Many commentators are asking why Libya has not fallen the same way Tunisia and Egypt did in the face of a peoples revolt. Though the reasons are complex, there are two very obvious answers.
Firstly, Libya enjoys much more wealth then its North African neighbours. Oil wealth has meant that it does not have the mass unemployment and poverty seen in both Egypt and Tunisia. Wealth is still in the hands of a powerful elite, but it has also been used more benevolently, with better education and health opportunities for all. This means that the state has not had to fear the power of desperate people with nothing to lose.
Secondly, Gaddafi is far more ruthless and deranged then other North African leaders. This is not a media invention, the way the West often tries to discredit national leaders who go against its interests. This man is scary, paranoid, and an almost perfect example of utter megalomania. And we have armed him to the teeth.
But Western military intervention will be a terrible mistake in this case. Many people will die, and US force will play into the hands of violent extremists. Whatever the solution, it must be based on non-violent struggle, or it will be the Libyan people who will ultimately pay the price.
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