Libyan Intervention Was Based On Wrong Assumptions; David Cameron Is Ultimately Responsible


House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee in UK has directly indicted the former PM David Cameron in allowing the collapse of Libya as an organized nation state and to throw it into chaos and also to assist the Islamic State to proliferate in the region and beyond.

The report shows that in big and successful democracies- how the administration is run, how the politicians behave whom the people repose faith and how the false democracy is sustained and genuine democratic values are put on the shelves. The failure of the government of David Cameron is so disappointing that the questions will be raised on the effective functioning of the political-administrative structure of the colonial masters as Chilcot report has already indicted Tony Blair for his unsought decision of invading Iraq which led to birth of the terrorist groups like IS showing inadequate understanding of the local conditions by the decision making system; the current report also stresses that faults at the decision-making process furthered the growth of the IS.

The report stresses that intelligence failure was overpowering and the political leadership did not have capabilities to appreciate the ground realities of the Libyan land and the people, the ‘Intelligence on the extent to which extremist militant Islamist elements were involved in the anti-Gaddafi rebellion was inadequate. Former Chief of the Defence Staff Lord Richards of Herstmonceux confirmed that intelligence on the composition of the rebel militias was not “as good as one would wish.” He observed that “We found it quite difficult to get the sort of information you would expect us to get.”

The report explicitly states that ‘We have seen no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya. It may be that the UK Government was unable to analyse the nature of the rebellion in Libya due to incomplete intelligence and insufficient institutional insight and that it was caught up in events as they developed. It could not verify the actual threat to civilians posed by the Gaddafi regime; it selectively took elements of Muammar Gaddafi’s rhetoric at face value; and it failed to identify the militant Islamist extremist element in the rebellion. UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence.’

The report clearly highlights the drift in the UK’s Libya policy in which Cameron played a role unexpected of him. He infarct went with US as a mute spectator, perhaps he was either incapable to understand the Libyan dynamics and the after impact of such illogical decisions or he was just on show as a devoted follower of US, a fact which has been in existence since the end of second world war that UK has lost its capacity to fashion its independent foreign policy; what so ever be the reason behind such naive foreign policy but one fact is self evident that Cameron failed to control the events developing in Libya. The report indicts him saying that ‘when the then Prime Minister David Cameron sought and received parliamentary approval for military intervention in Libya on 21 March 2011, he assured the House of Commons that the object of the intervention was not regime change. In April 2011, however, he signed a joint letter with United States President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy setting out their collective pursuit of “a future without Gaddafi”. The UK’s intervention in Libya was reactive and did not comprise action in pursuit of a strategic objective. This meant that a limited intervention to protect civilians drifted into a policy of regime change by military means (and) Political options were available if the UK Government had adhered to the spirit of Resolution 1973, implemented its original campaign plan and influenced its coalition allies to pause military action when Benghazi was secured in March 2011. Political engagement might have delivered civilian protection, regime change and reform at lesser cost to the UK and to Libya. If political engagement had been unsuccessful, the UK and its coalition allies would not have lost anything. Instead, the UK Government focused exclusively on military intervention. In particular, we saw no evidence that it tried to exploit former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s contacts and influence with the Gaddafi regime.’ Report also emphasizes that there was no serious efforts to contain the proliferation of lethal weapons after the downfall of the regime of Gaddafi, an action which David Cameron should have initiated without delay. ‘The international community’s inability to secure weapons abandoned by the Gaddafi regime fuelled instability in Libya and enabled and increased terrorism across North and West Africa and the Middle East. The UK Government correctly identified the need to secure weapons immediately after the 2011 Libyan civil war, but it and its international partners took insufficient action to achieve that objective.’

The report highlighted the immoral role of government, first making the military intervention, second not helping adequately the post regime reconstruction of the Libya; ‘because the UK along with France led the military intervention, it had a particular responsibility to support Libyan economic and political reconstruction, which became an impossible task because of the failure to establish security on the ground.’

The consequences of such ill devised polices are uncountable;, Libya at present is politically unstable, the local conflicts exist, innocents die, education- health system is shattered, the daily life is full of burdens and pains, the question of the personal and family safety is always in air and in mind of every citizen of the country.

The major lesson which the big military powers have to learn is that intervention in Iraq and Libya has brought more problems than the then regimes produced. These interventions need to be studied as the case studies in foreign policy making and in the development of proper understanding of the global politics. There is no gainsaying the fact that ill conceived policy making is root cause of all the problems in MENA.

Dr. Vivek Kumar Srivastava is Consultant CRIEPS, Kanpur, e


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