More Unintended Consequences from Libya: Gaddafi Allies on the Warpath in Mali


Since January 2012, over 172,000 Malians have been displaced because of attacks by Tuareg fighters. Of those displaced, 90,000 are  refugees in neighboring Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Niger. Amnesty International even declared this is the "worst human rights crisis" in 20 years for the region. Yet this is the surprising aftermath of U.S. foreign policy.

Throughout 2011, Tuareg forces went to Libya to help Col. Muammar Gathafi against the U.S. led "kinetic military action." According to the BBC, each Tuareg fighter received $10,000 to join Qaddafi. Some soldiers reportedly earned $1,000 a day to fight for this self-proclaimed "King of Kings" of Africa. (By comparison, Mali's GDP per capita was $1,200 in 2010.) Trained by Libya's military, these mercenaries obtained military-grade hardware more powerful than their usual weaponry. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Drew Hinshaw elaborates:

Tuareg militants have staged insurrections in the 1960s, 1990s, the mid-2000s. But they have rarely been so well armed. Rocket launchers, missiles and machine guns capable of downing aircraft are circulating in the desert region, say U.S. and West African defense officials, after mercenaries plundered Gadhafi's arsenal at the end of Libya's conflict.

After Kadafi was killed, these Tuareg soldiers returned to Mali where they formed the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, a rebel group that seeks independence from the rest of Mali. Thanks to their Libyan armaments, they have been able to take control of one of the largest military bases in northern Mali, and one of the few with an airport.

Now Mali could face its own foreign intervention. The head of the armed forces for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is considering an armed intervention to stabilize the region. Meanwhile, a top official in Nigeria's military believes there is "a need to send peacekeepers to Mali."

Just because a bad guy gets killed, it doesn't mean a region will become peaceful. Since the world's attention is turning to Joseph Kony, that's a lesson the Kony 2012 crowd should remember.

Reason on Libya. on Libya and the president's ability to wage war.

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  1. Something consequences something something unintended. How does that go again?

    1. I seriously doubt anyone foresaw this particular consequence, so that law (which isn't valid anyway) doesn't even apply.

      1. How is the law not valid?

        1. Please. Not this again.

          Its a perfectly good law.

          Was it foreseeable that Gaddafi would hire mercenaries who had a history of fomenting insurrection back home? To an expert in the area, perhaps.

          Was it foreseeable that, if we won, those mercenaries might take all their new toys and go home and make trouble? Seems a reasonable supposition, to me.

          1. Why this in reply to me?

            1. i think RC is using the chainlink threading style. you were the most recent link.

              1. Oh. So, sort of P Brooks-Lite.

          2. Cool! Name someone who foresaw this.

            At some point the butterfry effect takes over.

        2. The law isn't valid because it conflates intent and foresight.

      2. So the US didn't have any intelligence about the mercenaries in Qadafi's employ but went ahead and bombed anyway?

        That's much more comforting.

        1. The more bombs that are used, the more bombs that can be re-purchased from corporations that finance election campaigns.

        2. Look, I opposed and continue to oppose the Libya intervention, but we're talking at least four degrees of separation here. At some point you have to call butterfly effect.

          There are plenty of easily foreseeable negative consequences that have arisen in Libya without stretching to include this one.

    2. And since you brought it up... let me share my suggestion that the iron law in question be edited to read, "You are responsible for foreseeable consequences even if unintended." So it doesn't conflate the two very different concepts of intent and foresight.

      1. If you foresee a consequence as a result of a path of action, you don't get to escape responsibility for it by saying "Oh, I didn't intend that part!"

        1. IOW intent is distributive over foreseeable consequences of an intended course of action.

        2. That works too.

          It's *responsibility for* foreseeable consequences that we're trying to ensure.

      2. Sorry. Suggestion rejected. Too wordy. Needs more pith.

        1. How about my rewrite.

          Bad decisions are not the same as mistakes.

        2. Not conflating different concepts together is more important than pith.

          Are you claiming that intent and foresight are the same thing?

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  2. Paging Ken Shultz.

    1. What, Shrike gets a pass?

  3. How is Obama different from Bush again? How is TEAM BLUE different from TEAM RED again?

    1. Libya had no boots on the ground.

      1. I guess that makes all the difference?

      2. I see a future in hoverboots.

      3. At least that they're willing to admit.

  4. Just because a bad guy gets killed, it doesn't mean a region will become peaceful.

    I saw no 'Mission Accomplished' banners rolled out for Libya.

    1. I saw no Mission Failed banners either.

      1. "Mission Comme ci Comme ?a"

      2. So as long as no one claims credit, it is not a "war" war.

        1. Libya was not unresponsive

  5. considering an armed intervention to stabilize the region.

    60% of the time, it works every time.

  6. Muammar Gathafi, Gaddafi, Gadhafi...

    For fucks sake.... just pick one and stick with it already. You're just encouraging the idiot teens who think spelling is a completely arbitrary and subjective experience.

    1. Apparently Quaddafi himself spelled the name in multiple ways.

  7. Just because a bad guy gets killed, it doesn't mean a region will become peaceful. Since the world's attention is turning to Joseph Kony, that's a lesson the Kony 2012 crowd should remember.

    I watched that Kony video that everyone's all a'twitter about.

    Noting that the video was made with great skill and craft, the further in, the more bothered I became. And even though I thought to myself, what a terrible guy, this Kony is, I couldn't help but wonder if any of the people responsible for this video could see the irony in what they were demanding.

    It seems to me that liberals demanding intervention do it on strictly "judeo-christian" principles. As long as there's no profit it in it, the crusade is pure.


    1. [contd]

      There's no oil there, there's no strategic interest (beyond the grand and slippery notion that human rights violations are strategic for everyone) there, it's just some bad dude hurting kids.

      But intervention is intervention. There was absolutely positively a human-rights case to be made for Iraq and Afghanistan. There's one to be made for Iran, North Korea...

      This country needs to sit down and decide if it's going to be a country which gets involved in foreign entanglements or not.

      It seems clear we already are, so let's just admit we're prostitutes, and we're just haggling over price.

  8. Yet this is the surprising aftermath of U.S. foreign policy.

    I think it is incorrect to attribute the uprising in Libya to the United States.

    I suspect the Libyan people may have won without us. Qatar was probably more important that what we did.

    Regardless, the question wasn't whether the United States should depose Gaddafi; the question was, given the fact that the Libyan people had already decided to rise up and depose Gaddafi, were we going to stand by and watch? ...or were we going to help them.

    Take a look at what's going on in Syria right now. It's the same question there--just a different answer from a U.S. policy standpoint. How long Assad can keep himself from going the way of Ceaucescu is anybody's guess--but if the Syrian people are really committed, then Assad can't hold on forever.

    1. If rebels from some third party country, after Assad is deposed without our assistance, subsequently arm themselves with Assad's weapons, will that be the "aftermath of U.S. foreign policy", too? Since our foreign policy of non-involvement means we weren't there to stop them?

      Oh, and when you suggest rebels gaining Libyan arms were the result of U.S. foreign policy in the Libyan Civil War, what are you referring to precisely? Are you saying that our foreign policy is to blame becasue Obama refused to put troops on the ground? Because that argument is probably more valid than assuming the Libyans wouldn't have overthrown Gaddafi without U.S. air cover.

  9. I was against the Libyan intervention, but this would have happened anyway. Gadhafi was all into the Tauregs and they him. On the bright side, Gadahfo was possibly bankrolling Boko Haram, and Nigerian authorities hope that BH is running out of money. If true, getting involved in Libya, while a mistake, would be less a mistake.

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