The Middle East Channel

The Baghdad syndrome

There are, of course, huge differences between Libya and Iraq in politics, culture, and demographics. And the fighting in Libya isn’t even ostensibly over yet, like it was during that brief Iraqi spring of 2003. But some important similarities are clear. Libya remains in the chaos of a leadership void and a continuing civil war. ...

GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images
GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images

There are, of course, huge differences between Libya and Iraq in politics, culture, and demographics. And the fighting in Libya isn't even ostensibly over yet, like it was during that brief Iraqi spring of 2003. But some important similarities are clear. Libya remains in the chaos of a leadership void and a continuing civil war. It's suffering the cumulative societal and physical degradation of decades of corrupt, brutal autocracy and isolation. A hard, likely dangerous, nation-building effort lies ahead in any scenario. But Libyans won't have to suffer the violence and humiliation of a foreign occupation, and they won't have their reconstruction dictated by clueless Americans. And they can draw on the fresh memory of Iraq as a cautionary tale.

I was a reporter in Iraq from 2003 to 2009, and I know I'm seeing Libya through the prism of Iraq. Still, as the Libyan fighting continues or enters a period of stalemate, here are some lessons from Iraq offered in the hopes of a less-violent, more stable Libyan construction process.

Read more.

There are, of course, huge differences between Libya and Iraq in politics, culture, and demographics. And the fighting in Libya isn’t even ostensibly over yet, like it was during that brief Iraqi spring of 2003. But some important similarities are clear. Libya remains in the chaos of a leadership void and a continuing civil war. It’s suffering the cumulative societal and physical degradation of decades of corrupt, brutal autocracy and isolation. A hard, likely dangerous, nation-building effort lies ahead in any scenario. But Libyans won’t have to suffer the violence and humiliation of a foreign occupation, and they won’t have their reconstruction dictated by clueless Americans. And they can draw on the fresh memory of Iraq as a cautionary tale.

I was a reporter in Iraq from 2003 to 2009, and I know I’m seeing Libya through the prism of Iraq. Still, as the Libyan fighting continues or enters a period of stalemate, here are some lessons from Iraq offered in the hopes of a less-violent, more stable Libyan construction process.

Read more.

Larry Kaplow is a freelance journalist in Mexico City. You can follow him on Twitter: @larrykaplow.

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