Brian Whitaker on Libya's Next Challenge Libya's battle has been hard-fought, but the real challenge begins now. "One year from now, will Libyans be living under a government that is significantly better than the one that tyrannised them for almost 42 years?" asks Brian Whitaker in The Guardian. Libya's transition won't be easy, but the country is unlikely to become the next Iraq or Afghanistan, Whitaker predicts. The National Transitional Council has already recognized the rights of minority groups but also made room for Islamic law, showing an encouraging "need for give and take." Social divisions suppressed under the regime will probably surface, and they must if Libya wants long-term solutions, Whitaker says. But these ethnic, religious, and tribal rivalries don't seem as intense as those in Iraq nor will they provide the fault lines for competing foreign powers. Libya already has a relatively well-functioning government apparatus as well as an economic cushion--the result of high oil revenues, a small population, and the potential for growth in the tourism industry. It will thus avoid the problems of Egypt and Tunisia, which haven't had resources to address the economic problems that fueled their revolutions. And lastly, NATO aid has meant a dismantling of the security regimes, which now cannot take power as their counterparts did in Egypt and Tunisia. "The difference in Libya is that the destruction of Gaddafi's army does at least open up the possibility of politicians, rather than the military, gaining the upper hand."
Ross Douthat on Texas's Success "If either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama hopes to snap the Texas governor's winning streak, the election will need to become a referendum on Perry himself, in all his heat-packing, secession-contemplating glory," writes Ross Douthat in The New York Times. "If it becomes a referendum on his home state instead, Perry's 11th campaign will probably turn out like all the others." Perry has launched his campaign boasting of Texas's economic success. His opponents have been quick to find fault in his arguments, but their critiques don't do much damage. Texas's population boom has contributed to its job growth, as critics have pointed out, but so too has the job boom led to population growth. Texas's jobs aren't significantly lower-paying than elsewhere in the country, nor are they confined to the energy industry, as critics have argued. Some point to Texas's high school dropout rate, but when one controls for the unique demographics resulting from Texas's long border with Mexico, it compares well, especially to states with similar issues like California. "Perry can credibly claim that his state delivers on conservative governance's two most important promises: a private sector that creates jobs at a remarkable clip, and a public sector that seems to get more for the taxpayers' money than many more profligate state governments. The question is whether Perry himself deserves any of the credit." Perry inherited a state with little regulation, low taxes, and rising test scores. Unlike Chris Christie and other much-admired Republican governors, he cannot claim to have "battled entrenched interest groups." In fact, many Perry policies, like the purposed trans-Texas road, have been failures. "But of course none of those reforming governors are currently in the race against him. Instead Perry faces an unloved Republican front-runner, with a weakened incumbent president waiting in the wings," Douthat writes.