OTHER VOICES

What comes next for Libya?

Posted June 22, 2011, at 4:35 p.m.

Moammar Gadhafi has shown great tenacity in clinging to power in Libya, even as the pace of defections and NATO air attacks quickens.

In a recording played over state TV, the Libyan leader said he would never surrender: “We welcome death.” The apparent use of bunker-busting bombs in leveling his compound suggests that NATO is trying to oblige him.

The assessment of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that Gadhafi’s days are numbered is hopefully on the mark. And when he falls, it will come quickly. The time when other nations, Arab, African and NATO, could arrange a measured exit is almost certainly past.

Finally, if belatedly, planning is under way for a post-Gadhafi Libya. The nations most concerned about what comes next in Libya met in Abu Dhabi with the Transitional National Council, the umbrella organization of groups trying to unseat Gadhafi.

The TNC, with headquarters in the liberated Libyan city of Benghazi, is effectively Libya’s government-in-waiting. Some nations have already recognized it as the legitimate government of Libya; the U.S. recognizes it only as “the legitimate interlocutor” of the Libyan people, something well short of according it government status.

Once he’s out of there, a legitimate government can begin tapping into the $160 billion in frozen assets overseas. And at any rate, any Western aid should be doled out to reward progress toward liberalization, not as an upfront stimulus money.

Thankfully, there seems little enthusiasm in the West and among Arab nations for a multinational peacekeeping force, the so-called “boots on the ground.”

The U.S. should not let the lessons it learned in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq go to waste in post-Gadhafi Libya. We certainly paid enough for them.

Marietta Daily Journal, Ga. (June 15)

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