AP: Three years after US-NATO intervention, Libya is a failed state

posted at 10:01 am on March 22, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

An anniversary passed this week that went almost completely unremarked — and for good reason. March 17th marked the three-year anniversary of the UN Security Council resolution imposing a no-fly zone over Libya to stop the Moammar Qaddafi regime from attacking rebel-held Benghazi and Ajdabiya, and the three-year anniversary on the 19th of the NATO war on Libya. French, British, and American planes began bombarding the Qaddafi regime, an air war that would continue for months — while Barack Obama refused to request Congressional approval for it. Later, Obama would claim that Libya represented the smart model of Western intervention.

If so, why did these anniversaries pass unremarked? The Associated Press report on the status of Libya today gives a very good answer, although it is not written as such. Libya has become a failed state, where the government’s writ doesn’t run outside of its capital, and not even everywhere within that. Not only is it a dangerous place, but it is a danger to the surrounding nations in north Africa too:

Libya, where hundreds of militias hold sway and the central government is virtually powerless, is awash in millions of weapons with no control over their trafficking. The arms free-for-all fuels not only Libya’s instability but also stokes conflicts around the region as guns are smuggled through the country’s wide-open borders to militants fighting in insurgencies and wars stretching from Syria to West Africa.

The lack of control is at times stunning. Last month, militia fighters stole a planeload of weapons sent by Russia for Libya’s military when it stopped to refuel at Tripoli International Airport on route to a base in the south. The fighters surrounded the plane on the tarmac and looted the shipment of automatic weapons and ammunition, Hashim Bishr, an official with a Tripoli security body under the Interior Ministry, told The Associated Press.

In a further indignity, the fighters belonged to a militia officially assigned by the government to protect the airport, since regular forces are too weak to do it.

Only a few weeks earlier, another militia seized a weapons’ shipment that landed at Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport meant for the military’s 1st Battalion, Bishr said. Among the weapons were heavy anti-aircraft guns, which are a pervasive weapon among the militias and are usually mounted on the back of pickup trucks.

Do those stories sound familiar? To Americans, they should. The US relied on militias for its consular security in Benghazi rather than its own armed forces, and ended up having its consulate sacked and four Americans killed, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, the first of his rank murdered in the line of duty in 33 years.

Now Europe is expressing shock, shock that decapitating a regime in north Africa without any boots on the ground to control the situation can create a failed state:

The weapons chaos has alarmed Europe — just a short distance across the Mediterranean — and the United States. At a conference in Rome this month, Western and Arab diplomats, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, pressed Libyan officials to reach some political consensus so the international community can help the government collect weapons and rebuild the military and police.

“Reach some political consensus”? Given the nature of the militias and extremists in Libya, that might possibly be an even worse outcome. The situation created by NATO is strikingly similar in outcome to Somalia, where warlords control territory and Mogadishu has little sway. Warlords aren’t going to give up their power unless it’s taken from them, and in both cases the chaos allows terrorist networks to grow, train, and metastasize — and that nearly caused the fall of Mali, which the French finally prevented by putting boots on the ground to control the situation.

The only way this situation will stabilize is for an overwhelming force to occupy Libya, disarm or destroy the militias, and re-establish order over several years while withstanding insurgencies and turmoil. If the West did not have the stomach to do that up front, when it would have dealt with much weaker militias, then it shouldn’t have forced the collapse of the existing regime in the first place. Instead, the US and NATO created a second Somalia on the Mediterranean, and now Europe will pay the price for it.

As anniversaries go, that’s not much to celebrate. But it’s a very good lesson to remember when Western leaders claim to have created a new push-button paradigm to project force, especially in that area of the world.

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Mission Accomplished.
-B.Hussein Obama

Murphy9 on March 22, 2014 at 10:03 AM

AP: Three years after US-NATO intervention, Libya is a failed state

So’s Zimbabwe, but “doing right ain’t got no end”.

