Romney’s rhetoric is more informed than Michele Bachmann’s, less nutty than Ron Paul’s, and less self-admiring than Newt Gingrich’s, but his line on Obama’s record on national security and foreign policy is a sham. Obama is responsible for an aggressive assault on Al Qaeda, including the killing of bin Laden, in Pakistan, and of Anwar al-Awlaki, in Yemen. Beginning with his 2009 speech in Cairo, the President has walked a deliberate, effective path on the question of Arab uprisings, encouraging forces of liberation in the region without ignoring the complexities of each country or threatening Iraq-style interventions. He has drawn down forces in Iraq and Afghanistan; awakened to the miserable realities of Pakistan and Iran; and, most recently, played a crucial role, without loss of American lives, in the overthrow of the world’s longest-reigning dictator. If a Republican had been responsible for the foreign-policy markers of the past three years, the Party would be commissioning statues. In Tripoli, Benghazi, and Surt, last week, Obama won words of praise; on Republican debate platforms, there was only mindless posturing. In an election year, the world is too little with us.
From Our Vaults: Seif Qaddafi in 2004
Seven years ago, Danielle Pergament spoke with the captive mysteriously reappearing, now non-captive son of Muammar Qaddafi about Libya’s future. He got a few things right, if not quite how he intended:

How do you see your role in the future of Libya? I can be everything except the leader.
Why do you hate being called the heir apparent? Because I’m not; that’s it. And I shouldn’t accept that title, which I  don’t own. This position cannot be inherited. It cannot be passed from  father to son.
So will Libya soon have democratic elections? Libya will be a democracy soon. Soon is not in one month or two months.  It’s a gradual process and an involved process. And soon—meaning in some  months, years, not weeks—we will start creating democratic  institutions.
How do you see Libya in fifty years? I don’t know if I’m going to be around by that time.

From Our Vaults: Seif Qaddafi in 2004

Seven years ago, Danielle Pergament spoke with the captive mysteriously reappearing, now non-captive son of Muammar Qaddafi about Libya’s future. He got a few things right, if not quite how he intended:

How do you see your role in the future of Libya?
I can be everything except the leader.

Why do you hate being called the heir apparent?
Because I’m not; that’s it. And I shouldn’t accept that title, which I don’t own. This position cannot be inherited. It cannot be passed from father to son.

So will Libya soon have democratic elections?
Libya will be a democracy soon. Soon is not in one month or two months. It’s a gradual process and an involved process. And soon—meaning in some months, years, not weeks—we will start creating democratic institutions.

How do you see Libya in fifty years?
I don’t know if I’m going to be around by that time.

Dispatch From Libya:Evacuating While Black

The rumor about Qaddafi’s African mercenaries has had severe unintended consequences—now every dark skinned man in Libya is suspect. “These are mercenaries, you see!” The men at the checkpoint insisted.  When I asked how they could be sure, one man responded: “By the smell.”
Many migrants don’t carry paperwork, but even those who say they have  shown the rebels their work visas have been targeted and taken from  their homes in the middle of the night. One of the places they are  brought is the courthouse in Benghazi, where they are being held in a  makeshift detention center on the fourth floor.
In the first few days after Benghazi fell to rebel control, the command  center was adamant that the Africans in their care were mercenaries. But  when Human Rights Watch and visiting journalists questioned this, the  rebels shut down access, begrudgingly allowing me in only after a long  argument and the promise that I would not publish any of the Africans’  names.

Over the next few weeks, journalist Sarah A. Topol will be writing    brief dispatches from the civil uprising in Libya for GQ.com.    This is her fifth report from Benghazi.

Dispatch From Libya:
Evacuating While Black

The rumor about Qaddafi’s African mercenaries has had severe unintended consequences—now every dark skinned man in Libya is suspect. “These are mercenaries, you see!” The men at the checkpoint insisted. When I asked how they could be sure, one man responded: “By the smell.”

Many migrants don’t carry paperwork, but even those who say they have shown the rebels their work visas have been targeted and taken from their homes in the middle of the night. One of the places they are brought is the courthouse in Benghazi, where they are being held in a makeshift detention center on the fourth floor.

In the first few days after Benghazi fell to rebel control, the command center was adamant that the Africans in their care were mercenaries. But when Human Rights Watch and visiting journalists questioned this, the rebels shut down access, begrudgingly allowing me in only after a long argument and the promise that I would not publish any of the Africans’ names.

Over the next few weeks, journalist Sarah A. Topol will be writing brief dispatches from the civil uprising in Libya for GQ.com. This is her fifth report from Benghazi.

Dispatch From Libya, Part 3:Qaddafi Will (Still) Be Watching You

The hotel manager staring at me from across the massive desk looks like  an Arab Al Pacino, only with less hair. Jalal won’t break his gaze and  neither will I. We’re locked in some kind of battle of wills about  whether the man who stole all of my camera equipment, but left my  exposed laptop, was a thief or an intelligence goon.
After poring through security tapes (yes hotels in Libya have  surveillance systems as well as internet connections) the men playing  detective at the Tibesti Hotel have found footage of a guy with a key  entering the room I’m sharing with an American videographer. He walks  out almost immediately with everything that would have visual or audio  files—three cameras and an iPhone. He takes the elevator to the second  floor and then goes the rest of the way by the stairs, tilting his head  down at all the right security camera angles.
Libya is one of the last remaining completely controlled police states  where the walls, lampposts and cell networks have ears. The hotel we’re  staying in was a key nerve center for the regime until Benghazi fell to  rebel control over a week ago. Pacino and his deputy are insisting the  man was just looking to make a quick buck. Doubtful.

Over the next few weeks, journalist Sarah A. Topol will be writing   brief dispatches from the civil uprising in Libya for GQ.com.   This is her third report from Benghazi.

Dispatch From Libya, Part 3:
Qaddafi Will (Still) Be Watching You

The hotel manager staring at me from across the massive desk looks like an Arab Al Pacino, only with less hair. Jalal won’t break his gaze and neither will I. We’re locked in some kind of battle of wills about whether the man who stole all of my camera equipment, but left my exposed laptop, was a thief or an intelligence goon.

After poring through security tapes (yes hotels in Libya have surveillance systems as well as internet connections) the men playing detective at the Tibesti Hotel have found footage of a guy with a key entering the room I’m sharing with an American videographer. He walks out almost immediately with everything that would have visual or audio files—three cameras and an iPhone. He takes the elevator to the second floor and then goes the rest of the way by the stairs, tilting his head down at all the right security camera angles.

Libya is one of the last remaining completely controlled police states where the walls, lampposts and cell networks have ears. The hotel we’re staying in was a key nerve center for the regime until Benghazi fell to rebel control over a week ago. Pacino and his deputy are insisting the man was just looking to make a quick buck. Doubtful.

Over the next few weeks, journalist Sarah A. Topol will be writing brief dispatches from the civil uprising in Libya for GQ.com. This is her third report from Benghazi.

Dispatch From Libya, Part 2:Sign Here To Join The Uprising

"All my friends who were soldiers, we called each other on  the phone and planned to go to the bases. We dressed in our military  uniforms and went. They were empty, so we took the guns and ammunition  and brought them back to the people," El Jahari says, shrugging like he  was handing out blankets to flood victims. Now, thanks to El Jahari and the rest of the soldiers-turned-rebels,  everyone in eastern Libya is packing heat. And the kids with the guns  are stir-crazy. It’s been over a week since they liberated Benghazi and  everyone expected Tripoli to quickly follow. Instead, Qaddafi is  hunkered down in his fortified compound Bab al-Aziziya giving TV  interviews, and his remaining loyal forces are staging counter raids  into territory until recently assumed to be firmly under rebel control. That’s why the Rebel Army is kindly asking for its guns back.

