Remember how Barack Obama argued that his coup d’etat in Libya would provide the model for future American military interventions? Or how Hillary Clinton bragged about the US intervention after the mob death of Moammar Qaddafi, saying, “We came, we saw, he died”? Good times, good times. The Obama administration is ramping up another intervention in Libya to fix everything the US and NATO broke the first time around, the Washington Post reports, after hailing a “unity government” that doesn’t even have exclusive control of the country’s putative capital:
The shaky debut last week of a new unity government in Libya brings Western nations, including the United States, much closer to a renewed military mission there, and to a host of obstacles that will test their ability to secure a country gripped by Islamist extremism and civil war.
Tensions ran high on Wednesday after Fayez Serraj, a little-known Libyan technocrat selected as prime minister in a United Nations peace process, arrived by boat in Tripoli from Tunisia. Western officials hailed his installation in the Libyan capital as a sign that the country’s two-year political divide is finally coming to an end — despite the existence of rival governments in Tripoli and the country’s east.
The United States and European allies, including Italy, France and Britain, have made the unity government’s establishment a key precondition for launching twin missions to begin an international stabilization effort and help combat a growing Islamic State affiliate there.
Each of those tasks will be strained by tensions among militia factions that Western nations hope will form a unified front against terrorist groups and by strong reluctance among European nations to wade into Libya’s chaos — even among those countries most threatened by the Islamic State’s growth across the Mediterranean.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s not a good sign when your “unity government” has to hold a press conference to announce they’ve managed to make it into the capital without being shot:
Bear in mind that this is the direct result of the US/NATO intervention in 2011. Obama and Hillary wanted Qaddafi out of power, and so launched an air war against Qaddafi that went far beyond preventing his alleged intentions to conduct a “genocide” in Benghazi. Western militaries bombed Qaddafi’s army all the way back to Tripoli and in the capital until Qaddafi’s totalitarian government collapsed and he went on the run.
That wouldn’t have been a bad outcome if the nations that went to war with Qaddafi actually admitted to doing so — and prepared for its aftermath. Instead, they pretended that they’d solved Libya’s problems by decapitating its leadership, and completely ignored the fact that Qaddafi’s government had suppressed the same radical Islamist jihadist networks we have been fighting since 9/11. They put no resources on the ground to control the post-Qaddafi environment. Within months, Libya turned into a failed state, but not before the Hillary and Obama ignored all sorts of red flags in Benghazi and lost four Americans, including the first ambassador murdered in the line of duty since the Carter administration.
Now Libya has ceased to exist as a political entity; its geographic outlines merely serve to indicate the failed state Obama and Hillary left behind, and the launching pad for terror strikes throughout North Africa and into Europe. A military intervention is badly needed to re-establish order and crush the Islamist networks, especially ISIS, which has taken hold in the remnant of Libya. Unfortunately, the West is contemplating the kind of intervention that created the disaster we see now:
Planners at the U.S. Africa Command are now developing dozens of targets across Libya that American or European warplanes might strike. They range from the coastal city of Sirte, where the extremist group has established a refuge, to Ajdabiya, Sabratha and the militant stronghold of Derna. U.S. jets have carried out strikes against the group there twice since last fall. …
Ben Fishman, who was a White House official responsible for Libya earlier in the Obama administration, said the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State in Libya is likely to be much more modest in scope than ongoing U.S. and allied operations in Iraq and Syria.
Yes, that’s the ticket! Air attacks alone on fixed positions against a mobile and ill-defined enemy will certainly work this time, even though it’s largely failing every other time we’ve tried it. No one will notice the collateral damage, right? Oh, and don’t forget the partnerships between the West and “local militias” that will let the US and NATO off the hook for doing their own ground fighting. We have an excellent track record of choosing allies from local militias, as our consulate in Benghazi could attest if it still existed.
The lesson from the 2011 intervention in Libya was that half-baked interventions do more damage than what they attempt to fix. Either go to war, or stay home.