walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
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Libya Has No Police: The Afterparty Continues

The Libyan afterparty continues: Militias remain Libya’s only effective police force. Some militia brigades have the power to tap phones and hunt down enemies. Others occupy luxury hotels, patrol borders, or control social services, all blessedly unmolested by government interference:

[B]rigade leaders said that they, not the government, would choose their new officers, and that the current commanders would not yet give up control. The militia leaders say they refuse to submit to the national army or the police because so many of the officers used to work for Colonel Qaddafi.

None of this makes it any easier to find and prosecute the criminals responsible for killing Ambassador Stevens last month.

It also reveals the pitfalls of the liberal humanitarianism. Because our strategic interests in Libya were so small, we went ahead with little calculation and less resolve. When the apparatus of the Qaddafi terror-state was dismantled by the Western-backed revolt, and things started to go south, as they so often do, the Obama administration knew that it lacked domestic support for what in effect would be yet another dicey effort at nation-building in the Arab world.

This is a textbook case of bad policy and poor planning leading to an unholy mess.

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