Libya: moments of truth approaching

With Muammar Gaddafi apparently on the run, and rebels appearing close to taking control of Tripoli, the fight to unseat Gaddafi’s dictatorial regime appears to be drawing to a conclusion. While we’ve drawn comparisons with the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan over the past few months, we must acknowledge one significant difference: the soldiers on the streets of Tripoli are Libyan, not American or European. In that sense, at least, this is a rebellion sparked by internal unrest rather than by the agendas of distant powers.

That said, the armies of the Transitional National Council have, of course, been backed by significant military might, courtesy of NATO. What happens if and when the ‘transitional’ is removed from their name? Will we discover that NATO intervention in Libya was an altruistic move motivated by nothing more than a desire to bring justice to the region, or will the new Libyan government be saddled with a bill for services rendered? If so, what will be on that bill? Oil? Some level of control over policy?

We’d love to think that our suspicions are misguided; that representatives of France, Britain, and America will respect the sovereignty of whatever government emerges, and allow them to take on the task of reshaping their nation with only whatever help they might request. It’s fair to say, though, that the recent history of Western states intervening in oil-rich countries is not encouraging

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