Dr. ZhivBlago on March 22, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Sure it’s a failed state, but Obama was safely re-elected and so, to quote Hillary: “what difference, at this point, does it make?”

AZCoyote on March 22, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Smart power! Leading from behind! Hope and Change!

Flange on March 22, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Gee, another Obungler failure … Although, Hillary Benghazi Lewinsky has her fingerprints all over this train wreck.

Whitey Ford on March 22, 2014 at 10:18 AM

AP: Three years after US-NATO intervention, Libya is a failed state

No sh*t? What surprise that is….

Tim Zank on March 22, 2014 at 10:23 AM

OT but related:

A Ukrainian military commander has ordered his troops to ‘stand their ground’ and expect to engage Russian troops as tensions continue to escalate in Crimea.

Russian troops have surrounded the Belbek Airbase near Sevastopol and have issued an ultimatum for their opponents to surrender.

It is the first time the Ukraine military has prepared for an attack by Russia It is the last base held by Ukrainian troops in the region.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2586765/Breaking-News-Defiant-Ukranian-commander-orders-outnumbered-men-stand-ground-expect-engage-Russian-troops-surrounding-military-base.html#ixzz2whY8PrvG
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

kcewa on March 22, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Way too many community organizers on the ground in Libya….

The top dog community organizer of the free world needs to give another world speech..

Ya…that should do it…

Electrongod on March 22, 2014 at 10:23 AM

What’s a failed state next to being compared to Bush?

Easy call.

Ben Hur on March 22, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Obama would claim that Libya represented the smart model of Western intervention.

ya,real smart.

This guy is building quite a resume for his legacy.

jmtham156 on March 22, 2014 at 10:36 AM

Impotent
He limply f^cked that nation.
Sterile
He totally failed to accomplish the mission.
Infecundity
America is left with nothing of benefit.

astonerii on March 22, 2014 at 10:36 AM

And yet Bullets Kerry is all over the Never Taken a Bullet Israelis

Ben Hur on March 22, 2014 at 10:37 AM

You wackobirds wouldn’t let maverick mccain give the “good guys” guns.

There would be world peace if you would just let mccain arm rebels the world over.

It has nothing to do with his hidden stock portfolio.

wolly4321 on March 22, 2014 at 10:38 AM

Did anybody read the AP story? See if you can guess where they place the blame from the headline.

LIBYA’S GUNS FREE-FOR-ALL FUELS REGION’S TURMOIL

It wasn’t toppling Qaddafi without a transition government lined up, it’s the availability of guns. This isn’t an article about another failed Obama initiative, it’s their supporting evidence for disarming the public.

John Deaux on March 22, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Only a few weeks earlier, another militia seized a weapons’ shipment that landed at Tripoli’s Mitiga Airport meant for the military’s 1st Battalion, Bishr said. Among the weapons were heavy anti-aircraft guns, which are a pervasive weapon among the militias and are usually mounted on the back of pickup trucks.

“Technicals” are as sure a sign of a failed state as “tagging” is of gang-controlled turf in a major American city.

I’d say Libya has already reached the Somalia threshold of warlords and gangs aka “militias”.

We may be looking at the future of most of Africa, here. In the post-colonial era, most African states have become either Soviet-style “People’s Republics”, Islamist “Islamic Republics”, or just plain dictatorships, generally under the rule of a single “strongman”, who gains power either by being a charismatic tyrant raised to it by acclaim (Mugabe in Zimbabwe) or simply by force (Qaddafi).

Trouble is, strongmen get old, too. And by the time they die, they’ve generally let their power-madness and paranoia result in the extermination of anyone they perceived as a potential challenger for power. Including anyone who might have made a practical choice as a successor. One of the hallmarks of such regimes’ is that the ruler can’t even trust his own relations, up to and including sons and other potential heirs. If you’ve murdered your way into power, the temptation to do likewise to speed up the succession process is strong with your offspring.

