In 2011, when the United States joined a partnership to aid rebels to ultimately rid Muammar Gaddafi from power it was generally viewed to be a success. Not an American life was loss, and the military intervention ultimately ended up costing us nothing. It seemed inevitable. At the time, there were mass protests that had just taken down a decades long tyrant in Egypt. In Tunisia there had been a full on revolution. Middle Eastern States like Yemen, Somalia, and Iran now had sizable protest movements that seeked more Democratic reforms. Even countries like Saudi Arabia and China had hordes of young people take to the streets, demanding more freedom.
For years, the Obama administration pointed to Libya as a success story. In Libya we had toppled one of the most despicable heads of state in the world, and a new generation of Libyans were set to take the reigns of power. This was large bipartisan agreement that this was the correct action to take, with the idea of a no-fly zone over Libya first being advocated by Sen. John McCain. The neoconservatives in the Republican party supported Obama’s plan, as did most of the Democrats.
Then Benghazi happened in 2012. At the height of a Presidential election, Islamic militants stormed a US embassy and killed our ambassador, Chris Stevens, along with two other American service members. In the ensuing months, Congress held a slew of Congressional hearings on the matter. Most of the hearings amounted to little more than political grandstanding, and found no tangible results that would have prevented the tragedy. Then, in November, House Republicans released their Benghazi report, but concluded nothing could be done to prevent the attacks.
What these slew of reports seemed to have missed is the fact that the more pressing issue in Libya is the fact that is now in a politically more tumultuous state than we left it. The Benghazi consulate now has been overrun completely, with Jihadists literally taking pictures and videos of themselves using the facility’s swimming pool. Islamic militants now hold the two most key cities in the entire country-Tripoli and Benghazi. In early September, Islamic terror groups successfully stole several commercial airliners, and Libya’s neighboring state, Egypt warned against any travel to the region.
Libya has become a nearly lawless state, with the official government essentially powerless to stop the advance of this new breed of terrorists. In many ways, Libya is reminiscent of pre-9/11 Afghanistan, where terrorists get away with planning criminal acts with impunity. The evolving response to ISIS has sucked up all the oxygen in the room when confronting international terror threats, and the United States, Democrats and Republicans alike, have by all measures dropped the ball on what has happened in Libya.