What’s a “backward country”? A dictator’s definition

“… Clad in a faded sport shirt, khaki slacks, and worn leather slippers, Qaddafi presented a very different picture from the flamboyant figure in extravagant dress long familiar to the outside world. He looked tired. In the past 12 hours, he had talked with three African presidents and the Italian foreign minister, worked on plans for a summit conference, and given a stern lecture to the city fathers of Beida regarding unchecked development in the picturesque Green Mountains around the city. “We are a backward country,” Qaddafi said matter-of-factly. “People don’t understand that we are damaging the land, damaging the environment.”
— from Libya: An End to Isolation?, by Andrew Cockburn, National Geographic, November 2ooo, pp. 14-5

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In related news: Later this year, National Geographic will begin publishing an Arabic edition that will be distributed to 15 countries, including Libya, which is home to one of the world’s worst human rights regimes and, wholly devoid of any independent media; indeed, it is consistently referred to as having one of the worst press freedom environments.”

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