Courtesy Reuters

Sounds of celebration echoed from several quarters yesterday after Libya's interim government announced the death of former leader Muammar al-Qaddafi. The European Union, members of which led the NATO campaign that contributed to Qaddafi's ouster, said that his death marked "the end of an era of despotism." U.S. President Barack Obama said that it brought to a close a "long and painful chapter for the people of Libya." And for the revolutionary rebel forces that fought a grueling two-steps-forward, one-step-back battle for much of this year, the capture of Surt, Qaddafi's hometown and final stronghold, opened the way for a formal "declaration of liberation," underscoring the triumph of the revolution.

As someone who has spent more than two decades working in war-torn Afghanistan, I was eager to visit Tripoli after its liberation in August. When I did, Libyans took great pains to explain how little their country had in

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  • MICHAEL SEMPLE, who has worked in Afghanistan for more than two decades, is a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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