The Premature Glee of the Libya Hawks

Where their war has led


Following the mass decapitation of 21 hostages on Libyan soil, Daniel Larison looks back at the intervention that helped clear the way for ISIS to get a foothold in the country:

Great moments in U.S. foreign policy

It has become fairly commonplace in recent months for Westerners to observe that the U.S./NATO Libyan war contributed greatly to the ruin of that country, but it's worth remembering just how arrogant and triumphalist its supporters were in the immediate aftermath of Gaddafi's overthrow and death. Libyan war supporters could not contain their enthusiasm to lecture opponents of the war about how wrong they had been in those early days following Gaddafi's demise, which only confirmed how oblivious they were to the harm they had done. As we can all see now, the Libya hawks were extremely premature in their celebrations, and they have been desperately trying to evade any responsibility for the suffering they helped to cause ever since.

Libya hawks have since claimed that the intervention was not to blame for the chaos that followed regime change, but that it was rather the "failure" to stabilize the country afterward. This is a bit like an arsonist pleading innocence because a fire truck didn't arrive in time to save the building he set on fire. It also ignores the fact that interventionists in the spring of 2011 insisted that no such stabilization effort would be needed, and that Libya would be nothing like Iraq. Except for the unnecessary war, regime change, and ensuing chaos, they were right that it was not like Iraq. It was its own special kind of foreign policy disaster, and its supporters wrapped it all up in self-righteous rhetoric about the "responsibility to protect" at the same time that they blatantly ignored the requirements of the doctrine they claimed to be upholding. Libya was a "model" intervention, they told us, and it has indeed become a perfect example of what outside governments should not do when faced with another country's internal conflict.

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  1. I predict bumper stickers for Hillary with the “y” making a peace sign.

    1. I think that’s a V for vagina.

      1. I thought i was “V for Snuke”

  2. This is a bit like an arsonist pleading innocence because a fire truck didn’t arrive in time to save the building he set on fire.

    Blame where blame is due. The arsonists in this picture are the jihadists. That’s not to say intervention is blameless, but the country was already in the midst of a civil war when the NATO bombs started dropping.

    1. Agreed. It’s like blaming the voter for not agreeing to pay for more police officers when crime rates go up.

      Intervention was wrong, mkay, but the blood is on the hands of the murderers.

      Jesse should know better.

      1. Intervention was wrong, mkay, but the blood is on the hands of the murderers.

        I said the Western intervention “helped clear the way for ISIS.” I think that’s the appropriate way to phrase it.

        As for Larison’s line, if you look at the sentence before it, you’ll see he’s mocking a specific argument that the Libya hawks have made. I think the comparison works.

        1. Zero Pulitzer’s and zero Ivy league degrees…hmm…how dare you, sir!

        2. Western intervention certainly didn’t help, but Larison is clearly saying that interventionists are the ones responsible for the chaos. That shifts the moral culpability for the violence away from the people actually committing it.

          You can blame the interventionists for contributing to an environment in which ISIS can run amok, but ISIS is the one holding the gas and matches. And there is no guarantee that a lack of intervention would have prevented ISIS from moving in.

          1. there is no guarantee that a lack of intervention would have prevented ISIS from moving in.

            No guarantee, certainly. But we intervened because Kquadaffiy was kicking the shit out of the “rebels”.

            Saying we have no responsibility for the result of a war that we fought (and, yes, attacking a foreign nation is a war) is . . . interesting.

            1. “Kquadaffiy

              Oh, this would have been perfect if you could have squeezed a G in there somewhere.

              I remember the ‘randomized spellings’ of Ghadaffi’s name all the back in the 1980s*, when news outlets really couldn’t make up their fucking minds which version was the Style Guide choice.

              lacking any official version, i think yours should be the default.

              (*i used to have a t shirt from the 1980s with a picture of an F111 that was called, “Kaddafi’s Babysitter” or something equally incredibly-tasteless)

          2. “contributing to an environment”

            The handy “Blame Everything” clause, used by every liberal activist ever.

    2. The hawks claimed they intervened successfully with no adverse results.

      Adverse results happened.

      Hawks disclaimed all responsibility.

      Like all statists, they can’t see past the end of their nose, in foresight or hindsight. “At this point, what difference does it make?” sums up everything they do.

    3. That’s rather ignoring most of the facts.

      A civil war MAY have allowed a foreign rebel force to gain a foothold. The ill-conceived US/NATO intervention practically guaranteed it, seeing that the exact same outcome happened in Iraq.

      But by all means keep doing the exact same thing until the results are different.


    “Mission. Accomplished!”

  4. Fake skandul. Shrike told me so.

  5. Samantha Power has a Pulitzer and two Ivy league degrees, and for cripe’s sake she was not going to just sit around and let atrocities happen!

