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With Qaddafi dead, Libya must repay its backers with a 'peace dividend,' not favors

Now that Qaddafi is dead and Sirte is captured, Libyans can repay those countries who helped in his ouster not through kickbacks or development contracts, but by establishing a stable, democratic, economically open future for Libya. That's the real 'peace dividend.'

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North Africans are famous for their culture of boundless hospitality. Yet as a result of their traumatic history with European colonialism, they understand that in international politics, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”

With the capture of Sirte and the killing of Muammar Qaddafi provoking massive street celebrations, Libyans are constantly discussing how their victory over the colonel came about. Many believe that God alone is ultimately responsible for their liberation. While immensely grateful for the NATO-led alliance’s intervention, some Libyans question the alliance’s professed humanitarian motives. Common sense suggests that states do not spend hundreds of millions during a deep recession out of moral necessity.

From the perspective of the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Qatar, and other alliance members, now is the time to take stock of how the rebel victory may promote their national interests. Is it not fair for them to expect some sort of remuneration? Or looked at holistically, did the allied powers fight a moral war to protect a civilian movement seeking liberation from tyranny? Or did Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) surreptitiously hire the alliance as quasi-mercenaries on terms of open-ended credit with oil given as security – payable on a no-win/no-fee basis?

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