What happened Wednesday in Tripoli was almost unprecedented in the modern history of the Middle East. In a modest ceremony, the revolutionary council representing the rebel forces that overthrew Moammar Gadhafi willingly handed power over to a democratically elected, broadly liberal, non-Islamist government.
It was unprecedented in another way: This transition to democracy came about simply because the people of Libya chose it and fought for it. It was not part of any larger strategic or political scheme carried out by the United States, Europe, Israel or Russia.
Resources for this column:
David Crist’s new history The Twilight War: The Secret History of America’s Thirty-Year Conflict With Iran
Iran’s 2003 “grand bargain” opening to the United States: The original Washington Post article revealing the offer, some PBS interviews with the White House officials who ignored it, and Trita Parsi’s indispensable book on it.