The sudden collapse of Muammar Gaddafi's resistance has created a global media free-for-all. Gaddafi is one of the most high-profile figures in the Arab world. He has been on a rollercoaster ride over the past six months, defeating expectations several times.
Gaddafi's fate has told the world two things. First, never underestimate the power of the people. The Libyan civil war resulted from Gaddafi losing the support of his people, particularly those in the east. The spread of the Arab Spring and the help of Western governments were unlikely to have a deep impact without the support of the people.
The second lesson to learn from Gaddafi's demise is that a weak country cannot easily control its own fate. It cannot escape the will of the major powers.
If Gaddafi had woken up to public demands earlier and pushed reforms through before the West decided to remove him, he might have avoided a civil war and taken Libya down a different path. Now, Libya's future lies in the hands of the West.
Gaddafi's unique personality has complicated Libya's situation. Initially, when the war broke out, global media predicted that he would not last long, but he lasted several months. Yet this time, he lost control abruptly. After the failure to predict his fate last time, journalists have stopped trying to tell the future. Until on Monday, major international news agencies, and even political leaders like Barack Obama, described Gaddafi's situation as being "on the edge of collapse." Overthrowing Gaddafi is entertainment for the media, but talk of rebuilding is not. The West has to take responsibility for clearing up its mess in Libya .
There are too many places in the world that need to be rebuilt right now. Afghanistan and Iraq are already headaches, and Egypt is added to the list. The West is going through economic hardship now, and it is doubtful whether it can stand the Libyan burden?
This is the price of revolution. As long as Libyan people accept this price and have the patience to endure the pain, they can pull through these tough times. But patience is a rare commodity after a revolution, as seen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt.
We hope Libya can do better. It has oil and a small population. The experience of other countries may offer some lessons to avoid some measure of pain.