Too Soon To Worry About Libya?

Photo by United Nations Photo / flickr

A militia rolls into the airport and shuts down all air traffic, because they’re angry about something.  Another militia goes into the offices of the electoral commission and burns ballots, because they’re upset about something. Officials from the International Criminal Court are arrested and later released, under suspicion of being spies.

– Eight months since the declaration of a new Libya and the end of Gaddafi’s rule, the steady stream of bizarre and sometimes dangerous activity continues in that country. As per the nature of media and stories that travel beyond its borders, these stories overshadow the positive developments that are also surely taking place.  But the question becomes, despite the short amount of time that has passed, have the first steps in these critical months been the ones that will lead to a more just and peaceful future for the country? Are these isolated incidents that will pass, giving way to cooler heads and more rational conflict resolution?

There is perhaps no great point to speculating or judging for the first year or years, but I am reminded of old wisdom from both religious texts and human rights advocates throughout history on the subject of wars and bringing about change through violence. Violence begets violence. That doesn’t have to be 100% true in all cases, but in today’s Libya I see what seem to be signs of what happens, the side effects of bringing about much needed change by using violence. The guns haven’t gone away and more importantly, the wounds have not simply healed. The trauma continues to play out, and sadly, creates more victims long after the official war has ended.

Was there a better way to do it? Again, it is both too late and not the point. The point – is that the costs of what happened and how it was carried will continue to be felt for what seems like the foreseeable future. Those costs undermine the goals of creating a better country where people can live life without fear of their government or their neighbors.