New US Plans For Nation-Building in Libya Riddled With Problems

John Glaser, November 05, 2013

The U.S.-led NATO war to topple the Libyan regime of Muammar Gadhafi helped create a nation of disparate rebel militias that to this day, two years later, refuse to give up their arms. This, along with the weakness of the central government in Libya, is making the fruits of our “democracy promotion” hard to recognize.

So, Washington’s plan is to further meddle in Libya’s internal problems and the Pentagon, through AFRICOM, is planning to weaponize and train a Libyan army. They call it “a general purpose force” and the aim is to give the new regime some teeth relative to the lingering rebel militias.

Writing in Foreign Affairs, Frederic Wehrey details some of the problems with this plan:

But the force’s composition, the details of its training, the extent to which Libyan civilians will oversee it, and its ability to deal with the range of threats that the country faces are all unclear. And the stakes are enormous. There are signs that some militias within Libya are trying to bloody the new army’s nose before it even enters the fight: a campaign of shadowy assassinations against military officers, particularly in the east, is likely half vendetta against representatives of the old order and half attempt to deter the central government’s monopolization of military force.

The case of a separate and underreported U.S. effort to train a small Libyan counterterrorism unit inside Libya earlier this year is instructive. The unit, set up by U.S. special operations forces, was hardly representative of Libya’s regional makeup: recruitment appeared to be drawn overwhelmingly from westerners to the exclusion of the long-neglected east. In addition, the absence of clear lines of authority — nearly inevitable given Libya’s fragmented security sector — meant that the force’s capabilities could just have easily ended up being used against political enemies as against terrorists.

After the fall of Gadhafi, many Libyans fell back on their tribes and local territories for their identity and association. Unless the new U.S.-backed army is seen as representative of all those various societal components, it will likely spark new and intensify old tribal animosities along several cleavages. Needless to say, America’s previous attempts at nation building demonstrate rather conclusively that Washington doesn’t have the capacity, foresight, or local knowledge to be able to accomplish such a thing.

In addition, we should be prepared for some ugly human rights abuses down the road. Again, if history is any guide, U.S.-backed militaries, especially in underdeveloped Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa, typically commit grievous human rights abuses while America looks the other way. Americans should know by now that building up militaries in foreign countries is often synonymous with taxpayer-funded repression.

Last month, Will Crisp at the Christian Science Monitor reported that many of Libya’s armed gangs are motivated by a fear of future Western interference.

“Any sort of outside intervention that could be construed as Western interference is likely to provoke a serious backlash from some militias,” Oliver Coleman, senior Middle East and North Africa analyst at risk analysis company Maplecroft was reported as saying.

Libya contains all the ingredients for future foreign policy disasters and possibly getting bogged down in some long-term U.S. efforts, unless someone in Washington has the good sense to stay the hell out of it.

39 Responses to “New US Plans For Nation-Building in Libya Riddled With Problems”

  1. Trouble in paradise?

    Do the "Libyan people" not like their new "freedom" NATO and the mercenary terrorists brought them?

    At least there's "dignity" and "human rights" now…

    Seems like they even have that whole "corruption" thing is taken care of…

    Better "relations" with the US? But of course…

    Another "Arab Spring" miracle…

  2. The idea behind invading Libya were based on plan A and plan B.

    Plan A was to remove Kaddafi and to open a military corridor toward African nations for feature wars in Africa.

    Plan B to divide Libya among governments as Sweden, France, England, Germany, USA, Saudis and UAE, which is the reason for Libya is divided in two part, Benghazi and Tripoli. The very same regimes did the very same to Yugoslavia, plan A to open a military and Oil transport-corridor toward Central Asia natural resources, plan B to divide Yugoslavia among the very same governments as above and USG-militarism regime would be the military force implementing the demands primarily by Saudis religious, economic and political interests. Sweden is in charge of Balkan economic, which is the reason for Swedish king to admire the Saudis brutal regimes.

  3. […] US Plans For Libya Nation-Building Riddled With Problems […]

  4. …i’m thinking what libya really needs is one man with
    a strong personality, one who could take control of the
    situation. yeah, that’s it! if only there were, oh,
    i dunno….a khaddaffy-like figure that the us could
    support and hopefully control via military aid packages.

    hey, it’s worked before………

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  10. […] This article originally appeared in AntiWar. […]

  11. Given that it will most likely be Libyan blood and American taxpayer treasure that gets spilled in any intervention, why should the Washington politicos show restraint?

  12. The re-enslavement of Africa shows that Capitalism and NATO are beastly Neanderthal throwbacks and savages at best. The Saudis and Qataris inhumane money holders, with their land worshipers for profit kill monger partners must follow the Chinese and colonize space. China must avert WWIIl in Syria


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  14. And what makes u think China along with Russia aren't in the same camp as the capitalist west? In many ways China is even more capitalist then the US is now. And for u and others who forget history already it was China who abstained in the UN vote for the use of force in Libya. They could have stopped the no fly zone if they want but they diddn't cause deep down they wanted gaddafi gone as well. Africa without gaddafi is an Africa that will require more assistance from the outside. China had alot to gain from gaddafi's death and this is something u chinaphiles don't seem to get.

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