We all know now the brutal end of Col. Gaddafi. His death, which in some ways was inevitable once he refused to cede power and started to slaughter his people, reaffirms the hard saying: “you live by the sword and you die by the sword.”
But his death while a milestone in the events and meaning of the Arab Spring, will not be the decisive moment of the Arab uprising. Rather, the most significant elements of this historic change will be the building of moderate, democratic and fair governments or the decline into further division, clan warfare, or quasi-military rule. The recent peaceful election in Tunisia may prove a positive model.
Obama set the right tone in his short statement about moving towards the re-building of Libya and proving a helping hand in assisting in establishing a civic structure and the economy. His emphasis was on a multilateral approach which has long been urged by many, including ourselves.
If the Transitional National Council can broaden its membership and if moderates can work together, along with the adequate resources available, progress should be possible. America is also smart to provide $40 million to assist Libya in securing weapons. But it will be a long road given a history of barbaric rule and lack of civic institutions, regional divisions, and armed elements throughout the country.
For America and our allies it reaffirms Obama’s efforts of looking for multilateral solutions along with the lightest of military footprints possible to achieve success. The contrasts could not be greater with the unneeded and lied-about invasion of Iraq by Bush and his wrongheaded and costly strategy and tactics in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It validates Obama’s cautious approach to conflict and serious seeking of effective alternatives while still preserving and using military/covert tools when necessary, as exemplified in his bold taking out of Bin Laden and many of his key lieutenants as well as using diplomatic tools or what some call “soft power” to gain key objectives. It is really a good case study in lower cost “smart power.”
What I fear is that the Republicans in Congress will deny him the necessary resources via USAID/State Department funding to provide assistance not only to Libya but also other nations of the Arab Spring. It seems the Republicans want him to fail both in growing our economy at home and in our leadership and security abroad. We used to be better than that. A lot is at stake in this still dangerous world for silliness and meanness to dominate our politics.
By Harry C. Blaney III.