Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The Libya Template

Remember that our intervention in Libya in 2011 was premised on the notion that Iraq's problems post-Saddam stemmed from America's heavy troop presence on the ground that prevented Iraqi factions from negotiating their differences. Three years later, how's the Libya situation?

Strategypage looks at Libya.

Thirty percent of Libyans have fled Libya (mostly to Tunisia) while casualties the last 3 months have been at a 500-per-month rate--mostly civilians. That's in a population that is about a fifth of Syria's. Syria's violence is clearly much worse (which is another not-Iraq example we could look at--as is Iraq post-2011 if you want), but Libya's casualty rate isn't that far behind Syria and is in the same league as Iraq during the worst of the fighting when we were there in strength.

As to the chaos in Libya, many Libyans cling to the fantasy that their problems stem from our intervention in NATO to overthrow Khadaffi:

The Tobruk parliament is calling on foreign nations for help in defeating the rebel militias in Tripoli and Benghazi. At the same time many Libyans blame NATO for all their problems. The logic of this is that NATO air support for the rebels in 2011 allowed the many militias to defeat Kaddafi and then create chaos. More thoughtful Libyans, although a minority, understand that the lack of willingness by most Libyans to negotiate and compromise is the real cause of the current mess and a major part of any solution is recognizing what is really going on rather than blaming the mess on foreigners.

And as a bonus, the French provide information countering the notion on our anti-war side that our presence in Iraq provoked al Qaeda to enter Iraq and that if we'd never gone in that the jihadis would have stayed out:

As to the Sahel region, I told Chuck Hagel, once again, how worried France is about the situation in Libya. Jihadist groups are getting better in zones that are not organized, and they pursue all kinds of illicit, illegal traffics. And we hope that the international community is going to face this problem soon, and do so that this deployment stops, because it favors recruitment and the development of terrorism in this zone of the Sahel and Sahara.

That was the French Minister of Defense, I'll note.

We stayed out of Libya to let Libyans sort our their mess. They haven't done that and jihadis have flooded Libya, threatening the region? How can this be? Merde.

But perhaps I just don't get nuance.