Thursday, November 3, 2011

Libya may be the new Afganistan

In today's Wall Street Journal, Paul Wolfowitz discussed the current situation in Libya and what opportunities the US has.  In the course of reading this article, I started to wonder if perhaps Libya would at some point look similar to Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is a country with lots of space between people.  Because of it's location, and relative lack of strong sovereignty, the USSR, Taliban, Al-Qaeda,  and arguably now the US has tried to control it.  The people are very tribal and suspicious of other tribes and other countries.  In the conflict with USSR, the tribes organized together and the US had a chance to eliminate some of the suspicion of the US.  Unfortunately, the US backed out and confirmed the suspicions that they had.  The tribes also reverted back to warring with each other.

So now, the conflict is in Libya.  It's also conveniently located, very tribal, with lots of open space.  Mr. Wolfowitz discusses how the US didn't fully take advantage of the situation in order to eliminate doubts that people in that country would have about US support.  One could argue that the US did everything to reinforce the unreliable tag.

Libya doesn't have the same rugged terrain that symbolizes Afghanistan, but you can argue that what it does have can be just as brutal.  Today, Libya's tribes seem to mostly have come together to fight a common enemy, but how long will that last.  We've already sown the suspicion of the US into the "new" Libya, if the tribal coalition falls apart ....

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