The Corner

A Successful Debacle?

The Libya War looked like a debacle throughout most of its duration, but now appears on the cusp of success. It was always hard to believe that in a contest of a third-rate military v. a third-rate insurgent force plus NATO air strikes, the insurgent force wouldn’t win. There were probably only three things that could have saved Qaddafi’s regime: the internal fracture of the rebels, NATO’s lack of will, or the U.S. Congress. All of those seemed at times as though they might come through for Qaddafi, but the campaign ended up having the broad contours that were predictable at the beginning. Despite the humanitarian justifications for this war, I always believed it was essentially a 21st-century punitive expedition against Qaddafi, a mass-murderer of Americans. We are going to be able to shape the post-war situation only at the margins and it will be chaotic at best.


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