Muammar Qaddafi Builds a Doomsday Machine

Muammar Qaddafi<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/brqnetwork/5510847220/">BRQ Network</a>/Flickr

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As the civil war in Libya approaches its sixth month, Muammar Qaddafi is reportedly sitting on a contingency plan that could make Dr. Strangelove blush.

According to Russian envoy Mikhail Margelov, the embattled despot has said that if rebels were to capture Libya’s capital, Tripoli, he would respond by completely leveling the city. The Daily Telegraph has the story:

Mikhail Margelov, in an interview with the Russian Izvestia daily, said: “The Libyan premier told me: if the rebels seize the city, we will cover it with missiles and blow it up.”

Mr Margelov met Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmudi last month.

“I imagine that the Gaddafi regime does have such a suicidal plan,” he added…

The dictator’s alleged threat to raze his own capital city fits in with his tendency to make wild, bloodlusty pronouncements, including his promise to “target any traitor who is cooperating with…the [Americans’] Christian Crusade,” or his early-July vow to spread the war to Europe in retaliation to NATO intervention.

The Qaddafi regime’s diminishing supplies and funds suggest that such a large-scale counterattack would be tricky to implement. MSNBC reports:

[New US intelligence reports] point to three key indicators: dwindling fuel supplies, a cash crisis and reports of low morale among regime troops…A Libyan official also said the country was facing a food shortage as the lack of fuel meant only 20 percent of crops have been harvested.

But shrinking stockpiles are hardly the main reason why Qaddafi’s newest plan probably wouldn’t get past the brainstorming stage. “I don’t think he’d be able to pull it off,” Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow and defense expert at the Center for American Progress, told Mother Jones. “His people wouldn’t put up with it. There have already been many defections. No doubt he might try, but there’s a big difference between blowing up, say, a commercial airliner and orchestrating a mass suicide in a city.”

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Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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