Thursday, August 25, 2011

Qaddafi finally gone?

It ain't over until the crazy man is dead, and his sons as well, but I am hopeful that the end game is coming.  

I am guessing that the rebels have pretty good control of Tripoli and the country, but I am also guessing that Qaddafi loyalists aren't done fighting, and might carry on for years against whatever new regime takes over.  I worry about Qaddafi sons and old regime power players having either substantial roles in a new power structure or playing significant destabilizing roles against a new power structure.  And, I still wish Obama and the West had responded in opposition to Qaddafi within a very few days rather than the weeks it took to do so.  There was at least a chance, in my mind, that Qaddafi military and power cronies would have turned on him, the way the Egyptian powerful turned on Mubarak.

All those qualifiers aside, a world without the madman Qaddafi is a better world, and I am extremely grateful that his fall did not cost any American soldiers' lives.  Obama's stepping aside and having NATO take the lead in this affair was a real watershed moment.  It may be the first time that the U.S. didn't take the overt military lead in conflicts overseas, but played a support and encouragement role.  

I like that role.  I am tired of American military action as a first response to difficult world problems.  This revolution was and is a Libyan revolution and came out of the Libyan people.  There is no question that they were someone else's puppets or proxies.  Obama's real leadership in creating a new post-cold war world may be in his foreign policy.  It seems vacillating and indecisive at times, but I think he is trying to create a new role for America in the world, a role that does not lead with its military power as an automatic response. 

What government will emerge after Qaddafi is finally gone is quite unknown.  I think that America and the West may be uncomfortable with the new powers that emerge in Libya, and I expect them to be pretty harsh Islamists, but I don't expect them to be focused on bloody jihad against the U.S., and to me, that is the chief concern for the national interest of America.  

For the sake of the Libyan people I really do hope that the new government is reasonably democratic and creates room for the many disparate factions within its country, and that the Libyan people become more empowered to create meaningful lives out of a new-found freedom.  But, that may take a little time to develop the art and science of democracy.