The international community worked at a furious pace to hammer out the terms of intervention in Libya. But the seemed to spend more time “getting the European Union, the Arab League, the G-8, and the Security Council to agree on the language than on the content” of the UN Security Council Resolution, writes Dirk Vandewalle, Associate Professor of Government at Dartmouth College.
At this point, the international community has two options: to either protect the opposition movement in Cyrenaica, the vast eastern province in which Benghazi is located, but not force Qaddafi out of power, or make Qaddafi’s ouster an explicit goal…
If international action simply contained Qaddafi by halting his advance, he would be left in control of Tripolitania, the northwestern province in which Tripoli is located, leaving Cyrenaica effectively independent…
But politically speaking, such a division would be disastrous.
He goes on to argue that the “international community needs a proactive agenda and a clear plan for the intervention” in Libya if the country is going to recover post-Qadaffi.
Qaddafi’s departure would leave behind a political vacuum that would need filling as soon as possible.
It is worth noting that although there is as yet no other opposition group, the Libyan National Council is national only in its aspirations.
Much of Tripolitania still genuinely supports Qaddafi and would likely be resentful of whatever took his place and refuse to join an LNC-led government.
To overcome antagonism between the provinces and to guide the country through the arduous process of state building and reconstruction that would follow Qaddafi’s departure, institutions would need to be truly national and representative.
The international community would also have to steer the development of democracy and good governance in a country that has not known anything except tyranny for decades.
Looks like the international community might be in it for the long haul.
The central thesis was that, independent of wealth, democracies like Chile, Japan, India, and the United States are inherently better at preparing for disasters.
"Governments cannot prevent earthquakes and other natural disasters, but they can prepare for them and ameliorate their effects. Measures to do so are well known. That so many countries in earthquake-prone regions of the world fail to adequately regulate construction, for example, seems to defy logic. Yet when faced with a choice to insist on the use of reliable cement in construction projects or to award contracts to cronies who are less inclined to use safe materials, politicians too often choose the latter, with disastrous consequences."
With the earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan, the government’s infrastructure and disaster planning will be put to the test. Will the argument that democratic political structures mitigate natural tragedies hold up?
Letter From the Editor: Crisis in the Middle East, the Tea Party and U.S. Foreign Policy, and More
Like you, I’ve been transfixed by the revolutions taking place in the Middle East. But after devouring all the news, I find that what I really want is context. Why is this happening—and why now? What will happen next? And what, if anything, can or should we do about it? That’s where Foreign Affairs comes in.
That’s the kind of material you’ll get by subscribing to Foreign Affairs. For only $29.95 a year, you’ll receive a steady stream of indispensable coverage of the crisis in the Middle East and everything else going on in the world. Your subscription will start with our March/April issue, which includes highlights like these:
* Will China’s Rise Lead to War? A three-part package by Thomas Christensen, Wang Jisi, and Charles Glaser, looking at the most important challenge of the twenty-first century—how to head off a U.S.-China conflict—from several different angles.
So subscribe now for only $29.95—a nearly 50% savings off the newsstand price. If you prefer a paperless edition, get our new digital subscription for the same price and receive all the same benefits as print subscribers. Or for only $1 more per issue, become a Foreign Affairs Plus subscriber, and get the print magazine, the paperless edition, all our web-only content, and special hand-picked editorial collections, book chapters, and exclusive updates.
If you already subscribe, thanks for your continued readership; make sure to register at www.ForeignAffairs.com/register to take full advantage of your subscriber benefits. And drop me a line to tell me how we’re doing and what you’d like to see.
Editor, Foreign Affairs
Subscribe to Foreign Affairs (special introductory offer):