Libya heads toward civil war (again), and we’re getting it wrong (again)

The West was so proud when it helped oust Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. It was a key part of Arab Spring. Now it’s winter in Libya, literally and figuratively. This article in Foreign Policy predicts a bloody showdown between Islamist-led militias that have taken control of the capital, Tripoli, and forces loyal to the elected parliament, who are holed up in Tobruk at the eastern edge of the country, next to Egypt.

Libya--Tripoli and Misrata in the west, Tobruk in the east

Libya–Tripoli and Misrata in the west, Tobruk in the east

And then what? Then the victorious forces, whichever side they represent, will break up into their tribal factions and fight each other. On and on.

If we needed any more proof, here’s another sign that Arab Spring was not a matter of overthrowing this or that dictator, and then democracy would magically bloom. Arab Spring set off a years-long process of turmoil and conflict that may one day produce stable governments — or not. Democracy isn’t in the equation for the most part.

Now the question I’d like to answer in my lecture tour across North America next month — why don’t we hear about this? Why do we hear obsessively, instead, about Israel and the Palestinians?


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