In 2011, then UK Prime Minister David Cameron spearheaded a NATO-backed military invention in Libya. While successful in its mission to oust the Libyan dictator and his 41-year rule in the country, it also left Libya in a power vacuum ruled by militias struggling for majority power, as the Islamic State group established a stronghold in the country. I’m Initially, the intervention was set in motion to prevent Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi from carrying out a massacre in Benghazi but it soon morphed into a regime change that spiraled into the continuous chaos we still witness today.
A report released by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on the British government’s 2011 action in Libya, showed that the motivation behind the Libya military intervention was primarily pushed by then French President Nicolas Sarkozy who strong-armed the UK to drive his own political ambitions; Sarkozy saw an opportunity to bolster his own electoral prospects and both him and David Cameron overlooked any significant intelligence about the action which would have prevented Libya from collapsing into the near-anarchy it is presently. In the report, the Committee confirmed that both France and the UK acted on inaccurate and inadequate information and without a real plan in place for a post-intervention Libya.
His ill-conceived decision for a military intervention tells a story of yet another UK Prime Minister whose failure to plan for the stabilization of a post-conflict state ultimately led to the fragmentation of an already vulnerable nation. David Cameron tried to publically defend his decision by claiming it was wholly different from what Blair had done in Iraq saying:
“I believe it was right to intervene to stop Gaddafi … we did have a United Nations Security Council resolution … we worked with a transitional Libyan government.”
Words that should have been met with more reproach, as it was clear that the lessons of Iraq had not been forgotten and maybe they were never learned in the first place. Cameron made pragmatic decisions that cost thousands of lives and tried to justify it in the name of human rights. It was paradoxical at best but despite its blatant absurdity, the media was very reluctant in its coverage of the disaster unfolding as it implied Western hypocrisy, which many international governments tried to distance themselves from or rise above. The truth was that David Cameron and other Western leaders wanted to have their cake and eat it too; talking about pro-democracy causes in one-party states while maintaining silent support for dictators supported a pro-Western outlook.
The destruction that ensued in Libya post the intervention was caused by a very distracted David Cameron who proved entirely unable to follow through on his bombing campaign once armed forces had made their way into Libya claiming he was pre-occupied with “other things”. It seemed as though the Prime Minister was more interested in trumpeting the importance of his own role in bringing an end to Gaddafi’s rule rather than dealing with the long diplomatic work of implementing a working Libyan government once devastation had been caused. He had forcefully entered a country based on flawed intelligence that he had not fully comprehended and it had led to the total collapse of the North African country.
Prior to intervening, David Cameron incorrectly believed that Gaddafi was about to commit a genocide in Libya despite his own government having failed to provide any credible evidence that the regime directly threatened civilians and he also completely undermined the spurring growth of the Islamic State and their damning power as he basically paved the way for their rise. NATO members, wiser than Cameron, had been able to identify the extremist and violent opposition before the UK intervened; they warned of the possibility that militant extremists would try and benefit from the rebellion in any which manner they could yet David Cameron failed or chose to neglect the extremist nature of the opposition.
The former UK Prime Minister’s incapacity to develop a coherent post-intervention Libya strategy caused the country a civil war that is still ongoing today, an insurgency by the Islamic State, which is only growing increasingly worse and additional threats from the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and the rival administration led by General Khalifa Haftar. David Cameron should be considered responsible as the decisive force in Libya’s destruction and for that, he must be held accountable.