Don’t look now, but guess which Western intervention “success story” is a disaster?

posted at 9:21 am on September 4, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The last time the West decided to punish an Arab dictator from 30,000 feet, we ended up with a failed state in North Africa, and created a playground for al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist networks on the Mediterranean.  If that sounds familiar, that just means readers have paid attention to Libya as well as Syria, and so has the UK newspaper Independent.  Patrick Cockburn reports that the collapse in Libya is worse than anyone wants to admit, with an oil industry that has utterly stalled and a prime minister threatening to bomb his own ports:

Libya has almost entirely stopped producing oil as the government loses control of much of the country to militia fighters.

Mutinying security men have taken over oil ports on the Mediterranean and are seeking to sell crude oil on the black market. Ali Zeidan, Libya’s Prime Minister, has threatened to “bomb from the air and the sea” any oil tanker trying to pick up the illicit oil from the oil terminal guards, who are mostly former rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi and have been on strike over low pay and alleged government corruption since July.

As world attention focused on the coup in Egypt and the poison gas attack in Syria over the past two months, Libya has plunged unnoticed into its worst political and economic crisis since the defeat of Gaddafi two years ago. Government authority is disintegrating in all parts of the country putting in doubt claims by American, British and French politicians that Nato’s military action in Libya in 2011 was an outstanding example of a successful foreign military intervention which should be repeated in Syria.

In an escalating crisis little regarded hitherto outside the oil markets, output of Libya’s prized high-quality crude oil has plunged from 1.4 million barrels a day earlier this year to just 160,000 barrels a day now. Despite threats to use military force to retake the oil ports, the government in Tripoli has been unable to move effectively against striking guards and mutinous military units that are linked to secessionist forces in the east of the country.

Libyans are increasingly at the mercy of militias which act outside the law. Popular protests against militiamen have been met with gunfire; 31 demonstrators were shot dead and many others wounded as they protested outside the barracks of “the Libyan Shield Brigade” in the eastern capital Benghazi in June.

The oil issue is the biggest concern, and not because of the falling production. If militias seize the terminals, they could use the oil to fund their efforts directly.  Many of those militias are either affiliated or allied with al-Qaeda, and that income would provide a huge boost to their asymmetrical operations.  This is precisely why action against Qaddafi was so dangerous, and we aren’t far from that scenario now.

Cockburn also notes that the humanitarian disaster is at least as bad as it was before the NATO intervention — but the interventionists seem very disinterested in it now:

Though the Nato intervention against Gaddafi was justified as a humanitarian response to the threat that Gaddafi’s tanks would slaughter dissidents in Benghazi, the international community has ignored the escalating violence. The foreign media, which once filled the hotels of Benghazi and Tripoli, have likewise paid little attention to the near collapse of the central government.

To call this a cautionary tale for Syria is to engage in artful understatement.  This outcome should send up red flags, warning flares, and grab the focus of people around the world.  Our last intervention turned Libya from a brutal dictatorship that at least cooperated with the West on some counter-terrorist efforts into a failed state where terrorists operate openly and oil revenue is up for grabs.  That outcome in Syria would be an utter disaster for the Middle East, and eventually for Turkey and Europe.


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What difference at this point does it make?

Doughboy on September 4, 2013 at 9:25 AM

This is not about correcting wrongs, saving humanity, thwarting terrorists or any other nobel cause or endeavor. It’s all about saving Obama’s butt, his failing presidency and the Left’s reputation . . . nothing more and nothing less.

rplat on September 4, 2013 at 9:28 AM

Smart power!

Deafdog on September 4, 2013 at 9:29 AM

That outcome in Syria would be an utter disaster for the Middle East, and eventually for Turkey and Europe.

….but more importantly, how will that outcome affect Obama’s ability to vacation and hit the links regularly? Let’s not forget what’s really important here.

BettyRuth on September 4, 2013 at 9:30 AM

But we came we saw he died!

LaughterJones on September 4, 2013 at 9:30 AM

The Duchy of Grand Fenwick?

