It's hard to know why I'm left feeling that it shouldn't have ended this way. Not because I have any love for Qaddafi, but rather because his capture was a chance to set a new standard in Muslim politics. Just as these uprisings assert the long and unfairly denied tradition of accountability in Islam, the chance to try leaders before a court of law is also to return us to the Prophetic standard of incorporation, not extermination, and impartial examination, not frenzied eradication.
I've shared some thoughts at Religion Dispatches:
As vile as bin Laden and Qaddafi were, they should have been tried. Perhaps that was impossible. Perhaps we will never really know. And perhaps this is a moral conceit that is ultimately irrelevant—would postwar Europe have been very different had Hitler gone on trial? But Hitler had taken his own life, and with it the Nazi cause. His few remaining diehard loyalists could not claim he was mistreated.
Seeing a wounded, bloodied Qaddafi jeered at and propped up on a pickup truck, then stumbling and terrified, I saw a human [warning: graphic video here]. The myth of the dictator had come spectacularly undone. His claim to power and his arrogant prestige had deserted him, and he was in the end a pathetic, hideous thing, hated and humiliated. We do not always see justice in this world. But seeing what happened to Qaddafi, it is hard to deny there is not here an epic, divine, overwhelming arc of evil rising and consuming itself. He brought this on himself.
Read the full essay here.