Marcus Ranum looks at the chaos that the US has unleashed in Libya as a result of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s ‘liberal interventionist’ strategy. This is an old strategy that involves asserting US military power to overthrow leaders whom the US no longer finds useful for its purposes but dressed up in the guise of trying to save the people from a despot. But once the leader is overthrown, the US walks away and the media treats the resulting situation as if it were the working out of local factors and not as a consequence of US actions.
The net result is that people who at one point lived in a modern functioning society suddenly find themselves in utter misery and despair. We now see Libya as the source of many refuges fleeing the devastation with some of them seeking revenge through groups like ISIS at those who did this to them, and the country itself the source of weaponry throughout the region.
Rob Grigjanis says
US governments do have a lot to answer for, but as far as Libya is concerned, this is oversimplified to the point of misleading. Quelle surprise. France, UK and the Arab League took the lead here, as far as I could tell.
The CERN has recently discovered new particles, previously thought to be fictional, you know which one I mean, with the double quarks. That’s real.
Positing Libya as a stable, modern functioning society is the fiction. Everything was okay when people hanged from lampposts, and unnecessary wars were waged against Egypt and Chad, and the dictator sponsored terrorism on a state level. The several different ethnic and religious groups who were thrown together by artificially cursive lines in the sand after being liberated from the then-Kingdom of Italy, and under a dictatorship for 4 decades, they had no problems until foreign forces intervened.
That’s oversimplified and tone deaf. Serbians peddle the conspiracy theory, that the West is responsible for breaking up Yugoslavia. I get that you want to be critical of American military invention, and yes, it wasn’t completely selfless. However, having lived in a dictatorship myself, I can and will attest, that there’s always severe sh*t underneath the dictator’s boot that comes up like Old Yeller the second it can.
Marcus’s theory only works if it cannot be proven that it hadn’t happened anyway. What many people seem to forget, the Arab Spring is not a separate entity. It did not start because people wanted democracy (if you never had it, or 2 consecutive generations don’t have it, it won’t be prime focus). It started for the same reason why there were protests in South America too. The idea of the Bush administration to turn corn into fuel has driven up stock market prices across the globe on the grain exchange market, and China’s new interest in potato instead of rice did not help matters (that drove up potato prices so much that Belgian vendors who are super into fries to the point they eat the dish to the side, had to reduce fries length by 10%). It happened during the financial crisis, so not many paid attention.
South America did, as they eat corn instead of bread, and so did Muslim countries who use pita. The amount reserved to subsidize them shrunk, so people got mad. If you can remember, the guy in Tunisia was shot because he wasn’t allowed to sell produce for more, and that sparked the Arab Spring. The inability of dictators to react to severe changes. In other words, Qaddafi would have been removed either way. The one thing America is responsible is ISIS involvement. Also for not getting the hell out of Benghazi when the Red Cross and the British did.
Marcus Ranum says
France, UK and the Arab League took the lead here, as far as I could tell.
The US has been carrying out destabilization operations in Libya for decades. So, yeah, when the US-sponsored rebels finally made enough of a nuisance of themselves that the regime got violent, that justified action by NATO and the others.
Marcus Ranum says
Positing Libya as a stable, modern functioning society is the fiction.
If I were positing anything like that, I’d definitely be horribly wrong. Libya was a dictatorship. Now, it’s a dictatorship in ruins. I never said it was a stable modern functioning society -- but it wasn’t in ruins.
Marcus’s theory only works if it cannot be proven that it hadn’t happened anyway.
It might or might not have happened anyway, but it might have happened faster and with less damage if foreign powers hadn’t been involved. Especially if they hadn’t been flying around dropping high explosive on critical infrastructure in order to degrade the regime’s ability to function. Had there been no intervention, it might be that the regime would still be in power or it might be that the people would have been sick enough of it to rise up and take over, as they did in Romania (for one example) or Ukraine (for another) -- the extended violence and destruction comes when the matter is undecided enough and foreign powers come in and start trying to tilt the game-board by hauling in weapons and doing air strikes.
