Less is more: Libya

Rory Stewart on the outcome in Libya has this to say as his conclusion of an article on Libya

Libya is still very fragile. If there is peace, it is not because of the new government, it is because the criminals and spoilers are staying at home. Policing is largely coming from ‘local committees’: groups of armed men from neighbourhoods, from very young to very old, some connected to mosques, many not. Committees may not disarm, there may be fights between tribes. Islamists may become more powerful. There will be incompetence and corruption and human rights abuses. And a powerful international lobby will urge the West to ‘solve these problems’: to send thousands of consultants under the slogans of ‘state-building’ and ‘capacity-building’, or even to send our troops for ‘stabilisation’. That we must resist. There is a real limit to how much the West knows about Libya, still less to how much we can do to fix fundamental structural problems if they emerge. Meanwhile, Libya is not a threat to its people or its neighbours. Too many Western ‘advisers’ risk making things worse: making the government appear like a foreign puppet; stirring Islamist resentment; raising expectations we cannot meet. We would soon be trapped by our guilt at lost lives, and deter Libyans from taking responsibility for their own future – to their detriment and ours. In Libya, as in much of the world, when it comes to foreign involvement: less is more.

Less is more: Libya.

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