President Obama’s Libya strategy is sketchy, to say the least, when it comes to the question of what comes after the UN, and NATO’s and America’s “humanitarian intervention.”
One of the best and most succinct discussions I’ve seen on this question to date is in this NPR article — http://www.npr.org/2011/03/28/134920431/foreign-policy-what-happens-if-libyas-rebels-win
— in which Lisa Anderson, President of the American University in Cairo, says, “Any military and political intervention that will bring an end to the Gaddafi regime should be accompanied, from the beginning, by mobilization of the resources of political reconstruction.”
I see that the U.S. is dispatching a senior diplomat to meet with the opposition, whoever they are, in Libya, and that the Brits have such meetings scheduled in London. Will these early efforts bear fruit and lead to any realistic reconstruction, if total civil war can be avoided in the interim? Big question. We’ve blown efforts to deliver practical help towards reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. Do we even begin to understand the tribal dynamics in Libya? Do we understand the role of their military, and the basis of political power through Libya? I don’t think so.
Now that the air war has been brought under control and Gaddafi’s tanks have been knocked out in the East, and the opposition forces, if we can call them that, have been stopped by armed civilians in Gaddafi-controlled towns. Is this the beginning of a civil war, in which “humanitarian intervention” becomes more and more difficult to achieve, as civilians become the combatants and victims, on both sides?
Is this the dawning of tribal war and revolution? Will the U.S. be on the winning side of such a conflict? Will tribes previously loyal to Gaddafi switch sides to the opposition? Will an opposition coalition of tribes, towns and forces be formed, with a recognizable leadership widely supported by the population?
Will a new generation of terrorists, who hate the West, and one another, be spawned? Well, that’s probably already a given.
Will we regret the day we entered into “humanitarian intervention” in Libya? Or will we celebrate the victory of successfully imposing our U.S./Western ethos on another African/Middle Eastern culture? In what year, or decade, or century, will that “political reconstruction” be celebrated? And by whom?
One last comment: I fear that Obama has again, ala Afghanistan, been romanced by the military into believing that a limited armed intervention will likely produce successful political results.