"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, August 22, 2011

What Next in Libya After Qaddafi?

Contemporary America tends to think of "revolutions" in other countries in romantic terms, with good-hearted, selfless, poor rebels fighting against the mean, rapacious oligarchs and tyrants.   It isn't often so black-and-white, and the chaos that ensues after the collapse of a regime isn't necessarily conducive to the development of a civil democratic society.   Where will the Egypt be after all the romantic news reporters have gone, and the Islamists have moved in?   Where will Libya be after the "rebels" take Tripoli and Moammar Qaddafi is exiled or executed?  

Victor Davis Hanson, writing in NRO, captures the uncertainty:
What Libya will look like in a year, no one knows. Without U.S. ground troops, we will have no say over the outcome — and ground troops would mean a politically unacceptable third Middle East occupation and reconstruction. Given the proximity of Libya to Europe, and the fact that the British and French started the intervention — not to mention their thinly disguised obsession with its oil — one hopes that those two countries will do their best to ensure some sort of consensual government. In the meantime, I am afraid that Libya’s sizable wealth and unaccounted-for arsenals may wind up in the wrong hands, as we have seen in the new unrest in Sinai.

As for outcomes, there are many scenarios, but these two may be the most likely: either a sort of on-again-off-again chaos until a military-backed clique or strongman emerges and the same old cycle resumes, or some sort of constitutional system in a decidedly Islamic context, analogous to the Turkish model. In the latter case, we could expect the new state’s foreign policy to be anti-Western, friendly to China and Russia, virulently and actively anti-Israel, and more accommodating with Iran and its subsidized terrorist appendages.
In other words, be careful what you wish for.

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