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The Libyan War for Regime Change

Micah Zenko marks [1] the fifth anniversary of the Libyan intervention by poking holes in the official justification for the war:

In truth, the Libyan intervention was about regime change from the very start. The threat posed by the Libyan regime’s military and paramilitary forces to civilian-populated areas was diminished by NATO airstrikes and rebel ground movements within the first 10 days. Afterward, NATO began providing direct close-air support for advancing rebel forces by attacking government troops that were actually in retreat and had abandoned their vehicles.

It was hard to miss from the beginning that the U.S.-led intervention in Libya was aimed at regime change. That wasn’t spelled out in the Security Council resolution, and you can bet that China and Russia wouldn’t have abstained if it had been. Despite the explicit denial that this was the intervention’s goal, it was a given that the U.S. and its allies would back anti-regime rebels until they toppled Gaddafi. The intervening governments denied that regime change was their goal because it had become politically toxic to endorse the overthrow of another government, but they showed through their actions that toppling the Libyan government was their definition of success. Once Gaddafi had been deposed and killed, supporters of the Libyan war cited regime change as proof that the intervention had “worked.” Even though the Libyan war had begun with the promise that regime change was not the goal, the death of the dictator was celebrated as confirmation that the intervention was successful. The overthrow and death of the old ruler showed how far from the intervention’s stated goals the war ended up being, and the fact that leading supporters of the war touted this outcome as vindication for their policy confirmed how dishonest the case for intervention was all along.

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6 Comments To "The Libyan War for Regime Change"

#1 Comment By AJ On March 24, 2016 @ 12:32 am

At the very least it will be difficult for Hillary to claim that regime change wasn’t a primary objective when she channeled Julius Caesar. “We came, we saw, he died.”

#2 Comment By Randal On March 24, 2016 @ 5:51 am

The same, of course, is true of Syria. Similar crimes by largely the same criminals (figureheads aside), in Iraq, in Libya and in Syria. And with similarly catastrophic results in all three cases.

Worse than crimes, they were blunders.

#3 Comment By Uncle Billy On March 24, 2016 @ 6:22 am

The Neocons are infatuated with regime change. We don’t like a particular middle eastern dictator, we take him out. Then what? Who steps into the power vacuum? Will the new “government” [if you can call it that] be a pro western democracy? No. There are few Arab Thomas Jefferson lurking in the shadows, ready to leap out and install democracy. Basically, we have a choice between a military dictator or Islamic fanatics. You would think we would have learned this by now.

#4 Comment By Chris Chuba On March 24, 2016 @ 10:29 am

The first 10 days of bombing was unnecessary. Gaddafi never threatened a massacre in Benghazi. He said, ‘I will hunt down them [the rebels] down house by house and show them no mercy’. This was not a threat to civilians, oh, and this was preceded by promise to show leniency to rebels who disarmed.

This is not to show that Gaddafi was a nice guy but just to illustrate that this was yet another ‘preemptive war’ built on assumptions that are now stated as fact by the former Secretary.

Putin has stated an alternative but we are too filled with hate to give him the time of day. ‘We must preserve local govt institutions to prevent chaos’. This doesn’t mean that he is against influencing them to change but that the concept of clear cutting and building a govt from scratch is deeply flawed and perilous path. Yet we embrace this latter model as much as the air we breathe.

#5 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 24, 2016 @ 6:33 pm

I am not sure there is much more to say about what the convoluted leadership of Sec Clinton will look like.

#6 Comment By medusa On March 24, 2016 @ 6:54 pm

“Once Gaddafi had been deposed and killed, supporters of the Libyan war cited regime change as proof that the intervention had “worked.” “

Hillary Clinton has complete contempt for the rule of law, the Constitution, everything except her own path to the most powerful position on earth. It is crucial that she never achieves it, particularly after the expansion of its legal and extralegal powers under Bush II and Obama.