WaPo editorial board: Libya’s a mess, and the West is to blame

posted at 2:01 pm on August 8, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Let’s not forget that Iraq was not the only victory claimed by Barack Obama and his administration. When Obama led NATO into an intervention in Libya under the “responsibility to protect” doctrine (R2P), the administration hailed the result of toppling the Qaddafi dictatorship as the model for responsible Western interventions. Ever since, though, Libya has collapsed into a failed state, a Somalia on the Mediterranean where Islamist terror networks operate openly and with impunity.

Recently, the Islamists have declared the eastern territory of what was once Libya as a new emirate under their control, and the rump government in Tripoli can produce no effective response. Three years after the supposedly successful Arab Spring intervention, the Washington Post editorial board puts the blame on the West, and on an administration whose only response has been “to peddle empty lines”:

Last month in Benghazi, the Ansar al-Sharia militia, which has ties to al-Qaeda and was involved in the Sept. 11, 2012, assault that killed the U.S. ambassador there, stormed a military base and then declared the city the seat of an “Islamic emirate.” That’s what the Taliban called Afghanistan. According to The Post’s Karen DeYoung, some U.S. counterterrorism officials believe Libya’s Islamists could seek to align themselves with the Islamic State, the al-Qaeda offshoot that controls western Iraq and eastern Syria. Whether or not that happens, it’s not hard to foresee eastern Libya becoming a launching pad for terrorist attacks against nearby Europe or even the U.S. homeland.

U.S. and Western responsibility for this mess is heavy. Having tipped the outcome of the war against the Gaddafi regime, NATO quickly exited Libya, which was left with no army or political institutions but was awash in weapons. Repeated Libyan requests for assistance in restoring security were brushed off; a small-scale NATO training program based outside the country was little more than symbolic. As in the case of Afghanistan, Congress rejected the Obama administration’s aid requests. …

The Obama administration has done its best to ignore Libya’s collapse, even as Republicans in Congress obsess over conspiracy theories about the 2012 Benghazi attack. Administration officials continue to peddle the empty line that “Libya’s challenges can really only be solved by the Libyans themselves,” as Secretary of State John F. Kerry put it this week. Officials point to the newly elected parliament, which convened in the eastern city of Tobruk last weekend, as a possible vehicle for a political settlement.

That’s hardly likely. Pacification of Libya would probably require another Western intervention and a peacekeeping force, coupled with a far more robust international mediation mission. The chances that such an intervention will be mounted, of course, are minuscule; the Obama administration would almost certainly not endorse it.

Of course they won’t. It took the potential genocide of tens of thousands of Yazidis and the threat of Irbil getting sacked to authorize even a few airstrikes on ISIS, let alone consider a new peacekeeping force in Iraq. Note well that the “empty line” which the Post’s editors rebuke is almost the exact formulation that the Obama administration continues to use with Iraq, by claiming that there is no Western military solution to the onslaught of ISIS and that Iraqis have to solve that problem for themselves.

National Journal’s George Condon links Iraq and Libya in another way:

The world will not blame the Iraqi government if the children and women huddled atop Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq die of hunger and exposure. Nor will Pope Francis blame Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki if the Islamic extremists attacking the country slaughter the 40,000 Christians and other minorities who have fled to the mountaintop. The fact is that the world, from the pontiff in the Vatican to the coal miner in West Virginia, will blame President Obama.

That is why the president found himself under such intense pressure to act on Thursday, facing calls from around the world to marshal American might in a way to both rush humanitarian aid to the refugees in Iraq and punish the forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) who are trying to kill them. …

In an address to the nation from the East Room on March 18, 2011, the president said he was impelled to act by a situation similar in many respects to the current crisis in Iraq. “Here is why this matters to us,” he said then. Without international action, he said, there would be “atrocities against his people.” He added, “Many thousands could die. A humanitarian crisis would ensue. The entire region could be destabilized, endangering many of our allies and partners. The calls of the Libyan people would go unanswered. The democratic values that we stand for would be overrun. Moreover, the words of the international community would be rendered hollow.” He concluded, “And that’s why the United States has worked with our allies and partners to shape a strong international response at the United Nations.”

That speech is as close as it gets to outlining an Obama Doctrine for humanitarian situations. It is another reason why the pressure on the White House is so intense. The world knows that the United States “broke” Iraq and “owns” the mess, and is waiting to see if the Obama Doctrine that applied in 2011 still applies today.

The US may have “broke Iraq” under George W. Bush, for which Obama might be able to shift blame, but the US led the effort that broke Libya under his direction — and, by the way, without ever seeking Congressional authorization for the war against Qaddafi. Obama learned belatedly that toppling a regime by remote control creates a very bad vacuum of power, especially in that region. By conducting his Libyan adventure and pulling entirely out of Iraq after having declared victory in that country, Obama owns both disasters.

