Libya Is a Failed State, Thanks to America
When the Obama administration led a 2011 NATO military intervention on behalf of rebels seeking to overthrow Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi, there was considerable optimism that the move would produce a much better country. Although U.S. officials and their media cheerleaders acknowledged that significant challenges remained for a post-Qaddafi Libya, they argued that the outcome could scarcely be worse than the oppressive status quo. Events over the past six years have proven their assumptions spectacularly wrong. Libya is now a cauldron of turmoil and Islamic radicalism.
As Qaddafi’s rule teetered, optimism in U.S. political and journalistic circles was pervasive. “Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant,” President Obama stated in August 2011. “The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator.” Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham were equally gratified and positive. “The end of the Gadhafi regime is a victory for the Libyan people and the broader cause of freedom in the Middle East and throughout the world,” they concluded. The two senators, along with their Republican colleagues, Mark Kirk and Marco Rubio, gushed during a visit to “liberated” Tripoli that the rebels had “inspired the world.”
当卡扎菲的统治摇摇欲坠时，美国的政界和新闻界弥漫着乐观的情绪。“的黎波里正脱离暴君的掌控，”奥巴马总统在2011年8月发表声明时说道，“利比亚人民向我们表明：追求尊严和自由的力量远大于独裁者的铁拳。” 约翰·麦凯恩和Lindsey Graham两位参议员也同样乐观，他们宣称：“卡扎菲政权的结束是利比亚人民的胜利，并且能够带动中东地区以至世界各地更广泛的自由。”这两位参议院连同他们的共和党同事Mark Kirk和Marco Rubio在他们参观“解放”后的的黎波里时，盛赞反对派“鼓舞了世界”。
In his remarks regarding the dictator’s capture and gruesome death in October, Obama asserted that “the dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted” from Libya. He urged the citizens of that country to “build an inclusive and tolerant and democratic Libya that stands as the ultimate rebuke” to the former oppressor. Ivo H. Daalder, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, and Adm. James Stavridis were equally enthusiastic. Describing the intervention as “an extraordinary job, well done,” they called it “an historic victory for the people of Libya who, with NATO’s help, transformed their country from an international pariah into a nation with the potential to become a productive partner with the West.”
10月，在他关于那个独裁者被捕和惨死的言论中，奥巴马声称：“暴政的阴影已经（从利比亚）消失”。他敦促利比亚国民“建立一个包容、宽容和民主的利比亚，将此作为对独裁者的最大嘲讽”。美国驻北约大使Ivo H. Daalder和Adm. James Stavridis也同样热情，把这次干预形容成“一次完成出色的任务”，他们称其为“利比亚人民在北约的帮助下取得的历史性胜利，把他们的国家从一个国际弃儿变成了一个西方潜在的富有成效的合作伙伴。”
Much of the American news media chimed in about the glorious outcome of the U.S.-NATO intervention. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof was euphoric about how the people he encountered in Libya loved America. “Americans are not often heroes in the Arab world, but as nonstop celebrations unfold here in the Libyan capital I keep running into ordinary people who learn where I’m from and then fervently repeat variants of the same phrase: Thank you, America!”
There were only a few dissenting voices from the celebration. Journalist Glenn Greenwald, writing in Salon, expressed his astonishment and dismay at the lack of realism or even minimal skepticism on the part of policymakers.
I’m genuinely astounded at the pervasive willingness to view what has happened in Libya as some sort of grand triumph even though virtually none of the information needed to make that assessment is known yet, including: how many civilians have died, how much more bloodshed will there be, what will be needed to stabilize that country and, most of all, what type of regime will replace (Moammar) Gadhafi?
Greenwald’s apprehension proved well founded. Libya soon became the playground for both rival militias and rival governments. Writing in 2012, shortly after the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the other victims in Benghazi, Greenwald asked “how much longer will it be before we hear that military intervention in Libya is (again) necessary, this time to control the anti-U.S. extremists who are now armed and empowered by virtue of the first intervention? U.S. military interventions are most adept at ensuring that future U.S. military interventions will always be necessary.”
A little more than three years later, the United States conducted a new round of airstrikes to prevent the establishment of an Islamic State (ISIS) beachhead in the Mediterranean coastal city of Sirte. ISIS infiltration already was becoming evident in late 2014 and early 2015. An early sign of the terrorist group’s presence was a mass beheading of twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christians who had migrated to Libya to find work.
The new U.S. intervention came at the invitation of the so-called unity government, a splicing of two previously feuding regimes, which had received official UN backing. The reality is that despite its name, the “unity government,” also known as the Government of National Accord, or GNA, is just one of several factions jockeying to govern Libya. Indeed, at the time the United States commenced its new air campaign, there were (and remain) three rival governments seeking control. A parliament-backed faction, the Tripoli-based General National Congress, also known as Libya Dawn, is closely allied to Islamist fighters, especially the powerful Misrata militia. A key rival to both claimants is the House of Representatives (HoR)—sometimes called the Council of Deputies—which is based in Tobruk. Gen. Khalifa Hiftar, who had led one of the rebel factions that unseated Qaddafi, is the de facto leader of the HoR.
应所谓联合政府的邀请，美国又一次进行了干预。这个联合政府，就是两个之前长期不和的政权组合到了一起，并得到了联合国的支持。可现实是，虽然名字是“联合政府”，也被叫做民族团结政府或GNA，但其实只是相互倾轧、争相统治利比亚的多个派系之一。确实，当美国开始新一轮空中行动的时候，有三股竞争势力争夺控制权。一方是受到国会支持的位于的黎波里的全体国民大会，也称作“利比亚黎明”，和伊斯兰战士组织有紧密联系，特别是强大的米苏拉塔民兵。双方的一个关键竞争对手是众议院（HoR）——有时叫做代表委员会——位于托布鲁克。Gen. Khalifa Hiftar曾领导一方反叛势力推翻卡扎菲，现在是HoR的实际上的领导人。【译注：上面所说的三股势力分别为GNA、Libya Dawn和HoR】
But even that tripartite feud does not capture the full extent of the chaos. An October 2017 incident illustrates just how convoluted the political and military rivalries have become. An air strike killed at least fifteen civilians in the eastern city of Derna, located about 165 miles west of the Egyptian border. At the time of the attack, Derna was controlled by a coalition of Islamist militants and rebel veterans known as the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council (DMSC), one of the numerous political/religious factions in the country. The source of the airstrike was unclear. The coastal city had long been under siege by the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) (General Hiftar’s armed wing), which previously conducted air strikes against it, as had Egypt, which backs the LNA.
However, both the LNA and the Egyptian government denied carrying out the most recent raid. Indeed, Egypt’s foreign ministry issued a statement condemning the strikes for killing innocent civilians. One Egyptian TV station with close ties to the Cairo government insisted that Libyan planes had conducted the attack. The LNA, though, denied that assertion and said there had been a “terrorist attack” in the area. The Tripoli-based, UN-backed government, which opposes the LNA and maintains very loose ties with the DMSC, denounced the air strikes and announced three days of mourning.
Even that was not the extent of the murky, multisided struggle, however. The DMSC had controlled Derna since 2015. It achieved that status by expelling ISIS, which had established a foothold there the previous year. In other words, one militant Islamic group drove out a rival militant Islamic group. Such is the nature of political and military affairs in fractured, post–Qaddafi Libya.
The chaos has strengthened Islamic extremism inside Libya and led to massive refugee flows across the Mediterranean—a humanitarian nightmare rivaling the one taking place in Syria. Proponents of U.S.-led regime-change wars have yet another catastrophic failure on their record.
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