By all accounts, the Libyan people had few qualms about the violent end of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, the brutal tyrant who ruled them with a rod of iron for 42 years.

So why should we in the West object to what appears to have been a summary execution of Gadhafi, even though we still don’t know exactly the circumstances in which he met his end through a shot to the head, and maybe never will?

The Libyan transitional prime minister wants the world to believe that Gadhafi was killed in crossfire between rebels and Gadhafi loyalists, having been captured alive. His golden pistol was snatched by a Libyan, wearing a Yankees cap, who found him in a sewer. This is the stuff that Hollywood films are made of. (Wait, there’s already a movie called “The Man With the Golden Gun”).

The U.N. has now demanded an inquiry into Gadhafi’s death, before he is buried. Summary executions, even in wartime, are illegal. It was kind of shocking when the secretary of State expressed the hope that Gadhafi would be “captured or killed” soon. It was not that long ago that the leader formerly known as the “Mad Dog of the Middle East” was feted by the U.S. and U.K. and allowed to pitch his tent in Paris. No wonder he might have been confused when his former friends turned their considerable firepower against him — again.

I’m not defending Gadhafi, but even Saddam Hussein had his day in court. The ousted Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, is on trial in Cairo now.

So it is that the “new Libya” is born of an act of revenge. It does not bode well for the future, even though Gadhafi’s death certainly simplifies the task of Libya’s transitional rulers.

"This is a time to start a new Libya, with a new economy, with a new education and with a new health system — with one future," Mahmoud Jibril, Libya's transitional prime minister, said yesterday after proclaiming Gadhafi's death. That’s not a bad program for starters. The Libyan people deserve it.