Qaddafi's death proves that Obama was right
The death of Qaddafi isn't just a victory for Libya. It validates Obama's and NATO's intervention – as opposed to the bitter ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. The international community must now continue to support Libya as it builds an inclusive democracy and rebuilds its economy.
The death of Muammar Qaddafi is the decisive event in the nine-month civil war in Libya. In the minds of most Libyans, the war could not end without his departure from the country or death on the battlefield.Skip to next paragraph
As British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama both reminded us today, it is important to remember Mr. Qaddafi’s many victims, including the hundreds of Americans and other nationals who died in the Lockerbie terrorist attack of December 1988. Qaddafi was a tyrant who ruled mercilessly for over 40 years and left most of the people of his oil-rich country impoverished. His brutal, authoritarian rule extinguished all independent movements and denied the building over time of the civil society organizations that are the foundation of most countries and all democracies.
That is a critical fact in assessing the fate of the Libyan revolution going forward. While his death will likely effectively end the violent loyalist counter-revolution of the last few months, it will not quell all of those who still contest the revolution and wish to see it reversed.
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The new Libyan government now has a chance to try to end the violence and begin the rebuilding of Libya’s shattered cities and villages. But the challenges ahead will be extraordinarily difficult. Tribal divisions, encouraged by Qaddafi’s cynical rule, will not be easily resolved. Restarting oil production, opening up the Mediterranean ports, and rushing humanitarian aid to the displaced will be immediate priorities.
Above all, creating jobs for the young unemployed who were the heart of the rebel alliance will be an immediate priority, as will be disarming the loose alliance of militias that defeated Qaddafi.
The international community must now act quickly to provide the essential outside support that will help to jumpstart the new government. Libya will need a supply of humanitarian goods, expanded trade credits, and longer-term economic assistance. It will benefit from political support as the new goverment works through a constitution, future elections, and internal reconciliation.
The United States, Europe, and key Asian countries must certainly help in a major way. But the Arab League should take the lead in rushing the immediate support the Libyan government will require to unite the country and turn it away from violence and toward reconstruction.