What would post-Gadhafi Libya look like?

The North African despot is holding on as Libya's civil war drags on, but already, there's concern about how to restore peace after he's gone

A man picks at rubble in a destroyed home in Misrata, Libya: Should Moammar Gadhafi finally give up power, Libya does not a set post-peace plan.
(Image credit: Cai Yang/XinHua/Xinhua Press/Corbis)

The leader of Libya's rebel movement says that Moammar Gadhafi could be allowed to stay in the country under a peace deal, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. But the rebel chief, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, says Gadhafi would have to leave politics, and let the opposition determine where he will live. Meanwhile, a United Nations envoy is trying to get rebels and Gadhafi loyalists to agree to share power in a post-Gadhafi unity government, although observers fear the country may very well sink into further civil war, military rule, or even break apart. What will happen in Libya if, or when, Gadhafi finally falls?

Nobody knows, and that is scary: George W. Bush's planning for post-Saddam Iraq was inadequate, says Peter Feaver at Foreign Policy. But there's scant evidence that the Obama administration is doing any "robust planning" for post-Gadhafi Libya. The one thing President Obama has made clear is that U.S. ground troops won't be involved, which is fine if all goes well. But it will be hard "to stand idly by if Libya sinks into a chaos that threatens a humanitarian disaster."

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There will be chaos without foreign troops: We must not make the same mistake in Libya that we made in Iraq and Afghanistan, says Max Boot in The Wall Street Journal. "We must not limit our war aims to simply toppling Gadhafi." Deposing a dictator creates the perfect conditions for a long-term insurgency to bloom, so the U.S. and its allies will have to be ready to send a stabilization force to help the National Transitional Council gain control.

"Obama's step forward on Libya"

There might be chaos and foreign troops: Sending American or European soldiers won't prevent an insurgency, says Daniel Larison at The American Conservative. It might just provoke one. But that won't happen, anyway, as Congress would never go for it, and nobody in Europe wants the responsibility, either. So if it takes foreign soldiers to keep the peace, they'll have to come from the United Nations or the African Union, which "should reduce the incentive for an insurgency against an international force."

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