No, a breakup cannot be imagined, the east-west web of relationships and loyalties and family ties is dense. Libya is not Yugoslavia. ~Roger Cohen
I don’t know what this is supposed to mean. Populations in Yugoslavia were mixed, and social relationships existed across lines of religion and ethnicity. One of the tragedies of the Balkan Wars in the 1990s was that this was destroyed and people were forcibly uprooted to achieve what one might call ethnic disaggregation. I am reminded of a scene from the film Savior, where a man relates the change that the war brought: “I am Croat, my wife Serb. Before war, no difference. Now… stupid.” That may exaggerate one part of the pre-war situation, but it expresses something that was true about Yugoslavia before the wars. Of course, in Libya the tribal differences are real, and while they may be less significant than they used to be it is a bit of a leap to assume that they couldn’t become political fault-lines.
One could just as easily have said in 2003 that it was hard to imagine sectarian warfare in Baghdad. One might have said, “Iraq isn’t Lebanon.” Indeed, some of the breeziest, most reckless supporters of the invasion said something very much like this. The communities were partly integrated, and sectarian identities weren’t as important as outsiders thought, but once those identities became politicized, civil order broke down, and sectarian tensions were stoked by violence there was massive sectarian violence. If someone can’t imagine the break-up of Libya, I have to assume that he is deliberately trying not to imagine it.