Over the next few weeks, journalist Sarah A. Topol will be writing  brief dispatches from the civil uprising in Libya for GQ.com.  This is her second report, from Benghazi.

Dispatch From Libya, Part 2:
Sign Here To Join The Uprising

"All my friends who were soldiers, we called each other on the phone and planned to go to the bases. We dressed in our military uniforms and went. They were empty, so we took the guns and ammunition and brought them back to the people," El Jahari says, shrugging like he was handing out blankets to flood victims. Now, thanks to El Jahari and the rest of the soldiers-turned-rebels, everyone in eastern Libya is packing heat. And the kids with the guns are stir-crazy. It’s been over a week since they liberated Benghazi and everyone expected Tripoli to quickly follow. Instead, Qaddafi is hunkered down in his fortified compound Bab al-Aziziya giving TV interviews, and his remaining loyal forces are staging counter raids into territory until recently assumed to be firmly under rebel control. That’s why the Rebel Army is kindly asking for its guns back.

Over the next few weeks, journalist Sarah A. Topol will be writing brief dispatches from the civil uprising in Libya for GQ.com. This is her second report, from Benghazi.

The Sheen / Qaddafi Mash-Up
Presenting a GQ prose poem, assembled by our very own Mark Byrne from the recent wit and wisdom** of two unexpectedly kindred lunatics:

To sully or contaminate or radically disrespect this union with a shameful contract is something that I will leave to the amateurs and the Bible grippers. This is my country, the country of my great-grandfathers, it’s crystal and it’s pure and its available to everybody.  We planted, and we watered it with our grandfather’s blood. There’s nobility in that, there’s focus. I’m dealing with fools and trolls, Damn them, damn their tribes. if they have tribes, if they don’t have tribe. I’m dealing with soft targets, a group giving money and tablets, these hallucination tablets, to these young people. Well, you’ve been warned dude. Bring it. If we have to use the force then we’ll use it.  And they’re going to fuel the battle cry of my deadly and dangerous and secret and silent soldiers. Because they’re all around you. Get out of your homes, to the streets—secure the streets, take the rats, the greasy rats out of the streets. Winning.  And I’m sure after this call, people tomorrow will call for new committees. This is me warming up. They have awoken a sleeping giant. If I’m misunderstood after yesterday then people are worse off than I thought.  I am talking to you from the house which was bombarded by a hundred and seventy planes, by America and Britain.  I’m gonna hang out with these two smoking hotties and fly privately around the world. I am bigger than any job, I am a revolutionary. I don’t have a tuxedo that fits anymore because my chest and my biceps are too big. If you love with violence and you hate with violence, there’s nothing that can be questioned.  This is a mistake made by a young chap from a preparatory school who doesn’t know history. Winning.

**Who really said what? Read the unfiltered Sheen here, and Qaddafi here.

The Sheen / Qaddafi Mash-Up

Presenting a GQ prose poem, assembled by our very own Mark Byrne from the recent wit and wisdom** of two unexpectedly kindred lunatics:

To sully or contaminate or radically disrespect this union with a shameful contract is something that I will leave to the amateurs and the Bible grippers. This is my country, the country of my great-grandfathers, it’s crystal and it’s pure and its available to everybody. We planted, and we watered it with our grandfather’s blood. There’s nobility in that, there’s focus. I’m dealing with fools and trolls, Damn them, damn their tribes. if they have tribes, if they don’t have tribe. I’m dealing with soft targets, a group giving money and tablets, these hallucination tablets, to these young people. Well, you’ve been warned dude. Bring it. If we have to use the force then we’ll use it. And they’re going to fuel the battle cry of my deadly and dangerous and secret and silent soldiers. Because they’re all around you. Get out of your homes, to the streets—secure the streets, take the rats, the greasy rats out of the streets. Winning.

And I’m sure after this call, people tomorrow will call for new committees. This is me warming up. They have awoken a sleeping giant. If I’m misunderstood after yesterday then people are worse off than I thought. I am talking to you from the house which was bombarded by a hundred and seventy planes, by America and Britain. I’m gonna hang out with these two smoking hotties and fly privately around the world. I am bigger than any job, I am a revolutionary. I don’t have a tuxedo that fits anymore because my chest and my biceps are too big.

