Posted by: Nathan M. | June 13, 2011

Libya and Apathy

I doubt that I am alone in my complete lack of enthusiasm for what is going on in Libya right now. It is difficult to sustain a sense of hope and optimism in such situations, since it is almost inevitable that such situations become long, drawn-out, and messy. We of the west have never fully become used to messy wars. It is alright if two sides kill each-other, but they should do it quickly, establish a new government, and then move on…right? Well, maybe things aren’t quite as simple as we would like them to be, and further-maybe it’s not that surprising. After all, the west has not always had a set of coherent and established nation-states that kept wars as clean as they could. It took centuries of dictators who controlled their territory largely out of a desire for power, prestige, and wealth, for western nations to become truly consolidated. Some argue that the United States and Canada are exceptions, proving that the process is not necessary, but that is a gross misinterpretation of the historical development of the two nations (and I suppose I should add Australia, South Africa, and perhaps some others to this list). Gaddafi: "Should I be worried?"

Those nations that were established on the basis of a constitution before they had a dictator to bring them together had, without exception, already been forged into a fairly united and homogeneous people by the nation that they had departed from as colonists.

I am not calling for an acceptance of dictators in these many nations that are beginning to fight for their rights. However, I am suggesting a bucket of caution when approaching the issues that are at stake. It is not simply a case of giving democracy to wayward nations. Democracy, contrary to Adam Smith, is not the be-all solution for the world’s problems. The “cure for the ills of democracy” is NOT “more democracy”. There must be a strong government in place for a nation to truly become a nation-state, with modern organizational and institutional capabilities. Such a strong government is very difficult to attain through democracy, as we in Canada have been infinitely aware of in the last 10 years, and America has been aware of for the duration of their history, as their governments have often been so confused and mired in the politics of pork-barrelling that very little has been accomplished during certain eras of their political history.

What makes this whole thing frustrating is that it seems to pain a very bleak picture, that makes it difficult for westerners to continually support and help nations that are still developing their political structure and culture. How do we support them, when we will at times need to accept measures of disorganization and messiness, not to mention some actions that are much too extreme for our own stomaches, in order to see the growth of nations? Often, the only real answer seems to be: patience, love, mercy.

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