Next Steps for a Post-Qadhafi Libya

September 2, 2011

by Andrew Fenzel

Libyan rebels, seen here, after overrunning Muammar Qadhafi's compound

Now that Muammar Qadhafi is no longer in power, the next step is to ensure that Libya becomes a stable nation. Until recently, however, there was no mention of a post-conflict strategy – a surprising development given the lessons of Iraq.  As the conflict speeds toward a conclusion, Western leaders, along with the Libyan rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC), are scrambling to formulate a viable strategy. To reduce the chances that Libya will suffer the same fate as Iraq: 1) NATO should ensure Libya’s security; 2) the US and the EU should assist Libya in its transition to liberal democracy; and 3) a UN-led regional multilateral coalition should be created to help rebuild Libya and guarantee peace and stability.

First, NATO should play an integral role in maintaining Libya’s security. Notwithstanding the victory by the rebels, there are factions loyal to Qadhafi still fighting. Consequently, NATO should not only continue to enforce the no-fly zone and the arms embargo, it should also deploy a small number of ground forces. Since Europe has the most at stake in stabilizing Libya, the forces should come overwhelmingly from France and Italy. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen recently said: “We do not see a lead role for NATO in Libya once this crisis is over.” But NATO cannot simply declare victory and walk away; it must finish the job by placing a UN-sanctioned peacekeeping force on the ground.

Second, the US and the EU should provide limited assistance to Libya as it reestablishes governance. Neither side of the Atlantic can afford to get involved in another protracted post-conflict reconstruction project, but they should provide technical assistance so that the NTC can restore law and order, create a constitution, and call for elections. The NTC is off to a good start: it has called on its supporters to include pro-Qadhafi factions in a new government and has rejected  retribution killings. Once again, France, Italy, and other key European states need to step up their assistance.

Third, Western nations should build a coalition of regional organizations under the purview of the UN. As Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department, has argued, international politics will become increasingly multilateral. Libya would be good example of how regional organizations, the members of which generally have a strong interest in maintaining stability in their neighborhood, can contribute to the reconstruction a country. The African Union and the Arab League should work closely to restore Libya’s economy and damaged infrastructure.

So far, the West has not paid enough attention to post-conflict planning. With no post-conflict strategy fully articulated, Libya faces an uncertain future. But with a UN-led regional coalition, limited US and EU support, and NATO peacekeeping forces, a stable post-Qadhafi Libya would be within reach.

Andrew Fenzel is an Intern at the Streit Council. Photo credit: Magharebia (

Do New Weapons Encourage Us to Fight?

April 25, 2011

by Griffin W. Huschke

An MQ-1 Predator Drone

There’s a lot of news worth covering lately (Wikileaks is the gift that keeps on giving for the blogophere), but a popular article in the Washington Post today raised some especially salient points for transatlantic watchers and more general international relations scholars. A recently released study by the British Defence Ministry pondered if technological advances in unmanned aerial vehicles, like the Predator drones that are now buzzing over the skies in Libya, will allow future policy makers to “resort to war as a policy option far sooner than previously.”

Whether they knew it or not, our ponderously-spelling allies in the British Defence Ministry have wandered into the crossfire of an international relations debate that has been going on for years.  Several years ago Steven Van Evra published a work hypothesizing that if countries thought offensive weaponry were more effective, they would be more likely to go to war (while if defensive weaponry were perceived to be more effective, states would be more hesitant to engage in conflict).  For example, in the early 20th century, European countries believed they could gain a strong military advantage if they were the aggressor in war, which helped create the hostile “powder-keg” political conditions in the run-up to World War I.  This theory, which uses the “offense-defense balance” to explain why countries go to war, continues to be influential to this day, and is clearly echoed in the Defence Ministry’s assertion above.

But like anything worth saying in academia, the offense-defense balance has engendered a lot of passionate arguments among the large-brained.  Scholars argue that there isn’t really such a thing as a strictly “offensive” or “defensive” weapon (is a tank an offensive or defensive weapon?  What about heavy artillery?), and military experts almost always say the defense has the advantage no matter how evolved the weaponry.  Some also concede that the offense-defense balance is a factor that leads states to go to war, but isn’t as big of a factor as, say, shifts in international power or regime type.  Indeed, in the last several years, fewer and fewer scholarly debates seem to be referencing the offense-defense balance as a legitimate explanation for inter-state warfare.