Instapundit reminded readers today about those Obama administration claims of success:

That interview took place in February 2010. Also from Instapundit comes Obama’s assessment as a candidate in 2008:

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn’t a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there.

“Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now — where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife — which we haven’t done,” Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea,” he said.

Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, said it’s likely there would be increased bloodshed if U.S. forces left Iraq.

“Nobody is proposing we leave precipitously. There are still going to be U.S. forces in the region that could intercede, with an international force, on an emergency basis,” Obama said between stops on the first of two days scheduled on the New Hampshire campaign trail. “There’s no doubt there are risks of increased bloodshed in Iraq without a continuing U.S. presence there.”

The greater risk is staying in Iraq, Obama said.

“It is my assessment that those risks are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,” he said.

Obama had it exactly backward. It was our departure that gave space for “irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,” and created the “magnet” for terrorist activity, just as the power vacuum we left in Libya did too.

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What? No Video maker is to blame??

ToddPA on August 8, 2014 at 2:03 PM

but…but…”Leading from Behind!!!”

Tyrs Fury on August 8, 2014 at 2:04 PM

WaPo editorial board: Libya’s a mess, and the West obama is to blame

Schadenfreude on August 8, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Qaddafi threatened to get rid of the US dollar, for oil. That was his only sin with obama.

Schadenfreude on August 8, 2014 at 2:06 PM

No. It isn’t the West.

This mess belongs to BO and his former, SoS, sHillary.

“Smart power”, indeed.

Cody1991 on August 8, 2014 at 2:07 PM

The world burns and King Putt fiddles with his golf clubs…

dentarthurdent on August 8, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Remember when disposing of a ruthless dictator without a well thought through plan to fill the vacuum was the domain of cowboys and warmongers.

HumpBot Salvation on August 8, 2014 at 2:10 PM

The US may have “broke Iraq” under George W. Bush, for which Obama might be able to shift blame, but the US led the effort that broke Libya under his direction — and, by the way, without ever seeking Congressional authorization for the war against Qaddafi. Obama learned belatedly that toppling a regime by remote control creates a very bad vacuum of power, especially in that region. By conducting his Libyan adventure and pulling entirely out of Iraq after having declared victory in that country, Obama owns both disasters.

He does. He should have bombed ISIS when they stirred in Syria.

That “chimpey” destroyed the oaf, who’s chief, is the cherry on the sundae.

Blitzer is coughing cows on CNN.

Schadenfreude on August 8, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Libya’s a mess, and the West is to blame

Funny how its the fault of the president in power when its a Republican, but its ‘everybody’s‘ fault when its a Democratic president.

sharrukin on August 8, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Meanwhile, Vladimir is waiting for just the right moment. Getting closer.

butch on August 8, 2014 at 2:12 PM

the West

hahahahahahahahaha

They misspelled Obama.

hahahahaha

faraway on August 8, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Hillary, Powers and Rice, not Condi, and obama own it all.

Name one foreign policy success or one free/freer people (nation, lest you name the Black Panthers or other thugs/moochers), due to obama, I triple dare any of you.

Schadenfreude on August 8, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Qaddafi threatened to get rid of the US dollar, for oil. That was his only sin with obama. Schadenfreude on August 8, 2014 at 2:06 PM

0b00ba couldn’t have told you why that was a problem, if he knew it was about to happen. But someone knew, and they put the kabosh on it post haste.

Now, BRICS.

Akzed on August 8, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Obama had it exactly backward. It was our departure that gave space for “irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,” and created the “magnet” for terrorist activity, just as the power vacuum we left in Libya did too.

And our nearing departure from Afghanistan is going to embolden the enemy there. General Greene wasn’t the last death by one of our so-called partners.

Quick question- can anybody name one positive foreign affairs success story out of Snuggles’ administration? Just one. Because I don’t see any.

Happy Nomad on August 8, 2014 at 2:13 PM

faraway on August 8, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Now that right there’s funny, I don’t care who ya are!

Akzed on August 8, 2014 at 2:14 PM

WaPo editorial board: Libya’s a mess, and the West is to blame

West Obama

portlandon on August 8, 2014 at 2:16 PM

The entire Muslim world is a mess and The Washington Post wants to blame who?

SC.Charlie on August 8, 2014 at 2:18 PM

We came, we saw, he died. Cackle, cackle, cackle.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgcd1ghag5Y

HumpBot Salvation on August 8, 2014 at 2:18 PM

Having tipped the outcome of the war against the Gaddafi regime, NATO quickly exited Libya…

Passive aggressive whitewashing.