And since societies abhor a “power vacuum”, the usual result is everybody and his brother trying to fill same. And in tribalist societies, the end result tends to look a lot like the Hatfields and the McCoys.

Yugoslavia was a harbinger. When Tito died, old ethnic rivalries resurfaced. And Africa is much more “tribal” than the Balkans, even in the Arab-dominated north. (Anyone want to bet that the militias in Libya aren’t divided up by clans like those in Somalia?)

About the only thing which can prevent such a self-destruct mode is a powerful army with an officer corps ruthless enough to use it to suppress schismatic groups by force. Egypt being a case in point. Trouble is, such an army tends to end up like the Praetorian Guard of the later Roman Empire, picking the next “Emperor” themselves. (See “Barracks Emperor“.) The result is almost inevitably a “civil war” that never ends.

Africa may be on the way to being, not just a collection of failed states, but a failed continent. As to who’s to blame, the saying about which road is paved with good intentions comes to mind.

clear ether

eon

eon on March 22, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Again with the gayest terrorist picture.

msupertas on March 22, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Thanks, obama!

Pork-Chop on March 22, 2014 at 10:49 AM

The only way this situation will stabilize is for an overwhelming force to occupy Libya, disarm or destroy the militias, and re-establish order over several years while withstanding insurgencies and turmoil. If the West did not have the stomach to do that up front, when it would have dealt with much weaker militias, then it shouldn’t have forced the collapse of the existing regime in the first place. Instead, the US and NATO created a second Somalia on the Mediterranean, and now Europe will pay the price for it.

Ummmm….really Somalia and Libya are different…cause I say so….and kwitcher b*tchin’- Killary Clinton

workingclass artist on March 22, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Does Obama have a foreign policy victory that does not include shooting an old man in diapers with an HK 416?

mjbrooks3 on March 22, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Anything that’s half done, is half begun. That’s why NATO, UN serves no purpose. Run by European countries that were easily conquered by Hitler.

RdLake on March 22, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Do what Kurtz said – Kill Them All.

Tom Servo on March 22, 2014 at 10:54 AM

‘Failed state’ is one of those many reality disconnected concepts embraced by our damn fool global elite and our even more damn fool global media. Of course states fail, but there is no such thing as a failed state.

Nations are large collections of tribes wherein the people in those tribes have many cultural similarities to each other sufficient to cause the people of the nation to agree to be aligned with each other against ‘foreigners.’

When a state that has been held together by tyranny rather than by cultural similarities and a sense of national identity loses its tyrant, it then breaks up and resizes into numerous smaller ‘states’ (typically territory controlled by warlords … which is fundamentally no different than it was when they were all crammed into one big state controlled by just one tyrant/warlord).

This makes dealing with the states within the former nation more difficult for diplomats, but it is what it is – more complicated.

The only thing that ‘failed’ was the tyranny.

fadetogray on March 22, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Hot Air automatic volume advertisements driving me to quieter sites…

mjbrooks3 on March 22, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Obama’s Muslim Brotherhood was supposed to solve all problems.

albill on March 22, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Oh for ever-loving God’s sake will you Rethuglicans please stop with the fake scandals and controversies.

This administration has freed untold prisoners of despotic rulers in the Middle East and replaced them with better despotic leaders.

Do we even need to go into the people we forced into better healthcare?

hawkdriver on March 22, 2014 at 10:56 AM

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canopfor on March 22, 2014 at 11:08 AM

…Smart Power!

KOOLAID2 on March 22, 2014 at 11:09 AM

Hot Air automatic volume advertisements driving me to quieter sites…

mjbrooks3 on March 22, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Use Firefox, and their ad blocker. I have ZERO ads from anybody. Very nice.

RealMc on March 22, 2014 at 11:11 AM

The New Iran-like terrorist state which eventually emerges should be renamed HILIBYA after Obama’s Secretary of State who made it possible.

MaiDee on March 22, 2014 at 11:12 AM

and regarding

AP: Three years after US-NATO intervention, Libya is a failed state

At this point, what difference does it make?

