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Libya: Hold Policymakers Accountable for another Washington War Gone Bad

February 26, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Will America ever again be at peace? A new war always seems to start before the last one ends. The U.S. is bombing targets in Syria and sending troops back into Iraq. Yet Washington’s involvement in Afghanistan persists as the administration considers slowing the withdrawal of American forces.

Worse, pressure is building for the U.S. again to intervene in Libya. It took a decade before the sectarian flames fed by the invasion of Iraq exploded into the Islamic State. It took less than three years for the administration’s intervention in Libya to create similarly spectacular blowback. Observed Glenn Greenwald, “Libya has rapidly unraveled in much the way Iraq did following that invasion: swamped by militia rule, factional warfare, economic devastation, and complete lawlessness.” The country of Libya has ceased to exist.

This debacle offers a clear lesson for American policymakers. But denizens of Washington never learn from the past. Indeed, Samantha Power, one of the most consistent advocates of a militarized foreign policy, complained that “one has to be careful about overdrawing lessons” from failed interventions. In her view the fact that America’s constant wars have resulted in constant failures—and constant pressure to intervene again to confront the new problems created—is no reason to be more careful in the future.

Like many presidents in other conflicts, Barack Obama lied the American people into war. The administration presented the issue as one of humanitarian intervention, to save the people of Benghazi from slaughter. Moammar Khadafy, administration officials claimed, threatened murder and mayhem if he recaptured the city.

Alas, the consequences will linger for years if not decades.”

Ironically, for decades the West did not take his rants seriously; only when they thought it to their advantage did the U.S. and Europe react. Although he was a nasty character, he had slaughtered no one when his forces reclaimed other territory. In Benghazi he only threatened those who had taken up arms against him. In fact, the allies never believed their rhetoric. They immediately shifted their objective from civilian protection to regime change, providing just enough military support to upend the balance of forces but not enough to quickly oust him. The world’s greatest alliance allowed the low-tech civil war to burn for months, killing thousands. Some humanitarian operation.

Still, the chief advocates of what has come to be called Hillary’s war claimed success. Anne-Marie Slaughter, formerly with the Obama State Department, authored …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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