Libya and the egg on western faces

Glenn Greenwald Correspondent
When Saddam Hussein was captured in 2003 by US forces, Iraq War advocates boastfully celebrated the event as proof that they were right and used it to mock war opponents. When Muammar Gaddafi was forced by NATO bombing in August 2011 to flee Tripoli, advocates of US intervention played the same game to try to shame those who objected to the illegality of Obama’s waging the war even after Congress voted against its authorisation: as though Gadaffi’s fleeing could render legal Obama’s plainly illegal intervention.

Once Gadaffi was brutally killed by a mob, advocates of intervention threw a giddy party for themselves, celebrating their own rightness and righteousness and declaring Libya a model for future Western interventions.

Upon Gadaffi’s fleeing, The New York Times, which editorially supported the war, published a front-page article declaring: “US Tactics in Libya May be a Model for Other Efforts.”

While acknowledging that “it would be premature to call the war in Libya a complete success for United States interests,” the paper noted that events had given “Obama’s senior advisers a chance to claim a key victory for an Obama doctrine for the Middle East that had been roundly criticised in recent months as leading from behind.”

Leading war advocates such as Anne-Marie Slaughter celebrated themselves as humanitarian visionaries and chided war opponents for being blinkered and overly cynical about the virtues of American force.

British and French leaders descended upon Libya to strut around like some sort of conquering heroes, while American and Canadian officials held pompous war victory ceremonies.

Hillary Clinton was downright sociopathic, gloating and cackling in an interview when told about Gadaffi’s death by mob: “We came, we saw, he died.”

Democratic partisans were drowning in similar bravado.

From the start, it was glaringly obvious that all of this was, at best, wildly premature.

As I wrote the day after Gadaffi fled, the Democratic claims of vindication were redolent in all sorts of ways of war hawk boasting after Saddam was captured, and were just as irrational: “the real toll of this war (including the number of civilian deaths that have occurred and will occur) is still almost entirely unknown, and none of the arguments against the war (least of all the legal ones) are remotely resolved by yesterday’s events.”

Since 2011, Libya has rapidly unravelled in much the way Iraq did following that invasion: swamped by militia rule, factional warfare, economic devastation, and complete lawlessness. And to their eternal shame, most self-proclaimed “humanitarians” who advocated the Libya intervention completely ignored the country once the fun parts — the war victory dances and mocking of war opponents — were over.

The feel-good “humanitarianism” of war advocates, as usual, extended only to the cheering from a safe distance as bombs dropped.

The unravelling of Libya is now close to absolute.

Yesterday, the same New York Times editorial page that supported the intervention quoted the UN’s Libya envoy Bernardino León as observing: “Libya is falling apart. Politically, financially, the economic situation is disastrous.”

The NYT editors forgot to mention that they supported the intervention, but did note that “Libya’s unraveling has received comparatively little attention over the past few months.”

In other words, the very same NATO countries that dropped bombs on Libya in order to remove its government collectively ignored the aftermath once their self-celebrations were over.

Into the void of Libya’s predictable disintegration has stepped ISIS, among other groups.

ISIS yesterday released a new video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, which they carried out in Libya. This, in turn, led to all sorts of dire warnings about how close ISIS now is to Europe — it “established a direct affiliate less than 500 miles (800 kilometres) from the southern tip of Italy,” warned AP — which in turn has produced calls for re-intervention in Libya.

Yesterday, the US-supported Egyptian regime bombed targets in Libya. Meanwhile, “Italy warned that ISIS is at Europe’s doorstep as France and Egypt called for the United Nations Security Council to meet over the spiralling crisis in Libya.”

It’s only a matter of time before another Western “intervention” in Libya becomes conventional wisdom, with those opposed being accused of harbouring sympathy for ISIS (just as opponents of Libya intervention the first time around were accused).

What we see here is what we’ve seen over and over: the West’s wars creating and empowering an endless supply of enemies, which in turn justify endless war by the West. —Trinicentre.

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