Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder
Afterword by Jonathan M. Winer
Presents the Libya conflict as an ideal microcosm for examining the collective failures typical of our new geopolitics.
We no longer inhabit a world governed by international coordination, a unified NATO bloc, or an American hegemon. Traditionally, the decline of one empire leads to a restoration in the balance of power, via a struggle among rival systems of order. Yet this dynamic is surprisingly absent today; instead, the superpowers have all, at times, sought to promote what Jason Pack terms the ‘Enduring Disorder’.
He contends that Libya’s ongoing conflict–more so than the civil wars in Yemen, Syria, Venezuela or Ukraine–constitutes the ideal microcosm in which to identify the salient features of this new era of geopolitics. The country’s post-Qadhafi trajectory has been moulded by the stark absence of coherent international diplomacy; while Libya’s incremental implosion has precipitated cross-border contagion, further corroding global institutions and international partnership.
Pack draws on over two decades of research in and on Libya and Syria to highlight the Kafkaesque aspects of today’s global affairs. He shows how even the threats posed by the Arab Spring, and the Benghazi assassination of US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, couldn’t occasion a unified Western response. Rather, they have further undercut global collaboration, demonstrating the self-reinforcing nature of the progressively collapsing world order.
Listen to Jason Pack’s interview on The Bunker Daily podcast:
‘Incisive, academic, and witty, Jason Pack pulls no punches in his sharp critique of the so-called “international community”. He demonstrates how, together with their Libyan allies, international actors perpetuated and, in some cases profited from, Libya’s descent into chaos. Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder is a timely reminder of how aspects of today’s era of global disorder exacerbate governmental dysfunction, encourage rampant corruption, and provide impunity for human rights abusers. In addition to accurately diagnosing Libya’s problems, Pack provides some good recommendations on the way forward, particularly with regard to measures to improve the performance and transparency of Libya’s economic and financial institutions.’ — Stephanie Williams, Former Acting UN Envoy for Libya
‘Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder is your authoritative guide through the dense complexity of post-Qadhafi Libya as well as the intricate, self-serving world of Libya policy in Washington. Harnessing his extensive business experience, deep historical knowledge, and personal familiarity with the protagonists inside and outside Libya, Jason Pack tells his story with flair, erudition, and occasional humour. His book is a must-read for anyone in western capitals serious about understanding Libya.’ — Julian Borger, World Affairs Editor, The Guardian
‘Candid, opinionated, by turns gossipy and scholarly, Jason Pack delivers a lively and provocative assessment of the state of the current global system through the lens of his deeply informed and instructive appraisal of post-Qadhafi Libya. Pack’s acerbic assessment of the international system is not for the faint of heart. His portrayal of the consequences of today’s global disorder on Libya is a powerful illustration of his argument–and a devastating indictment of the ‘international community.’ — Lisa Anderson, Past President American University of Cairo
‘Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder employs a novel method in its investigation of recent events in Libya, examining the circumstances that drove the country’s conflicts and crises in order to illustrate the broader breakdown in the international system. Jason Pack explains recent trends in international politics– including the lack of US leadership, divisions in Europe and heightened competition between regional powers. He illustrates that the failure of international collective action towards Libya is an excellent model for demonstrating the importance of reforming the United Nations and multilateral institutions more broadly. The book is essential reading, not only for scholars of the Middle East, but for all those who are interested in understanding today’s changing international system.’ — Peter Millett, former British ambassador to Libya (2015-2018)
‘With his riveting new book, Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder, Jason Pack has strengthened his reputation as a leading writer on modern Libya. This revelatory work explodes some of the harmful myths about this poorly misunderstood Mediterranean country and its people. His exploration of the Enduring Disorder impact on post-Qadhafi Libya and the true motives of those who are profiteering from the lack of coherent international collective action may make uncomfortable reading for those who worked to liberate Libya in 2011. However, his penetrating analysis–based on meticulous research and personal experience–also provides a practical way forward to reintegrate Libya into the international community. This is a must-read book for anyone interested in understanding how global organizations have become paralysed in the 21st century.’ — Rupert Wieloch, Senior British Military Commander in Libya (2011 and 2012)
‘Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder draws upon Jason Pack’s deep knowledge of Libya’s history and his personal participation in the country’s contemporary politics to introduce a new paradigm to the broader field of international relations theory. He uses the Libyan microcosm to shed light on the main geopolitical dynamics in action in the contemporary world. The book’s narration is brilliantly enriched by the author’s reflections on his many direct experiences transacting business and undertaking research in key areas of the geopolitical chessboard–thus adding a high degree of originality, nuance, and readability.’ — Karim Mezran, Director of the North Africa Initiative and Senior Fellow, The Atlantic Council
‘In Libya and the Global Enduring Disorder, Jason Pack makes an essential contribution to the literature on post-revolutionary Libya by diagnosing the underlying economic roots of the country’s ongoing conflict. Pack’s innovative assessments demonstrate how the institutions created in the Qadhafi era have acquired “semi-sovereignty” since 2011, dispelling the myth that modern Libya does not have institutions. He argues instead that it has the wrong ones, and that the current set of institutions are at the heart of Libya’s problems.’ — Tim Eaton, Senior Research Fellow, Chatham House
Jason Pack is a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute, and the founder of Libya-Analysis LLC. His articles have appeared in The New York Times; The Wall Street Journal; The Spectator; the Financial Times and Foreign Affairs. In 2018 he won the World Championship of Doubles Backgammon.