Home/Daniel Larison/The Interventionists’ Self-Serving Lies About Libya

The Interventionists’ Self-Serving Lies About Libya

The Posttells its readers some convenient lies:

This mounting conflict is occurring not so much because of NATO’s 2011 intervention, which was limited to airstrikes, but because of its swift withdrawal and subsequent failure to assist in stabilizing the country.

This is dishonest in a number of ways. In the absence of U.S. and allied intervention, it is much less likely that the old Libyan regime would have collapsed so quickly. Western intervention ensured the success of anti-regime forces, and as a result exposed Libya to the chaotic aftermath of regime change. The “swift withdrawal” was built in to the Libyan intervention from the beginning. It was a political necessity for the intervening governments to disavow any intention to commit to a long-term stabilization role, and the interim Libyan government rejected the introduction of an outside force for its own reasons. Had there been no outside intervention, it is possible that Libya would be riven by ongoing conflict. Thanks to the 2011 intervention, Libya was guaranteed to endure the years of disorder and violence that have followed.

That is because there was never the political will to follow through on the initial “good” intervention, and that political will was understandably lacking because Western publics had no desire to begin an open-ended mission to reconstruct Libya on account of the manifest failures to do something similar in Iraq and Afghanistan. If the U.S. and its allies had declared their intention to embark on a multi-year “nation-building” mission in Libya after the first phase of the intervention was over, there would have been significant opposition to the intervention and it is likely that the U.S. would not have agreed to facilitate the intervention at all. Western governments were always going to “wash their hands” of Libya once Gaddafi was removed from power, and that was made plain while the Western involvement in the Libyan war was still going on. Critics and opponents of the war said so at the time. If Western governments don’t have the ability or willingness to see their regime change projects through–and none of them ever does–they shouldn’t pursue policies of regime change in the first place. Interventionists will always pretend that their preferred policies aren’t to blame for the chaos that follows when the U.S. does what they demand, but the rest of us are not required to believe their self-serving lies.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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