Gadhafi is Dead, “Luckily” We Have “Implicated” Ourselves in Libya’s Future

Cato’s Chris Preble writes:

Qaddafi’s death does not validate the original decision to launch military operations without authorization from Congress. The Libyan operation did not advance a vital national security interest, a point that former secretary of defense Robert Gates stressed at the time. Qaddafi could have been brought down by the Libyan people, but the Obama administration’s decision to overthrow him may now implicate the United States in the behavior of the post-Qaddafi regime. That is unfair to the American people, and to the Libyan people who can and must be held responsible for fashioning a new political order.

As we ponder the welcome news of Qaddafi’s capture, we should also recall the lessons from Iraq, and as they have played out in Libya. The fall of Baghdad in April 2003 did not signal the end of the Iraq war; likewise, the capture of Tripoli by anti-Qaddafi forces in August 2011 didn’t end the fighting there. I worry, too, that just as the capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003 didn’t end the Iraq War that pro-Qaddafi forces will continue to resist the new government there.

The news of his death is difficult to write about because it strikes me as not very important. I would only add to Preble’s comments by suggesting that the tacit understanding that the US decision to oust Gadhafi implicates the US in the reconstruction and governance of Libya was probably intended. The evidence suggesting Obama’s decision to intervene was a strategic decision based on a desired future role in the region abounds. Libya is an oil rich country in a strategically important region and having a dominating influence over the country, especially since it neighbors an Egypt in transition, is probably seen as a net positive by national security planners.

We should expect continued fighting and a profound struggle (to put it gently) for the NTC to actually secure power and operate a functioning government. But further down the line, if Libya at all goes the way Washington prefers, we should expect hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid going directly to the future “government” of Libya, a significant and constant flow of American-made weaponry as well, and a close relationship with US diplomats that is defined largely by being subservient to US interests (in return for the aforementioned booty).

Update: I should add that it is likely the forthcoming relationship between the US and Libya will be seen as unfavorable, to say the least, by Libyans and by the Arab world generally. Libya could very well come in to fill slot #3 – after Bahrain and Yemen – of countries which blatantly betray flowery US rhetoric about democracy and human rights in the region.

On an unrelated note, Gadhafi’s last words were reportedly “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!” Then…they shot him.

  • skulz fontaine

    Seems the Liyban NTC captured Muammar and then killed him. ?Ding dong the witch is dead… which old witch? Muammar witch! Which by the by, only proves the premise US/NATO kills with impugnity.
    Libya's NTC is the murderous dog at the end of that US/NATO leash.

  • JLS

    If the US government decides you're not worthy to live then it's official.

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  • Dahoit

    Lets hope I find a million bucks in change in my pocket.Sheesh.Redrum bears bitter fruit.

  • Very bad news for Libya and Africa. Libya's people will lose control of their oil resources and revenue, Africa loses an alternative source of development funding and NATO gains a forward base on the continent. RIP MQ, one of the few world leaders that actually improved the lot of most of his people and gave a middle finger to the Washington war machine.

  • "…hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid going directly to the future “government” of Libya, [and] a significant and constant flow of American-made weaponry as well…"

    All to be used to oppress, reward, threaten, bribe, and slaughter friends, enemies and strangers.

  • Rob Payne

    History is so malleable, plastic in its ability to conform to any shape. We certainly have come a long way from the “we were only enforcing a no fly zone.”

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  • JohnDowser

    Leadership changes mean nothing if the underlying structure and relations do not facilitate the needed changes. It's quite possible MQ represented "golden decades" for a technically fractured Libya and the 'mad dogs' were here the rebels without a plan. Dreaming of Western money and investments flowing in. Or Russian, or Chinese.. Anything to sell their assets to, anything to repair the new rifts and damages. But if the world economy keeps tanking, this might not materialize. Enjoy the freedom to complain in relative peace for now!

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  • Forgot the name

    The author is gloating like all the scum in Washington and low life that make up about 80% of this nation (His final sentence)

    Already the news reports are switching gears, and the new theme is growing that the rebels themselves are not so good. The rebels will find themselves the targets of Washington. This is not surprising, it was inevitable since the Rebels were just used to clear out the government. Expect mass executions of people that supported Qaddafi.