Extreme Makeover—Dictator Edition

Friday, May 22, 2009
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton with Mutassim Qaddafi, son of Muammar

After forty years of running Libya as a harshly anti-Western dictatorship, Libya’s leader, Muammar al-Qaddafi has discovered that the United States and other developed nations are willing to turn a blind eye to his continued human rights violations as long as he allows the West access to Libya’s oil and he encourages other foreign investment. In addition, Qaddafi has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Goldman Sachs and the Carlyle Group. In an attempt to make these partnerships more palatable, Qaddafi has hired the lobbying firm of former Republican Congressman Bob Livingston to pitch his country in the U.S.

Qaddafi’s extreme makeover began in 2003 when Libya claimed responsibility for its role in the Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people. In 2006, Qaddafi renounced his weapons of mass destruction program, and in 2008, he agreed to a payout for the families of the Lockerbie victims. 
U.S.-Libyan trade has gone from zero in 2003 to $4.9 billion in 2008. However, the U.S. State Department continues to characterize Libya’s human rights record as “poor,” citing such problems as torture, arbitrary arrest, denial of a fair trial by an independent judiciary, restriction of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, academic freedom, and freedom of religion.
-David Wallechinsky, Jessica Giffin
Libya Continues World Image Makeover (by Amy Guttman, CBS News)
Private Equity Firms Beat Path to Tripoli (by Henny Sender, Financial Times)


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