Rebuilding After Qaddafi


Daniel Serwer writes about some of the difficulties in reconstruction he observed while visiting Libya:

A debate at the human rights workshop ended with the young Libyans voting to send Qaddafi to the ICC, due to the difficult problems of meeting international standards and preventing the trial from becoming a political nightmare. The political nightmare could be deadly, as Libyans are still armed to the teeth.  This will only change if stability is maintained and a spiral of revenge killing prevented, as few will give up their guns if they really think they need them.  There has been some effort to collect the weapons, but there are still a lot more out there.  Re-restablishing the state’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force will not be easy or immediate.

He collects more optimistic thoughts here. A number of worrying stories have emerged about growing rifts between Islamists and secularists in the new government. Spencer Ackerman fears that the Libyan insurgency has begun. Rory Stewart urges us to remember that the consequences of intervention are unpredictable:

Already people are claiming that the euphoria and calm after the fall of Tripoli could have been predicted and can be easily explained. But such civility was not inevitable; it could not have been assumed from Libyan history or culture. Libya shares many features of countries where anarchy has prevailed. Like Afghanistan or Iraq, it has a distinguished history and has experienced periods of stability but lacks the essential trinity of the international state-building apostles: ‘a vibrant civil society’, ‘rule of law’ and ‘good governance’. It has a rapidly growing young population, which is only partially educated, and few jobs. The traditional forces of tribe and Islam co-exist with more cosmopolitan aspirations, as they do in the rest of the Islamic world.

Jamie Kirchick is already blaring the victory horn.

(Photo: A man walks past a war torn building on Tripoli Street, on September 03, 2011 in Misrata, Libya. By Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images.)