Kadhafi Lashes West in UN Diatribe
UNITED NATIONS ~ Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi berated Western powers in a UN diatribe, accusing the global body of failing to prevent millions of deaths as he demanded trillions of dollars in colonial reparations.
The maverick Libyan gave what may go down among the more memorable speeches to the UN General Assembly, referencing issues as diverse as the John F. Kennedy assassination, Philippine emigration and swine flu as many fellow leaders gradually drifted out of the room.
Paying his first visit to the 192-member body in his 40 years in power, Kadhafi was introduced to the podium on Wednesday by the title “King of Kings,” immediately after US President Barack Obama.
Sporting a sand-hued tribal robe with an oversized lapel pin in the shape of Africa, Kadhafi flagrantly defied orders by the General Assembly’s chair – a fellow Libyan – to speak for 15 minutes, and went on for one hour, 35 minutes.
He denounced the UN Security Council – where five powers hold veto power – as a “Terror Council” and blamed it for failing to prevent 65 wars since its creation in the aftermath of World War II.
“Superpowers have interests and they use the power of the United Nations to protect their interests. The third world is terrified and being terrorized and living in fear,” Kadhafi said.
“Sixty-five wars broke out after the establishment of the United Nations. The victims are in the millions, more than the victims of World War II,” he said.
With too many countries vying to join the elite club of the Security Council, Kadhafi said the United Nations should instead empower its General Assembly to make binding decisions.
Kadhafi, who said he was speaking “in the name of 1,000 African kingdoms,” also demanded compensation from the West for colonization of the continent and provided a precise figure – US$7.77 trillion.
“The Africans will call for that and if you don’t give that amount – $7.77 trillion – the Africans will go to where you have taken these trillions. They have the right and they will bring the money back,” Kadhafi said.
Kadhafi’s visit was dogged by controversy. Relatives of some of the 270 victims of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, prevented Kadhafi from pitching a tent around the New York area.
The New York Post reported that Kadhafi, who sleeps outside in homage to his Bedouin roots, finally tried to pitch a tent on a property owned by mogul Donald Trump in suburban Westchester County until officials intervened.
Some 50 Libyan exiles and US critics of Kadhafi rallied outside the UN headquarters to denounce him as a murderer. However, they were countered by supporters from the Nation of Islam, an African-American nationalist movement with longstanding ties to Kadhafi.
Despite the length of his speech, Kadhafi did not come close to record-holder Fidel Castro, who spoke to the UN General Assembly for four hours, 29 minutes in 1960, the year after he seized power in Cuba.
Kadhafi heaped praise on US President Barack Obama, saluting his efforts to reach out to the world and saying he would not mind if the US leader remained president forever.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama did not watch the Kadhafi speech, and laughed off the comment that he should remain president for eternity.
“Leaving aside the amendments in the constitution which the president agrees with wholeheartedly, it would be an interesting concept to continue being president beyond one’s natural born life,” Gibbs said.
But Kadhafi, long an international pariah, also attacked one of Obama’s key foreign policy goals, questioning his build-up of US troops in Afghanistan to fight Taliban extremists.
Noting that no Afghans attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, Kadhafi said the Taliban’s goal of a rigid Islamic state was not a threat.Filed under: Our World