It’s said that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi presents an excellent example of this tendency. One could illustrate this fact through the usual means: by talking about how Gaddafi started out not half-bad and ended up a maniac. How he initially ensured the oil wealth of Libya went to the people of Libya, and how he ended up being overthrown by those same people.
But a picture is worth a thousand words:
This is young Gaddafi, back when he just took over control of Libya.
The man here is very different from the image of Gaddafi that the world is used to seeing. Gaddafi actually looks quite compelling here. He is charismatic and undeniably handsome, probably more handsome than a good majority of human males. This was before Gaddafi had been in power for a while.
Compare this to the Gaddafi we all knew and loved:
Not so handsome anymore.
One can see the effect of decades of absolute power just by looking at Gaddafi’s face. There is a peculiar effect that holding power has on the way people look (one can see it on the faces of many American politicians). Gaddafi has the look of a man unused to being disobeyed or questioned. There is an air of manic about his eyes. It’s the look of a man who has held absolute, unquestioned power for too long.
One hopes that the next leader of Libya will not have that look.