Before we attack #Syria, let’s look at Libya, shall we?

**Posted by Phineas

If Obama wants to launch us into another humanitarian intervention against an Arab dictator (1), perhaps we all should look at how his last Big Adventure turned out? That would be in Libya, where, according to The Independent’s Patrick Cockburn, things have gone from bad to God-awful:

A little under two years ago, Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, urged British businessmen to begin “packing their suitcases” and to fly to Libya to share in the reconstruction of the country and exploit an anticipated boom in natural resources.

Yet now Libya has almost entirely stopped producing oil as the government loses control of much of the country to militia fighters.

Mutinying security men have taken over oil ports on the Mediterranean and are seeking to sell crude oil on the black market. Ali Zeidan, Libya’s Prime Minister, has threatened to “bomb from the air and the sea” any oil tanker trying to pick up the illicit oil from the oil terminal guards, who are mostly former rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi and have been on strike over low pay and alleged government corruption since July.

Sweet. Our intervention there was so successful that the Prime Minister is threatening to bomb his own ports. Oil production, Libya’s only source of revenue, has cratered to a tenth of what it had been prior to the intervention, denying the government the revenue it needs to maintain forces to control the country. Far from governing Libya, this gelded government can barely control its own capital, Tripoli:

Rule by local militias is also spreading anarchy around the capital. Ethnic Berbers, whose militia led the assault on Tripoli in 2011, temporarily took over the parliament building in Tripoli. The New York-based Human Rights Watch has called for an independent investigation into the violent crushing of a prison mutiny in Tripoli on 26 August in which 500 prisoners had been on hunger strike. The hunger strikers were demanding that they be taken before a prosecutor or formally charged since many had been held without charge for two years.

The government called on the Supreme Security Committee, made up of former anti-Gaddafi militiamen nominally under the control of the interior ministry, to restore order. At least 19 prisoners received gunshot shrapnel wounds, with one inmate saying “they were shooting directly at us through the metal bars”. There have been several mass prison escapes this year in Libya including 1,200 escaping from a prison after a riot in Benghazi in July.

In short, after overthrowing Qaddafi, a tyrannical cross-dressing nut-job who, nonetheless, kept order and worked with us, we and our allies left Libya to its own devices, apparently doing squat-all to strengthen the central government. Instead, we patted ourselves on the back, picked up our toys, and left the place to torn apart by various tribal and jihadist militias.

Read the whole thing; it’s a searing indictment of the incompetence of the British, French, and especially the American governments. The lack of any planning or even simple foresight about what to do after “we won” is stunning. If the Bush Administration could be justly criticized (2) for not properly planning for the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq, then the Obama administration’s failure to do even rudimentary post-war preparation is a blazing sign of incompetence. At least the Bush people had a plan, bad as it was. The yo-yos of Team Smart Power couldn’t even be bothered to scratch one out on a cocktail napkin.

And now they want to intervene in Syria.

But, don’t worry. I’m sure the Obama people have learned their lesson, gamed out the various possibilities in Syria after we intervene in order not to be mocked, and made plans for each contingency.

And I’m also Napoleon.

While Congress considers granting permission for this humanitarian intervention, they’d be advised to take a close look at the results of the last one.

RELATED: Andrew McCarthy on the people John McCain thinks we should help in Syria. Oh, yeah. It’s Libya all over again. Stanley Kurtz on Samantha Powers, one of Obama’s foreign policy guru’s, our current UN Ambassador, and one of the main architects of the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine of humanitarian military intervention. For an encore, Kurtz asks a rhetorical question: Shall we now retake Libya in the name of humanitarianism? Here’s an excerpt from his answer:

Meanwhile, al-Qaeda factions driven out of Mali by the French make their home in Libya’s southern desert, armed with weapons plundered from Qaddafi’s arsenals. Other arms, and no doubt Islamist fighters as well, flow to the rebel forces in Syria, strengthening precisely those elements that most threaten our counterweight to Assad. A year ago, Senators McCain and Graham repeatedly cited our apparent success in Libya as a model for intervention in Syria. They haven’t mentioned it lately.

(1) I can see a case for intervening, but I think the bulk of the good argument is against it. But that’s not out of any sympathy or liking for Assad, whom I think should be strung up from a lamp post. If he’s lucky.
(2) As I’ve said, I did and do support the liberation of Iraq under Bush. But, there’s no arguing that the post-war occupation and reconstruction was poorly planned, and for that they deserve criticism.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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