@ Reince Priebus, you should be on TV EVERY SINGLE DAY saying this.

RealMc on March 22, 2014 at 11:13 AM

So it takes a tyrant to hold together a country of stone-age barbarian tribesmen? Who knew?

There is no doubt in my mind that Obama chose to dethrone Qaddafi because he was actively helping us with intelligence, and by keeping the most radical elements in his country in check. Of course, Qaddafi was motivated by fear and a desire for self-preservation, but he had divested himself of WMDs and was helping us. In Obama’s sick and twisted worldview, these actions made Qaddafi a bad guy who had to go, much like Morsi, another bad guy who was nevertheless keeping a lid on the jihadi cesspool.

Pretty sure Obama expected the radicals to recognize him as an Islamist sympathizer and join him in changing political maps in the ME by means more treacherous than violent, but apparently the jihadis didn’t get the memo.

novaculus on March 22, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Arab spring is allot like the summer of recovery.

Minnfidel on March 22, 2014 at 11:14 AM

What the world has learned from Obama is to never, ever give up your weapons and nukes.

If you’re a bad guy who disarms, a liberal president will then invade your country.

If you’re a good guy who disarms, he will not support you from the inevitable aggressors.

PattyJ on March 22, 2014 at 11:16 AM

wolly4321 on March 22, 2014 at 10:38 AM

C’mon now there are plenty of Hotgassers too who want an all out war with Russia. Just don’t ask them to send their family to die for the craphole Ukraine. After all, we have to keep the USA’s credibility high with our great leader, or stop Hitler, or something.

mjbrooks3 on March 22, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Aye.

LaughterJones on March 22, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Why doesn’t anyone on the right demand investigations that explore the failed war strategy in Iraq that’s ultimately descending into another era of chaos where terrorists thrive? Thousands of lives and trillions of dollars lost is suddenly less important than the death of a few Americans in Libya?
 
bayam on May 1, 2013 at 4:42 PM

rogerb on March 22, 2014 at 11:20 AM

Awesomelicious Hopey/Changey Foreign Policy Debacle NeverEnding Storys!!

canopfor on March 22, 2014 at 11:24 AM

That’s what happens when you “lead from behind”.

GarandFan on March 22, 2014 at 11:27 AM

come on, you know we didn’t do anything in Libya.
there would have congressional approval before doing anything right?
and since there was no congressional approval the admin wouldn’t just act like a huge hypocrite right??
yeah….sarc

dmacleo on March 22, 2014 at 11:36 AM

The only way this situation will stabilize is for an overwhelming force to occupy Libya, disarm or destroy the militias, and re-establish order over several years while withstanding insurgencies and turmoil.

Afghanistan and Iraq are also looking to be failed states when the troops are pulled out, so unless you are talking permanent occupation, Muslim nations sound like a waste of time. Leave it to the dictators.

sharrukin on March 22, 2014 at 11:38 AM

Afghanistan and Iraq are also looking to be failed states when the troops are pulled out, so unless you are talking permanent occupation, Muslim nations sound like a waste of time. Leave it to the dictators.

sharrukin on March 22, 2014 at 11:38 AM

I agree mostly.
I am all for bombing them back to the stoneage or further if they are allowing terrorists to train for attacking America within their boundaries.
If you want to be a thugocracy in the middle east, have at it. But if you are, then you better have enough control to prevent your nation from being used as a launching point for attacks on America.

This was the biggest reason I was against getting rid of Qaddafi, he was old and mellowed out and just wanted to live his last few years in relative peace. I think that is also why Obama had him killed.

astonerii on March 22, 2014 at 11:47 AM

I am all for bombing them back to the stoneage or further if they are allowing terrorists to train for attacking America within their boundaries.

Yup.

Mass bombing raids make a lot more sense and they are far less costly in both blood and treasure.

