Lindy McDowell: How crazed Gaddafi rant turned UN into a circus
Colonel Gaddafi didn’t just turn this week’s meeting of the UN Security Council into a circus - he even supplied the tent. Instead of checking out the facilities at the local Hilton or Holiday Inn like anybody else, the Colonel, on foreign assignment, famously prefers to pitch camp.
For the UN visit, he had initially intended to erect his Bedouin tent in parkland in New Jersey.
Once they got wind of this however outraged locals told him where he could put his pegs.
In the end he pitched up — improbably enough — in a back garden belonging to Donald Trump.
After that it was on to the UN for the camping Colonel.
There delegates and the international media were awaiting with keen anticipation the musings of the man once considered pariah of the Western world but now posing as global statesman.
He’s a rare looking boy, Gaddafi.
If you can distance in your mind the man from the horrors for which his regime has been responsible, he cuts an almost comical figure.
His hair is strangely, uniformly dark for a man of his years.
And while he obviously hasn’t had what the beauty editors would call “work done” there is an odd stretched look about his face.
As if he is constantly standing in a sand storm.
His chosen outfit for this presentation featured flowing tan robes and a fez — not the cartoon military uniform he occasionally favours. Upon his right chest was pinned a map of Africa. This replaced the Dulux colour chart he sported last outing.
Despite having been allocated 15 minutes he launched into a 90 minute diatribe which included banging translation equipment to ensure it was working, tearing a chunk out of the UN Charter, throwing this into his audience and branding the UN “a terror council.”
A number of the big hitters in international leadership terms were not there to see his performance. A few delegates even walked out.
And some including a bloke from Ethiopia were either sleeping or giving the distinct impression they wished they could.
But by and large the audience sat where they were and took it.
If Gaddafi had been on the stage for a first audition at the X Factor he wouldn’t have lasted five minutes.
The audience would have booed him off and Simon Cowell would have sent him packing with an earful about delusional posturing.
But the UN, democratic forum as it is of free speech and exchange of ideas, doesn’t have that luxury.
So they just sat there and took it as the vile old rogue revelled in a global media limelight.
And then, next up in the league of despotic after dinner speakers — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, a leader so balanced in his world view that he claims the Holocaust didn’t actually happen.
Many delegates walked out. Unfazed Mahmoud delivered his rant.
“It is no longer acceptable that a small minority would dominate the politics, economy and culture of major parts of the world by its complicated networks, and establish a new form of slavery, and harm the reputation of other nations,” he said of the Jewish people.
Joseph Goebbels himself could have written the speech.
Why did so many delegates from so many nations sit there and take this stuff?
When Gaddafi takes centre stage in the UN Big Top it‘s “send in the clowns” time
But Ahmadinejad is different.
This one was the really scary act in the circus that we’ve seen this week.
Because this one wants to be ringmaster.