Monday, August 22, 2011

Libya... freedom or stability?

The news services of the world are going crazy. The media is having a heyday. Reporters have something glorious to report.

Not only is it big news, but it's happy news. We don't get happy news very often that's also worth sharing and selling. But today we have it.

The rebels are finally going to win in Libya. Gaddafi's claim to rule will shortly be over. In fact, the latest news I've seen reports that all he's really ruler of right now is his own compound. The rebels have won the rest.

We are supposed to be celebrating. This revolution of the Arab Spring has not gone smoothly as did Tunisia or Egypt, but in the end everyone's efforts are paying off. Freedom has won. Dictatorship is over.

Or is it?

I don't know much about Libya, but last month I spent an hour with a man who had lived in Libya for the last 15 years. He said that, while he never felt free under the previous government, he also has little hope for the future of Libya. The rebels are not really freedom-loving teenagers; they are actually Muslim extremists supported by big money in support of a religious movement. I don't know if he's right, but his stories reminded me that Libya is a complicated place.

My friends in Egypt, the home of the famed mass of humanity that overturned a regime in 18 days, are now facing the reality that revolutions don't actually end in 18 days. Or six months. The so-called revolution in Egypt was the end of the prelude, the end of the introduction, the end of the launching event. The real revolution is a long, dragged out, painful process.

I'll be surprised if it's different in Libya. After all, Libyan people don't know much about running a country and they don't have much experience with democracy. They've always had a dictator taking care of those details for them.

So, a Western-style democracy of majority rule with minority rights and respect for human rights, may be the end product, but it will take a long time to get there. Or, maybe some amazingly dynamic leader of the rebels, someone who reminds us a bit of Mr. Muammar, may just step in and take over. Or, a religious authority may exert itself and become the new leader, ensuring majority rule but with little respect for minority rights.

Either way, it's a long road ahead. I'm glad the media is celebrating today, but I hope we don't forget Libya tomorrow.

1 comment:

happygirl said...

I hope we don't forget Libya, either. Fledgling democracies need nurturing, but from who? I will be interested to see how this plays out. I will not miss Gaddafi. His regime tried to kill my husband in the 1980's.

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