Three years ago the United States participated in a military intervention ( a "kinetic military action" according to a White House with no interest in getting the OK from Congress) in Libya to assist an assortment of rebels in overthrowing the government of Col. Moammar al-Qaddafi. The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution authorizing a no-fly zone be imposed on Libya and the use of military force to "protect civilians" on March 17. A few days later Western military operations began. In announcing U.S. involvement while on a trip to Brazil, President Obama pointed to approval of the action from the United Nations, NATO, and the Arab League (later rescinded in part). He did not seek nor receive Congressional authorization. At the same time, Congress failed to defund or otherwise stop the military intervention—the House leadership sunk bills that would achieve that in favor of toothless resolutions expressing displeasure.
By October, rebels were finally able to track down Qaddafi, with the help of U.S. surveillance and a bombing run, and sodomized and killed him. Eventually a new government was formed. President Obama used Qaddafi's death to claim the intervention in Libya as a foreign policy success and a show of U.S. strength. "This comes at a time when we see the strength of American leadership across the world. We've taken out al Qaeda leaders, and we've put them on the path to defeat," the president said. "We're winding down the war in Iraq and have begun a transition in Afghanistan. And now, working in Libya with friends and allies, we've demonstrated what collective action can achieve in the 21st century."
So what's going on in Libya less than three years later? From the United Nations Support Mission in Libya:
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya has been reducing its staff in Libya for the past week because of the prevailing security conditions in the country. We made an announcement about that a few days ago. The reasons behind this are purely due to concerns for the safety and security of the staff.
After the latest fighting on Sunday and because of the closure of Tripoli International Airport, the Mission concluded that it would not be possible to continue its work in delivering advice and technical support while at the same time ensuring the security and safety of its staff as well as their freedom of movement.
The U.N. called on armed groups in Libya to "refrain from the use of violence to achieve political ends." But the security situation in Libya has been deteriorating for years. No substantive attempts were made after the Western intervention to secure Qaddafi's stockpiles of weapons. Earlier this year a UN report called security in Libya "significantly deteriorated," noting weapons had made it as far as Nigeria, Syria, and Somalia.
In the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, congressmen like Dennis Kucinich stressed that the security failures in Benghazi were ultimately caused by the U.S.-backed intervention that destabilized the country—one army official told Kucinich that Al Qaeda had a much larger presence in Libya in 2012 than the U.S. did even though the terror group practically did not exist in the country before the Western intervention.