Daniel Larison is making a lot of sense these days. Though it is unfortunately just too obvious to many that Libya is simply falling apart thanks to western (particularly American and, I’d say, French blundering), the real problems may still be in the future. The lack of existing national level institutions, the divisions within the opposition, and the likelihood of revenge violence and corruption are likely to result into real, long-lasting problems for the country. Despite NATO’s role in creating the conditions that have led to what will be a chaotic post-revolution period, no western governments are willing to help rebuild what is already a destroyed country:
Previous interventions in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq have all involved the introduction of significant ground forces by the U.S. and NATO members at some point so that a large U.N. force was not wanted or not needed. Libya is technically different in that it was originally sanctioned by the U.N., but in reality it has always been a project of western European and North American governments. If these governments aren’t going to contribute (and they aren’t), why are others going to volunteer to do what they wouldn’t? Leading governments throughout the developing world have made no secret that they oppose the war, and African Union members might reasonably ask why they should be expected to fill the security void that NATO created. AU objections to the war were ignored and their cease-fire proposals were dismissed. What incentive do they have for putting their soldiers at risk in a dangerous post-war Libya?
Of course, it seems unlikely that Libyans would appreciate an international peacekeeping force stationed in their country, but Larison’s point is clear. The intervening force did not plan for what comes after the fall of the regime, even though the protocol used to justify intervention – the Responsibility to Protect – specifically calls for preparation for post-intervention support. In this way, the Libyan intervention earns the frightening comparison to post-Saddam Iraq:
Despite the belief that the wars in Libya and Iraq are radically different, the near-total lack of preparation for what comes after the war and the vague hope that the international community will pick up the slack are all too similar.
Photo from Ecuador Times