US Foreign Policy in Libya Succeed or Failed
Success when it comes to the chosen course of action can be relative. There are different measures of success when it comes to foreign policy. Economic sanctions for example may not be as successful as military force in some cases gauging by maybe the amount of money at risk or the number of lives on the line (Daalder 2)2. Foreign policy analysis requires the makers to have multiple targets in mind in order to device multiple goals to make them succeed. In most cases, the target and goals do not hold equal level of importance but none is more the trivial than the other to warrant being ignored. The other member countries of NATO who had a foreign responsibility to protect civilians of another country whose leaders have failed to protect included Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway and the US.
The operation they were undertaking was under the name Operation Unified Protector and its main purpose was to ensure that the civilians were protected, the arms embargo was executed and securing the no-fly zone. Libyan War The Libyan war began on 17 February 2011 between the forces fighting for Muammar Gaddafi and the ones rebelling his regime and seeking to overthrow his government. It started with peaceful protests by the people of Benghazi before it escalated to war between the rival forces. Gaddafi had been leading Libya for 42 years and during his reign, the country had a dictator who had the sole say in the direction the country was to take and it had been noted that he was grooming his son to take his place.
They organized protests that were meant to be revolts and resolved to fight no matter what in order to gain their country back. The demonstrations began in January of 2011 and got heat up by February 2011. The United Nations and NATO came in to help protect the civilians who were under the wrath of Gaddafi as he referred to those who did not agree with his ideologies “rats” and he promised he would get rid of all of them. The confrontation between the two sides is what is referred to as the Libyan War or Revolution of 2011. During the 222days of war, attacks and fighting lives were lost and the NATO saved lives. Democracy in Libya would mean that the markets would be freer and that trading will be simplified.
Libya being one of the oil producing countries (Anderson 5)8 was a big asset to the United States and the other countries and they wanted to continue trading without getting obstacles from the Gaddafi regime (Clarke 309)9. It can be agreed that the US and the NATO had a responsibility to protect the civilians in Libya and they acted on it but there was more reason than just that for the US intervention and that was to secure their trade market and make it as favorable as possible. How the US was involved in the Libyan War The United States got involved in the Libyan war initially by providing diplomatic initiatives and sanctions. They went ahead and followed the United Nations Security Council’s mandated of ensuring that the no-fly zone was implemented, they acted as diplomatic representatives for the rebels and gave them humanitarian help, they bombed the Gaddafi troop’s armored vehicles in order to prevent them from attacking the city if Benghazi and they helped in getting security intelligence.
The effects of the cost of two weeks military activity in Iraq cost the US more than the amount it cost them seven months in the Libyan intervention. The most expenses were in the air attacks the US did on the Gaddafi forces but over time they grew weaker and the air operation did not have much to do and so the amount of money spent per day significantly reduced. What US was doing? The decision of the US to intervene in Libyan war was pushed by outrage, the speech by the US president Barack Obama “We knew that…if we waited one more day, Benghazi, the city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world” (Clarke 313)10.
The President cited that there were things worth fighting for if they put an end to the torture and brutality going on in the world. Obama’s speech was more or less the same. Effectiveness of the Foreign Policy In gauging the effectiveness of foreign policy, it is important to put in mind the goals and targets that acted as the drive to taking up the policy. Goal attainment is the key in identifying the effectiveness and success of the foreign policy. Foreign policy makers pursue more than one goal when they intervene a crisis. The United States had a major goal, which was to protect the lives of the civilians. However that was not the only goal or target they had when doing so, they had other goals like protecting the democratic rights of the citizens, and making sure they get rid of the threat of a genocide and protect the interest of the US in Libya (Beckley 47)12.
The nation has not been able to get another leader after the murder of Gaddafi and now it is a hub for terror groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS. The Libyan intervention started out as a responsibility to protect but ended in a total regime change, something Libya was not yet ready for as a country. Being under Gaddafi’s rule for 42years was not something to be taken lightly, but rather something, that was hard to replace after the regime change. Libya ended up unstable, unable to sustain its own economy, which had been doing well during the reign of Gaddafi. The move by the US to use military force in Libya was dubbed as being premature and hastily done and thoughts were that they should have started out with peaceful negotiations instead of rushing to use force.
It was not a primary target when the foreign policy was initiated but when Gaddafi refused to step down or seize the attacks it become an additional goal and it was attained with the death of Gaddafi. Costs to Users The success of foreign policy is measured in terms of the costs the users have incurred relative to the outcome of the foreign policy. Similar to business where one looks at the rate of return on investment the costs incurred by the users and the outcome are important in evaluation of success. The actions taken during the execution of foreign policy should be designed correctly to ensure that the success of the goal achievement exceeds the goal cost. Economic sanctions similarly should be able to put enough strain on the country receiving it in order to influence the behavior or reaction of the target.
The US withdrew all the funding it had been providing to Libya and close to 32 billion dollars in Libyan assets were frozen by NATO. The financial obstacle set before them was crippling the Gaddafi forces but this did not slow them down. However with time the arms embargo and the no fly zone slowed them down and eventually the cost they incurred in the fight against the US and NATO became too much to bear and lead to their defeat. Imposing of high costs to either the target or user may sometimes be confused for failure but there is success there. If a country is willing to spend almost all its resources in a bid to drain the other and destabilize the other, even if they lose the war, they have been successful in their mission and the other country does not stand a chance.
The intervention in Libya has received a lot of criticism being portrayed as a big mistake and a failure to the protection of democracy. However, following the rule of Baldwin, the goal and target of the mission are the ones that decide whether something is a success. It is true that Libya turned out to be unstable and has failed at finding democracy but the goal was to protect the civilians from Gaddafi and to prevent the repeat of the Rwandan Genocide, a mission that turned out to be a total success. The death tolls were increasing by the minute as Gaddafi set out to kill his fellow compatriots for the sake of his protection. The civilians were in grave danger so the United Nations under the command of Barrack Obama and NATO came in to protect the civilians and prevent further attacks and this was a success.
Military force was used against the Libyan troops and Gaddafi’s funding by the US was withdrawn. Additionally an arms embargo was executed, no-fly zones set up, and all other relevant measures taken in order to ensure that the civilians were safe. There might have been some downside after the death of Gaddafi but those are just but consequences of success, they would have been worse if Gaddafi were still the ruler of Libya. The killing of Gaddafi and the saving of the lives of civilians was the goal the United States and NATO went in with and at the end of the day they had achieved and that according to Baldwin is success. Conclusion The Libyan intervention by the United States has been termed as “Obama’s Big Mistake,” “The Well-Meaning intervention Ended in Failure” and “Failure of Libyan Intervention.
Libya was a mess, the rebels who had defected from Gaddafi’s government and rule were under attack, and so the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians were in danger. The Gaddafi troops had weapons that are more superior that the rebels and so the war was more or less a lost call for the people who were against Gaddafi. The people who were flee from the Gaddafi regime had sort refuge in the city of Benghazi and now the city was in danger since Gaddafi had ordered it to be attacked (Cottle 19)25. Lives were on the line, an eminent genocide was looming, and if no measures were taken, there would have been a blood bath. The US and the UN Security Council had a responsibility to protect the civilians and talks would not work now.
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