Monday, March 28, 2011

What Happens When the Rebels Can't Win?

I realize that we have debated Libya a lot recently, but I found this NY Times article today that raises some important questions. To begin with, it is important to note that we are only in Libya to protect civilians, not necessarily to aid the rebels. Those two goals have gone hand in hand for a while, but when Gaddafi’s forces and the rebels inevitably meet, NATO and the Arab League will have a hard time justifying an intervention on behalf of the rebels. Additionally, we do not know what the rebels will do if they come to power. They are a pretty ragtag bunch without any central authority. What happens if they start killing Gaddafi loyalists or (more likely) turn on each other? Will NATO launch air attacks against them too? Suppose Gaddafi says he will no longer harm civilians and follows through on that pledge. What happens then? I look forward to listening to President Obama’s speech on Libya tonight. He will have a hard time convincing me that we have plotted a strong path towards Democracy in Libya, but I hope he offers some insight into his decision making.

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