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Strategies In Dealing With Libya

There are three strategies by which different countries conduct their relations with the current regime in Libya. They are: the prostrated engagement strategy, the conditional engagement strategy, and the isolation strategy.

The prostrated engagement is the strategy adopted by the whole world community, except America. The premises of the world order that has prevailed in the twentieth century have contributed to the prominence of this strategy. Nonetheless, opportunism and shameless greed were the one-two punch that floored the world community and made country such as Egypt, France, and Germany bow to the power of the Libyan petrodollar. Egypt, in particular, has historically played a major role in facilitating the emergence of the dictatorship in Libya, and continues to provide the Libyan regime with unlimited support and protection. Unfortunately, this unprincipled stand covers both the Egyptian regime and most of the Egyptian opposition. This strategy has to be exposed and condemned since it runs against the political and economic interests of the Libyan people.

The conditional engagement strategy is similar to the one suggested by the recent ACUS report. How much of this strategy is beneficial to the Libya people depends on both the conditions set for such an engagement and the mechanisms established for monitoring these conditions. From the Libyan people perspective, the principle of human rights is the main condition that would provide legitimacy to this strategy. Not only human rights in the political sense, but also, and more importantly, in the economic sense. This means that any foreign investments and contracts has to result in the improvement of the living standards of the Libyan people, and not end up in the pockets of the ruling family.

The isolation strategy is the one adopted by America since 1979. Although this strategy could be very effective in isolating the regime diplomatically and politically, it is very problematic when applied economically. Experience has shown that dictatorships are very adept in circumventing economic sanctions and in using them to deepen the misery of the people and loot the treasury of their countries. Also, for any form of isolation to achieve any results, it has to be adopted by a sizable coalition of influential countries that are willing to forego the immediate petrodollar benefits for the principled stand against barbaric regimes. Moreover, people in isolated countries are willing to accept certain amount of suffering provided that an advantageous solution would emerge in a reasonable amount of time. In fact, this strategy can only work if it coincides with, or leads to, the emergence of an active internal opposition capable of either gaining concessions from the dictatorship or dismantling the oppressive regime completely.

These general observations on different strategies in dealing with Libya are motivated by the pain of watching the destruction inflicted on our once peaceful and promising country, and the realization that Libyans need outside help to overcome their agony. This need for outside help should not be looked at as a stigma that taints our just struggle for freedom and justice, since many countries much more advanced than Libya have needed and sought outside help in order to defeat absolute tyranny. The nature of this help should be determined by the interaction between the Libyan public opinion and the opinions of the various Libyan intellectual and political groups. The problem is that this interaction is not possible for obvious reason, i.e., state-terror. Meanwhile, the problem is left for the Diaspora to grapple with, without any reliable or accurate feedback from inside Libya and without the weight and means to affect events.

It is, however, important to keep in mind that the legitimacy derived from the wants of the masses could lead sometimes to circumstances detrimental to society. The masses movement, for instance, could be motivated by a distorted vision of the nature of the needed change. The Libyan people, for instance, have made such a costly mistake when they handed few unknown soldiers the keys to their freedom and abandoned the legitimacy of independence. On the other hand, the views of the wise men of the philosophical or religious verities, and their ideological representatives, are also subject to misreading, to say the least. This, again, was manifested in the beliefs and actions of the leaders of the political movements that opposed the monarchy, which failed to formulate an alternative suitable to the particulars of our country.

At this juncture of history, there is a hope that the Third World forms of barbaric fascism would be relegated to the dust bin of history, and that the civilized world, in order to be called civilized, is willing to face to its responsibility of combating the remnants of the fascist ideology. This hope, in the case of Libya, rests on two factors: the actions of the internal Libyan opposition and the policy of America in regard to the regime in Libya. The rest of the world community has chosen the prostration model, which leaves the Libyan people with their only hope of having their aspirations for freedom, equality, and prosperity complemented and facilitated by the principled policies of the United States of America.

S. M.

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