Commentary Magazine


Lessons from Libya for Dictators in Distress

1. If you want to remain in power, you need to do more than send a man on a camel into crowds. Declare war on your people; hire other people to help out.

2. Do not worry if the U.S. president says you must “step down” and “leave.” It is only his personal opinion.

3. To ensure that the president does not focus unduly on your war, schedule it while he is preoccupied with other matters: a Motown concert, a conference on bullying, his golf game, and finalizing his Final Four picks.

4. Declare that the opposition is not “organic.” The president will not assist a non-organic revolution. If the revolution is organic, do not worry: an organic revolution is by definition one he does not need to assist. Either way, you’re fine.

5. Recognize that your membership on the UN Human Rights Council will be suspended — the president will send his secretary of state there to ensure that. Do not start a war against your people if you are not prepared for this.

6. Do not worry about a “no-fly zone” or some other U.S. military response. The president will consider it only if the world speaks with one voice. The world includes Russia, China, and Turkey.

7. Remember when the president adopted his Afghanistan policy after an extensive “review;” selected his own general to implement it; got the general’s recommendations; and then held endless meetings before finally reluctantly approving them? That was about a war he was already in. He will need many more meetings than that before he considers any new action against you.

8. You may eventually be subject to sanctions, so check to see if they’ve worked yet with Cuba, North Korea, or Iran.

9. Consider restarting your nuclear program, since the conditions that caused you to suspend it are gone. At most, the president will form a committee of several nations to talk to you; he will consider more sanctions if the world speaks as one. You need not worry about his “deadlines.”

10. There is basically only one thing you do need to worry about: do not, under any circumstances, approve any future Jewish housing in Jerusalem. The president will go ballistic if you do.