International Intervention in Libya: A Documentary Remix

In evaluating calls for intervention, the first question we might ask is how the Libyan case differs from recent events in Tunisia and Egypt, where intervention of this type was not invited.  In both of those countries authoritarian leaders who were erstwhile Western allies were pushed out when their military institutions refused to turn on protesters.  But situated in countries long allied with the West, the self-preservation calculation of those military institutions might have been quite different than in the Libyan case.  When Ben Ali and Mubarak became focal points for opposition groups and liabilities to regime maintenance, the military leadership in each country may have had reason to believe that their institutional interests were better served by transition.  The continuing role of both the Tunisian and the Egyptian military in overseeing transition speaks powerfully to this calculation.  By contrast, the Libyan military, embedded in an isolated regime without strong ties to the West, may not exp…

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