Abstract

The demise of the Gadhafi clique leaves Libyans and foreigners alike in a quandary as to what Libya’s future is and what role the United States might play in steering things in a positive direction. In a period of broader transition in the Middle East, a successful outcome in Libya can have a larger impact as a model for interactions between transitional governments and the outside world on the one hand and between the United States and like-minded allies confronting complex contingencies on the other. What happens in Libya will continue to matter to the United States, with no clear way for the United States to guarantee success or even make it likely. The demise of the Gadhafi clique leaves Libyans and foreigners alike in a quandary as to what Libya’s future is and what role the United States might play in steering things in a positive direction. In a period of broader transition in the Middle East, a successful outcome in Libya can have a larger impact as a model for interactions between transitional governments and the outside world on the one hand and between the United States and like-minded allies confronting complex contingencies on the other. What happens in Libya will continue to matter to the United States, with no clear way for the United States to guarantee success or even make it likely. What is known about transitions in general, and Libya in particular, suggests modesty in the types of outcomes one should expect and in the U.S. ability to shape the new environment. But the United States has some influence, with which it should engage with Libyans, their neighbors, and U.S. allies to help build a post-Gadhafi environment that is both orderly and peaceful. While Libyans have a chance to get this transition right, and the United States has an opportunity to help, the outcome will be impossible to judge for another decade. Ultimately, it is Libyans who will have to judge that outcome and Libyans who will guide it.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-4724
Print ISSN
1945-4716
Pages
pp. 147-156
Launched on MUSE
2012-05-10
Open Access
No
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