Where does that leave us on the British Defence Ministry’s arguments about the predator drone? Most IR scholars would probably say predator drones won’t have a very big effect on transatlantic countries’ pugnaciousness in future conflicts.  While the offense-defense balance remains an important theory, most academics look to cite more established reasons for why states go to war (defending national security interests, etc.).  But I’m sure several highly intelligent people would vehemently disagree to both sides of the argument.  In the end, only time will tell how drones will change the way we fight, and even then we’ll probably have competing theories about that.

Griffin W. Huschke is the Mayme and Herb Frank Fund Research Fellow at the Streit Council. Photo credit: Beth and Christian (


Separated by a Common Alliance

April 15, 2011

by Griffin W. Huschke

NATO Headquarters

So now we’re in-fighting in NATO over the whole Libya thing.  Thirteen days into the NATO-led bombing campaign against loyalist forces in Libya, and the alliance is already showing signs of strain.  The Hawks, led by France and the UK, have expressed their displeasure over the small impact the bombing missions have made thus far (the sorties have yet to stop the shelling of tenuously-held Misurata ), and are pushing to send arms to the poorly-equipped rebels.   The Doves, led by Belgium and the empty seat Germany used to sit in, are questioning the legality of arming rebels under a UN mandate that only calls for “protecting civilians.”

While the latest spat within the Atlantic Alliance isn’t that surprising (we’re still fighting about deployments to Afghanistan) there might be some extenuating circumstances that are exacerbating tensions present in any NATO-led mission.  A general lack of political will and low levels of European defense spending are obviously contributing to the recent fracas, but operational factors may also be putting an undue strain on the alliance.  NATO commanders have all but admitted that constraints put on people and machinery by their home countries, such as limiting aircraft to a support role, is restricting the efficacy of the bombing campaign.  It may be these tactical and operational failings that are causing rifts at much higher levels.

There’s also the red-white-and-blue elephant in the room that no one seems to be mentioning much.  The U.S. pulled out of bombing missions when NATO took over, leaving French, British and other member- countries to fill the hole in manpower and equipment left by Uncle Sugar’s withdrawal.  But it’s tough for Europe to fill that gap on its own—the U.S. spends twice as much on defense as all other NATO countries combined, and NATO is designed to rely on U.S. defense capabilities.  Consider this quote from the Council on Foreign Relations in 2006:

Imagine a NATO operation with Norwegian special forces being dropped off and picked up by a Polish airlift team, protected by US satellites, an aircraft carrier and its warplanes. What makes NATO effective is its integrated military structure and its mutual defense pledge.

The author is speaking somewhat hypothetically here, but it’s a good illustration of how people have been thinking about NATO’s force structure.  The United States provides a firm base for operations, and if you take that essential piece away, it’s going to make things a lot harder for the alliance.

Going forward, moving away from consensus decision-making at the committee level would make the Alliance more nimble, and revamping some common funding elements would better distribute the financial and military costs among all members.   This would ensure the Alliance’s effectiveness even if individual member states objected to an operation, and would allow for both financial and military contributions.  The 21st century is going to require a stronger alliance to combat a host of new threats, and better integration is the only way NATO can adapt.

Griffin W. Huschke is the Mayme and Herb Frank Fund Research Fellow at the Streit Council. Photo Credit: European Parliament (


Profane Diplomacy

April 7, 2011

by Griffin W. Huschke

Moussa Koussa speaks to reporters in his former capacity

I really thought we were done with this, but I guess old habits are hard to break.  In a move entirely consistent with what we’ll call “our son of a bitch” diplomacy, the UK and US have dropped sanctions against Moussa Kuossa, the former head of the Libyan national intelligence service who most recently served as the Foreign Minister under Mammar Gaddafi.  Koussa resigned his post on March 30, and defected to the United Kingdom, where he’s been meeting with Western officials from a London safe-house.

As you can imagine from someone who headed Libya’s version of the Thought Police, this guy has got a lot of blood on his hands.  He’s been implicated in a number of nefarious acts, including training terrorists and murdering dissidents in- and outside Libya’s borders.  Koussa was even tied to giving guns to the Irish Republican Army in the 80’s, and masterminding the 1988 bombing of a PanAm jet over Lockerby, Scotland.  Sources say that Koussa has been providing details about the inner workings of the Gaddafi regime and providing information that may lead to more defections of high level officials.

