicial proceedings, no matter how awful the culprit in question was; in life or death. With no one questioning the logic (or lack thereof) and the extremely conditional components of the process, governments – both Western and Middle Eastern – can function to impose those rules when it suits their greater agenda: to appear just.

*Reuters news agency reported that the NTC had ended the public viewing of Gaddafi’s body at 3:00pm local time (13:00 GMT) on  Monday, October 24, 2011. His body was on display since his killing on Thursday, October 20, 2011.

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