[What follows is excerpted from this week’s syndicated column by US political columnist and cartoonist Ted Rall:]
Barack Obama destroyed Libya.
What he did to Libya is as bad as what Bush did to Iraq and Afghanistan. He doesn’t deserve a historical pass.
When Obama took office in 2009, Libya was under the clutches of longtime dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. But things were looking up.
Bush and Gaddafi had cut a deal to lift Western trade sanctions in exchange for Libya acknowledging and paying restitution for its role in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. In a rare triumph for Bush, Libya also agreed to give up its nuclear weapons research program. Libyan and Western analysts anticipated that Gaddafi’s dictatorship would be forced to accept liberal reforms, perhaps even free elections and rival political parties, in order to attract Western investment.
Libya in 2009 was prosperous. As citizens of a major oil- and natural gas-exporting nation, Libyans enjoyed high salaries, low living expenses, generous social benefits, not to mention law and order. It seems like a mirage today.
Looking back, many Libyans miss their former tyrant. “Muammar Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa,” notes Garikai Chengu of the Du Bois Institute for African Research at Harvard University. “However, by the time he was assassinated, Libya was unquestionably Africa’s most prosperous nation. Libya had the highest GDP per capita and life expectancy in Africa and less people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands.”
As a dictator, Gaddafi was guilty of horrendous human rights abuses. But life was better then than now. Women enjoyed more rights in Libya than in any other Arab country, particularly after the United States overthrew Saddam Hussein in Iraq. By regional standards, Libya was a relatively sweet place to live. (...)
Obama threw Gaddafi, whose regime was secular and by all accounts had been cooperative and held up his end of the deals with US, under the bus.
American forces jammed Libyan military communications. The US fired missiles to intercept Libyan missiles fired at rebel targets. The US led numerous airstrikes against units loyal to Gaddafi. US intervention turned the tide in favor of the Benghazi-based rebels.
In October 2011, one of Obama’s killer robot drones participated in Gaddafi’s assassination. Game over.
Before invading Iraq, then Secretary of State Colin Powell warned Bush about his “Pottery Barn rule“: if you break it, you own it.
Obama has broken the hell out of Libya.