So reports Juan Cole, who just spent a week in the country. He was surprised by the relative stability and calm he observed. He says
I was struck at the air of normality everywhere I went, and by the obvious comfort people had in circulating, selling and going about their lives. There are no bombings, there is no civil war, there is no serious secessionism. One man told me that the biggest change is that people are no longer afraid. They had been captive of the revolutionary committees and the secret police. And that end of political fear, the Libyans I talked to insisted, made the uncertainties of this transitional period all worthwhile.
All is not roses, of course, as one may read here in The Arabist blog, or in Nicolas Pelham’s latest report, on “Libya’s restive revolutionaries”—though Pelham does conclude his piece by offering that “[f]or all the hand wringing and post-civil war bloodletting, Libya might just pull through.” But I’m satisfied to read Cole’s account, not only because I think the Libyan people deserve some normalcy after four decades of Qadhafi’s ubuesque tyranny, but also as I have periodically had to push back against various doomsayers over the past several months, who have pointed to the instability, human rights violations committed by the rebel forces, and pronouncements by Islamists as proof that post-Qadhafi Libya was going to hell in a handbasket. My response has been to compare the instability that ensued after the end of the civil war last October to the chaos and bloodletting in Algeria over the six months that followed the end of the war there in 1962. But once the state (re)established itself and elections were held, the situation settled down. (I would also gently add that the Libya Cassandras appear to be driven primarily by mauvaise humeur that the US-French-British intervention succeeded in its objectives—and that it was a notable success for Nicolas Sarkozy; as for my own view on Libya at the outset, see here).
In his account Juan Cole mentions a recent op-ed by Henry Kissinger opposing intervention in Syria and who makes a passing reference to Libya that Cole objects to (Kissinger’s reference in fact frames Cole’s piece). Cole does not, however, link to the op-ed. Here it is.