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How (Not) to Stop a Rogue Regime: The Case of Libya

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

One might forgive Middle Eastern and African dictators for finding a great deal of confusion in the messages they receive these days from the West. How would the West -- that part of the world that loudly proclaims its devotion to human rights, due process of law and democratic freedoms -- respond to a government-ordered detention, framing and torture of half-a-dozen visiting medical workers? The answer, of course, came through from Libya last week, and was heralded as a major victory for European diplomacy.

The West, as it has done for centuries, is speaking loudly to the developing world. But the volume does not signify clarity. The intended message is "cooperate and you will be rewarded." But it could just as easily be read as, "the more egregious your actions, the more you will gain from us." ...

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