Also this: Military, CIA Responded Properly.
Meanwhile, in Benghazi, over two hundred Libyans died in the past month as militia rule the cities.
Tales of the Unexpected: A US/ NATO coalition dislodges a Middle East strongman, who rules over diverse ethnic groups, and chaos ensues.
This is a surprise?
I talked to Reim, a Libyan filmmaker living and working in the United Arab Emirates.
Reim grew up in the UK but went back home to try to live in Benghazi eleven years ago. Her Dad is from Tripoli, mom from Benghazi. She stayed six months.
“It was a very safe place to be. The sense of community was really strong. The people were very simple,” she said, asking me not to take that the wrong way. “As long as family are healthy and food is on the table, they don’t overthink much more than that. Your whole social life is based on community. Because of the embargo, there was not much western influence. If you understand ancient history, and appreciate heritage sites, ruins, it’s a beautiful place.”
UN sanctions, instituted in 1993 in connection with Libyan involvement in the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Scotland, were lifted on September 12, 2003, after Libya fulfilled UN requirements. Those sanctions followed years of previous on-again, off-again US sanctions.
“From what I can see, from family there, it is a completely different scene. Families are moving back into grandparent’s homes. There is so much gunfire outside. My parents own an apartment building. A rocket hit the top of the building. No one got hurt. What is happening there is not being publicized.”
What was your sense of the US/ NATO bombardment?
“I was not the most nationalistic Libyan, growing up in the UK. One thing I did think, everyone wanted to have freedom of speech. That was why people got out onto the streets. It was a safe place, quality of life wasn’t a problem as it is now. At the time, everyone I knew thought the intervention was a positive step. More freedom of speech, a democracy, positive steps. So there was a lot of support for it. It has not panned out the way people thought.”
Reim laughs. Gallows humor. “I had a hilarious conversations with my mom. They were in Tunisia for a long time, in Tunis when the revolution broke out. So they went to Cairo and it broke out there. Then to Benghazi, where they led the revolution by a day.”
Reim’s mom is now nonchalant about the daily violence. “Oh, there was just gunfire outside.”
Reim continues, “It reached a point that a bomb would go off and she would react, and then start to accept it in the background. I had a cousin get married in Libya last month, while all this gunfire is happening. It’s now a normal thing as people get on with their lives. There are way too many factions now, in different cities. They can’t even agree on a parliament.”
Foreign policy writer and professor Stephen Kinzer gave this blunt conclusion in a Boston Globe headline earlier this month:
“The US Ruined Libya”
Kinzer has scathing words for what he claims is the most ill-conceived of Obama administration interventions.
“Recent reports from Libya, issued to coincide with the third anniversary of Khadafy’s overthrow and murder, suggest that the state has ceased to exist. There is no central government. According to Amnesty International, ‘Armed groups and militias are running amok, launching indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas and committing widespread abuses, including war crimes, with complete impunity.’ Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, al Qaeda, and the Islamic State back guerrilla factions. The unfortunate United Nations envoy, Bernardino Leon, says he can hardly begin to mediate ‘because the protagonists are hundreds of militias.’ Full-scale civil war is a real possibility, so the worst may be yet to come.”
While one committee after another paralyzes Congress with partisan investigations of the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, accusing the president and secretary Clinton of high treason, thousands of Libyans are dying in the chaos. And after ten thousand US/ NATO sorties delivering 7,800 bombs caused the downfall of the Libyan government at a cost to US taxpayers of between $896 million to $1.1. billion, some Libyans on the wrong end of those sorties are not friends of the United States. Or western style democracy.
“This could and should have been predicted.” Kinzer continues. “Removing a long-established regime is dangerous unless a clear alternative is ready. It produces a power vacuum. Rivals fight for places in the new order. By suddenly decapitating Libya, the United States and its NATO allies made conflict, anarchy, and terror all but inevitable.”
Two hundred people dead in Benghazi alone over the past month. You don’t hear much about that. After all, non-American lives are cheap. Rather you hear wall to wall coverage of whether administration talking points were accurate in the confusing days after the tragic attacks killing four Americans. Why was there a CIA annex in Benghazi? There is plenty of speculation.
Congratulations to the Republicans on the House Select Committee on Intelligence. Amidst the howling from partisans embarrassed by the findings, which are dead on consistent with the New York Times’ investigative report, they get big marks for putting patriotism and process before politics. Because it was always clear what happened in Benghazi.
We dropped thousands of precision munitions on the heads of government loyalists. Relatives, comrades and maimed survivors of those assaults are still around, and very angry.
We helped decapitate a decades-old government, leaving militias, jihadis, people with guns running the country and controlling the streets.
Militias knew there was a CIA facility in Benghazi, planning things that were not necessarily friendly to them. Maybe they also knew about the CIA-sponsored overthrow of the democratically-elected Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, or of Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, or Arbenz in Guatemala.
There were indeed massive protests against the YouTube video ridiculing Islam and Mohammed throughout middle eastern and north African capitals, and initial logic suggested the assaults were connected to those events. Instead, they were used as a distraction.
Should we have bombed Libya? You can make your own judgment. What is not in dispute is one more set of unintended consequences, in this case, a lot of dead Libyans and the near complete breakdown of security and the economy.