“Why is it that the growth of ISIS has not been tracked to its source, the massive flow of weapons, cash and training to extremists fighting against Bashar Assad? Why has none of the countries that have given such largesse been held to account for the creation of a militia that is in the process of setting up a state which will serve as the base for operations against Europe? These are questions for which there does not as yet seem to be answers.” – Prof Madhav Nalapat
What was evident to a few even during 2011 has become obvious to all. The US-UK-France invasion of Libya and replacement of Muammar Kaddafy with a congeries of warlords has placed the country into the melting pot. While he was certainly a capricious dictator, and prone to flights of fancy and hyperbole, the reality is that during his rule, the people of Libya had jobs to go to, houses to live in, and food to eat. Healthcare systems were adequate, and even foreign education was encouraged. Most importantly, Kaddafy surrendered his stock of WMD to the US and the UK, as well as a trove of intelligence information about the way in which his team had dealt with terror groups across the globe.
Several dozen terrorists were quietly rounded up as a result of such sharing of information, many by Kaddafy’s own secret service, headed by Moussa Koussa. There were reports that Kaddafy even bankrolled the election campaign of selected French and Italian politicians, besides paying out a huge amount to the relatives of those killed in the Lockerbie air disaster, despite the fact that the evidence linking his regime to the crime was entirely circumstantial and based on hearsay. In a telling example of how it is not possible to “bank” goodwill with the NATO powers (they simply pocket the concessions made and promptly demand a fresh instalment, rather than reciprocate in ways other than cosmetic), none of this prevented Nicholas Sarkozy, then President of France, from drafting UK Prime Minister David Cameron and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in his “Get Kaddafy” campaign. In the guise of saving civilian lives, they collectively condemned more than 60,000 Libyans to death in the military campaign against the Libyan armed forces, and further tens of thousands dying ever since because of warlordism and other problems. The Libyan operation revived Al Qaeda and gave it cash, sanctuaries and recruits on a scale not even seen during the days before the 2001 US attack on Afghanistan. This gift of oxygen to the terror force was reinforced by assistance given by some GCC countries and NATO to armed fighters battling the Bashar Assad regime in Damascus. The spillover has been widespread from that fateful decision to battle Kaddafy and later Assad with the same cocktail that was tried out against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
The difference is several of the fighters in this version of the Afghan jihad are well-trained in professions such as chemistry and engineering, and know how to navigate the global financial system and border controls in a way beyond the ken of the fighters who congregated in Afghanistan in the 1980s to harass and finally drive out the Soviet armed forces. Because it was Nicholas Sarkozy who was instrumental in igniting this new jihad, the most apt name for the latest variant of Al Qaeda to have come out of the Libyan and Syrian theatre would be “Al Qaeda Sarkozy”. However, it is doubtful that there will ever be any accountability for the way in which Sarkozy has damaged international security by his cowboy-style intervention in Libya, or the way his successor Francois Hollande and David Cameron have further damaged the prospect of success against Al Qaeda by the repetition of the Libyan adventure in Syria. However, in the latter case, as Bashar Assad had not revealed his intelligence secrets – including details of his arsenal of weapons – to his enemies, they found it a much more difficult task to subdue his military than was the case with Kaddafy. Nicholas Sarkozy may get re-elected President of France in the next elections, while Hillary Clinton has a fair chance of getting elected as the first woman President of the US, especially if the Republican Party continues on the course of championing the interests only of billionaires.
In the case of the latter, she has been a disaster as Secretary of State, for the reason that it has never been only her that President Obama has had to deal with, but the other half of “Billary”, Bill Clinton. It has been clear from US policy in several theatres that the Clinton view (which is aggressively Europeanist, seeking to retain that continent’s dominance into the 21st century) has in many cases prevailed over the more cautious view of President Obama. From the time that Washington jettisoned Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in fewer days than he had defended US-Israel interests in the region to the misadventure in Libya and later Syria, the former Secretary of State has been a disaster. With the difference that, as in the case of Henry Kissinger, she has been writing her own history, where it has been possible to glide through the errors and pretend that they were beneficial.
Or if not, that someone else was to blame. Feckless Libyans, divided Syrians, Egyptian mobs. In short, anyone but Hillary. Given the reach of the Clinton couple in the “thought life” of their country and Europe, it has been no surprise that Hillary Clinton has almost completely escaped censure – or even attention – for the foreign policy errors that took place on her watch, mistakes which show clearly that she is the wrong person to make that 3am call to Accountability should be at the core of the policymaking process. Unless there is an objective assessment of the results of policies decided upon and implemented, errors are going to get repeated. Since long, the trend has been for policymakers in the NATO bloc to avoid shining the spotlight on their own errors, focussing instead on others, usually “red herrings” designed to divert blame for failure.
Why is it that after reports have begun to pour out about the chaos in Libya, the media in France do not question Sarkozy about his Libyan misadventure? Why do they not make the link between his launching a war there in 2011 with the chaos of three years later? Why is it that the growth of ISIS has not been tracked to its source, the massive flow of weapons, cash and training to extremists fighting against Bashar Assad? Why has none of the countries that have given such largesse been held to account for the creation of a militia that is in the process of setting up a state which will serve as the base for operations against Europe? These are questions for which there does not as yet seem to be answers. Hence the fear that those guilty of creating the conditions for the present chaos in Libya will soon be at work again, crafting yet another disaster that they can blame upon the rest of the globe. – Pakistan Observer, 1 August 2014
» Prof Madhav Nalapat is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Karnataka State, India.