In the New York Times today, I suggest that it’s time to start thinking about the possibility of dispatching an international peacekeeping force to stabilize the situation in Libya after Qaddafi’s eventual downfall.
At lunch I happened to be chatting with an expert on peacekeeping who told me that my article was the first public suggestion of the kind. I think she is right. I say that not because I want to pat myself on the back for bringing up a subject whose relevance is blindingly obvious but to express bewilderment that there has not been more done to prepare for the endgame in Libya.
This is an administration that is filled, after all, with critics of the Iraq War where, it is widely conceded, we paid a heavy price for not doing more to prepare for Saddam Hussein’s downfall. Tommy Franks, Donald Rumsfeld, and others later claimed we were wrong-footed by our “catastrophic success,” meaning we were not prepared for the Baathist regime to collapse as quickly or completely as it did. Yet what are we doing to prepare for a similar eventuality in Libya where Qaddafi could be killed in an airstrike tomorrow? Is the coalition now enforcing a no-fly zone prepared to do something on the ground to ease Libya’s transition, or will we just wash our hands of the place and hope for the best?
Some of the usual suspects who oppose the intervention are castigating me for not raising such concerns before the intervention started. But such issues should have been obvious to everyone all along. I only hope that the administration is devoting considerable resources behind the scenes to preparing for post-Qaddafi scenarios because so far I am baffled by the lack of public discussion of this critical issue.