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.
Don't write Libya off yet
Branding the country a failed state is unhelpful