When the war against Colonel Gaddifi began back in March, I put my money on the mad dictator. It’s good to see today that I was wrong and that on this occasion David Cameron was right to push it through. Although it would have been better if Gaddafi had been captured alive and tried. Such a trial would have been a spectacle that would have cast a shadow over attempts to create a democratic Libya, but would also have given the new regime a chance to demonstrate that it is better than Gaddafi was. That said, we should perhaps recognise that Gaddafi was overthrown not by a disciplined and professional army, but by the people he oppressed and, crucially, brutalised. They treated him no more harshly than he treated so many others. Perhaps more disturbing is how those of us fortunate enough to live in a more civilised society, that is one that has not been so brutalised, have been confronted by grotesque images of which we should be ashamed.
Now that oppressed and brutalised people is tasked with creating democratic institutions from scratch, a process that must take years. Not only must the institutions be created and empowered, new political parties must be formed and the people must learn what each stands for. In the meantime, the country will still need to be governed somehow. A more daunting task is hard to imagine and things could easily go wrong, with political parties coalescing around the tribes and religious groups that divide rather than the secular ideologies that unite.