Juan Cole pens a dispatch from Libya blasting the "black legend" that "it has become a failed state":
I was struck at the air of normality everywhere I went, and by the obvious comfort people had in circulating, selling and going about their lives. There are no bombings, there is no civil war, there is no serious secessionism. One man told me that the biggest change is that people are no longer afraid. They had been captive of the revolutionary committees and the secret police. And that end of political fear, the Libyans I talked to insisted, made the uncertainties of this transitional period all worthwhile.
Nicholas Pelham is less sanguine about the problems created by the thuwwar (militia), but he concludes on a high note:
[S]o far the electoral process has proceeded remarkably smoothly.
The Electoral Commission has registered over 70 percent of an estimated 3.4 million eligible voters in three weeks, exceeding UN and government targets. In contrast to Iraq, which was ruled by America in the aftermath of dictatorship, Libyans – thuwwar included — have one great advantage: a sense of ownership of their country’s destiny and the responsibility that comes with it. Amid no small amount of xenophobia — befitting a country with vast wealth, a small population and oversized fear of predatory scavengers — external players have sensibly stayed out of sight. For all the hand wringing and post-civil war bloodletting, Libya might just pull through.
(Photo: A Libyan walks through the destroyed compound of fomer Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, in Tripoli's Bab al-Aziziya on June 2, 2012. In June, Libyans are due to vote for a constituent assembly which will replace the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC). By Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images.)