so after being killed and captured a total of 47 times in the span of 12 hours because every armchair politico and journalism school failure wanted to be first to break the news, which only ended up causing a massive pandemic of false alarms, there is finally some certainty that the old colonel is no longer in control of the country he's strongarmed for the last 42 years. now we can procede to play a hilarious game of where's waldo as nobody knows where the fuck he is.
i'm no fan of gaddafi. i think he's a complete asshole. but there is no way i am convinced that removing him from libya is suddenly going to transform libya into some progressive human rights haven that follows the rule of law and respects fundamental human rights. we saw the toppling of saddam in iraq, and the removal of the taliban in afghanistan, the regime change in egypt, and countless other examples in modern history. cutting the head off the dragon doesn't result in shit changing. people just end up partying for a few days, and then it all goes back to the way it was, or as is most often the case, things end up being worse.
the problem with 'regime change' is that it's become completely meaningless in the modern context. the leader may change, but the underlying infrasture, the power base, the culture, social values, belief systems, et al, remains the same. gaddafi held libya at his mercy with an iron fist, but let's not be delusional and think it was only him. he had a large supporting cast. we saw the same thing happen in egypt -- mubarak is finally gone, and there was much rejoicing, but the arab spring has continued into an arab summer as people sobered up and realised that the changes promised were not delivered because mubarak's heir apparents weren't really all that different -- i mean, how could they be? these are the same men who were raised in the same culture that that mubarak fostered.
it's easy to replace a leader, but it takes generations to change culture, especially when it has been so deeply embedded into a nation's institutions for so long, making it a remarkably stubborn beast of burden, and will take years of forward-thinking people to make sure things don't revert back to the way it was. when the dust settles in libya, we'll see how much resolve the rebels have when the clear target of gaddafi is gone, and a much more esoteric vision of a progressive libya is the next challenge. modern history has shown that the leader was only a mini-boss, and culture is the final boss.