Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Why, you may be wondering, is the Libyan army now starting to crush the rebellion that flared against Qaddafi's brutal rule? The rebels have much on their side: they believe in what they are fighting for, and they have real hope of freedom and prosperity after a lifetime of repression and fear. Surely few of the men on the government side believe in very much; many of them, we are told, are foreign mercenaries. In terms of intelligence and initiative, surely the rebels are more than a match for the government men. Why are they losing?

It is not simply because the government men are trained soldiers; after all, many of the rebels are deserters from the army, including many officers. It is not simply weaponry, either, because the rebels have tanks and artillery of their own.

The difference is organization. The rebels are a mob, while Qaddafi's men are an army. If history teaches us anything, it is that victory goes to the better organized side. Some of the key inventions of the modern world were not machines but ways of organizing people to work together: the industrial corporation, the factory, the office, the supply chain, the power company, the political party, the labor union, and most especially the nation. We Americans have an abiding distrust of big organizations and like to rant about big government and giant corporations; American soldiers like to bitch about the stupidity of the Army and the Defense Department. But those organizations are the secret of our wealth and power.

Unless the Libyan rebels quickly organize themselves into an army, they will be crushed no matter what aid is sent to them.

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