More on Libya

Yesterday’s post noted that our military actions against Libya are likely to have the unintended consequence of accelerating nuclear proliferation. Nations, such as Iran, will see that after North Korea developed nuclear weapons it became largely immune to threats of regime change, while Gaddafi – who voluntarily gave up his nuclear program in 2003 – is highly vulnerable. My post argued that a lack of forethought was the underlying problem. Today’s news reinforces those concerns:

The Russian business daily, Vedemosti (“The Record”), a joint venture that includes Dow Jones, has an article entitled Coalition Did Not Think About the Risks in Libya which says in part:

When they plunged into a military operation in Libya to oust Al-Qadhafi, whom they were sick and tired of, the countries leading the coalition did not think about the risks. … Let the coalition fight, but Russia will grieve over the casualties among the civilian population. … apparently nobody is taking into consideration the mixed results of the Yugoslav, Iraqi, and Afghan campaigns. By attacking Al-Qadhafi the coalition is not standing up for the population but for the rebels – although nobody yet really knows who they are or how they will behave in the event of victory.

My post yesterday also noted that it takes a much smaller fraction of a population to topple a government than to establish a new one, and that we therefore should not assume that the demands of demonstrators will be reflected in a new government. Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article Egypt Vote Shows Islamist Influence, which provides strong evidence for that concern:

Egyptians’ embrace of a set of proposed constitutional amendments in this weekend’s referendum is the clearest sign yet that leadership of the country’s revolution may be passing from youthful activists to Islamist religious leaders, according to analysts.

Electoral officials said 77% of Egyptians voted to accept a set of proposed amendments to Egypt’s constitution … The proposed changes were opposed by protest leaders and by presidential front-runners Mohammed El Baradei and Amr Moussa. … The results from Saturday’s referendum signal a shift in Egypt’s continuing revolution: The protest leaders, once celebrated as heroes and martyrs, are no longer the leading voice in Egypt’s transition to democracy.

In their place are popular religious leaders, whose strong backing of the amendments held sway. … Opponents of the amendments, which included many in the youth movement, said the Muslim Brotherhood allied with the NDP as part of a cynical power grab: The approval of the amendments has set the stage for parliamentary elections this summer, for which only the Brotherhood and the NDP have the organizational structures to compete.

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Martin Hellman

About Martin Hellman

I am a professor at Stanford University, best known for my invention of public key cryptography -- the technology that protects the secure part of the Internet, such as electronic banking. But, for almost 30 years, my primary interest has been how fallible human beings can survive possessing nuclear weapons, where even one mistake could be catastrophic. My latest project is a book with the audacious subtitle "Creating True Love at Home & Peace on the Planet." Its soon to open website explains: https://anewmap.com.
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