Planning for a post-Gaddafi Libya
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: In his speech last night, President Obama laid out what the mission is about in Libya and reiterated the U.S. actions there will be short-term — and shared with other countries.
BARACK OBAMA: Because of this transition to a broader, NATO-based coalition, the risk and costs of this operation to our military and to American taxpayers will be reduced significantly.
Meanwhile, today representatives from more than 30 countries are meeting in London to discuss the coalition itself. And Marketplace’s Stephen Beard is in London and joins us now. Hi Stephen.
STEPHEN BEARD: Hello Steve.
CHIOTAKIS: What are they meeting about?
BEARD: Well this is mainly a political meeting — keeping the coalition together, keeping everyone focused and posing the question, ‘After the conflict, what do we do with Gaddafi?’ Put him on trial or pack him off into retirement. Fundamentally though this summit is trying to look ahead and trying to prevent Libya after the conflict descending into the chaos that we saw in Iraq.
CHIOTAKIS: What about money? Is this about money too?
BEARD: Not explicitly, but that is in the back of everyone’s mind. This is where all this is headed. After the conflict there’s going to be a huge job of reconstruction, rebuilding damaged oil facilities and so on. Helping Libya get back onto its feet so it can start earning its living again is going to be very costly.
GEORGE JOFFE: We had the same story in the case of Iraq. And therefore I fear that European states and even the United States despite themselves may find their forced into a costly undertaking.
Well, that was George Joffe of Cambridge University saying that people very often say at conferences like this, Libya is energy-rich, it can surely support itself and pay for the damage itself, but as he says, that’s what we heard with Iraq.
CHIOTAKIS: Yeah, and I know here in the U.S. we have lawmakers already expressing worries over cost. Who’s going to pay for it all?
BEARD: Well, this is the big question. As George Joffe suggests, the U.S. and Europe will probably wind up picking up some of the tab.
CHIOTAKIS: All right — Marketplace’s Stephen Beard in London. Thank you Stephen.
BEARD: OK Steve.
JEREMY HOBSON: In his speech about Libya last night President Obama told us the cost of efforts there are being and will continue to be shared with other countries. Well this morning, representatives from more than 30 countries including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are meeting in London talking about the future of Libya and who will pay for it.
Marketplace’s Stephen Beard is with us live from London with more. Steven, what are they hoping to achieve at the meeting?
BEARD: They’re planning for a post-Gaddafi Libya with the key question, “What do we do with the Libya leader?” Put him on trial as a war criminal, or bundle him off into a comfortable retirement. This may all sound a bit premature, but the summit is really trying to make sure that Libya doesn’t suffer the same chaos that befell Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. And this will lead us inevitably into the subject of the job of rebuilding Libya after the conflict. A monumental task, says George Joffe of Cambridge University.
GEORGE JOFFE: Libya requires an enormous range of material support. It needs to stabilize the whole distribution system system, it needs to rebuild its infrastructure, particularly its communications, and it needs above all, to get its oil industry working again.
HOBSON: Some big costs for sure Stephen. And I remember one of the things President Obama said last night in his speech that some of that cost could be paid for with some of the Gaddafi money that’s been frozen. Does that seem like a real possibility?
BEARD: Well, there’s certainly a lot of enthusiasm for that suggestion here. As well as a doubt that the frozen assets will be enough to pay for reconstruction. And there is an anxiety here in Europe as in the U.S. that Libya in the short term, before it gets back on its feet will need a lot of cash and that we, the Europeans and the Americans may be expected to stump up some of that cash when we can least afford it.
HOBSON: Marketplace’s Stephen Beard in London, thanks Stephen.
BEARD: OK Jeremy.
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