Thomas Friedman–Looking for Luck in Libya

There is an old saying in the Middle East that a camel is a horse that was designed by a committee. That thought came to my mind as I listened to President Obama trying to explain the intervention of America and its allies in Libya ”” and I don’t say that as criticism. I say it with empathy. This is really hard stuff, and it’s just the beginning.

When an entire region that has been living outside the biggest global trends of free politics and free markets for half a century suddenly, from the bottom up, decides to join history ”” and each one of these states has a different ethnic, tribal, sectarian and political orientation and a loose coalition of Western and Arab states with mixed motives trying to figure out how to help them ”” well, folks, you’re going to end up with some very strange-looking policy animals. And Libya is just the first of many hard choices we’re going to face in the “new” Middle East.

Read it all.


Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, House of Representatives, Libya, Middle East, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

3 comments on “Thomas Friedman–Looking for Luck in Libya

  1. BlueOntario says:

    [blockquote]decides to join history[/blockquote]
    Perhaps the history of parts of Africa or southern Asia, but for the most part probably unlike anything western. Something like the Young Turks movement would be nice to see, but even that’s fading away in Turkey.

  2. Caedmon says:

    Meet the new Middle East.

    Same as the old Middle East.

  3. carl says:

    [blockquote] I don’t know Libya, but my gut tells me that any kind of decent outcome there will require boots on the ground — either as military help for the rebels to oust Qaddafi as we want, or as post-Qaddafi peacekeepers and referees between tribes and factions to help with any transition to democracy.[/blockquote] ‘Peacekeepers’ and ‘referees.’ Is that what we call occupation nowadays? Are you a referee when a faction starts shooting at you because it wants you to hand them power and leave? And who ever said the people we are helping want democracy as we understand it. It’s going to have to be imposed if it is going to exist at all. Did I mention the part about factions shooting at soldiers to get them to leave?[blockquote]
    Those boots cannot be ours. We absolutely cannot afford it — whether in terms of money, manpower, energy or attention. But I am deeply dubious that our allies can or will handle it without us, either. [/blockquote] Well, there is the rub. The Europeans could handle it if they had the will to handle it. They have the money. They have the capability. But they would have to stop spending money on themselves and settle into the long hard bloody job of nation-building. Their notions of humanitarian duty won’t impel to actually do anything other than say “Look at that humanitarian crisis. The US should really do something about that!”
    [blockquote]And if the fight there turns ugly, or stalemates, people will be calling for our humanitarian help again. You bomb it, you own it.[/blockquote] And it really won’t matter at that point that ground intervention is ‘illegal’ according to the UNSC. Which is why the US should have stayed out of this mess from the beginning. [blockquote] Which is why, most of all, I hope President Obama is lucky.[/blockquote] He isn’t hoping for luck. He is hoping to pay his mortgage with the winnings of a lottery ticket.