About Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder
Seventy-five years of a hegemonic U.S.-led international system has gradually given way to an era of Enduring Disorder. Examination of the world’s major conflict zones circa 2021 reveals that China shows no inclination of taking on the mantle of global leadership. Furthermore, the Biden Administration opening days indicate that it will likely be domestically-focused and reactive in its international posture.
Traditionally, the decline of one empire leads to a restoration of the balance of power and then a struggle among rival systems of order. This dynamic is surprisingly absent in today’s international affairs as the superpowers (the USA, Russia, and China) have all, at times, sought to promote the Enduring Disorder globally.
Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder shows how even the momentous and tragic events of the Arab Spring uprisings and the assassination in Benghazi of Ambassador Christopher Stevens failed to occasion a unified Western response. Rather, they further undercut global coordination and indirectly launched the cascade leading to both Brexit and Trump’s election. Jason Pack marshals a range of evidence to suggest that multibillion dollar companies operating in Libya do not necessarily seek to promote stability or increase shareholder returns, rather they act like monopolists seeking to block new entrants to their niche.
Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder contends that ongoing Libya conflict – more so than the civil wars in Yemen, Syria, Venezuela, or Eastern Ukraine – provides the most relevant microcosm to study the self-reinforcing nature of the progressively collapsing global order.
Pack’s hard-nosed realism derives from his over two decades working on Libya and Syria as a businessperson, diplomatic advisor, political columnist, and think tanker. He shows how the Arab Spring uprisings and the tragic assassination in Benghazi of his friend Ambassador Christopher Stevens elicited feckless and ill-coordinated responses from Western policymakers, indirectly leading to both Brexit and Trump’s election. Pack also shares personal anecdotes revealing how certain prominent multinational companies seemingly no longer seek to increase quarterly profits; rather, they act as reactionary monopolists, burdened by the paralysis of “incumbent psychology”. Seen from outside, there is a macabre humour to these behaviours. They benefit neither Libyans, nor Western governments, nor the firms’ bottom lines. By eschewing positive-sum thinking, such incumbent psychology creates lose-lose, beggar-thy-neighbour, self-reinforcing conflicts. This dynamic mirrors the fear-based, zero-sum thinking that animates trade wars, nativist anti-migrant sentiment, and neo-populist leaders like Trump, Orban, Bolsanaro and Putin. Welcome to the Enduring Disorder.