I first met Col. Muammar Qaddafi, the leader of Libya in 1978. I was a member of a delegation of 100 or so, which was led by former U.S. Senator William Fulbright. We were a people-to-people “friendship”
Libya was on a downward diplomatic spiral at that time because of Col. Qaddafi’s leadership in what was called the “steadfastness and rejection front.” This bloc–which included Syria, the Palestine Liberation Organization, as well as Libya–was so named because of its steadfastness against, and rejection of Israeli usurpation and occupation of Palestinian land.
The U.S. was ramping up its pressure against Libya, and despite the friendship which Col. Qaddafi showed to Billy Carter, the younger brother of then President Jimmy Carter, soon diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Libya, and Col. Qaddafi and his countrymen were labeled “terrorists.”
I wrote articles which appeared in major corporate-owned newspapers defending what was then called “The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,” or “people’s land.” While I could defend what I thought was a peaceful people, it became increasingly difficult to argue with Col. Qaddafi’s world image. He was frequently referred to as “mercurial” and that was the best of what was said of him in those days.
Col. Qaddafi helped fuel the rumors. He wrote a book of sayings. It was called “The Green Book.” Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Tse Tung had written “The Red Book,” and it became an essential item in the ideological toolkit of many (if not most) campus revolutionaries in the 1960s. Continue reading