Although Libya has vanished from the US news front pages, it may be good to revisit that country to see what has happened since the US last attacked another country. (At least I think it was the last, it is hard to keep track of all the US military campaigns.) Patrick Cockburn writes that two years after that attack, Libya has descended into lawlessness and ruin, a country that now resembles Somalia, where militias fight for control of land, with a weak government unable to do much about it.
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.
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.
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.
When you get involved in someone else’s conflict, you are inevitably taking sides. Reports of a particularly brutal killing by the forces fighting the Syrian government reveal the mess that the US is getting into.