U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is invoking the 2011 military intervention in Libya as reason for the U.S. to get involved in Venezuela.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 24, 2019
The Florida Republican had previously tweeted a “before and after” image of former Panama leader Manuel Noriega as part of his PR campaign to commit troops to Venezuela.
A bit of a reminder for Rubio: Libya is a mess.
The African country has been wrought with violence ever since NATO (the U.S. with help from France and Britain) decided to start dropping bombs to help those opposed to Muammar Gaddafi just over eight years ago this month. It’s the typical conflict between one faction or another looking to plant their flag in the charred remains of Gaddafi’s sand-blasted throne or carve out their own nation. It’s very George R.R. Martin-like, for those who enjoy his A Song of Fire and Ice books or HBO’s Game of Thrones. Except it’s very, very real.
Reuters reported this week the country is so tired of war, it’s hoping for a Gaddafi-like strongman to ride in on a bloody horse to steer Libya’s future.
“Muammar needed to go but democracy hasn’t worked out in Libya,” [cafe owner Mifta Altuba] said, sipping coffee in one of the few buildings still standing in a city center where from 2014 to 2017 war raged between the forces of Khalifa Haftar, a general who turned against Gaddafi, and his mainly Islamist opponents.
Atluba’s cafe was damaged. But the building survived, unlike the courthouse next door where the families of political prisoners gathered to demand their release in February 2011, triggering the uprising that toppled Gaddafi.
“We’ve had chaos and terrorism. Now we need military rule to build a state,” Atluba said…
Currently, political control in Libya is split between rival tribes, armed groups and even administrations. The east has its own government, which is opposed to a U.N.-backed authority in Tripoli…
Some say the 75-year-old general should order his troops to head for Tripoli without waiting for an election.
“The army has secured the east and, thank God, with the southern offensive now also the south,” said Fawzeia al-Furjani, a business leader who is from Haftar’s tribe. “How can you hold elections in the west when you have militias in control?”
Therein lies the problem, which Rubio is either willfully ignoring or failing to recognize. Libya has essentially turned into another Iraq where the only currencies are power and corruption – the same currencies Gaddafi used during his regime. Al Jazeera reported a week ago there are fears more violence is on the way because Haftar has launched a purge in the south and may march towards Tripoli.
“What’s new this year is that Haftar’s forces are threatening to come to the west to Tripoli. On the other hand, a new coalition of former rebels who rose against Gaddafi are now opposing the Haftar,” added [Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud] Abdelwahid.
“The face of the revolution is decreasing unfortunately for many people if a new round of conflict [erupts] in the capital Tripoli…”
Analysts warn that the LNA’s assault could endanger UN-led efforts to convene a “national conference” aimed at organising already long-delayed elections this year as a way out of the political impasse in Libya.
But “the repeated delays and the vagueness surrounding the UN-backed event have alienated important constituencies who are now eyeing alternative strategies outside the UN framework in order to bolster their position,” said [International Crisis Group analyst Claudia] Gazzini.
This is not meant to be a defense of Gaddafi – a horrible dictator who I’m glad is no longer in power – but a reminder of the chaos which followed his deposing and death and how it will more than likely be repeated in Venezuela should the U.S. decide to invade. The only organized resistance to Nicolas Maduro comes from more left-leaning groups who are unhappy with his dictatorship. It’s unlikely any free market-inducing reforms would happen in Venezuela if and when Maduro ends up out of power. Venezuela might become more democratic (for a time) but socialism-lite isn’t a gateway to freedom – but tyranny.
The best weapon against tyranny isn’t democracy, but free markets. The ability of people to do business exchanges with one another without governmental interference is essential to freedom’s existence and reign. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone buying a coffee and bagel at a cafe or oil from a refinery. Let’s also not forget store shelves will probably be completely re-stocked should one foreign imports start coming back into town. Free markets top democracy any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.
There’s no doubt Rubio believes Maduro needs to go away – and more than likely his intentions are pure. But it would be a mistake the U.S. has constantly repeated over the last 100 years. We shouldn’t do it again.