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Ferris Professors Analyze Death of Gadhafi in Libya and What it All Means

LibyaNews of the death of long-time Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has sparked worldwide shockwaves as analysts reflect on Gadhafi’s 42 years as the country’s leader and speculate on what the future now holds for Libya.

His death was confirmed by interim Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, who spoke to reporters on Thursday, Oct. 20 in Tripoli, the capital and largest city of Libya.

Ferris State University Political Science professors Donald Roy and Richard Griffin shared their thoughts on the death of Gadhafi.

“I am fairly sure that most Libyans welcome some sanity, normality – whatever that is – and stability in their daily lives,” said Roy who, among other courses, teaches classes in World Governments and International Politics. “We must wish them well on this unpredictable road of freedom, which will require the renewal of political authority and order, on their terms of course.”

Griffin joined Roy in wishing the best for the Libyan people, but cautioned against assumptions about the immediate or long-term future of Libya and its citizens.

“Right now, it’s still a little early to jump to conclusions about where this is headed,” he said. “Gadhafi had some strong support and his supporters are not simply going to go away in spite of what we believe has happened. If you look at Iraq, Saddam Hussein still has loyalists and he has been dead for some time now.”

Griffin added that world leaders, including leaders from the U.S., could play a significant role in how Libya’s future plays out.

“It’s an exciting time in a lot of ways, but it also is a dangerous time for Libya and that region of the world,” he said. “While a lot of people hold out hope for democracy to prevail in Libya, the tenuous nature of the situation could swing things positively or negatively. Libya could end up with an authoritarian regime. At this point, we don’t know.

“Hopefully the U.S. can take a lead role as the region works toward peace and stability,” added Griffin, who teaches a number of courses at Ferris, including International Organization. “On the other hand, this is a movement, and we don’t exactly know where it’s going. We can’t force democracy on people.”

Jana Pisani, an associate professor of History sees a lot of work ahead in Libya.

“After such a long period of autocracy, there is going to be a lot of work left to do in terms of creating a new government, legal system, military, etc.,” she said. “There will most likely be more violence before all of this is solved in a country that has already seen much destruction and loss of life.” 

Pisani, who teaches a number of world history courses at Ferris, pointed to a neighbor of Libya as a point of reference.

“Just look at Egypt ... months after its revolution, Egypt is still experiencing a great deal of instability,” she said. “Things will not be sorted out quickly in Libya. There are so many possible scenarios for its future.”