The Great Debate

Assessing the resiliency of Hillary Clinton

January 14, 2013

As Hillary Rodham Clinton finished her last few weeks on the job, after a month of convalescence, how can we assess the secretary of state’s contributions?

Obama, Romney missing the point on Libya

By Stephen R. Weissman
October 22, 2012

President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney in Monday’s foreign policy debate are again likely to examine the administration’s handling of an Islamic militia’s murderous attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and its significance for U.S. policy in the Middle East.

The key to understanding the ‘Arab Spring’

By Graeme Bannerman
October 11, 2012

The United States has been unable to develop a clear national policy about the Arab Spring largely because Washington does not fully understand what’s happening in the Middle East.

Can Romney put foreign policy in play?

By Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
October 5, 2012

This piece was updated after GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s major foreign policy address on Monday. It reflects Romney’s remarks.

The Middle East needs its activist moment

By Michael Maiello
September 13, 2012

Two days after the death of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi, Libya, protesters continue to mass outside of U.S. embassies in Egypt and Yemen. The protesters are apparently reacting to a low budget, anti-Muslim video made by Americans that was distributed in a trailer-like segment on YouTube. The murder of Stevens and three of his aides in Libya seems to be the work of a paramilitary group using the protests for cover. That group may or may not be affiliated with al Qaeda.

Libya’s revolution pushes democracy forward

By Michael Ignatieff
October 24, 2011

By Michael Ignatieff
The views expressed are his own.

We like to think we made it happen. First in Kosovo, now in Libya, we believe our air power made it happen. Western politicians are taking the credit, but the truth is, we didn’t make it happen, any more than we made the Arab Spring happen and the air operation itself would never have been approved at the UN without the green light from the Arab League. The people of Libya, the peoples of the Middle East made it happen. We all need to understand how little of this is about us. Otherwise we risk succumbing to the illusion that we can shape the future in the Middle East.

Libya’s democracy has a real chance

By Daniel Serwer
October 20, 2011

By Daniel Serwer
The views expressed are his own.

Libyans will be getting up late tomorrow morning, having enjoyed a spectacular celebration tonight.  “The Wizard of Oz” comes to mind:  “The witch is dead, the wicked witch is dead!”

Day 1 of the Libyan experiment

By Kyle Scott
October 20, 2011

By Kyle Scott
The opinions expressed are his own.

The U.S. has avoided some of the mistakes it made in Iraq and Afghanistan in its dealings with Egypt and Libya. While the context of the Arab Spring is entirely different from that of the invasions of Iraq or Afghanistan, the thought that democracy could be forced upon a nation has been avoided by the Obama administration in a post-Mubarak Egypt and a post-Gaddafi Libya. With Gaddafi’s death today, the challenge now is to continue taking this view while helping Libya move toward democracy. Working towards a successful transition requires adherence to two rules:

A new beginning for Libya

By Stefan Wolff
October 20, 2011

By Stefan Wolff
The views expressed are his own.

The fall of Sirte and the death of Colonel Gaddafi today most likely represents the finishing blow for the remnants of the old regime in Libya. They are a highly valuable prize that the National Transitional Council (NTC) fought hard to obtain and that should trigger the formal transition period that Libya’s now widely recognized government has envisaged to lead to democratic elections and a new constitution. Comparable only to the fall of Tripoli in late August, today marks a momentous achievement for a popular movement that twelve months ago was hardly conceivable, let alone in existence. For all intents and purposes, Libya’s is the only successful uprising of the Arab Spring to date.

What’s behind Libya’s fast march to democracy?

By Daniel Serwer
September 27, 2011

By Daniel Serwer
The views expressed are his own.

In a trip to Libya this month, just weeks after Muammar Qaddafi’s fall, I found peace coming fast to Tripoli, despite continued resistance in several Libyan towns.  Ten days ago, families with children mobbed Martyrs’ square, where Qaddafi once held forth, to commemorate the hanging 80 years ago of Libya’s hero of resistance against the Italians, Omar Mukhtar. Elementary schools opened last week. The university will open next month. Water and electricity are flowing. Uniformed police are on the street. Trash collection is haphazard but functioning.