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.
Several months after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Alastair Smith and Alejandro Quiroz Flores wrote an article in Foreign Affairs about natural disasters and how political systems play a major part in preparedness and, consequently, death tolls.
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?
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.
We’ve been staying on top of the Middle East crisis from the beginning, churning out pieces that analyze events in real time. What distinguishes our coverage is the fact that our authors actually know what they’re talking about. You don’t want an article from somebody who read a book on the Muslim Brotherhood—you want an article by the person who wrote the book. You don’t need a piece by somebody who took a course on Middle Eastern politics—you need a piece by the president of the American University of Cairo, who has an article in the upcoming May/June issue. And you shouldn’t care about the views of somebody who once took a meeting in Washington—but you should care about the views of somebody who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia and Egypt and Bahrain.
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:
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In today’s New York Times, David Brooks argues that Samuel Huntington got it wrong in his ground-breaking essay, “The Clash of Civilizations”, published in Foreign Affairs in 1993.
“Huntington argued that people in Arab lands are intrinsically not nationalistic. He argued that they do not hunger for pluralism and democracy in the way these things are understood in the West…
Over the past weeks, we’ve seen Arab people ferociously attached to their national identities. We’ve seen them willing to risk their lives for pluralism, openness and democracy…
But it seems clear that many people in Arab nations do share a universal hunger for liberty. They feel the presence of universal human rights and feel insulted when they are not accorded them.”
Is Brooks correct? Do the recent popular uprisings in the Middle East turn “The Clash” thesis on its head? Do most people share universal desires? Read the original essay now and see if it still applies to the realities of today.