Pretense and Delusion, Libya Edition

We have written a number of times about Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, whose virulent anti-Israel crusade has contributed to ignorance about the Middle East. At Urgent Agenda, our friend Bill Katz notes that Walt’s myopia has extended to Libya in a manner that, given current events, supplies today’s ration of black comedy. Last year, Walt visited Libya. He was impressed by what he saw:

Although Libya is far from a democracy, it also doesn’t feel like other police states that I have visited. …
It is also a crime to criticize Qaddafi himself, the government’s past human rights record is disturbing at best, and the press in Libya is almost entirely government-controlled. Nonetheless, Libya appears to be more open than contemporary Iran or China and the overall atmosphere seemed far less oppressive than most places I visited in the old Warsaw Pact. . .
The remarkable improvement in U.S.-Libyan relations reminds us that deep political conflicts can sometimes be resolved without recourse to preventive war or “regime change.” One hopes that the United States and Libya continue to nurture and build a constructive relationship, and that economic and political reform continues there.

That “remarkable improvement in U.S.-Libyan relations” is really paying off for us. This is one more reminder of what a foreign policy based on pretense and delusion leads to. Unfortunately, as Bill Katz notes, “academics like Walt are just the kind invited to give lectures to high-ranking government and military officials, which is one reason we often get things so wrong.”


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