Reprisals In The New Libya

Sudarsan Raghavan reports for the Washington Post on the fact that civil wars are ugly business:

With Libya essentially divided in half by conflict, the U.S.- and NATO-backed rebels who control much of the east are carrying out what many view as a campaign of retaliation against those once aligned with Gaddafi, according to relatives and rebel commanders and officials. Such targeting raises questions about the character of the government taking shape in eastern Libya and whether it will follow basic principles of democracy and human rights. Moreover, such acts could further deepen divisions in Libya’s tribal society and diminish the sort of reconciliation vital for stability in a post-Gaddafi era.


In my view, there’s nothing incredibly surprising here and it only “raises questions” in the sense that it’s always been kind of unclear what the anti-Gaddafi rebels are all about. But it’s not particularly surprising for a new regime that comes to power in a violent struggle to engage in some violent persecutation of members of the old regime. The real problem here is not with the Libyans, but with the conceit in the West that it’s possible to undertake a purely “humanitarian” intervention into an ongoing political struggle being waged with military violence.