National Security

Meanwhile, Libya Descends Into Chaos

Obama's actions destabilized the region. Great moments in "smart power."

Mar. 26, 2014

The Obama administration came into power arrogantly proclaiming the dawn of “smart power,” by which they meant the mere force of Barack Obama’s personality would settle all international disputes and restore peace and calm to the world. The real result of this naïve bravado, however, has been that America is less feared and less respected. Russia has begun rebuilding the Soviet empire, Iran and North Korea pursue nuclear weapons with impudence, Syria flaunts international bans on chemical weapons, and our allies no longer believe the U.S. is trustworthy.

In that context, the third anniversary just passed of the UN Security Council resolution imposing a no-fly zone in Libya and the subsequent NATO bombing campaign against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime. Gadhafi had been cowed into general cooperation by U.S. action in Iraq, but Obama decided he had to go. He then “led from behind” while NATO allies dispatched his regime, and Gadhafi ended up dead at the hands of rebel forces.

So Libya is now a beacon of hope and democracy, right? Not exactly. The Associated Press reports that Libya is now a failed state: “Libya, where hundreds of militias hold sway and the central government is virtually powerless, is awash in millions of weapons with no control over their trafficking. The arms free-for-all fuels not only Libya’s instability but also stokes conflicts around the region as guns are smuggled through the country’s wide-open borders to militants fighting in insurgencies and wars stretching from Syria to West Africa. The lack of control is at times stunning.”

Recall too that the jihadi attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi occurred after Obama’s exercise in “smart power.” Four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, are dead because of the president’s arrogance. Gadhafi didn’t provide much, but he did ensure stability. It’s as if Obama thought the problem with U.S. actions in Afghanistan and Iraq were that we actually tried to re-stabilize both nations. Now, he and Secretary of State John Kerry now seem to think “political consensus” in Europe will solve the problem in Libya. “The problem,” says the AP, “is that Europe and the U.S. simply don’t know who to talk to in Libya.” That doesn’t sound promising for what is fast becoming a big security threat in North Africa.

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