ND Expert: Post-Qadaffi Libya needs to “get own house in order”

Michael Desch

With the Qadaffi regime crumbling as rebels take over the capital city, hopes for a new democratic Libya has the world hopefully watching. But University of Notre Dame international relations expert Michael Desch is cautious about the post-Qadaffi Libya.

“Now the challenge is to moderate our expectations about what comes after Qadaffi. There will no doubt be a period of instability and turmoil but we have to give the Libyans time to get their own house in order,” Desch says.

The temptation to “oversell” the model of toppling a dictator also is something people need to resist, according to Desch.

“It worked in Libya because there was an indigenous opposition. But as we learned in Afghanistan, even supporting a successful indigenous opposition does not guarantee that it will be able to establish a functioning democracy quickly, if at all. That is something that only they can do,” Desch says.

Though the prospect of a Qadaffi-free Libya is promising, the U.S. must proceed with caution, according to Desch.

“If we set overly ambitious goals such as fostering a vibrant democracy in a deeply fractured and painfully backward society, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment.”

Media alert: Dr. Desch’s comments may be used in whole or in part; he is available for interviews and can be reached at 574-302-6024 or mdesch@nd.edu.