NotCoach on September 4, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Anybody notice how sharp the crease is in The Won’s pants? Awesome, just awesome.

Oldnuke on September 4, 2013 at 9:31 AM

Maybe deposing dictators in non-democratic countries is not such a good idea. Good in theory bad in practice. Chaos theory in action.

Dasher on September 4, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Blood on your hands, libfree, look at all that blood.

How could you vote for a warmonger? How?

Bishop on September 4, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Someday people will reference Obama like they reference Neville Chamberlain.

NotCoach on September 4, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Here is an idea, lets try the same thing in Syria. That’ll work, right?
The incompetance of this admin surely is unlimited. I’m so happy knowing that we’re in such good hands that I sleep better at night now more than I ever did before. God help us survive these fools.

D-fusit on September 4, 2013 at 9:39 AM

And of course instead of hearing or reading about this in American media, we are provided with the narrative that we must choose between supporting a president or face emboldened terrorists and rogue dictators.

We decided to enforce a red line in Libya and now we have a 2013 version of post-Soviet Afghanistan in the making, except this one is on the Mediterranean and has significant oil reserves.

No one — not even conservatives who say we must support a president, who off the cuff drew a “red line” — in the MSM holds up Libya as a possible outcome….

Except this failed state has tons of chemical weapons. And we will have a new red line: put in significant numbers of troops with support services to safeguard WMD…or face having Saddam Hussein’s WMD transferred from him to Assad, now be transferred to terrorists on the border of Israel, terrorists who have easy access to sea lanes for the widest distribution.

And the worry is that terrorists will be emboldened if we don’t enforce that fool’s “red line”?

EastofEden on September 4, 2013 at 9:40 AM

The “good” news is that when The Won goes out of the country, the media feels compelled to show him on TV being president. He appears deflated. Odd look in a narcissist.

Cindy Munford on September 4, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Was it Casey Stengel who said “Can’t anybody here play this game?”

birdwatcher on September 4, 2013 at 9:40 AM

I don’t know, Ed. How can it be a cautionary tale when the whole place is FUBAR? It’s not as if there is an example of an Arab state that is running along like a well oil machine with happy people. Dubai, maybe?

Cindy Munford on September 4, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Smaht power!

Resist We Much on September 4, 2013 at 9:45 AM

The “good” news is that when The Won goes out of the country, the media feels compelled to show him on TV being president. He appears deflated. Odd look in a narcissist.

Cindy Munford on September 4, 2013 at 9:40 AM

Can we do to his passport what they did to Snowden’s when he showed up in Russia. Just make sure he returns the plane.

Happy Nomad on September 4, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Breaking: Senator Senile’s OUT…AUMF wouldn’t allow enough massive damage and aid to the ‘poor rebels.’

Resist We Much on September 4, 2013 at 9:51 AM

“First of all, I didn’t set a red line,” said Obama. “The world set a red line. The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons are [inaudble] and passed a treaty forbidding their use, even when countries are engaged in war. Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty. Congress set a red line when it indicated that in a piece of legislation entitled the Syria Accountability Act that some of the horrendous things happening on the ground there need to be answered for. So, when I said in a press conference that my calculus about what’s happening in Syria would be altered by the use of chemical weapons, which the overwhelming consensus of humanity says is wrong, that wasn’t something I just kind of made up. I didn’t pluck it out of thin air. There’s a reason for it.”

The Syria Accountability Act of 2003 is based on the same intelligence that got us into Iraq …

According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s ‘‘Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions’’, released January 7, 2003: ‘‘[Syria] already holds a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin but apparently is trying to develop more toxic and persistent nerve agents. Syria remains dependent on foreign sources for key elements of its [chemical weapons] program, including precursor chemicals and key production equipment. It is highly probable that Syria also is developing an offensive [biological weapons] capability.’’

… of course, “It’s Bush’s fault !

J_Crater on September 4, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Smart Short Bus power!

Deafdog on September 4, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Edited for irony content

BigAlSouth on September 4, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Clusterfark….

crosshugger on September 4, 2013 at 9:54 AM

McCain is OUT.

Resist We Much on September 4, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Breaking: Senator Senile’s OUT…AUMF wouldn’t allow enough massive damage and aid to the ‘poor rebels.’

Resist We Much on September 4, 2013 at 9:51 AM

McInsane is now a no vote? Hilarious. What about Senator Grhamnesty?

NotCoach on September 4, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Happy Nomad on September 4, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Nope, actions have consequences and we have three more years to pay for those votes in 2012. And I don’t think anyone is going to learn anything.

Cindy Munford on September 4, 2013 at 9:55 AM

Resist We Much on September 4, 2013 at 9:51 AM

He’ll change his mind. What’s left of it.

Cindy Munford on September 4, 2013 at 9:55 AM

McCain is OUT.
Resist We Much on September 4, 2013 at 9:54 AM

You mean he folded?

Murphy9 on September 4, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Is the Muslim Brotherhood running Libya?
Then for Obama, “Mission Accomplished”.

albill on September 4, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Has anyone asked Jane Fonda for her views on Obama’s Middle East policies? I hear she supports his war cry. ““You guys go get them bad guys because I gotta do some social justice up here in Martha’s Vineyard”. Golf ya know.

Herb on September 4, 2013 at 10:03 AM

It’s clearly Obama’s smart power.

Tater Salad on September 4, 2013 at 10:04 AM

Libya is a failed state overrun with Islamists.

The only “positive” is that the oil is still flowing. But then, it was flowing before Gaddafi was toppled.

The devil we knew and who was neutralized has been replaced by a devil we do not know that is very hostile to the US, one that attacked a US consulate and murdered a US ambassador.

That is a net loss for the US, not a net gain.

farsighted on September 4, 2013 at 10:04 AM

Libya?

Well that certainly is an unexpected turn of events.

coldwarrior on September 4, 2013 at 10:06 AM

We should never let anybody that went to an IV league school, particularly Harvard, ever near the levers of power again. EVER!!!

My dad, ths used car salesman, said, “The people that think they are smart are the easiest to fool.”

jukin3 on September 4, 2013 at 10:10 AM

You mean he folded?

Murphy9 on September 4, 2013 at 9:57 AM

BWWWAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Resist We Much on September 4, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Libya?

Well that certainly is an unexpected turn of events.

coldwarrior on September 4, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Really, who could’ve seen that coming? /

Resist We Much on September 4, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Don’t look now, but guess which Western intervention “success story” is a disaster?

Somalia?
Mali?
Iraq?
Tunisia?
Sudan?
Afghanistan?
Egypt?
Yemen?
Libya?

C’mon somebody give me a hint.

HumpBot Salvation on September 4, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Don’t look now, but guess which Western intervention “success story” is a disaster?

Somalia?
Mali?
Iraq?
Tunisia?
Sudan?
Afghanistan?
Egypt?
Yemen?
Libya?

Yes.

Resist We Much on September 4, 2013 at 10:26 AM

Don’t look now, but guess which Western intervention “success story” is a disaster?

Somalia?
Mali?
Iraq?
Tunisia?
Sudan?
Afghanistan?
Egypt?
Yemen?
Libya?

C’mon somebody give me a hint.

HumpBot Salvation on September 4, 2013 at 10:22 AM

You forgot Pakistan.

steebo77 on September 4, 2013 at 10:30 AM

The oil issue is the biggest concern, and not because of the falling production. If militias seize the terminals, they could use the oil to fund their efforts directly.

Or they could do what 2 husseins have already done and intentionally spill millions of barrels of oil into the gulf Mediterranean.

… I guess this hussein would get half credit for that intentional spill, adding to his record …

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on September 4, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Blood on your hands, libfree, look at all that blood.

How could you vote for a warmonger? How?

Bishop on September 4, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Libfree voted for Obama’s black half. It’s the white half that’s a tyrannical crony capitalist imperialist war monger.

gwelf on September 4, 2013 at 10:38 AM

guess which Western intervention “success story” is a disaster

Yeah, just like King Barry’s handling of the economy. Everything he touches turns to shit.

Go figure.

GarandFan on September 4, 2013 at 10:45 AM

Breaking: Senator Senile’s OUT…AUMF wouldn’t allow enough massive damage and deficit-funded entitlement payments aid to AQ the ‘poor rebels.’

Resist We Much on September 4, 2013 at 9:51 AM

kunegetikos on September 4, 2013 at 10:50 AM

To quote the equally incompetent and feckless former SecDHS when the Christmas Day airliner bombing failed because the bomber’s device fizzled (caused by excessive sweat) and referencing our security system – ‘The system worked…’

Libya is turning out as fubar as that vapid statement – with us only being minutes away from some Foggy Bottom spokesperson saying that the Administration’s plans and agenda in Libya ‘worked’.

This is what happens when decisions are made based on a fundamentally flawed and incorrect viewpoint. This is what happens when incompetents ignore the risks of unintended consequences. This is what happens when arrogance and hubris make them think that they are infallible, that any problems are not because of their own incompetence, but that of others. This is what happens when the leaders of our country have more in common with our enemies than with core American values.

Athos on September 4, 2013 at 10:54 AM

Libya is a failed state overrun with Islamists.

The only “positive” is that the oil is still flowing. But then, it was flowing before Gaddafi was toppled.

The devil we knew and who was neutralized has been replaced by a devil we do not know that is very hostile to the US, one that attacked a US consulate and murdered a US ambassador.

That is a net loss for the US, not a net gain.

farsighted on September 4, 2013 at 10:04 AM

A net gain by The One’s standards, though. Qaddafi has been replaced by chaos. And he believes that in the end, the chaos will be replaced by a more “authentically Muslim” regime’, which will then commit itself to what he regards as the only true goal of the Islamic faith.

That is, destroying Israel, exterminating or enslaving all other “infidels”, and creating a new Caliphate which will lead the world to a “kinder, gentler” 7th Century version of “mystical” feudalist socialism. Thereby correcting the catastrophe of the Persian defeat at Plataea in 479 BC.

Thus is Utopia forged.

It’s all He cares about. It’s all He can see. And the devil take anyone who disagrees with His fantasy worldview.

That’s The One’s “policy”, foreign and domestic, in a nutshell.

clear ether

eon

eon on September 4, 2013 at 10:57 AM

Remember all those democratics that still rag on President George W. Bush for “not having a post-victory plan for Iraq and Afghanistan”?

slickwillie2001 on September 4, 2013 at 10:59 AM

The Syria Accountability Act of 2003 is based on the same intelligence that got us into Iraq …

But Iraq was totally different from Syria.

We have a moral imperative to use military force against Assad of Syria, because he gassed civilians (possibly).

We did not have a moral imperative to use military force against Saddam Hussein of Iraq, even though he (definitely) gassed civilians, because . . . er, . . . uh, taking military action against Iraq was an act of U.S. imperialism and illegal and evil because . . . Bush!

AZCoyote on September 4, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Let’s send in Samantha Power to fix Libya.

You know, you break it, you own it.

PattyJ on September 4, 2013 at 11:16 AM

It was like winning the lottery for al-Qaeda…maybe closer to a dozen lotteries with those modern shoulder fired ground to air missiles they ended up with. Gaddafi had been bad, but he got on his knees and started cooperating after ‘W’ sent us into Iraq. Libya is a major disaster now…no surprise there.

Karmi on September 4, 2013 at 11:21 AM

What difference at this point does it make?

Doughboy on September 4, 2013 at 9:25 AM

+++

Jocundus on September 4, 2013 at 11:44 AM

This outcome should send up red flags, warning flares, and grab the focus of people around the world.

Just as long as it doesn’t draw any red lines. xD

Oxymoron on September 4, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Really, who could’ve seen that coming? /

Resist We Much on September 4, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Why everyone associated with America’s finest schools of Poli Sci and Journalism saw this coming.

Psyche!

MNHawk on September 4, 2013 at 12:07 PM

I’d like to call this a disaster, too, and I suppose it is, but what I have trouble with is the idea that if the framework and location were to be different, what is happening wouldn’t be considered a disaster but normal economic activity.

We’ve seen this scenario before, in Iraq, where the Bush Administration was hellbent on getting up and running a strong central government on which localities were dependent for just about everything from food to sewers and running water, which, in turn, caused everyone to focus on being King of the Mountain in Baghdad. The solution to that was the refocus on empowerment of the localities.

The first thing that should be done is to either privatize the oil industry or create an Oil Trust where the revenue from the oil industry is distributed via shares owned by individuals and local governments. The immediate effect will be to tamp down and resist efforts at interference by al Qaeda and those who would slow those government issued checks, or dividend payments by the privately held oil companies. This approach will also lend itself to reducing corruption, and increasing efficiency and wages.

The problem with eastern Libya is having their lives run from Tripoli. You give the eastern locals the power to run their own lives and limit Tripoli to only the powers necessary for the common defense, peace and tranquility of the state and ensuring individual liberty and things would calm down quickly. but that would require power hungry rulers to give up some power.

Dusty on September 4, 2013 at 12:12 PM

The “man made disaster” that was created by Obama also has had secondary effects. Libya has become a spring board for jihadists now stirring up trouble in both Mali and Niger. Neither country has ever been the poster boy for a successful democratic country, but nor have they been troublemakers for their neighbors. It was only a few months ago that AQ affiliated jihadists from Libya came within shooting distance of Bamako, the capital of Mali.

How’s that smart “power working” out for us, winner of the 2009 Nobel Piece Prize?

simkeith on September 4, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Kosovo is a disaster too. We went in, bombed, and declared success. That place is Detroit x 10 now. We intervened on the wrong side, tipped the balance of power, and the Muslims overran the Christians and started their own genocide. Unfortunately all the reporters had already left.

munseym on September 4, 2013 at 12:23 PM

How ironic, stable Libyan oil supplies for Europe was the reason to topple Gaddafi.

Rancher on September 4, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Just had a colleague return from Libya. He said everyone packs a gun (i.e., militia), and no one knows what to do.

John the Libertarian on September 4, 2013 at 1:00 PM

This will be a nice addition on the resume of a certain fat drunken see-you-next-Tuesday fishwife should she be bold enough to try to elbow her way back into 1600 Penn.

1921 C DRUM on September 4, 2013 at 1:35 PM

we ended up with a failed state in North Africa, and created a playground for al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist networks on the Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, in an alternate universe, the Greatest Generation backbites General Patton’s men for creating a playground for Marxist-terrorists on the Mediterranean.

Please stop repeating this silly “Libyan-Qaeda” meme which is factually wrong-headed and only weakens our vital investigation of the Benghazi raid. If Libya has become an al-Qaeda “playground,” then so are London, Paris and Boston.

Flashback: Kaddafi was busy arming al-Qaeda and publicly VOWED to resume targeting civilian airliners.

Our Libyan-Contras’ Mussolini moment was a LONG overdue triumph for the Reagan Doctrine. Post-Bush/Blair, it took EU conservatives (Cameron, Sarkozy, Berlusconi, Merkel) to successfully revive the Reagan Doctrine by arming and supporting Libyan-Contras.

American conservatives should focus on congratulating our heroic NATO airmen for a job well done– and avoid demonizing our new Libyan allies. God bless Ronald Reagan and our heroic NATO airmen.

He counted on America to be passive. He counted wrong.”

Terp Mole on September 4, 2013 at 1:50 PM

Remember that old definition of insanity, try the same thing over an over as it will surely work this time? See Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and now Syria is up to bat. Obysmal can’t even remember he draw a red line in the sand. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Kissmygrits on September 4, 2013 at 3:16 PM

Cockburn? Having a Tropic Thunder flashback…

guido911 on September 4, 2013 at 3:17 PM

The only “positive” is that the oil is still flowing. But then, it was flowing before Gaddafi was toppled.

The article says its only 10% or so of what it was.

Another success story from the Western Powers – can we pick winners or what?

Liam1304 on September 5, 2013 at 6:28 AM