About two months after the eruption of antigovernment revolts in Benghazi, Libya, a panel of experts sat down yesterday afternoon to evaluate the United States’ intervention in Libya at “After Libya–A Revival of the Age of Intervention?”
The panel, held at the Harvard Center for Government and International Studies, was sponsored by the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the European Club at Harvard Kennedy School.
“We want to conceptualize and put the intervention in Libya into a greater context,” said Bjoern H. Seibert, moderator of the event.
Panelists included Middle East History Professor E. Roger Owen, Colonel and Weatherhead Center Fellow Dagvin R. M. Anderson, and MIT Political Science Professor Barry R. Posen. Owen started the panel discussion by giving a historical perspective on Libya and its government.
“I spent my honeymoon in Libya back in the 1960s,” Owen said.
Owen explained that there is a disconnect between Muammar Gaddafi’s conception of the people and the reality in Libya.
“I think the people around Gaddafi created this bubble where he [Gaddafi] sees what they want him to see,” Owen said. “The world he rules over is actually not the world he thought.”
Posen expressed his disapproval of the U.S. intervention in Libya, arguing that the U.S. is already stretched too thin in its military obligations.
“The U.S. is already involved in too many wars,” Posen said. “It does not need to get involved in any more, not even as a partial participant.”
Posen added that in this situation, it would have been more beneficial to make a region of Libya a “safe zone” rather than relying on military intervention.
“It is time for the U.S. to lower its profile in the Arab world, not escalate it,” Posen said. “They [Arabs] want to own change and own their own future.”
Government Professor Stanley Hoffmann, who was slated to be on the panel, was not able to attend.