Obama tipped the outcome. Obama quickly exited Libya. Obama is the agent in this damned situation and the Left cannot bring themselves to acknowledge it.

Cowards and pissants one and all.

chimney sweep on August 8, 2014 at 2:19 PM

0b00ba couldn’t have told you why that was a problem, if he knew it was about to happen. But someone knew, and they put the kabosh on it post haste.

Now, BRICS.

Akzed on August 8, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Putin threatens the oaf and the French talking horse, Kerry, with the same. It’s their trump card, and the last one to use, or never use, because they won’t have to.

Schadenfreude on August 8, 2014 at 2:19 PM

And, I am using Google Chrome. I guess it is time change back to using Mozilla Firefox.

SC.Charlie on August 8, 2014 at 2:19 PM

No Joke: White House Says Obama Didn’t Bomb Syria Because Assad Didn’t Ask Him To…

Which begs the obvious follow-up question: Why would Assad ask the United States to bomb him?

Resist We Much on August 8, 2014 at 2:19 PM

Earnest, the guy with the perfect name, is sillier than the last Baghdad Bobby.

Schadenfreude on August 8, 2014 at 2:20 PM

I guess if you can’t blame Bush, you just blame the nebulous “West.”

TarasBulbous on August 8, 2014 at 2:21 PM

No Joke: White House Says Obama Didn’t Bomb Syria Because Assad Didn’t Ask Him To… Which begs the obvious follow-up question: Why would Assad ask the United States to bomb him? Resist We Much on August 8, 2014 at 2:19 PM

Wait a… what?!

Akzed on August 8, 2014 at 2:26 PM

I bet it’s only failing because it was based on a Republican plan detailed in a Heritage Foundation proposal from the ’90s.

rogerb on August 8, 2014 at 2:26 PM

Meanwhile, Vladimir is waiting for just the right moment. Getting closer.

butch on August 8, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Vlad may be working with the Muslims under the table.He would have a huge hungry army that wants to overthrow the US.An Iranian nuke would be nothing.The jihad would have a field day with Vlad’s stockpile.Better yet he could blame them after the detonations.Just a theory.

docflash on August 8, 2014 at 2:28 PM

I guess if you can’t blame Bush, you just blame the nebulous “West.”

TarasBulbous on August 8, 2014 at 2:21 PM

Par for the course, we know we can’t expect honesty and integrity from the WaPoo Editorial Board… or much of the rest of the Ministry of Truth.

Athos on August 8, 2014 at 2:29 PM

I bet it’s only failing because it was based on a Republican plan detailed in a Heritage Foundation proposal from the ’90s.

rogerb on August 8, 2014 at 2:26 PM

Well that and a mean do-nothing Republican Congress….

Athos on August 8, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Obama had it exactly backward. It was our departure that gave space for “irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,” and created the “magnet” for terrorist activity, just as the power vacuum we left in Libya did too.

Absolutely

ISIS and the open borders, which will conflate, soon, are going to be obama’s legacy.

Schadenfreude on August 8, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Ned Pepper, haven’t you found the right DKos passage to plagiarize, yet?

Schadenfreude on August 8, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Obama’s pro Muslim Brotherhood chickens came home to roost.

22044 on August 8, 2014 at 2:35 PM

The Obama apologists are awfully quiet lately.

John the Libertarian on August 8, 2014 at 2:41 PM

The fact is that the world, from the pontiff in the Vatican to the coal miner in West Virginia, will blame President Obama.

Exactly as it should be. Obama is the one who declared to everyone that we won the war in Iraq and Al-Qaeda was decimated and Terrorists world wide were on the run. He owns what ever happens in Iraq and Libya, those two Countries will be his legacy.

Johnnyreb on August 8, 2014 at 2:42 PM

No Joke: White House Says Obama Didn’t Bomb Syria Because Assad Didn’t Ask Him To… Which begs the obvious follow-up question: Why would Assad ask the United States to bomb him? Resist We Much on August 8, 2014 at 2:19 PM

Wait a… what?!

Akzed on August 8, 2014 at 2:26 PM

You see, Obama didn’t really draw a red line about Assad using chemical weapons. He actually drew one against ISIS. When he said that ‘Assad must go,’ it was a speak-o. He really meant that al-Baghdadi must go. And, he would have killed the sonofabitch if only the peace-loving, but incompetent eunuch, Assad, had asked him to drop some mega-tonnes on ISIS.

Since Assad didn’t ask Obama to bomb Syria, what is happening in Iraq is the former’s fault.

