Great reads on why we missed the Arab revolts–and the challenges for forecasting events–and a great etude from Bill Keller on how to leave your country at the right time in the right way, something Qaddafi doesn’t seem to comprehend:
What Gorbachev and de Klerk did was not always pretty, and neither man is much celebrated in his own country these days. But each relinquished the power of an abusive elite without subjecting his country to a civil bloodbath. Afterward, they did not flee to the comfort of Swiss bank accounts. On the contrary, they managed a feat that is almost unthinkable in most of today’s erupting autocracies: after succumbing to democracy, they contributed to its legitimacy by becoming candidates for high office — and losing, fair and square. De Klerk, the last white president of a South Africa that oppressed blacks for centuries, actually pressed the flesh and pleaded for votes in black townships, professing a kind of civic kinship I think he genuinely felt. De Klerk and Gorbachev were triumphant partners in their own defeats, and thus in their countries’ victories.
Also, a few other tidbits:
- The best legal arguments for intervention in Libya via Opinio Juris.
- How the US tried (and failed) to get a green light from the UN by Colum Lynch
- Qaddaffi’s “Hama” moment and why he won’t get away with it from Jeb Koogler
- How Libya’s self-reported quadrennial report several weeks ago painted a cheery picture of its gains via WSJ
- Intellectual bombthrower Leon Wieseltier writing in the New Republic (and quoted in WSJ) finds Obama’s leadership lacking as much as the “shards of platitudes about what is possible …in Arab societies”
- Academics who accepted a junket to meet the Libyan leader–and then may (or may not) have written favorably about him. The list of winners (Robert Putnam) and losers (Benjamin Barber, Joseph Nye) according to orgtheory.net.