Chaos on the Shores of Tripoli?
Published on: January 7, 2012
show comments
  • Kris

    “If Libya falls into another civil war, who will NATO bomb then?”

    Dieu reconnaitra les siens.

    “The natural tendency of a number of developing countries is to fall apart into squabbling and bickering fiefdoms divided along religious, ethnic and tribal lines when the hard shell of dictatorial governance shatters.”

    If we are going to get involved at all, perhaps the best strategy is not to try to fight the natural devolutionary tendency,
    but rather to help them separate peacefully and then come down hard on any aggression. Hardly ideal, but better than the anarchy/dictatorship horns, and more realistic than somehow imposing a semi-civilized unitary state.

  • Kenny

    “Our interests in Libya run deeper than oil, and if events go badly there the west will have to spend more time, money and attention on Libya than many policy makers yet understand.”

    Don’t bet on that. The days of squandering taxpayer money on nation building are over, Mr. Mead.

  • koblog

    Appears to me certain religions work better than others as a national basis: some lead to liberty, teamwork and general prosperity; others to tyranny, tribalism and societal poverty.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Islamic culture doesn’t seem to provide any structure upon which to build anything beyond a dictatorship, and warlords. The difficulty in establishing a democracy in any Islam dominated country is apparent, but I see a desire for democracy at the grassroots developing everywhere and the grassroots will eventually triumph.
    It took South Korea 40 years of American presence to become fully democratic, I think we can do better now with modern communications, but the 8 years we spent in Iraq were likely not enough to ensure the survival of democracy there. At least the Islamic cultures are no longer frozen, but in foment and changing everywhere, as I will take chaos over stagnation any day as at least there is a hope that things will change for the better.

  • gringojay

    Well reasoned analysis & I’d turn down any job offers over there like those passed on in Afghanistan years ago.

  • dearieme

    “there was reason think Libya’s future would brighten”: ya reckon?

  • Toni

    “If the nascent weak state structures in Libya don’t hold together, countries like France, Spain and Italy won’t be able to ignore the consequences. Like it or not, those countries are committed to nation building of some kind on the shores of Tripoli. Fortunately, the Europeans care much more about this than we do…”

    But they’re broke. What *can* they do? That’s a sincere question, and I’m again thinking of the practical challenge.

    As a journalist, I had to explain to readers, ‘Here’s how it works [or will work] in practice.’ Point A had to lead to Point B by pragmatic steps that the reader could envision, and they had to be plausible. That’s how my mind still works.

    The cartoon is fantastic. Oh, that Honest Abe had lived, Bible in hand, to stitch us together. In those days before term limits, he might have figured out how to reconstruct the South without sewing in bitterness and vengefulness. Grant was an able general elevated above his competence. If only…

  • This entire situation certainly raises questions about the intervention to begin with. Did we get rid of a “butcher” only to shift the source of butchery around?

    If our interests are directly threatened, we can and should intervene. When they are not, we should not.

    I have yet to see a compelling reason how Libya directly impacted us (unlike Afghanistan and even, initially, Iraq).

    No one will shed a tear for Gadaffi, but Libya appears to have been a tactical blunder. By the way, his weapons seem to be proliferating to other conflict zones, another reason to doubt the wisdom of this intervention.

  • What neither Bush nor Obama understand is that democracy does not lead to liberty. It leads to oppression by the majority in its many forms (socialism, collectivism, sharia law, etc).

    Instead, our policy towards Libya, Egypt, etc should be to advocate for LIMITED governments with decentralized powers held by competing interests.

    Our Founders implemented such a system in the U.S. with one house of Congress elected by the majority, the other by state legislatures, enumerated powers for the federal government, and all other powers reserved to the states.

    That is such a system by which Liberty flourishes. Unfortunately, we lost that in 1913 with the ratification of the16th and 17th Amendments and passage of the Federal Reserve Act.

  • jaytrain

    Might I suggest three inconvenient verities . Islam as a religio-political system naturally gravitates to authoritarian systems ,inshallah . Most of these nations were constructed in a foreign office conference and have little natural coherence ,cf. Iraq and Sykes-Picot . Lastly , the individuals principal identity is his family and then his tribe ; national identity is not in the mix . The best to hope for is that the oil does keep flowing and allow a Thirty Years War of sorts stabilise matters . Failure to recognise these inconvient truths just produces needless handwringing and tut-tuting

  • Skep41

    The fictitious ‘nations’ created by the Congress Of Berlin and the Versailles Treaty were only viable when the Western powers were dominant. Now that Europe and the US are crumbling physically and psychologically that old framework cant hold these fake entities together. Iraq a nation? No way. Lebanon never existed before 1919. Libya, even under the Ottomans was a patchwork quilt of emirates. Now that the welfare state has destroyed Western Civilization these happy ethnics will return to the savagery from which they were rescued by the Evil Colonialists and those not enslaved by the Chicoms will get to work robbing and murdering each other without restraint.

  • valwayne

    We are just beginning to see the results of Obama’s foreign policy of bows, apology, and appeasement. And we are seeing that Obama’s excuse for an unauthorized war in Libya was a lie. As Libya now shows, and certainly Syria and Iran, Obama doesn’t care how many innocent civilians get slaughtered. Only U.S. military strength has kept things under control despite Obama’s disastrous foreign policy. Now Obama is starting to gut our nation’s military. As that happens expect things to get really scary!!!

  • Kris

    [email protected], I have decided to follow our learned host’s advice and read the Bible. I have now reached Genesis 16:12.

    (I wonder what emoticon I should put here.)

  • pottfullofpith

    “Tripoli is now an unruly patchwork of fiefdoms…”

    There is no “now” about it. Like Yugoslavia in the mid-20th century or India under Moguls and Brits, or modern Egypt, the larger geographical entity has always been fractious and held together under large armies or with bribery, baling wire and secret police.

    In Libya the tribal disputes were not only freseeable but foressen on the dawn of the first day of Arab Spring. In Turkey, it has taken most of a century of very careful military/civil balance to achieve the current level of secular, democratic tradition. I hope it takes only that long for Egypt, Syria and Libya.

  • MlR

    Libya, arguably, is somewhere in between. It does not have the Iraqi or Egyptian experience of thousands of years of more or less orderly though not always very nice government; but its people have much more experience with and desire for life in a more or less orderly and unitary state than do people in Somalia and Afghanistan.

    This is wrong. Prior to their disintegration Afghanistan and arguably Somalia also had stronger and lengthier histories as united and independent countries. Libya was cobbled together from three seperate Ottoman provinces and ruled by the Italians until the end of World War II, at which point it gained independence only because noone wanted it as a colony. (The UN shopped around.) It’s been ruled by one man for the majority of its independent history, who has since been removed. There are no institutions and an even weaker national identity than there is in Afghanistan.

    The ‘liberal interventionists’ who supported this war were both cynical and fools.

  • Fred

    My prediction is coming to pass. Not that I’m some kind of genius, any moron not blinded by political correctness and cultural relativism should have been able to see this coming. The chaos will continue until one tribe slaughters enough of the others to establish a one-party (probably Islamist) dictatorship. The Libyans, like the rest of the Middle East, are clearly among Calhoun’s “unfit for liberty.”

  • Yet again you’re discussing how some foreign country is important to us without mentioning the Constitution. Why is that? You seem to be able to look at the world with clear eyes but unable to see the United States Constitution as the real line in the sand for our support. If a single militia espoused support for the First Amendment, LOUDLY and often, and we dropped ten thousand pump shotguns and ammo for them, would the people of the world notice? Would noticeable support for foundational documents defining proven freedom grow–or not?

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.