The mad dog of the Middle East is dead. Muammar Gaddafi, murderer of Libyans and sponsor of deadly terrorist attacks against Americans, died as violently as his countless victims. Gaddafi’s death is just another sign of the change in the 21st century toward democratic institutions and the potential promise that the Information Age holds for the oppressed and the greater world.
The Arab Spring was the culmination of technology defeating government censorship. It has prevented closed countries from staying closed and enabled worldwide coverage of crises that would otherwise go unreported. South Sudan, a free Libya and a free Egypt exist because of these advances.
With the Internet, the world was aware of Gaddafi’s death within seconds. And with the mass distribution of cellphone video cameras, the world could see his broken body and know he is no longer a threat to global security.
With these tools, protests become easier to organize and uprisings become easier to track and publicize. Syria can no longer hide instances where it massacres its civilians because the videos will eventually find their way to YouTube – along with the details on Twitter.
People in developed countries can hear these pleas thanks to the Internet and social media. This public awareness increases the likelihood of international response. There is no chance Libya would be free today if it was not for the armed intervention of NATO. The intervention was late, but still managed to turn the tide in favor of the Libyan people.
Thanks to new technology, foreign governments were better able to gauge the authenticity of the Libyan struggle and assign a high likelihood of a true revolution. Because of that, foreign governments acted and Gaddafi is now dead.
Other nations are not so lucky. Syria remains in the midst of a struggle where the government, propped up by Iran, is in firm control. The rebels in Libya seemed to start gaining momentum against Gaddafi when top diplomatic officials and military leaders started defecting. That has not happened in Syria.
In Iran, a struggle is brewing between an anti-American President in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and an anti-American religious leader in Ayatollah Khamenei. This could provide an opportunity for the people to split the difference and take over. If any uprising happens, it will be publicized and everyone will know.
Gone are the power structures of yester-year, where dictatorships could hold the large democracies in fear. During the past few years, fears of overthrow have contributed toward many dictatorships looking after their own safety. Americans will soon be able to enjoy products from these countries. The hegemony by unfriendly nations over oil is ending.
Furthermore, less money will have to be spent on defense. The greatest threats to the United States are in these smaller countries that threaten U.S. interests such as Iran and North Korea. Large countries such as China pose an existential threat, but with our economic ties and nuclear deterrence, diplomacy will remain the desired path for both countries.
Without dictators such as Gaddafi, we will not need the fancy toys to find and kill them. This will ultimately lower taxes and help reduce the deficit, benefiting every citizen. It will take time, probably measured in decades, but the world is changing and freedom is winning the struggle.
Gaddafi’s death does not mark the end of the fighting in Libya, nor does it mark the end of uprisings around the Middle East and the world. However, his death does show how with modern communications and foreign support, decades of oppression can come to an end.