NATO's Libya mission ends. Was it a success?
It's too soon to tell what kind of new Libya will emerge in the wake of NATO's Libya mission. But Qaddafi's controversial death should not be taken as a sign that NATO's efforts were for naught.
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In some quarters of the American right, there is near-hysteria that Libya's National Transitional Council has said the Islamic sharia should be the main source of legislation in the new Libya. Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann lashed out at US support for Qaddafi's ouster, implying that a threatening Islamic state is likely to emerge. "We don’t know who the next leader will be,” she told ABC, “It could be a radical element. We knew who the devil was that was running [the country]. We don’t know that next one.” Libya’s oil, she told ABC, could finance a “global caliphate and extremist elements.”Skip to next paragraph
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If I may reassure Ms. Bachmann, the emergence of a "global caliphate" as a consequence of the dictator being removed in Libya, a country of 6 million people, is highly unlikely. Islam will clearly play a bigger role in the country's politics than it did under Qaddafi. Libya's people are generally devout, and pretty conservative in their approach to their faith. But they have a debt of gratitude to the US and European powers who enabled their revolution, and there is no appetite at all for imperial adventures that they are, to say the least, ill-equipped to pursue.
“Nearly all work was done by foreigners.” he said. “Jobs were classified by nationality, with black Africans at the bottom of the ladder. They lived in shipping containers along the side of the road. Libyans spent their days idling in tea shops with nothing to do, all of them on the dole. Qaddafi decided one day that men idling in tea shops gave the impression that Libyans were lazy, so he decreed they be shut. I was buying a tea one day when the order was enforced—without any notice, of course. Trucks pulled up with soldiers who started beating everybody and smashing up the tables and crockery.”
Sullivan came away convinced that Qaddafi was a madman who had turned Libya into an insane asylum. “One day, driving into Tripoli, I saw dead camels everywhere,” he recalled. “Qaddafi had decided that having camels within the city limits made Tripoli look like a backward place. Since he was trying to become the head of the Organization of African Unity, that wasn’t a good thing, so he had all camels shot that were on the road into the city."