If you want to be a thugocracy in the middle east, have at it. But if you are, then you better have enough control to prevent your nation from being used as a launching point for attacks on America.

And that we should help those nations maintain that control without silly weapons bans. The Muslim commoners are not an ally of the west, never have been, and I doubt they ever will be.

This was the biggest reason I was against getting rid of Qaddafi, he was old and mellowed out and just wanted to live his last few years in relative peace. I think that is also why Obama had him killed.

astonerii on March 22, 2014 at 11:47 AM

I agree. Far better for us if he was still in charge.

sharrukin on March 22, 2014 at 11:54 AM

Obama is a failing president.

islandman78 on March 22, 2014 at 12:01 PM

After 5 years of having a Marxist President…the United States is a failed State.

trs on March 22, 2014 at 12:05 PM

Ed I agree with you that Libya is a failed state. Where I disagree with you is the cause. You state:

Now Europe is expressing shock, shock that decapitating a regime in north Africa without any boots on the ground to control the situation can create a failed state:

Wrong. Well at least partially. Is Afghanistan a successful state today with U.S. and NATO boots on the ground. Is Iraq? We have to get out of this mind set that simply dumping some American troops on the ground in some Islamic country and taking a couple of votes is going to make the state a successful one.

Make this clear, after WWII, we were able to rebuild Japan and Germany because those countries had sophisticated populations. They failed at war, but they were not failing civilizations. Islamic civilization is a complete failure in the 21st century world.

William Eaton on March 22, 2014 at 12:18 PM

He’s Obozo ans you’re not, so shut up.

KMC1 on March 22, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Make this clear, after WWII, we were able to rebuild Japan and Germany because those countries had sophisticated populations. They failed at war, but they were not failing civilizations. Islamic civilization is a complete failure in the 21st century world.

William Eaton on March 22, 2014 at 12:18 PM

We also had been forced to reduce both countries to rubble and had no nonsensical notions about respecting sick cultures. We asserted absolute control, forced them to adopt representative government, and then sat on them for decades as new cultural values took root. We might accomplish the same with stone-age Islamist cultures, but it would be a long and onerous task.

The biggest criticism I have of Bush’s presidency is his delusional belief in a civilized form of Islam, an oxymoron if ever there was one, and the idiotic policies that resulted. I suspect he got that crap from his buddies in Saudi Arabia who were blowing Mohammed’s fairy dust up his butt.

novaculus on March 22, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Maybe Putin should annex it into Russia…

albill on March 22, 2014 at 12:42 PM

The biggest criticism I have of Bush’s presidency is his delusional belief in a civilized form of Islam, an oxymoron if ever there was one, and the idiotic policies that resulted. I suspect he got that crap from his buddies in Saudi Arabia who were blowing Mohammed’s fairy dust up his butt.

novaculus on March 22, 2014 at 12:38 PM

The biggest one I have with Bush on the warfront was the idea of winning hearts and minds rather than complete and total defeat of the enemy to the point that they were willing to accept unconditional surrender. It was this level of defeat that humbled the Axis powers into being amenable to the said transformation of their cultures.

Without that level of resolve in fighting a war we should never put boots on the ground.

astonerii on March 22, 2014 at 12:43 PM

At least our fearless President got congressional counseling and approval before committing troops and jumping head first into the Libyan conflict.

Oh, … never mind.

Ruckus_Tom on March 22, 2014 at 12:49 PM

astonerii on March 22, 2014 at 12:43 PM

Bush’s delusional beliefs about Islam and Islamists were in large part responsible for his failure to recognize the magnitude of the task of rebuilding Iraq.

novaculus on March 22, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Obama didn’t build that! Someone else (Boooosh) made that happen!

OxyCon on March 22, 2014 at 1:20 PM

How’s that Nobel Peace Prize doing?

jnelchef on March 22, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Did anybody read the AP story? See if you can guess where they place the blame from the headline.
John Deaux on March 22, 2014 at 10:42 AM

No, I don’t give America’s Pravda webhits, but I’m not at all surprised at their conclusion. Which is why I don’t give them webhits….

