Because There Are No Good Guys

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

I want to echo Yglessias's lack of shock at the spectacle of Libyan rebels meting out revenge:


With Libya essentially divided in half by conflict, the U.S.- and NATO-backed rebels who control much of the east are carrying out what many view as a campaign of retaliation against those once aligned with Gaddafi, according to relatives and rebel commanders and officials. Such targeting raises questions about the character of the government taking shape in eastern Libya and whether it will follow basic principles of democracy and human rights. Moreover, such acts could further deepen divisions in Libya's tribal society and diminish the sort of reconciliation vital for stability in a post-Gaddafi era. 

 Both Egypt and Tunisia, where authoritarian leaders were ousted by popular uprisings, are striving to revise laws and struggling with how to deal with the former members of their regimes. Human rights activists note that Libya's rebels have had to organize a state, including a new judicial system, in just three months during wartime. 

But critics fear the Libyan rebels are going down the same path as Gaddafi -- whose government is notorious for carrying out arbitrary arrests, torture and executions without trial -- months after launching an uprising based in large part on their outrage over such injustices.

The point here is not a reflexive isolationism. The point is that having a boot on your neck, while deeply tragic, is not an ennobling experience. 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/05/because-there-are-no-good-guys/239304/