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Institutions

[ 1 ] July 4, 2011 |

Robert Haddick has an appropriate degree of skepticism regarding plans to maintain the Libyan Army in case of Gaddafi’s fall:

The “Bremer Hypothesis” may get another test in Libya, as Mitchell seems determined to learn from the presumed error. Mitchell and his colleagues are assuming — or at least hoping — that army and police officials in Tripoli and elsewhere in pro-Qaddafi western Libya will readily agree to fall in with the post-Qaddafi political order, which we can assume will be dominated by the anti-Qaddafi National Transitional Council now in Benghazi. Mitchell’s recommendation also seems to assume that the anti-Qaddafi leaders in Benghazi have come to the same conclusion about Bremer’s decision as most policy analysts in the West and will agree to share military and police power with their former enemies in Tripoli. Whether that assumption will remain valid during a post-Qaddafi transition (or if it is even valid now) remains in question.

I would add that the Libyan and Iraqi armies were very different institutions that played very different roles in their respective national cultures. Most obviously, the Iraqi Army was much larger in relation to the population; about twice as large per capita in 2003. This understates the difference, because a much larger proportion of the Iraqi than the Libyan population had served in the Army, often during wartime. The Iraqi Army also had a more robust reputation for professionalism. Although both forces disintegrated in their final conflicts, the Iraqi Army fell apart under concerted ground and air onslaught from the United States and the United Kingdom, while the Libyan Army was falling to pieces even before NATO intervened.

Finally, while there’s good reason to doubt the cohesiveness of the rebel coalition, building a new Army around the fighting forces of the coalition might make quite a lot of sense from a statebuilding perspective. In the event of Gaddafi’s collapse, the various elements of the coalition will begin jockeying for power. Establishing a national army is a good beginning for an effort to buy off the major players. Of course, it will also be necessary to give surviving loyalist elements a reason to buy in to the new order.

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  1. Lawguy says:

    Are you sure about the Libyan army falling aprat right now?

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