Resist We Much on August 8, 2014 at 2:42 PM

No Joke: White House Says Obama Didn’t Bomb Syria Because Assad Didn’t Ask Him To… Which begs the obvious follow-up question: Why would Assad ask the United States to bomb him? Resist We Much on August 8, 2014 at 2:19 PM

Wait a… what?!

Akzed on August 8, 2014 at 2:26 PM

You see, Obama didn’t really draw a red line about Assad using chemical weapons. He actually drew one against ISIS. When he said that ‘Assad must go,’ it was a speak-o. He really meant that al-Baghdadi must go. And, he would have killed the sonofab1tch if only the peace-loving, but incompetent eunuch, Assad, had asked him to drop some mega-tonnes on ISIS.

Since Assad didn’t ask Obama to bomb Syria, what is happening in Iraq is the former’s fault.

Resist We Much on August 8, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Those ISIS folks need to stop hatin’…

PatriotRider on August 8, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Libya’s a mess, and the West is to blame

Ummm, no. The people who live there are to blame. We are not responsible for other peoples actions. Get over it. And as long as they keep it local, it is none of our business how bad their choices are.

It is the attitude of these war-mongering opinionators that keeps us in wars around the world and sending our sons and brothers and fathers off to die for nothing and wasting our nations wealth. Certainly not our freedom or security. If anything our continued meddling in others’ business makes us less secure as in 911. Stop feeding the military industrial war mongering complex. It is time to take back our freedom from these bastards who have stolen it.

earlgrey on August 8, 2014 at 2:45 PM

New from the Obama Common Core AP History book:

The United States bombed Nazi Germany because Adolf Hitler asked us to and said ‘Please, please, please, with sugar on top…and chocolate sprinkles…and marshmallows…and pistachios…and Oreo crumbles…and chocolate chunks…and Reese’s Pieces…and walnuts…and M&Ms…and chocolate whipped cream…and Irish coffee-flavoured whipped cream…and a cherry…no, make that three cherries!’

Coming to a public school classroom near you!

Resist We Much on August 8, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Ned Pepper, haven’t you found the right DKos passage to plagiarize, yet? Schadenfreude on August 8, 2014 at 2:34 PM

I got yer Ned fix right here:

So that’s who you’re dealing with: some mix of civil war reenactor or Tea Partier decked out in revolutionary garb, with a mix of reckless aggression and comical incompetence. Here we have them break into nursing homes to photographs senator’s comatose wives; there Putin gives them heavy armaments designed for full scale land war in Europe. Ned Pepper on July 18, 2014 at 11:10 AM

I see you’re still lifting stuff from loony leftist sites and passing it off as your own, Ned. The screed quoted above came from TPM, word for word. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/just-with-real-weapons Gator Country on July 18, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Akzed on August 8, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Resist We Much on August 8, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Oh, thanks. I forgot about the ol’ speak-o.

Akzed on August 8, 2014 at 2:54 PM

It’s too bad that they mispelled “West” in the headline:
O-B-A-M-A!

Another Drew on August 8, 2014 at 2:55 PM

earlgrey
Libya’s a mess, and the West is to blame
Ummm, no. The people who live there are to blame. We are not responsible for other peoples actions. Get over it. And as long as they keep it local, it is none of our business how bad their choices are.

20,000 Manpads and stinger missiles gone astray won’t stay local.

can_con on August 8, 2014 at 2:57 PM

Akzed on August 8, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Good job!

Schadenfreude on August 8, 2014 at 3:02 PM

I got a million of em.

Akzed on August 8, 2014 at 3:03 PM

I guess if you can’t blame Bush, you just blame the nebulous “West.”

TarasBulbous on August 8, 2014 at 2:21 PM

Par for the course, we know we can’t expect honesty and integrity from the WaPoo Editorial Board… or much of the rest of the Ministry of Truth.

Athos on August 8, 2014 at 2:29 PM

WaPoo! I like it.

Let’s see what the dim bulbs at the WaPo comments have to say:

As I recall Obama got dragged into Libya by the gung h French and Brits. I don’t see those two countries clamoring to go back in there and fix the mess they made. Every time the “west” gets involved in the Mideast, things just get worse. I say let them all kill each other off. That way, instead of always blaming us for their problems, they would have only themselves to blame.

Translated: “It’s not O’bama’s Fault!”

This next idiot actually calls the far-Left WaPo editorial board wingnuts!

Oh please, the US is not responsible for everything nor can it fix everything. In fact, it’s track record for the last 50 years is not all that good. You wingnuts criticize Obama for anything he does or doesn’t do. I suppose he’s responsible for Argentina’s debt default not to mention the warmer than normal weather in the South.

