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Reassessing Libya

Spencer Ackerman says he got it wrong:

Lots of questions remain about the future of Libya. Will an insurgency develop? Will Gadhafi’s loose missiles be recovered? Will the U.S. keep a CIA presence in Libya, even as it says there aren’t any boots on Libyan soil? Will the security contractors seek more bids to augment the new government’s forces? Do the Qatari commandos who helped the rebels march to Tripoli head home?

And so, in the spirit of intellectual honesty, I need to concede that I got the Libya war wrong. Several Danger Room pieces under my byline ran this year predicting that Libya was an open-ended mission, lacked a clear plan for victory, and could lead to NATO peacekeepers battling post-Gadhafi insurgents. While reasonable people can disagree about whether the war was in the U.S. interest (or even legal), or whether President Obama portrayed it honestly, the fact is that the war successfully ended after eight months, contrary to consistent predictions on display here.

I was also skeptical about our intervention, especially how Obama handled the procedure in which he decided to intervene. But it seems to have worked out pretty well so far. So like Spencer, I'm happy to admit that I seem to have been wrong about how well this thing would go. But I do still embrace those questions Spencer brings up. Because the political science research finds that transitions from autocracies to democracies can be very unstable. And it is possible for a country to slip back into an autocracy if its people can't work things out. Hopefully they maintain stability and democracy can start building on a solid foundation.