I don’t remember why we had lunch with Saif Gaddafi. The invitation came through an intermediary about five years ago. It was him and a friend and Joe and me. We met at an old hotel in Rome and lunched in the rather formal dining room. He and Joe talked for a couple of hours about economic development and some of the different possibilities for a country like Libya. Nothing too exciting — irrigation and credit, the need to spend money on education, share the oil wealth, create jobs. He invited us to visit and someone from the Qaddafi Development Foundation followed up a few months later.
For obvious reasons (human rights, anyone?) we didn’t want to go and so never bothered to get back in touch. It was clear he was positioning himself for what he thought would be his eventual job of running the country one day and thinking about how he would do it. His last question was unforgettable: he bit his lip, looked perplexed and said to my husband, “tell me: does anyone still believe in Marxist economics anymore?”Joe said no and launched into a long explanation of why this was the case. Saif looked very relieved, unfurrowed his brow and exclaimed, “I knew it! I keep telling my father but he just won’t listen.”