FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

More US Intervention in Libya?

Except for the 2012 deadly attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya has dropped out of American news coverage since President Obama and NATO’s so-called humanitarian intervention in 2011. The American public has been led to believe that except for that terrorist outburst, things have been going pretty well in the country formerly ruled by Muammar Qaddafi.

So it might come as a surprise that Obama has sent over 200 marines along with Osprey aircraft to Sicily in case the American embassy in Tripoli has to be evacuated. According to an administration official, the reason for the move is the “deterioration of the security situation” in the capital.

All has not been well in Libya since the U.S. military led NATO forces in an air campaign to overthrow Gaddafi. American officials assured us that “moderates” would succeed the cruel and unpredictable dictator, who had become a U.S. ally during the Iraq war. However, it turns out that the moderate victors were not so moderate; in fact they resembled al-Qaeda. Was the Obama administration, propelled by then secretary of state Hillary Clinton, then UN ambassador Susan Rice, and then National Security Council staffer Samantha Power, being a bit disingenuous because it was desperate to appear to be on the side of the Arab Spring after opposing the Egyptian people’s struggle for democracy in favor of the loyal U.S.-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011?

As CounterPunch’s Patrick Cockburn points out, American officials have tended to exaggerate the power of the al-Qaeda organization, but Obama, for political reasons, did precisely the opposite in Libya’s case:

They played down any similarity between al-Qa’ida and the Nato-backed rebels fighting to overthrow the Libyan leader.… This was done by describing as dangerous only those jihadis who had a direct operational link to the al-Qa’ida “core” of Osama bin Laden. The falsity of the pretence that the anti-Gaddafi jihadis in Libya were less threatening than those in contact with al-Qa’ida was forcefully, if tragically, exposed when US ambassador Chris Stevens was killed by jihadi fighters in Benghazi in September 2012. These were the same fighters lauded by governments and media for their role in the anti-Gaddafi uprising.

Since then, Libya has been anything but peaceful or moderate. And now Libya, Cockburn writes, “is tipping toward all-out civil war as rival militias take sides for and against an attempted coup led by a renegade general that has pushed the central government towards disintegration.”

The renegade general is Khalifa Hifter, an anti-Islamist whose forces “stormed the parliament building in Tripoli at the weekend, after earlier attacking Islamist militia camps in Benghazi.” Government leaders have summoned Islamist militias for help. Cockburn says what’s happening now is the worst violence since the regime change.

Cockburn notes that Hifter, “who in the 1980s fought for Gaddafi in Mali but defected to the US, where he lived for many years, returned to Libya in 2011 but played only a limited role in the revolt.” His militia, Cockburn says, is one of many that operate throughout Libya.

The threat of civil war is not the only result of Western intervention in Libya. The overthrow of Gaddafi is a lesson in the dangers of interfering with other countries. He was a brutal dictator, of course, and the people would have been justified in kicking him out. But outsiders can never know what will follow their intervention. In this case, regime change produced a flow of weapons and jihadi training opportunities that in turn led to violence in Mali and the horrific abductions in Nigeria by Boko Haram. As Brendan O’Neill of Spiked Online writes,

Nothing boosted Boko Haram’s fortunes so much as the West’s assault on Libya in 2011. It was that vain bombing war, that Western-led dismantling of a regime that cohered Libya and its border regions for 40-plus years, which created new spaces in West Africa in which Boko Haram could train, get hold of weaponry and, in the words of one Nigerian observer, become more “audacious” than ever.

The first rule governments should follow is, “Do no harm.” The second rule is, Assume that intervention will do far more harm than good.

Sheldon Richman  is vice president and editor at The Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Va. (www.fff.org).

More articles by:

Sheldon Richman, author of America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.  He is also the Executive Editor of The Libertarian Institute.

July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science – Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
Patrick Cockburn
Is ISIS About to Lose Its Last Stronghold in Syria?
Joseph Grosso
The Invisible Class: Workers in America
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail