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He may be mad -- but he's also dangerous

WAS it a last act of theatre, so that if this really is the end, he at least knows he wrote his own memorial?

Was it just force of habit, the only way he knows -- making violent, blood-curdling threats in which he promised to go down fighting and taking as many of his people with him as necessary?

Or did he really believe he could, even now, revive a revolutionary, 1960s self-image as a glorious leader, an Arab Fidel Castro?

Muammar Gaddafi's speech certainly had the length -- an hour and a quarter -- but there was no audience, and to his people he must have seemed more like a lonely old man ranting on a street corner than their pillar of strength, the bold and original leader that he clearly believes himself still to be.

Before getting into his stride, he repeated himself without making sense, just tumbling out confused revolutionary catchphrases about the "superpowers", the "rats and cats" ranged against him, civil war, death and retribution.

There was a script, but he seemed to veer from it, often stopping and looking lost.

Like Presidents Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt before him, Col Gaddafi made vague promises of reform but went much further in what was on offer if these promises were not accepted by the vast numbers ranged against him. "Capture the rats," he ordered his followers.

He turned to his Green Book, the instructions he wrote for his people more than three decades ago. He said those protesting against his rule were fomenting a civil war, and added: "The sentence for waging civil war is death."

It was a ludicrous spectacle. Col Gaddafi may be mad, but he remains dangerous, and it is not clear what force it will take to dislodge him. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent