riday marks the one-year anniversary of the uprising that ousted Libya's longtime leader, Moammar Gadhafi — and ultimately led to his death at the hands of rebel soldiers in October. Today, the new Libya isn't exactly a model of democratic stability. Militias still control huge swaths of the country. Islamist groups recently desecrated war graves in anger over the burning of Korans at a U.S.-run military base in Afghanistan. And this week, tribal leaders and militia commanders in Benghazi declared the country's oil-rich east a semi-autonomous state, a move the national government in Tripoli labeled "dangerous." Is Libya actually worse off than it was under Gadhafi?
Western meddling made Libya's problems worse: "My brilliant Russian grandmother Mashe used to say that things are never so bad they can't get worse," says Michael Ledeen at National Review. When it comes to Libya and Egypt, she was right. Sure, the previous tyrants were bad. But once Muslim fanatics drove or hijacked the rebellions, it left each country worse off than it was before. "Evil people won a struggle for power." That's "worse for our interests, worse for civilization, [and] worse for the people there."
"Taking sides in Syria"
Not so fast. Libya is making progress: The recent spate of bad news is reinforcing "a profoundly misleading picture of Libya today," says George Grant at Britain's Telegraph. The Libyan people expressed disgust at the Islamists' excesses, and the fledgling government is working to integrate militia groups into the armed forces. For "a country less than six months on from the end of a war that ended one of the most regressive and eccentric dictatorships in recent memory, Libya is doing very well indeed."
"Libya is not a failed state in-waiting"
All is not lost, but Libya is on the brink: Libya's National Transitional Council is "struggling to keep a lid on tensions" among hundreds of militias that helped topple Gadhafi, says Abigail Hauslohner at TIME. The Benghazi split amounts to the "most brazen" challenge yet to its authority. Tripoli can still soothe easterners with election laws that give them more representation. But we now have "an uncomfortable reminder that Libya's post-Gadhafi future remains dangerously uncertain."
"Benghazi breakaway highlights Libya's uncertain future"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- The world's dumbest idea: Taxing solar energy
- Which states get screwed worst by the Electoral College?
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- Attack of the invasive species
- 10 things you need to know today: April 19, 2014
- How Captain America won over China
- That 'world's toughest job' ad is actually full of horrible lessons on motherhood
Subscribe to the Week