Could Libya’s Decline Have Been Predicted?
Unsurprisingly, on both sides of the Atlantic policymakers are flailing around asking themselves if Libya’s descent into chaos could have been predicted. In the October/November edition of Survival, Ben Fishman of IISS tackles question by way of a review of my edited volume The 2011 Libyan Uprisings and the Struggle for the Post-Qadhafi Future alongside that of The Libyan Revolution and its Aftermath edited by Cole and McQuinn. It makes and interesting read which you can access by clicking here.
By assigning no agency to the Libyans themselves, politicians or commentators who seek to lay the blame for Libya’s demise on, for example, Obama, Hillary Clinton, the UK, France, the UN, Qatar or Egypt etc., obscure the overwhelming responsibility – and opportunity – the Libyans had to shape their own future. Two recent books begin to correct this overly simplistic narrative by telling the Libyan side of the story of the 2011 uprising against Gadhafi and the initial years following it. They do so by collecting primary research from a group of authors who focus on the individuals and groups that played principal roles in an improbable story. This new scholarship on Libya stems from a flood of interest in the country and a new-found level of access afforded to researchers that would have been unthinkable under the old regime.
Peter Cole and Brian McQuinn, editors of The Libyan Revolution and its Aftermath, stress that each of their contributors spent at least three months
doing field work in Libya on their respective subject areas. Similarly, Jason Pack, editor of The 2011 Libyan Uprisings and the Struggle for the Post-Qadhafi
Future, structures his volume around themes, communities and actors, with authors selected for their expertise on the relevant subject matter….
As Pack titles his book and repeats often, the uprisings (emphasis on the plural) denote the differences among the various theatres of the 2011 war…..
Both books usefully emphasise the theme of the divisiveness of Libya’s revolution and the resulting struggle to establish central authority. Pack describes the phenomenon as an ongoing struggle between the ‘centre’ and the ‘periphery’ (Pack, pp. 9–11).
To read the full review click here.