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Success in Libya cannot pull Europe out of crisis

By Yue Xikuan (Global Times)

16:35, September 07, 2011

Edited and Translated by People's Daily Online

Western countries, including France, the United Kingdom and Italy are clearly going to play a leading role in the post-war reconstruction of Libya after they helped rebels topple the Qaddafi regime. However, European countries are still suffering from severe internal injuries, and their victory in this asymmetrical war is no more than a painkiller that can only temporarily relieve the pain from the economic crisis sweeping the continent. Europe should take other effective measures to heal.

First, the exploitation of Libya's limited resources cannot pull Europe out of the economic crisis. Although European countries may grab more resources from Libya at lower costs after the country's civil war, lack of resources is not the most urgent challenge facing Europe. For example, France cannot completely solve its economic problems simply by getting more oil from Libya.

The ongoing economic crisis facing Europe is in nature a structural crisis. Expensive social welfare programs in Europe have led to high debt levels, which have forced European countries to reform their welfare systems and reduce social welfare spending. The reductions have then caused social unrest, the collapse of the welfare paradise and persistent high unemployment rates across the continent. All in all, greater control of Libya's resources cannot really help solve the economic crisis plaguing Europe.

Second, seizing Libya will not solve the political system crisis faced by Europe. Modern wars do not change the domain of global geopolitics or make victorious countries obtain huge benefits and high statuses by receiving war indemnities and grabbing territory, which is different from what happened in the old wars that occurred thousand years ago before the World War II. Therefore, this war will make no difference to the political system crisis faced by every country in Europe.

More severely, Europe's political system lacks effective measures to guarantee social stability. The reasons for the frequent riots in Greece, Spain, France, the United Kingdom and other European countries are various, but the fundamental reason is the systemic crisis.

For example, people have given different explanations regarding the riot that occurred in London at the beginning of August. Sociologists believe that the fundamental causes were the racial and class contradictions. The U.K Government believes the crisis was due to the shortcomings of social responsibilities, while economists believe the deeper cause was the difficult U.K. economic situation and the crucial reason was the expanding gap between the wealthy and poor in the United Kingdom. From the riots that have occurred in many European countries, people found that the European debt crisis is gradually changing the political ecology and security situation in Europe.

Third, it was easy to overthrow the Qaddafi regime, but it is difficult to rebuild Libya. Europe has opened the Pandora's Box for itself. Libya will face numerous issues in terms of the operations of the new regime and its post-war reconstruction.

Furthermore, how will Western countries that have made great contributions to the new regime during the war divide up the Libyan oil cake? Italian oil giant Eni has regarded France-based Total as "a particular threat" due to France's leading role in launching the attacks on the Qaddafi regime. Other European oil companies, such as the U.K-based BP and the Netherlands-based Vitol, are also seeking a share of oil interests in Libya as well.

The only good news for Europeans concerning the regime change in Libya lies in that the accurate five-month air attacks have caused the Europeans who have been hopeless at the economic growth of their own country to feel less discontent over their governments. However, how could this keep the European community from sinking into a recession? Europe had better give up its outdated colonialist illusion and start coping with the downturn to handle its own affairs well.


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