Tuesday, 23 August 2011


On 20 March 2011, I wrote a piece entitled "Libya: the Day After", arguing that innocent people will die while there will be no structural political, social or economic change that would improve society for the majority of citizens. On the contrary, Libya of the future will be more of a Western semi-colony than it was in the last four decades. Libya with the lowest GDP-to-debt ratio in the world will become a debtor nation so that Western corporations can enjoy a long-term stronghold on oil, cheap labor, and open market access.

Nevertheless, Obama comes out as a clear winner, as do Sarkozy and Cameron to a certain extent. They insisted on regime change and Libya's closer integration into the West and they will have their way. Obama can use Libya as a foreign policy victory, and he can in fact widened the scope and argue that under his presidency democracy spread in Islamic countries. Very good news indeed for the incumbent president looking for some good news in foreign policy given that there is not much of that in labor and economic arenas.

Obama has already claimed Libya as a victory for his administration's 'multilateral foreign policy', although the Republicans are already claiming that Obama must be judged on the basis of what type of regime will be forged in Tripoli after Muamar Gaddhafi - that is, the degree to which that a future regime will be subservient to the West and surrender sovereignty to the US and its allies. Obama is paying lip service to the sovereignty issue, but cautions that Libya will be judged by the degree to which it comes together or remains divided as is the case in Yemen. The only thing that matters is that US-NATO intervention in Libya, with the collaboration of al-Qaeda, has helped Obama in his re-election bid, and it has strengthened both Cameron and Sarkozy who are in trouble with their own voters owing to economic and social disasters in their ow3n countries. Thank God that foreign policy can still serve as a distraction when things go terribly wrong at home.

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