To succeed, Libyan rebel leaders must not repeat mistakes made in Iraq

Mike Newton
Mike Newton (Vanderbilt University)

Rebel leaders need to keep in mind what Iraqi leaders did well and did not do well after overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s regime, according to Mike Newton, a Vanderbilt University international criminal law expert and adviser to the Iraqi government and the Iraqi Special Tribunal.

Newton, a war crimes expert who helped write the “Elements of Crimes” document for the International Criminal Court, says it will be critical for the rebel leadership to establish a respect and rule of law if it is to succeed in creating a stable government. The former military judge advocate general, who was in the Baghdad courtroom during Hussein’s trial and wrote a book about it, says trying Libya’s war criminals at The Hague is a mistake and Gadhafi, if captured, and others accused of war crimes should stand trial in that country.

Some mistakes made by Iraqi leaders included banning all former regime officials from participating in a new democratic government and making promises that were not kept to a public that wants to see immediate, tangible improvements that make their lives better. Newton traveled to Iraq four times in his role as adviser.

Newton’s full bio