Five years after the event, the media has been full of reports of an interview with US President Obama, in which he alleges that the ‘worst mistake’ of his presidency was ‘failing to plan for the day after…intervening in Libya.’ Of course Obama did not mean that the NATO invasion of a sovereign African country in order to effect regime change and the assassination of its head of state was a mistake. In the same interview he made clear that in his mind US intervention ‘was the right thing to do.’
It speaks volumes about the nature of US imperialism and its chieftain that such a statement can be made. How is it conceivable that the commander in chief of the most powerful military in the world can organise armed intervention in another country, overthrow its government without having any consideration for the consequences of that act, nor any plan to deal with those consequences? Can such a story be believed following the experience of Afghanistan and Iraq? Of course it cannot, not least because the NATO intervention lasted many months and also because it is evident that even in the US the inappropriately named National Security Council engaged in lengthy forward planning. Then the US, Britain and their allies followed a similar strategy in Syria, with similarly disastrous results for the people of that country and the surrounding region.
In previous interviews Obama has sought to shift the blame for the chaos and anarchy that followed the NATO invasion, the unleashing of ISIS and other sinister forces in Libya, the racist attacks and murders as well as the ensuing refugee crisis, onto others. To this end the governments of Britain and France were blamed and even the Libyans themselves were held responsible, since Obama claimed in the most blatant Eurocentric manner, ‘the degree of tribal divisions in Libya were greater than our analysts had expected.’ But facts are stubborn things and the war crimes committed in Libya are the responsibility of the governments of the US, Britain, France and their allies that had no business intervening in that country. There is now also ample evidence to show that their claims that civilian lives were at risk from the Libyan government, the justification for the NATO intervention on the basis of an alleged ‘right to protect,’ were completely false.
The NATO intervention has created a catastrophic situation in a country that was once one of the most developed and stable in Africa and has had ramifications throughout North Africa and even further afield as events in Mali and Northern Nigeria have demonstrated. Over the past five years Libya has been in chaos with two rival governments vying for supremacy, millions of people have become refugees within their own country and Libya has become a major disembarkation point for refugees from other parts of Africa and western Asia trying to reach Europe. Already this year around 20,000 refugees have arrived in Europe from Libya having made the hazardous Mediterranean crossing. Although further political intervention by the big powers appears to have resulted in a new Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya it remains in a fragile position and is reluctant to be seen as merely the proxy of the NATO. It appears that ironically in these circumstances plans by NATO for further official military intervention have had to be temporarily shelved. Both the NATO General Secretary and Britain’s Foreign Secretary have made it clear that as soon as the GNA requests further foreign intervention they will act accordingly. In recent days the the GNA has held meetings with the governments of Britain, Italy, France, Spain as well as the UN and so it appears all the conditions are being created for further intervention.
Nevertheless, it is well established that special forces from Britain, France and other countries are already deployed in Libya and this situation has resulted in the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee criticising Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond for misleading them over the government’s intentions regarding Libya. They have accused Hammond of being ‘less than candid’ and ‘wholly and deliberately misleading’ over the existing intervention of British special forces, as well as on the government’s plans to conduct further air strikes and send 1000 British troops to Libya to defend the GNA and train the Libyan army. The accusations have been made following a visit by the committee to North Africa last month. There they were told by a ‘British source working at the direction of the defence attaché,’ that the government was to begin air strikes and send the troops in the ‘near future.’ Hammond denied that any such briefing had taken place.
The dangerous and unstable situation in Libya continues as does the meddling of Britain and its allies. The consequences are being felt not only in Libya, and many other parts of Africa, but also in Europe where the refugee crisis continues. Britain and the other big powers have created this chaos and instability and are poised to justify further intervention by posing as the saviours, those that can solve problems which they themselves have caused. Nothing can be further from the truth, as recent history has shown. The demand must be that Britain and its allies cease all intervention in Libya and elsewhere. Foreign intervention by the big powers in Africa must be brought to an end!