Don't write Libya off yet

Branding the country a failed state is unhelpful

The World Today
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.

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