Barack Obama said this about Muammar Gaddafi’s death:
For four decades, the Qaddafi regime ruled the Libyan people with an iron fist. Basic human rights were denied. Innocent civilians were detained, beaten and killed. And Libya’s wealth was squandered. The enormous potential of the Libyan people was held back, and terror was used as a political weapon.
The path to Gaddafi’s end has been a very strange one.
Gaddafi seized power in Libya in 1969 and has ruled Libya with an iron fist.
Dissent has been ruthlessly crushed and the media remains under strict government control.
Libya has a law forbidding group activity based on a political ideology opposed to Col Gaddafi’s revolution.
The regime has imprisoned hundreds of people for violating the law and sentenced some to death, Human Rights Watch says.
Torture and disappearances have also been reported.
Ronald Regan twice struck at Libya in 1986.
Soon after the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 it was believed that the Gaddafi regime was behind it. The US and the EU imposed sanctions on Libya to force it to turn over those responsible for the bombing.
The EU and UN Security Council ended their arms embargo in 2004 when Libya handed over the two suspects in bombing.
Libya also agreed to compensation for the victims of the Lockerbie bombing.
US sanctions were lifted in return for a series of Libyan concessions.
“In the last two months,” the White House said, “the government of Libya has removed virtually all elements of its declared nuclear weapons program, signed the IAEA Additional Protocol, joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, destroyed all of its declared unfilled chemical munitions, secured its chemical agent pending destruction under international supervision, submitted a declaration of its chemical agents to the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, eliminated its Scud-C missile force, and undertaken to modify its Scud-B missiles.”
In 2008 Libya paid $1.5 billion into a US fund aimed at compensating the victims of Pan Am 103 and the 1986 disco bombing.
Since the 80’s, Libya has been awarding the “Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights.” The award, accompanied by a sum of $250,000, has been awarded to Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez among others.
The UN elected Libya to the Human Rights Council in 2010, to the UN Security Council in 2009 and made Libya President of the General Assembly in 2009.
Human Rights Watch declared that although slow, Libya was making progress on Human Rights in 2009.
In 2009 Barack Obama became the first US President to shake hands with Muammar Gadaffi.
Gaddafi referred to Obama as “our son.”
Gaddafi had complied with everything demanded of him. So why did Barack Obama choose to intervene and remove Gaddafi?
The obvious first answer is oil.
Superimposed over this motive is a creatively contrived policy.
The Tuesday-evening meeting at the White House at which the president decided to move on Libya was “extremely contentious,” according to a report in Josh Rogin’s excellent blog, The Cable.
Power and a few others took the position that the United States couldn’t stay on the sidelines as Moammar Khadafy murdered his own people and snuffed out the people-power revolt in the Middle East in its infancy.
They were opposed by Power’s own boss, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Powers created something R2P.
According to Rogin, the governing doctrine that helped Obama to make his decision to act was not an appeal to the national interest, but rather to a recent concept promulgated at the United Nations called “responsibility to protect,” or R2P.
R2P is an effort to create a new international moral standard to prevent violence against civilians.
In her career as a genocide expert, Power was an indefatigable proponent of R2P, and now on the National Security Council has been “trying to figure out how the administration could implement R2P and what doing so would require of the White House going forward.” Hillary is her ally in this effort, it appears.
Gaddafi was not simply murdering his own people- he was suppressing a rebellion.
Nor was any of this a threat to our national interest.
Obama’s actions were and are to reshape the region- but it is highly likely that it won’t be for the better. But there is an election coming and Obama needs to keep killing people to prop up his chances.
There is one concrete lesson from this Libyan misadventure- if Barack Obama wants to shake your hand- run.