In March 2008, Muammar al-Qaddafi took the podium at an Arab League summit in Damascus to deliver one of his famously long-winded and rambling speeches. Halfway through, he issued a prophetic warning, berating the assembled heads of state for acquiescing to the overthrow and subsequent execution of Iraq's Saddam Hussein. "A foreign power occupies an Arab country and hangs its leader while we all stand watching and laughing," Qaddafi thundered. "Your turn is coming soon!"
The audience broke into laughter. As television cameras panned across the room, the summit's host, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, chuckled. Qaddafi continued, undeterred: "Even you, the friends of America. No, I will say we -- we, the friends of America. America might approve of our hanging one day." There was more laughter.
They are not laughing now. Qaddafi was the last of the old-style Arab nationalist strongmen, and his death on Thursday marks the end of
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