    1. Looks like the good socialist government pimpette lost her revolutionary backbone like everyone of their ilk does when heady power strikes their silk suits and elitist control centers.

      1. You are just jealous that you have never been a

        a flame-haired, freckled girl with guts,”

        1. The feelings of jilt, Crusty J. The feeling of jilt…

  6. Every ‘intervention’ is an investment in Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing and their thousands of blood-thirsty capitalist cousins. The spoils of military-driven ‘intervention’ are investor returns marketed cleverly as fucking security.

    Hawks and capitalists who scream gleefully like mutating pimples as their country is ‘saved’ from the vicious sand devils can all take a goddamn iconic bbc up the pooper. Fuck their jaded hordes.

  7. I believe it was ButtPlug on this forum who was crowing about how Libya was how you do intervention, and how much smarter it showed Obama to be than the Chimpster.

    1. Weigel isn’t sentient. It proves this consistently.

    2. Yes. Libya and Iraq are both hellholes but one cost us $1-2 trillion less.

      1. So it’s ok to cause mayhem when the piper’s bill is less?

        Fuck off, slaver.

      2. You’d have more (some?) credibility if you admitted when you were blatantly wrong.

      3. Yep, that’s the line I recall.

        Results don’t matter. Morality is determined by how inconvenient an action is. The more convenient something is (the lower its cost and burden), the more moral it is. Hence, a cheap war with bad results is more moral than an expensive war with bad results.

    3. How the fuck is it possible to be a soldier in contemporary times? The shit these people have to shoot at and bomb and yet somehow walk away believing they are working for American ‘freedom’.

  8. Oooh, that picture would be quite the centerpiece of a Hillary opponent’s ad.

    1. Maybe in a Libertarian attack add, but Republicans wouldn’t want to highlight their own embarrassment (Bush’s Mission Accomplished moment) by using this as Hillary’s Mission Accomplished moment.

      i’d put this picture right next to the picture of John McCain with the rebels in Syria and that elephant/donkey emblem right in the middle. Neither party’s foreign policy is making us, or the world, safer.

      1. Good Libertarian ad, to be sure.

        I was thinking a primary challenger from the Left would put that one up.

  9. You know who else celebrated prematurely? My penis.

    1. And the “Keeping it Classy” award goes to …

  10. Also, has there ever been literally any evidence at all that the claims Obama made as justification for the war were, well, true?

    1. Obama never asserted any unilateral need for US action, but rather ‘cooperated’ with the that basically said the Gaddafi regime shouldn’t/couldn’t attack Libyan citizens* who were revolting against his government, and provided for a Naval blockade of tripoli to prevent movements of arms, etc.

      (*although there is plenty of evidence that different intelligence services knew that many of the rebels were outside forces working with existing libyan anti-government groups)

      The resolution was a pretend-claim to enforce a ‘no fly’ zone so that Gaddafi couldn’t bomb people. Instead, it turned into NATO becoming the air-attack force for the rebels.

      What makes the Libyan action so rich is that is utterly undermines any claim to moral authority made by those who previously decried the Iraq action as ‘illegal’ and ‘illegitimate’, since it revealed an equal-or-greater cynicism in the use of the UN as cover for blatantly aggressive, unprovoked intervention against foreign powers where allies happened to have oil-resource interests. It was basically the same kind of unilateral ‘regime change’ by UN dictat which multilateralist idiots claimed was ‘illegal’ only a few years earlier.

      1. ” ‘cooperated’ with the UN Resolution that basically said…’

  11. I am making a good salary from home $5500-$7000/week , which is amazing, under a year ago I was jobless in a horrible economy. I thank God every day I was blessed with these instructions and now it’s my duty to pay it forward and share it with Everyone,
    Here is I started,,,,,,
    ?????? ?????? ??????

  12. Isn’t this like saying the French were responsilbe for the Whiskey Rebellion becuase they didn’t occupy and stabilize the United States after the American Revolution.

    1. Sort of.

      The whiskey rebellion didn’t result in the dissolution of Washington’s government, and set the stage for enemies of France to take power in the aftermath.

      Also – just for the sake of the analogy – France was at war with Britain at the time, and intervening in the colonial dispute was a continuance of their conflict with Britain; it had little interest in the beneficial outcome in the colonies and more in hurting their main adversary.

      but whatever – i think in the case of Libya, the specific criticism being made is that there was much hay being made by the media in 2011 how Liberal Interventions “Work” in contrast to the more-warlike BOOOSH’s disdain for ‘nation building’ and ‘stability operations’. And indeed – the US was definitely involved trying to micromanage the post-regime-fall libya, and failed spectacularly.

      If you bring this up however, you will get nothing but BOOOSH and denials that it even happened.

  13. At least Bob Grant outlived Quackdaffy.

  14. Is the problem the intervention, or is it picking the wrong side?

    1. The important thing is being able to say you were always right after the fact.

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