Don't write Libya off yet

Branding the country a failed state is unhelpful

The World Today Updated 4 March 2021 Published 31 July 2014 2 minute READ

Magda Meliti

Middle East researcher and commentator

In the shorthand of political punditry, Libya is regularly written off these days as a ‘failed state’.

It is a term that was popularized in 1992 by two Americans, Gerald Helman, a retired ambassador, and Steven Ratner, a State Department lawyer, in a Foreign Policy article called Saving Failed States.

They argued that just as America saved western Europe after the Second World War, so the United Nations should rescue the so-called failed states of the world by taking them into a form of trusteeship. Implicit in this argument is the assumption that these countries are incapable of governing themselves.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.