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Yet More on Libya

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My column this week is on early lessons from Libya:

The bombing of Libya was supposed to teach the region’s autocrats that the international community would not stand by and watch as they massacred peaceful civilians. While it is likely that some form of this lesson has been imparted, it is not entirely clear that Gadhafi’s offensives against Libyan protesters and revolutionaries have “failed.” The NATO intervention has thus far been sufficient to prevent Gadhafi from winning a decisive victory, but it is arguable whether Gadhafi’s position is worse now than if he had not pursued a military campaign against the rebels. Autocrats in similar positions may also draw the lesson that Western intervention does not spell the end. Gadhafi’s ragtag collection of mercenaries and loyalists has done passably well against the air forces of the most powerful states in the world. Indeed, given the fate of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the hands of his own military, dictators may conclude that assembling ad hoc, but loyal, security forces is better than building a powerful but potentially disloyal army. The most important lesson for autocrats may be that killing rebels and protesters is best done quickly and quietly.

Some other Libya links:

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