The Libyan Arena: The United States, Britain, and the Council of Foreign Ministers, 1945-1948

By Scott L. Bills | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
CONCLUSION In the Libyan Arena

REN 0 MASSIGLI REMARKED during the forty-first meeting of the deputies, "Time lost is sometimes time gained."1 It made complete sense within the context of the repeated stray dialogues, procedural loops, polemical sorties, and fussy tidiness of the Council and its deputies. Acrimony tabled might be redirected or superseded, though nothing was ever quite forgotten. Much of the history of the Council of Foreign Ministers has focused on what it failed to do or what it did painstakingly and unsatisfactorily with regard to the peace treaties in Europe. An equally significant task the Council performed, however-- albeit through two intervening organizational layers--was to survey the former Italian colonies in such a way as to produce a clear affirmation of exuberant nationalism among disparate and largely illiterate peoples. This was done within a context that highlighted such sentiment for the world community and thereby lent greater legitimacy to parallel nationalisms. Libya has been the focus of this book because, as was recognized at the time, Cyrenaica and Tripolitania had assumed an inflated strategic value and, as well, both territories contained outspoken nationalist groups. That the two territories had been historically linked but also were divided by geographical, demographic, and religious factors made their disposition even more difficult. As did Iran in 1946, Libya became an arena for the interplay of big-power rivalry that both predated and was exacerbated by the onset of the cold war. Even more than Iran or any other rimland controversy, Libya remained persistently poised at the "shadow-line between East and West"2 for several years after the Second World War.

The initial CFM discussions of 1945-46 were a continuation of wartime- style decision making: big-power negotiations based on the assumption of small- power acquiescence. This was certainly the pattern before and during the Paris Peace Conference. By February 1947, with the signing of the Italian Peace Treaty, the Yalta-Potsdam schema had been repudiated in favor of an indefinite U.S.-Soviet (or West-East) struggle for the soul of the world. But the Italian treaty included a complicated proposal for a CFM-directed investigation

-155-

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The Libyan Arena: The United States, Britain, and the Council of Foreign Ministers, 1945-1948
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Maps viii
  • Tables ix
  • Abbreviations x
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction "A Society of Victors" 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Spoils of War 26
  • Chapter 3 - Plans for Libyan Trusteeship 45
  • Chapter 4 - The British Working Party 63
  • Chapter 5 - Dispatch of The Four Power Commission Of Investigation 87
  • Chapter 6 - The Libyan Tour 108
  • Chapter 7 - The Might That Failed 133
  • Chapter 8 - Conclusion In the Libyan Arena 155
  • Notes 165
  • Select Bibliography 197
  • Index 205
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