LibLink: Paddy Ashdown – Libya’s path to democracy

Lord (Paddy) Ashdown recently penned a piece for the Guardian with some thoughts on how Libya should now move towards a functioning democracy following its liberation. The rule of law, in the short term at least, is more important than elections, according to Paddy.

Here’s an extract:

If there is one thing more fraught, more attended by failure and more difficult to do than fighting a war, it is building the peace which follows. Our modern wars are fought in weeks or months – but building the peace is measured in decades. Wars are violent and swift. Building peace is long, painful and almost always untidy. Winning wars needs decisiveness. Building peace needs strategic patience.

What happens next in Libya is unlikely to be tidy or elegant to watch. Get used to it. The country is tribal by nature and the war has been tribal in its conduct. Finding a constitution – probably a highly devolved one – that can provide a framework to contain these pressures is not going to be easy – especially with such oil revenues to be distributed, so much religion to infect minds, and so many arms in the peoples’ hands.

But there are strengths to build on. There are some very able individuals who are more than capable of efficiently running their country, given a chance. With the world waiting at Tripoli’s door for its precious high-quality crude, Libya will not be poor. There is real international goodwill. And, it seems, a desire among Libya’s people for genuine democracy, though – note please London, Paris and Washington – one which will more likely see Turkey’s Islamic democracy as its model, than our secular ones.

We must only help where we are asked to. This was a different war – we played our part to enable the Libyan people to fight on their own terms. We have to be prepared to let them build their own peace on the same basis. Interference will be unwise and unwelcome as they have already made clear. Sending in floods of uninvited businessmen to capture contracts as reward for our help is not likely to be well received. Ditto dispatching the kind of small army of wet-behind-the-ears economic graduates to “help them rebuild their economy”, which we sent to Iraq in the early days.

You can read Paddy’s piece in full here.

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This entry was posted in Europe / International and LibLink.


  • Turkey is a secular democracy but one with an Islamic population. Britain is officially less secular since we have an established church. Its just that our population is mostly secular, even when they’re religious.

    And what’s this about religion infecting people’s minds? Not a very tolerant attitude to take.

  • The first law to be repealed is the one banning polygamy introduced by Gaddafi. Wait for Sharia Law to take away all womens’ rights.

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