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Lessons for US in Libya's transition: Avoid mistakes of Iraq, Afghanistan

In Libya's transition from dictator to democracy, the international community should learn from its experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Bosnia. The West should watch out for picking favorite leaders and should use leverage to push Libya toward inclusive politics and a viable oil industry.

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Chasing Muammar Qaddafi out of Tripoli was the easy part. Transitioning from dictator to stable democracy is the moonshot.

The challenges in Libya are many and complex, from the development of security forces to creating jobs to establishing effective governing bodies. Yet stability and success will depend on one critical issue: whether the self-appointed National Transitional Council (NTC) establishes and sustains a legitimate and inclusive political process.

The last time Libya changed its leader? Through Mr. Qaddafi’s coup in 1969, just after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Just launching the political process in Libya, a country with no democratic tradition and few effective governing institutions, will be an enormous challenge. As the United States and international community consider how to best support Libya, there are some lessons from recent experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Bosnia from which they can learn.


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