Now where did I put that dissident…?
Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi appeared today before a Georgetown audience in the ICC Auditorium via satellite uplink, and though his video presence failed to inspire more student ire than JuicyCampus’ Matt Ivester, that’s not to say the event was without highlights, including Qaddafi’s characterization of Osama bin Laden as “reasonable.”
As is typical of guest speaker events, the most interesting part of the conference was the Q and A session. An anonymous student put Qaddafi in the hot seat for a moment when he asked whether Qaddafi would ever apologize for the Libyan terrorist bombing of a flight over Scotland, to which he replied:
“My son, my son, this file has been closed. It is not in the interest of anyone that we start in what we call grave digging. If you want to go to arbitration, Libya will turn out to be innocent of anything .. And if we start digging the graves, we go back to Philadelphia, we go to the massacre in Iraq, we go back to the revolutionary war and the constitution. It is not in the interest of anyone to reopen this discussion.”
After the conference, several family members of ‘Lockerbie incident’ victims introduced themselves from among the audience members, including Kathleen Flynn, the mother of three recent Georgetown graduates whose son died on Pan Am Flight 103. The room grew still as she spoke briefly about the results of Libya’s compliance with U.S. demands in the wake of the terrorist attacks, and concluded,
“When you think about terrorism, you now have a human face to place on it—ours. And now you have another.”
Qaddafi also responded to a question concerning the whereabouts of Mansour Kikhiya, a former Georgetown Professor and critic of Libya who went missing from a Cairo hotel shortly after leaving Libya in 1993, offering little outside of condolences. He also discussed plummeting oil prices, and while he did not outline Libya’s exact anticipated response, he did say that he has “seriously discussed” nationalizing its oil supply.
Qaddafi’s final Q and A response was in answer to a question about the future of America’s foreign policy:
“Obama should be given a historic chance, and we should try to give America a fresh look and forget about the past … I think there is propaganda for terrorism in America. Terrorism is a dwarf, not a giant. I think Osama bin Laden should be given a chance to reform and redirect his followers if he wants a dialogue.”
The bulk of the conference before the Q and A was standard fare—Qaddafi outlined his rather reductionist (according to SFS Prof. Michael Hudson) solution to the Israel-Palestine “headache,” Israstine. Before the videoconference officially began Qaddafi could be seen, apparently unbeknownst to him, searching for a good place for his microphone amongst his resplendent purple robes and perusing his own White Book.
Photo by Dan McFadden. On Thursday, a link will appear to more coverage in the Georgetown Voice.