If there’s anything the Jasmine Revolution (if that’s actually what we’re calling it now) has taught Western leaders, it’s that siding with super-villains for short-term political gains isn’t a good strategy.  Just for fun, let’s remind ourselves of political leaders in the Middle East and North Africa that have been disposed by popular revolution (as opposed to civil war, coups, or, ahem, invasion) since the end of colonialism:

  • The Shah (Iran)
  • Hosni Mubarak (Egypt)
  • Zine El Adidine Ben Ali (Tunesia)
  • Muammar Gaddafi (Libya)
  • Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (Bahrain) [Forthcomming]

If you’ve noticed a trend, then you win the no-prize for figuring out that all of these leaders were strong collaborators with the West at the time of their disposal!  They’re also know for not being especially big fans of Locke, and by that, I mean they were repressive murderers who killed scores of their own people.  Which is why their own citizens, under fear of death, torture and reprisals against loved ones, risked everything they had to topple these guys.

So, here’s hoping that despite Koussa’s time at an exquisite learning institution, which has a storied history of excellence which makes it the finest university in the state, Western officials get the information they need, and hook this guy up with some nice accommodations at The Hague.  The West has a long enough history with thugs—let’s cut this one loose.

Griffin W. Huschke is the Mayme and Herb Frank Fund Research Fellow at the Streit Council. Photo Credit: magharebia (

Alphabet Soup and the Libya No-Fly Zone

March 14, 2011

by Griffin W. Huschke

HMCS IROQUOIS, part of the NATO maritime mission in the Mediterranean, on patrol

International Relations theory is weird.   In most cases, policy is constructed in dichotomies of “realism versus idealism” or “liberal versus conservative”.  Never one to follow the pack, international relations theory is full of philosophies that aren’t traditionally juxtaposed in political discourse: in the US , the competing schools in IR theory are realism, liberalism and constructivism, with a smattering of feminists, critical theorists , cultural scholars, Marxists and other smaller disciplines making noise now and again.

While there’s a pretty big disconnect with elegant international relations theory and messy, messy foreign policy, the Bush Administration is largely regarded as following pretty realist paradigm (although realists will never admit it).  Condoleezza Rice’s pre-9/11 article in Foreign Affairs is a pretty good representation of realism’s core beliefs: the U.S. should use its power to pursue its own national interests without much regard for the will of international organizations like the UN.   The Greek historian Thucydides was credited with the first realist take on international organizations, and alliances as a whole—when you face a common threat, alliances are great. Every other time though, watch your back, because you never know who is going to turn on you.

Conversely, liberal scholars, who take their founding conceptual framework from German political theorist Immanuel Kant, think that alliances are great ways to strengthen a  country, and that international organizations are pretty swell, too.  Liberals argue that international organizations, like the UN and G8, allow for countries to air their grievances without going to war, and strengthen trade agreements that make everyone money.  International organizations also allow states to interact with each other enough that you can expect a certain behavior from different countries (we call that shortening the “shadow of the future” in The Biz). Overall, liberals argue that multilateral organizations have host of positive effect on the international community that allows participating countries reap more benefits than they could hope to get on their own.

Although there’ve been a few of nattering nabobs of negativism on Obama’s commitment to the international community, the ongoing civil war in Libya has demonstrated the President’s full-on liberal colors.  In the last couple of weeks, the Obama administration has reached out to all of the relevant international organizations, including the UNNATOthe Arab League the African Union, and the G8, in weighing the options for a no-fly zone over Libya.  Warships sent to monitor the fighting in Libya flew the NATO naval ensign, and were ordered to act only in response to a UN Security Council resolution.  It’s enough to make a grown liberal scholar all verklempt.

On the transatlantic level, the EU and US have been issuing similar measured responses since the situation began.  Defense officials on both sides of the Atlantic have issued calls for support from the Arab world, and the proposed no-fly zone would be a wholly NATO job.  Indeed, Secretary Clinton’s trip to Libya to meet with the Rebel Alliance, er, the Libyan National Council, came on the heels of a meeting between French Prime Minister Nicholas Sarkozy, Mon Mithma, and Crix Madine Mahmoud Jibril, and Ali Al-Esawi, two important members of the Rebel Council.  Even humanitarian aid is being discussed in a transatlantic manner.  Its going to be tricky for the transatlantic community to pull together something quick and legitimate, but its going to get done soon.  And for those fighting and dying in the lawless lands of Libya right now, that probably sounds pretty good.

Griffin W. Huschke is the Mayme and Herb Frank Fund Research Fellow at the Streit Council. Photo Credit: Iafrancevi (

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