Here Tom Friedman does a nice job of laying out the problem of what happens when an outside country gets into a civil war. Mr. Friedman details the disaster in Libya that has unfolded since the misguided Obama administration’s airstrike.
SAY, did you see the news from Libya — the last country we bombed because its leader crossed a red line or was about to? Here’s a dispatch from Libya in the Sept. 3 British newspaper, The Independent:
“Libya has plunged unnoticed into its worst political and economic crisis since the defeat of Qaddafi two years ago. Government authority is disintegrating in all parts of the country putting in doubt claims by American, British and French politicians that NATO’s military action in Libya in 2011 was an outstanding example of a successful foreign military intervention, which should be repeated in Syria. … Output of Libya’s prized high-quality crude oil has plunged from 1.4 million barrels a day earlier this year to just 160,000 barrels a day now.”
I keep reading about how Iraq was the bad war and Libya was the good war and Afghanistan was the necessary war and Bosnia was the moral war and Syria is now another necessary war. Guess what! They are all the same war.
They are all the story of what happens when multisectarian societies, most of them Muslim or Arab, are held together for decades by dictators ruling vertically, from the top down, with iron fists and then have their dictators toppled, either by internal or external forces. And they are all the story of how the people in these countries respond to the fact that with the dictator gone they can only be governed horizontally — by the constituent communities themselves writing their own social contracts for how to live together as equal citizens, without an iron fist from above. And, as I’ve said before, they are all the story of how difficult it is to go from Saddam to Jefferson — from vertical rule to horizontal rule — without falling into Hobbes or Khomeini.