He failed as a nationalist leader because he failed to extinguish the tribalism that should have been extinguished if Libya was to call itself properly a nation.
Nationhood is a collective consciousness of their desire to in the same group that transcends race and class because it is perceived that their long term best interests would be better protected than previously.
|Map of the traditional regions of Libya|
Clearly, Gaddafi failed to unite all these regions into a cohesive sense of nationhood and he failed to make alliances with China and/or Russia to protect himself from the West.
'Ummah' - the Muslim version of Christendom - is sometimes translated as nation. This demonstrates that the concept of nation is greater than that of race.
Civic nationalism is the only true form of nationalism and ethno-nationalism is just divisive tribalism glorified.
The concept of nation transcends race. They are not the same thing or they would not be two different words. The former is abstract, nobler and harder to grasp, and the other refers to the colour of a person's skin.
Nationalism ought really be a pragmatic ideology of the serving the National Interest, and the National Interest is nothing more and nothing less than a judicious balance of the conflicting interests of those who form part of that nation.
Let us then define Nationalism in the only rational way it can be defined as - a concept which simultaneously transcends race and leaves you free to be with your own kind, if that is what you wish.