So What If Qaddafi Leaves?

More

111348962

A reader makes an obvious point:

Let's say Qaddafi leaves today. Libyans are probably going to continue to fight, because there won't be a consensus about what the new state should look like. Even if people agreed on what the state should look like, who will run it would be a very contentious issue in a society where tribal loyalties run deep.

That's exactly what happened in Iraq. We caught Saddam and executed him, and then we had all kinds of trouble with Sadr and other people. Sadr hated Saddam and was glad to see him go, but that didn't mean he liked us or that he'd support the new US-backed government. It was naive to think that capturing Saddam would end the resistance. And it's naive to think that the departure or capture of Qaddafi, which appears to be imminent, will end the fighting in Libya.

It's also naive to think that Libyans will be able to settle deep political differences peacefully in the total absence of any institutions or political traditions that would help them to do it.

The important thing in Washington, however, is to maintain total amnesia about the recent past for fear it might impede people's careers and credibility. Remember: this is a town where the advocates for the Iraq fiasco have paid no political price and ignored every significant lesson. This is a town where Paul Wolfowitz is as respected as ever, where Bill Kristol remains influential, and where no senior former officials ever acknowledge a single mistake (see the auto-biographies of Bush and Rumsfeld).

(Photo: Libyan rebels prepare before leaving Ajdabiya to the front line near the oil town of Brega, as the West backed off from arming the rag-tag fighters and pushed for a political solution instead, on April 1, 2011. By Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images)

Jump to comments

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Social Security: The Greatest Government Policy of All Time?

It's the most effective anti-poverty program in U.S. history. So why do some people hate it?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down