8 weight on March 22, 2014 at 1:29 PM

and regarding

AP: Three years after US-NATO intervention, Libya is a failed state

At this point, what difference does it make?

@ Reince Priebus, you should be on TV EVERY SINGLE DAY saying this.

RealMc on March 22, 2014 at 11:13 AM

And include the proer arm-waving histrionics for effect.

8 weight on March 22, 2014 at 1:35 PM

proper

8 weight on March 22, 2014 at 1:35 PM

All of our interventions have been failures. Staggering waste of money. At least $3 trillion down the rathole. Sickening to think about. We could have been building desalinization plants on the west coast for the farmers, rebuilding bridges and roads. The list is endless.

cimbri on March 22, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Congratulations Obama, McCain and Rubio.

VorDaj on March 22, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Now Europe is expressing shock, shock that decapitating a regime in north Africa without any boots on the ground to control the situation can create a failed state:

And “boots on the ground” will likely create a decade long quagmire. Best to stay out of muslim squabbles. That’s the lesson.

VorDaj on March 22, 2014 at 2:14 PM

The only way this situation will stabilize is for an overwhelming force to occupy Libya, disarm or destroy the militias, and re-establish order over several years while withstanding insurgencies and turmoil.

Now this is the very definition of stupidity.

VorDaj on March 22, 2014 at 2:16 PM

C’mon now there are plenty of Hotgassers too who want an all out war with Russia. Just don’t ask them to send their family to die for the craphole Ukraine. After all, we have to keep the USA’s credibility high with our great leader, or stop Hitler, or something.

LaughterJones on March 22, 2014 at 11:17 AM

You forgot your /sarc tag.

Athanasius on March 22, 2014 at 2:21 PM

Obama is a failing president.

islandman78 on March 22, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Obama is failing s a president, but he’s doing rather well as a dictator.

VorDaj on March 22, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Bush’s delusional beliefs about Islam and Islamists were in large part responsible for his failure to recognize the magnitude of the task of rebuilding Iraq.

novaculus on March 22, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Bush’s biggest mistake was listening to the arrested development idiot Condi Rice.

VorDaj on March 22, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Obama: helping jihadis all over the world to achieve their goals..Guess he isn’t a failed president in their eyes

sadsushi on March 22, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Arab Spring in full bloom.

Name one nation which is free/freer, due to obama/Hillary/Kerry, I triple dare you!!!

Schadenfreude on March 22, 2014 at 2:58 PM

What you see in Libya and all over is the foreign policy of scumhags: obama, Hillary, Valerie Jarrett, Power and Rice (not Condi)…not to forget Kerry, John.

The only reason obama got rid of Quadaffi is because he threatened to get rid of the US dollar for oil.

Watch out for this. If it happens, you can wipe azzes with US dollar.

Schadenfreude on March 22, 2014 at 3:02 PM

Libya – a test case for O’s plan for America…

vnvet on March 22, 2014 at 4:09 PM

I agree totally: we keep losing wars because we won’t destroy our enemy and we have a juvenile (liberal) belief in the goodness of all cultures.

I knew we had lost when Bush immediately stopped bombing and started dropping MREs in Afghanistan when the NYT complained about the size of the bombs.

PattyJ on March 22, 2014 at 4:34 PM

Libya would have been a shining beacon of democracy if it wasn’t for some cat videos on YouTube.

malclave on March 22, 2014 at 8:08 PM

Better tread carefully, Mr. Morrissey. If you continue to publicly question Western military interventions, your Straussian friends will have you removed from this site with no chance to write anywhere else. Count on it.

Observation Post on March 22, 2014 at 8:21 PM

Creating a failed state, four needlessly dead Americans, another Somali across from Europe: and they say Hillary has no accomplishments.

Chessplayer on March 22, 2014 at 10:48 PM