The question of “when is a popular revolution going to succeed?” is a very complicated one, which only time is likely to resolve. I wasn’t saying anything about that; I’d guess there was about a 25% chance the popular uprising in Libya would have been crushed and a lot of people killed. But Libya over all would probably be in better shape. I’d say about the same odds in Syria.
I am not saying that the regime was modern or good or anything like it; it is, however, undeniable that the NATO airpower that was unleashed on Libya was very destructive and did not shorten the rebellion -- it only tilted it in the direction NATO thought it wanted it to go. And that tilting was very temporary and the outcome hasn’t been materially better for the people of Libya. Or did I somehow miss the big crowds cheering for NATO and asking for more airstrikes?
What many people seem to forget, the Arab Spring is not a separate entity. It did not start because people wanted democracy (if you never had it, or 2 consecutive generations don’t have it, it won’t be prime focus). It started for the same reason why there were protests in South America too.
I certainly haven’t made that mistake. As I said, the “arab spring” was bullshit terminology from Washington think-tankers who are still stuck in some kind of stupid “domino theory” political unreality. I never said a damn thing about it having anything to do with people wanting democracy. You’re right, it didn’t.
In other words, Qaddafi would have been removed either way.
You say that like you know that, but you don’t.
And, if there had been enough popular resentment to crystalize into a true people’s rebellion, it would have happened differently and sooner than it did. I’m not saying it should or shouldn’t have happened that way -- but I don’t see how blasting Libya’s infrastructure flat helped.
The one thing America is responsible is ISIS involvement. Also for not getting the hell out of Benghazi when the Red Cross and the British did.
The US has been doing destabilization operations and economic embargoes against Libya for decades. “The one thing…” excuse me, LOL, were you born yesterday?
I begin at the end. I was talking about in regards of Libya, not the entire operational history of the CIA. I trust the American intelligence community as far as I can throw them, so I wasn’t born yesterday (it was in a synthetic meat lab 5 minutes ago :p)
Yes, I know that he would have been removed like Ceausescu and exactly for the same reason, he too drove his nation into famine and killed too many of his own people. Even without the Arab Spring, it was a when, not an if.
As I said, Libya was artificially created. We don’t argue about wanting democracy not being a huge factor, but I’m also saying, they weren’t a nation either. What Qaddafi held together by force was a loose coalition of various tribes with no allegiance to each other or to Tripoli. The Ottomans, the Italians, and Qaddafi chose one of them to be privileged, so a civil war was in the cards. For decades it couldn’t happen because Moammar played either the Soviets or Americans. Somebody had always guaranteed his safety. Then came Lockerbie and the fall of the USSR. By the time he made up with the people affected by terrorism, he ran out of allies. If there had not been a massive food crisis, people still would have revolted, since his closest ally was Syria, far away. The Serbian nation did not fell apart after 1999, but the similar bombing was enough for locals to remove Milosevic, and the further separation happened. Yet they hid more war criminals, so they had a twisted sense of nationalism. It’s as if the Bible Belt were a country, and then fall apart, they have one common border, but it’s a nation forged in common history (provided there was never a civil war either).
I reflected Mr. Singham’s assessment, he called it a modern functioning society, when it wasn’t. My problem with your assessment is, and it seems to be a constant despite the many things we do agree on, is that you give too much credit to the sinisterness of clandestine operations and motives despite the countless screw ups, and at times seem to exonerate other obvious guilty suspects.
P.S.: I won’t take the born yesterday thing as an ad hominem remark, and more as a joke. Unlike a YouTube mess of a comment thread that usually leads to nowhere, I like to focus on the arguments so that we end up somewhere meaningful, and with that in mind I hope it can remain a civil discourse (by this time, somebody would just have called me a cuck).