From a domestic point of view, the apparent overthrow of 42-year Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is a considerable foreign-policy victory for the United States and President Barack Obama.
Mr. Obama said he wanted Gadhafi gone, and — barring a highly unlikely political resurrection — he is.
Furthermore, the usual costs of such foreign adventures — high losses in American lives and treasure — appear to have been avoided. That’s all to the good. It shows some of the subtlety and sophistication employed in the initial overthrow of the Afghan Taliban.
Who will get and how they will employ the reported 44 tons of gold Gadhafi had squirreled away from his nation’s oil revenues, and where the dictator might resurface, remain to be seen. But Gadhafi was a nasty potentate not given to much tolerance of free speech or political pluralism, and a long-time sponsor of terrorism (albeit supposedly reformed, of late). The Libyan people seem glad to have him gone.
The Obama administration hoped the Arab Spring would bring new faces to power across the region, and that’s being accomplished. More peaceful, representative republics remain a possibility.
Will political freedom now flower in Libya and in Egypt — and possibly even Syria — or will we merely see the ascension of a new generation of repressive tyrants?
While we can hope for the best, it might not be wise to open up a storefront selling Bible tracts — or the work of any free-market economists — in Cairo or Bengazi, just yet.