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A Laboratory Experiment

Events in Libya appear to be spinning out of control. Rebels have taken control of Bengazi; the revolt has spread to other cities, including Tripoli; Gaddafi is rumored to have fled the capital; unconfirmed reports have military aircraft attacking protesters. This is one of many videos showing the chaos that increasingly reigns:

While events are murky at best, it seems unlikely that Gaddafi’s regime can survive. What will follow it is, at this point, anyone’s guess.
That sets up an interesting comparison. The United States supported Mubarak’s government in Egypt for several decades, militarily and otherwise. Now, the frequently anti-American tone of Egypt’s rebels is often attributed to that support. Many commentators argue that the U.S.’s support of Mubarak was short-sighted, and that it will be our own fault if the government that ultimately emerges in Cairo is anti-American.
Perhaps so. But if that theory is correct, shouldn’t we see a different result right next door, in Libya? The U.S. has never supported Gaddafi; on the contrary, we tried to assassinate him at least once. So does that increase the likelihood that the rebels who detest Gaddafi will be friendly to America when some combination of them take power? On its face, that makes sense; one can draw an analogy to Eastern Europe, where the governments that took power upon the collapse of the Soviet Union were almost uniformly pro-American.
Will the same thing happen in Libya? I don’t know; but history seems to be setting up a laboratory experiment in north Africa.

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