Was the war in Libya a "success"?

By Glenn Greenwald

Published March 22, 2012 1:26PM (EDT)

(updated below)

Travel may make writing difficult over the next day or two (for those in/near Philadelphia, I'll be speaking at the University of Pennsylvania today, at 5:00 p.m., on Endless War and Civil Liberties in the Age of Terrorism; it is free and open to the public and event information is here). If I'm unable to write, I'll try at least to post several short items throughout the day.

(1) I'll start with this excellent article in The Week by Daniel Larison on the horrors, chaos and instability unleashed by the NATO intervention in Libya. Like "Osama bin Laden," "Libya" now has virtually no meaning in our political discourse other than its use as shorthand by Democrats to prove President Obama's Toughness and Foreign Policy skill, and its use by advocates of intervention in Syria to establish the nobility of humanitarian wars. Meanwhile, this great humanitarian success, a year after it began, has spawned extreme levels of misery and oppression for many people in that country, while most of those who advocated for intervention in the name of The Libyan People exhibit little concern for the aftermath (NATO still refuses to account for or even investigate the scores of civilian deaths its bombing campaign caused). As I wrote repeatedly during the debate over that war, whether it is actually a "success" from a humanitarian perspective will be determined not merely by whether Gadaffi's life can be ended, but by what replaces him (in exactly the same way that the Iraq War was determined not by Saddam's death, but by what came after). Despite the widespread insistence that this intervention was a "success," it is far from clear whether the situation will improve for Libyans or for anyone else as a result of that war. Wars and militaries are designed to destroy, and that's almost always what they do above all else.

(2) Wolf Blitzer is "terrified" and wants you to be, too. Not only has the American media learned no lessons whatsoever from its central role in the Iraq debacle, but its behavior, on the whole, has actually worsened. And it really is true that the American government and its media jointly terrorize the American people far more than the actual so-called "Terrorists" could even dream of achieving.



(3) Last April, President Obama publicly decreed Bradley Manning guilty even though he has yet to be tried, flatly telling a questioner: "He broke the law." Following his Commander-in-Chief's example, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, yesterday did the same: "We’re a nation of laws. He did violate the law." If having your Commander-in-Chief and the nation's top ranking military officer both decree your guilt before your trial begins doesn't constitute "undue command influence," what would? Recall that Richard Nixon was forced to apologize in 1970 when he said in passing that he thought Charles Manson was guilty, even though this occurred when Manson's jury was sequestered and Nixon had no command influence over those jurors. For Obama and Dempsey to proclaim Manning's guilt makes it impossible to imagine how he could receive a fair trial.

Glenn Greenwald

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