Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Libya: Now What?

Now that the end of the Qaddafi regime is all but assured, Andrew Solomon at The New Yorker looks at what’s next.

Few citizens will cry if Qaddafi hangs, but many fear that the eastern tribes, long disadvantaged inside Libya, will be harsh to the western ones if they win power. The Transitional National Council, which speaks for the rebellion, has been surprisingly effective at keeping the fighting going for six months; but to suggest that it represents the views of all Qaddafi’s opponents would be naïve. It doesn’t even represent the views of all members of the established resistance in the eastern part of Libya, and it will surely not represent the interests of the many sophisticated Tripolitans who despise the Leader, but also dislike the rebels’ ragtag chaos. The T.N.C. has tended to describe itself in whatever terms will most effectively secure it NATO’s continued allegiance. These are nothing more than campaign promises, irrelevant to postwar leadership and reconstruction.

The problem the U.S. or any western power faces in helping a revolution is that there is no assurance that the the people they support are going to be any better than the people they overthrew. Often times the new leaders, in their attempt to consolidate power and show that they are no one’s puppet, will bite the hand that fed them — or at least provided air power to get them into the capital. Gratitude for outside support is not high on the list of any rebel’s agenda: they want to appear as if they did it all on their own.

By the way, that applies to some of our own people. Would it have killed John McCain, Lindsay Graham, and a lot of the GOP to be at least gracious enough to acknowledge President Obama’s role in the downfall of Qaddafi?