The interplay of chance with necessity means that no one can predict the future evolutionary pathway in Libya or the US role in Libya, but Ted Galen Carpenter of the libertarian CATO Inst. provides a thoughtful lens for thinking about potential ramifications of NATO’s precipitate intervention in Libya.
Key issues discussed:
- De facto or de jure partition vs a unification that sows the seeds of future conflict?
- How to replenish empty Libyan treasury and repair infrastructure (including restoring oil production capability)?
- Will US get sucked into another NATO stabilization, peacekeeping, nation-building mission?
Ted Galen Carpenter, The National Interest, August 18, 2011
After weeks of very little movement either militarily or diplomatically in Libya, there are apparent developments on both fronts in recent days. Rebel forces, aided by NATO’s air support, finally appear to be advancing into western Libya and cutting off supply lines to Tripoli, the long-time stronghold of support for Muammar Qaddafi. And reports are swirling about secret negotiations that might provide a peaceful exit from the country for the aging dictator.
Those developments underscore that U.S. and NATO officials urgently need to consider what strategy they intend to pursue if Qaddafi’s more-than-four-decade hold on power finally comes to an end. That is more crucial for the leaders of the European members of the alliance, since Libya is located on Europe’s Mediterranean flank, but because the Obama administration unwisely chose to involve the United States in Libya’s internecine conflict by launching air strikes, it has become a pertinent issue for Washington as well.
The outlook for a post-Qaddafi Libya is midpoint between sobering and depressing. It is possible that the warring parties will accept a de facto division of the country between the eastern and western tribes, although a formal agreement to that effect is unlikely. Even an informal partition would more accurately reflect the demographics, politics, and history of that territory than an insistence on keeping Libya intact.
Phi Beta Iota: A serious world power would heed the wisdom of Ambassador Mark Palmer, and have Undersecretaries for Peace at both foreign affairs and defense, with two strategies: one for dictators that agree to a five year non-violent exit strategy, and another for those that do not. What is happening in the Middle East today is a direct representation of the fact that there are no serious world powers in being today.