Libya has twice Egypt’s GDP per capita (about $6,000 vs. $3,000). It has no shortages of fuel or food. It has the world’s 10th-largest proven petroleum reserves. If there is a pie to divide, it is at least possible for sectarian and political factions to agree to divide it, and there is less incentive to extreme risks. Libya, moreover, has only 6.4 million people, less than half the population of Cairo. Its capital, Tripoli, has only 1.7 million, a tenth the size of Cairo. Libya is no more typical of the Arab world than is the Saudi monarchy, which remains in power because it has enough money to buy off any prospective opposition, at least for the time being.
With massive NATO intervention and a lot of money to spread around, it is not difficult to stabilize Libya (or, for that matter, Tunisia, with $4,300 GDP per capita and 10.4 million people). It is also easy to keep Saudi Arabia stable because the regime has enough money to buy off prospective opponents, at least for the time being. To compare Libya to Egypt is inappropriate. It is the sort of thing that “political scientists” who think in terms of “political models” might do. I avoid contact with such people in case whatever ails them might be contagious.
Egypt has some 82 million people of whom perhaps 40 million live on $2 a day. Nearly half of all Egyptians are functionally illiterate and perhaps two-fifths are unemployed or marginally employed. They live on subsidies from a government that is on the verge of bankruptcy, and (as I posted yesterday) have been kept from catastrophe by droplets of Saudi help. The Obama administration’s ideological obsessions and incompetence are driving the largest Arab country into a disaster. Republicans need to stay on message here.
Related at PJ Tatler: Calls to Destroy Egypt’s Great Pyramids Begin
And from Andrew C. McCarthy: Happy Spring: Sharia Will Rule Egypt
Thumbnail and image courtesy shutterstock / Dudarev Mikhail