The Libyan overthrow of Gadhafi is worth celebrating. Anytime a ruthless dictator is deposed the world has a chance to become a better place. A chance.
It is better when a country overthrows its own dictator, like Libya did, than when an outside country does this, like the U.S. did in Iraq.
Why is it better? Let us examine the partial cost to the U.S. of the Iraq War…
- 4,477 U.S. Soldiers Killed
- 32,130 U.S. Soldiers Seriously Wounded
- $900 billion dollars (through November 2010)
- Ten years of the two longest wars in U.S. history (including Afghanistan)
- Iraq is no longer a balancing weight to long-time antagonist Iran
- Iraq is being overrun by terrorists again
This war of choice also cost the U.S. much international credibility.
We did it right in Libya. We let the Libyans, with some international help, take control of their own country. Now they have a stake in their future. Our minor role assured there would be no American soldiers killed and very little cost.
It is far too soon to predict the end result. Libyans have no practice at normal governance, and the idea of a conventional democracy might be more ‘wish’ than reality.
War criminals must be dealt with, beginning with Gadhafi and his family. It would be a good sign if Libya sent their former tormentors off to international courts to be tried for their crimes. To have them tried and executed in Libya would feel good, but may not unify the country.
What Libya needs now are advisors, historian/political ones to teach the ins-and-outs of setting up a democracy, and economic advisors, so they don’t waste resources (specifically oil) that can help finance a fledgling democracy.
Most of all, what a new government needs is security. There is unprotected oil. There are unguarded weapons. These should not fall into the hands of anarchist/militants who would keep the country unstable…
Do what it takes to limit revenge killings, despite the temptations.
Establish the rule of law, and begin elections that allow all groups to be represented.
A healthy future is not impossible, but is not guaranteed. Some supremely dedicated leaders, and a little luck, are needed.