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Liveblogging World War II: February 20, 1942

Daniel Larison Worries About Libya

He take the Hobbesian position that any Leviathan is better than no Leviathan:

Eunomia: Aftermath of the Libyan War: Amnesty International has issued a report on the great humanitarian success that is post-Gaddafi Libya:

Amnesty International on Thursday said armed militias in Libya commit widespread human rights abuses, creating instability and obstructing efforts to rebuild the country. “Armed militias operating across Libya commit widespread human rights abuses with impunity, fuelling insecurity and hindering the rebuilding of state institutions”…. The report..documents “serious abuses, including war crimes, against suspected Gaddafi loyalists, with cases of people being unlawfully detained and tortured — sometimes to death,” it said…

This is the kind of thing that happens when a dictatorship in a country with very weak institutions collapses as a result of war. None of this should come as a surprise to anyone. The reprisals that were already happening during the fighting last year have continued, and they seem to be getting worse. Militias in Libya have become a law unto themselves, and there doesn’t appear to be that much interest in creating a democratic government. Perhaps next time we in the West should not be so eager to help turn a dictatorship into a failed state.

The people who actually know about Libya who I talk to say that Daniel has the wrong counterfactual: a peaceful, orderly Libya under the thumb of Qaddafi was no longer a possibility after the Arab Spring spread from Tunisia, and that unless we were lucky--which I don't think we have been in Libya--the choice then was between rivers of blood (if Qaddafi was overthrown) and oceans of blood (if Qaddafi stayed after the degree of discontent had become common knowledge).

Thus backing the Arab Spring still looks to me to have been a good thing to do--both in the short run of the character of the successor regimes and in the long run of the forward march of human freedom.