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says Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne. Governor Perry’s facility with religious idioms was on full display when, the week before he announced his candidacy, he held a prayer rally at a large stadium in central Houston attended by more than 20,000 peo- ple. The event was called to pray for an America “in crisis”. He offered this prayer: “Father, our heart breaks for America. We see discord at home. We see fear in the market- place. We see anger in the halls of government, and as a nation we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us, and for that we cry out for your forgiveness.” The switch from this style of pulpit oratory to the campaign trail was an easy one, because, in Perry’s world view, and that of his followers, politics has become a principal avenue for achieving Evangelical goals. In his rise to the top of the polls, Perry has


overtaken Mitt Romney. Many have wondered about how Romney, a Mormon, would fare with Evangelical voters but most polls indicate Evangelicals do not appear to be reluctant to back Romney on account of his religion. Some are not so sure. Yet Romney’s problem may not be his Mormonism but his relative mod- eration. He has positioned himself as the candidate of the “Establishment”. Romney worked half of his life in finance, and spent the second half of his career seeking public office. He served as governor of Massachusetts, a state better known for Harvard than for populist outrage. Romney’s father was gov- ernor of Michigan who also ran for president. On the stump, Romney’s speeches lack the passion of Perry, and he shies away from the kind of provocative language Perry relishes.


T


he 2012 primaries, like all elections, will have some surprises. Congresswoman and Tea Party dar- ling Michelle Bachmann was nipping


at Romney’s heels before Perry entered the race. If Perry slips up, she could fill that slot again. There is always the chance that if the race gets nasty, voters will get turned off and look to another candidate, someone like for- mer House Speaker and Catholic convert Newt Gingrich, whose conservative credentials are impeccable but who has so far failed to gain much traction with either the voters or the media. But, as of now, the race is shaping up as a


two-man contest between Perry and Romney. And, in that race, it is difficult to see how Perry can be stopped. He has the Evangelical wind at his back. His extreme positions have become mainstream tenets of today’s Republican Party, and the extremism of Perry’s language meets the temper of the GOP base. In the past three years of the Obama pres-


idency, the Tea Party has given renewed focus and new fervour to long-standing Evangelical concerns. In the 2010 mid-terms, Republicans rode the Tea Party tiger to victory but as the 2012 election draws nigh, they are about to learn that when you ride a tiger, you go where the tiger wants to go.


■Michael Sean Winters writes for The Tablet from Washington DC.


DAVID BLAIR


‘The tyrant’s downfall must be seen to come at the hands of his own people’


After almost 42 years of dominance, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has become a voice in the wilderness, seeking to rally his last followers with defiant broadcasts from somewhere in Libya’s desert wastes. He might be alive and at liberty, but Gaddafi’s regime has been destroyed, consigning him to the dismal club of deposed Arab leaders. Much can still go wrong and the new shape of Libyan politics remains an open question, but the most striking feature of this intervention is how much has gone right. Doom-laden predictions of an endless stalemate, or of bloody street-fighting in Tripoli, have been disproved by events. Before tyrants are overthrown, the most common prediction is that a core of “diehard” or “fanatical” supporters will fight to the death to save them. This forecast has been applied to situations as disparate as the fall of Mobuto Sese Seko in Congo in 1997 – when he was said to have deployed an army of mercenaries to save Kinshasa from rebel invaders – and Saddam Hussein, whose Republican Guard was supposedly prepared to mount a last-ditch defence of Baghdad. Instead, both cities fell with comparatively little bloodshed. Most of Tripoli was duly captured in


little more than a day, exposing the regime’s hollow claim that “65,000 trained troops” were set to defend the capital. A wise prediction for the future might be that when the crunch comes, dictators can rely on hardly anyone to fight on their behalf. It is too early to describe Libya as a


template for successful intervention, but the events of the last six months still hold lessons for how these operations should be conducted. First, the major Western powers secured unquestioned international and legal authority for their use of force against Gaddafi’s regime. United Nations Resolution 1973, passed by the UN Security Council with 10 votes in favour and none against, gave the operation genuine legitimacy. This was reinforced when Arab countries, notably Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, joined the military coalition against Libya’s leader.


Second, the fighting on the ground was conducted by Libyan rebels, not Western soldiers. No “occupying army” has marched into Tripoli. By a supremely skilful use of air power, Britain, and France, together with the United States and the other 16 Nato and Arab countries to a greater or lesser extent enforcing 1973, managed to neutralise Gaddafi’s forces and tip the scales in favour of his opponents. In the end, the dictator was overthrown by his own people, not an outside power. The final success factor is still


uncertain: Libya in the aftermath of the regime’s downfall must be stabilised and its economy restored. So far, the signs are good. Tripoli has not suffered the lawlessness that engulfed Baghdad in 2003. Libya’s battered oil installations – the key to its future wealth – may not have been as badly damaged as was previously thought. Experts had forecast that it would take two or three years to restore the country’s production capacity. But the International Energy Agency predicts that output will reach 1.1m barrels per day by the end of next year – not far short of the pre-war level of 1.6m. However, Gaddafi could yet


prolong the war by organising a guerrilla campaign against Libya’s new government. Another significant risk is that the rebels themselves could fracture and begin a violent struggle for power. The priority must be to avoid both possible scenarios, principally by giving the new authorities all the support and expertise they need. But the lessons remain clear: successful interventions need international legitimacy, the tyrant’s downfall must be seen to come at the hands of his own people, and stability should follow swiftly. These factors are only possible in rare circumstances. Libya was a unique case. Gaddafi was so isolated and discredited that, in the end, no country was willing to oppose a concerted international effort that was bound to end in his removal. Other tyrants are more fortunate.


Even after 31 years of misrule in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe still has enough support from African leaders to make a similar operation against him inconceivable. If Libya enjoys a return to stability, it may indeed set the standard for successful interventions. But Gaddafi was such a quixotic and friendless ruler that this operation may still be a one-off.


■David Blair writes for the Financial Times.


17 September 2011 | THE TABLET | 5


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