Libya’s Political Reconstruction

The Libyan intervention labeled as president Obama’s first war may not end soon. Regardless of this advocates of this intervention should start planning for Libya’s reconstruction in post-Qaddafi period. Although Qaddafi’s removal is not mandated by UN resolution 1973, it is implied that he will not be in charge of the country once the decision of no-fly zone over Libya is fully implemented and the rebels gain control of Tripoli. The rebel advance in East Libya signals that with sustained international backing the opponents of Qaddafi will emerge winners.

It is not ascertained whether the authorization provided by resolution 1973 to take military action against Libya to enforce a no-fly zone over the country is in conformity with UN Charter. The critics with expertise in international law have argued that an exception to interference in a state’s internal affairs is justified only if the cause of military action is international threat. The use of force has generally proved contentious like in Kosovo, Iraq and elsewhere and such criticism will likely continue, however, none can dispute whether the international community having endorsed Libya’s intervention can shy away from an obligation to prepare for the reconstruction of the country in post-conflict situation.

Useful lessons from ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq deserve consideration. Larry Diamond, a leading advocate of international intervention, has said that the most directly relevant lesson of Iraq and Afghanistan is “security trumps everything”. He has emphasized the role of ‘democratic policing’ in Libya where pro-Qaddafi and his opponent groups will likely engage in violence as the war prolongs. The U.S. is forced to learn painful lessons about the limits of its credibility in the Arab and the Muslim world. No less obvious examples are Yemen and Bahrain, where uprising has started for political freedom but America seems least bothered there because status quo better serves its national interests.

This credibility crisis is likely to restrict the chances of the U.S taking charge of Libya’s rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of the intervention. The UN–led reconstruction endeavors are success and this makes the international organization a credible mechanism to advance the agenda of rebuilding Libya whenever opportune time comes. According to James Dobbes of RAND Corp. such efforts have proved cost effective undertaken under the tutelage of the UN. The world body’s pioneering role of facilitating smooth transition of Libya in 1951 following the end of colonialism of Italy also lends credence to his observation.

The experience in Iraq and Afghanistan underscore the need for advance planning of political reconstruction once fighting stops in Libya. War’s end does not necessarily establish peace and stability and to achieve such nobler objectives, careful planning of post-conflict situation is imperative. Commenting on Libya’s case Lisa Anderson, President of American University in Cairo, has suggested that “Any military and diplomatic intervention that will bring an end to the Qaddafi regime should be accompanied, from the beginning, by the mobilization of the resources for political reconstruction”.

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