Qaddafi's Libya in World Politics
by Yehudit Ronen
Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2008. 243 pp. $55
Reviewed by Mohamed Daadaoui
Oklahoma City University
Middle East Quarterly
Ronen of the Moshe Dayan Center has produced an ambitious though incomplete review of Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi and the Libya government's conduct in international affairs. She begins with a history of Qadhafi's attempts to position himself as a Nasserite, pan-Arab, anti-imperialist through his rhetoric against the United States and its chief ally in the Middle East, Israel. His success at securing the withdrawal of U.S. forces from an air base near Tripoli and his nationalization of the oil sector (and other formerly foreign-owned concerns) made Qadhafi a household name in the Arab world.
However, his attempts at pan-Arab discourse resulted in two ill-fated unions, first with Sudan and then with Egypt and Syria. Libya's support for the POLISARIO Front in the Western Sahara conflict strained its relations with Morocco. Qadhafi also sharply criticized his fellow Arab leaders over their stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the emerging Iraqi crisis. Increasingly marginalized because of his outspoken opinions and under the strain of economic sanctions, Qadhafi sought a new platform for his regional aspirations, abandoning pan-Arabism and embracing a pan-African approach to Libyan foreign policy.
Ronen engages the reader in a thorough analysis of Libya's costly and failed military interventions in Uganda and Chad, arguing that Libya's approach in both theaters highlighted the limits of its military power. Qadhafi has recently signaled a shift to a more conciliatory approach by hosting African summits and peacemaking initiatives to end fighting in Congo and Sierra Leone.
The strength of Ronen's Qaddafi's Libya in World Politics lies in its rich analysis of Qadhafi's shifting foreign policy initiatives and its highlighting of the various domestic factors behind his political longevity. However, gaps lie in a scant analysis of inter-Maghreb politics or of Libya's relations with Europe. Equally disappointing is her neglect of a sustained look into the future trajectory of the Libyan regime's foreign policy. Despite these shortcomings, Ronen's Qaddafi's Libya in World Politics is recommended for courses on the Middle East and North Africa.
Related Topics: Libya | Fall 2010 MEQ
receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free mef mailing list
This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.