If you love with violence and you hate with violence, there’s nothing that can be questioned. This is a mistake made by a young chap from a preparatory school who doesn’t know history.

Winning.

**Who really said what? Read the unfiltered Sheen here, and Qaddafi here.

Dispatch From Libya:The Revolution Will Be Spray-Painted

A 15-year-old boy is standing in front of the burnt out High Court building shaking a can of spray paint. He sneaks an instinctual glance over his shoulder before pushing the valve. There are hordes of people on the sidewalk, but no one cares. The first strokes outline a face, the next a crazy mane of hair, and then the signature turban hat and sunglasses. There’s no expression on cartoon Muammar el-Qaddafi’s face, just the exaggerated features. If he’d tried that a few weeks ago, he would have been imprisoned and tortured, probably killed.

Over the next few weeks, journalist Sarah A. Topol will be writing brief dispatches from the civil uprising in Libya for GQ.com. This is her first report, from Benghazi.

Dispatch From Libya:
The Revolution Will Be Spray-Painted

A 15-year-old boy is standing in front of the burnt out High Court building shaking a can of spray paint. He sneaks an instinctual glance over his shoulder before pushing the valve. There are hordes of people on the sidewalk, but no one cares. The first strokes outline a face, the next a crazy mane of hair, and then the signature turban hat and sunglasses. There’s no expression on cartoon Muammar el-Qaddafi’s face, just the exaggerated features. If he’d tried that a few weeks ago, he would have been imprisoned and tortured, probably killed.


Over the next few weeks, journalist Sarah A. Topol will be writing brief dispatches from the civil uprising in Libya for GQ.com. This is her first report, from Benghazi.

From The Vault: GQ’s 2004 Interview With Seif Qaddafi

How do you see your role in the future of Libya? I can be everything except the leader.
Why do you hate being called the heir apparent? Because I’m not; that’s it. And I shouldn’t accept that title, which I  don’t own. This position cannot be inherited. It cannot be passed from  father to son.
So will Libya soon have democratic elections? Libya will be a democracy soon. Soon is not in one month or two months.  It’s a gradual process and an involved process. And soon—meaning in some  months, years, not weeks—we will start creating democratic  institutions.
How do you see Libya in fifty years? I don’t know if I’m going to be around by that time. I’m 32. Plus,  fifty—
Okay, forty. It’s a very difficult question. Libya by that time should be a part of  the African Union, part of the United States of Africa, the whole  continent one nation. And Libya should be a state, like California, the  Golden State. Why not? We should be the Golden State in Africa, and we  should be integrated with the rest of the Mediterranean countries. This  is the dream of my father.

A brief excerpt from Danielle Pergament’s interview with Muammar’s then-32-year-old son.

From The Vault:
GQ’s 2004 Interview With Seif Qaddafi

How do you see your role in the future of Libya?
I can be everything except the leader.

Why do you hate being called the heir apparent?
Because I’m not; that’s it. And I shouldn’t accept that title, which I don’t own. This position cannot be inherited. It cannot be passed from father to son.

So will Libya soon have democratic elections?
Libya will be a democracy soon. Soon is not in one month or two months. It’s a gradual process and an involved process. And soon—meaning in some months, years, not weeks—we will start creating democratic institutions.

How do you see Libya in fifty years?
I don’t know if I’m going to be around by that time. I’m 32. Plus, fifty—

Okay, forty.
It’s a very difficult question. Libya by that time should be a part of the African Union, part of the United States of Africa, the whole continent one nation. And Libya should be a state, like California, the Golden State. Why not? We should be the Golden State in Africa, and we should be integrated with the rest of the Mediterranean countries. This is the dream of my father.

A brief excerpt from Danielle Pergament’s interview with Muammar’s then-32-year-old son.