Military intervention in Libya failed: United Nations pulls out of Tripoli due to violence caused by Islamic radicals

Muammar Gaddafi addresses the United Nations

In 2011, NATO decided it was a good idea to intercede in Libya, and try something that western powers had done many times before in the Middle East and North Africa — remove a dictator. This is something that plays well with westerners, because they are generally of the opinion that dictatorships are bad, even when they happen to be in nations with governments that are slowly taking control of every aspect of their lives.

The problem is a cultural divide, and a failure of understanding. What cannot be comprehended is that while dictators are viewed as bad in western culture, they’re usually a necessary evil or even a good thing in regions where Islam has a strong foothold.

While it might be tempting to doubt that, consider how wonderfully things have gone in Iraq and Egypt, just to name two nations, since their respective “authoritarian albeit generally secular” leaders have been removed. Libya is facing similar issues.

Muammar Gaddafi was at best eccentric, at worst insane. Yes, he did involve himself in at least a few conspiracies to attack western powers, but when it came to dealing with Libya, he tended to keep the people from doing what they are now.

When he was in power, sectarian violence was kept under control, and if someone disagreed with Gaddafi, they were silenced. That doesn’t look anything like democracy, but democracy doesn’t look anything like what the people of that region have ever had, even in times when they have lived in relative peace.

The real problems have come up since western powers have decided it’s a good idea to dabble in politics in the region. Remove authoritarian leaders from these nations because they are “bad,” and unleash massive amounts of sectarian violence as the leaders of factions that were kept under control scramble to take control. In the case of the U.S., the bonus is that Islamist organizations also tend to stir up ill-will and encourage terrorist attacks against Americans.

As the UN is temporarily scaling down in Tripoli, the question that should be raised is whether that move should be temporary. It can be argued that just the presence of the UN and other western entities could be exacerbating the instability in the region. Or a case can be made for leaving the people of Libya to sort out their own issues, without the apparently unwanted assistance of westerners.

The fact remains that westerners need to be careful when dealing with unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. How much of it is due to the people residing there, and how much is due to western interventions? These peoples have survived for thousands of years, arguably with more times of unrest than peace. It’s arrogant to assume that western intervention will somehow resolve those issues in a matter of months or years.


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