BENGHAZI – Middle Eastern autocrats routinely warn their people of rivers of blood, Western occupation, poverty, chaos, and Al Qaeda if their regimes are toppled. Those threats were heard in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and – rendered in black-comedy style – in Libya. But there is a strong belief across the region that the costs of removing autocracies, as high as they might be, are low compared to the damage inflicted by the current rulers. In short, freedom is worth the price.
In Libya, four scenarios may negatively affect prospects for democratization: civil/tribal war, military rule, becoming “stuck in transition,” and partition. Given the high price Libyans have paid, those scenarios should be prevented rather than cured.