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How to avoid a replay of the long Balkan wars in Libya

Lessons from Sniper Alley in Sarajevo: It takes the military and resources to topple a dictator.

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It can be made clear to Qaddafi's supporters that they are on the losing side of history in other ways. The US and its allies should enforce exhaustive travel bans and asset freezes. Jam communications. Continue airstrikes. At the same time, it is crucial to provide incentives for Qaddafi supporters to change their allegiance. We should extend full diplomatic recognition to the TNC, provide economic assistance to areas they control, lift travel bans, and, where appropriate, unfreeze personal assets for those who defect.

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For its part, the TNC should offer amnesty to persons who were part of the government apparatus but were not responsible for personally committing violations of international law. And the full power of social media should be harnessed to rally support for a prosperous Libya based on the rule of law, not tribal affiliation.

Finally, the US and its allies should support the immediate establishment of a vigorous international peacekeeping mission led by the UN in TNC-controlled parts of the country.

Role of UN peacekeepers

A peacekeeping mission must help with security and humanitarian assistance, and provide technical expertise in such areas as the rule of law, political and constitutional reform, and the development of a free media and civil society. It is imperative that a mission be given achievable tasks and appropriate resources, which, tragically, we did not enjoy in Bosnia.

Ultimately, Qaddafi must go. He is the cancer, which the International Criminal Court recognized when they indicted him and two family members for crimes against humanity. As long as he is in power, there is only the possibility of more unnecessary suffering. There are reports that senior Libyan officials, including one of Qaddafi's sons, are looking for an exit strategy. If true, it is a welcome development and further underscores the importance of tightening the noose around the dictator.

One of the (many) lessons I learned from the war in Bosnia is that once conflicts begin they can be very hard to extinguish, on the ground and in your soul. It has been 12 years since the wars ended in the former Yugoslavia and not a day goes by that I do not think of what happened there.

But I also learned that determined and principled leadership can make a difference. The people of Libya need not suffer the fate of so many millions in the Balkans.

Kelly Moore is a writer and the former spokesperson for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. She has a career in international security policy working for the UN, Sen. Joe Lieberman, the State Department, and the 9/11 commission. Her website is:


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