David Bosco asks whether, in light of renewed violence in Libya—this time between former rebel allies—NATO might’ve ended its mission “too soon.” This is a good question. The implication here is that, with NATO around, these erstwhile allies might not be fighting. Maybe. But unless NATO’s presence would imply some solution to the problem leading to the fighting—that is, unless NATO being around a bit longer would make it such that each side would find a share of the spoils of victory that it would prefer over fighting in NATO’s absence—then NATO staying a bit longer would only delay this conflict a bit longer.
In other words, NATO’s presence might have made peace sustainable between rival factions for some reason—say, with the eyes of the world upon them (maybe?)—but unless it would contribute to making peace between rival factions self-enforcing, then the same problem that led to this week’s fighting would still be present whenever NATO decided to pull up stakes.
Granted, subsidies could work, but that’s a long-term commitment to doing something that NATO very clearly doesn’t want to do. So even if we cast the problem, as Bosco does, in terms of NATO ” involv[ing] itself on the ground or demonstrat[ing] the narrowness of its interpretation of the responsibility to protect,” then it’s not clear that the end of the NATO mission, whenever it might be, would do anything to resolve whatever fundamental distributive conflicts are driving former rebel allies to fight one another.