The U.N. should keep out of Libya

I hope that the Libyan Transitional Council will continue to resist the siren song of the United Nations, which is preparing contingency plans for the post-Gadhafi era.

The TNC has already said that it intends to put Gadhafi on trial rather than sending him to the International Criminal Court if he is captured alive. The transitional leaders have also rejected the possibility of a U.N. peacekeeping force.

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That’s as it should be. The U.N. is, of course, right to be looking at how it can help during the transitional period, but can only intervene if invited in by Libyan authorities. A leaked U.N. internal memo obtained by the well-informed Inner City Press blog shows the extent of the consultations providing for 200 unarmed military observers and the continuation of a NATO force. Those plans have now been scrapped.

So far the Libyan rebels seem confident that they can handle the security situation. Libya is not Afghanistan, it is not Kosovo, and it is not South Sudan. The trouble with U.N. plans is that sometimes they store up trouble for themselves by bringing in a model of “inclusive” transitional governments after civil wars. That’s what happened in Angola in the 1990s when the so-called “unity” government collapsed and war resumed. In the Libyan case, the TNC argument goes: Gadhafi lost, we won.

The challenge for Libya’s new rulers will be to eschew revenge and behave like statesmen in rebuilding their divided country. But they are right to take the lead, and not the U.N.