Translated: “It’s not O’bama’s Fault!”

We have an excellent President that has constantly tried to keep us away from the craziness of colonialism

Translated: “It’s not O’bama’s Fault!”

Wouldn’t it be nice to read a WaPo editorial on improving education, or infrastructure, instead of advocating for another war. Nah, aint gonna happen with this lot.

Translated: “It’s not O’bama’s Fault!”

Next, an English major checks in:

This editorial board thought that attacking Libya when it was zero threat to us and who stood as an example of cooperation with us on WMD and support for terrorism was a fine idea.

Suchs to be you.

Translated: “It’s not O’bama’s Fault!”

“MY BRAIN HURTS!”

Del Dolemonte on August 8, 2014 at 3:06 PM

Remember when disposing of a ruthless dictator without a well thought through plan to fill the vacuum was the domain of cowboys and warmongers.

HumpBot Salvation on August 8, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Ah, good times, good times.

307wolverine on August 8, 2014 at 3:09 PM

WaPo editorial board: Libya’s a mess, and the West is to blame

WaPo editorial board: You’re an embarrassment to the ideals of journalism.

itsspideyman on August 8, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Everything Obama touches turns straight to crap, and he’s had his filthy fingers on way too much stuff.

Adjoran on August 8, 2014 at 3:15 PM

The Western Civilization is responsible for the woes of the entire world, period.

SC.Charlie on August 8, 2014 at 3:16 PM

U.S. and Western responsibility for this mess is heavy. Having tipped the outcome of the war against the Gaddafi regime, NATO quickly exited Libya, which was left with no army or political institutions but was awash in weapons. Repeated Libyan requests for assistance in restoring security were brushed off; a small-scale NATO training program based outside the country was little more than symbolic. As in the case of Afghanistan, Congress rejected the Obama administration’s aid requests.

You can sure tell when the president is a Dem, right WAPO? Here is your list of culprits:
* U.S.
* West(ern)
* NATO
* Congress

and innocent bystanders:
* Obama Administration

and, presumably out on the links in childlike oblivion:
* Obama

Ray Van Dune on August 8, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Remember when disposing of a ruthless dictator without a well thought through plan to fill the vacuum was the domain of cowboys and warmongers.

HumpBot Salvation on August 8, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Nowadays, it is our ruthless dictator that goes in without a plan to fill the vacuum.

Happy Nomad on August 8, 2014 at 3:45 PM

The purpose of our military is to carry a big stick while walking softly. In the last thirty years we have initiated two plus wars in Iraq one in Afghanistan and several lesser adventures in the mid east. We have supported the removal of several bad heads of state who were either neutral towards us or were helpful to us.

After each of our adventures our country has been made more at risk and at very high cost.

The one adventure which we should have taken was to destroy the power sources of the Iranian centrifuges.

burt on August 8, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Not a single of the usual trolls in this thread yet. I wonder why?

slickwillie2001 on August 8, 2014 at 4:13 PM

When the media starts trying to find people to blame because Booosh isn’t available, even they know the ship is listing hard aport.

The world burns and King Putt fiddles with his golf clubs…

dentarthurdent on August 8, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Who’s got his bag of balls, Reggie Love?

formwiz on August 8, 2014 at 4:36 PM

After the fall of Saddam, Libya turned in its WMDs in exchange for being left alone. Obama reneged on that deal and Libya now looks like everything else Obama has touched.

Laurence on August 8, 2014 at 5:59 PM

Yes, indeed! “Smart Power!”

GarandFan on August 8, 2014 at 6:04 PM

From Ed’s post…

The fact is that the world, from the pontiff in the Vatican to the coal miner in West Virginia, will blame President Obama.

Man, do I wish this were true, although I’m sad that things have come to where they are under this administration.

The sadder truth is, most (who depend on a complicit and unquestioning media for information) won’t have a chance to connect the dots and bring the blame where it belongs. We’re told “the West” is to blame, so as not to have the President too tightly associated with his own policies, and the actions of his key people.

massrighty on August 8, 2014 at 6:28 PM

WaPo editorial board: Libya’s a mess, and the West Obama is to blame..

Fixed it…

snoozinglion on August 8, 2014 at 8:11 PM

Well see, stupid Bush didn’t get Congressional approval to invade Iraq, but clever Obama did before he attacked Libya… oh, wait.

Ray Van Dune on August 9, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Nobody talks about the fact the U.S. under Bush told Qaddafi he wouldn’t be killed if he gave up his WMDs, and then Obama promptly killed him.

Think Iran and North Korea are talking notes about trusting the United States?

Perspicacious on August 9, 2014 at 11:00 AM