Boston Globe - September 3, 2020
Last month in Mali, an African nation twice the size of Texas, military rebels overthrew the government. It was the kind of event that Americans barely notice: another coup in another distant country where people can’t find ways to live together. The truth is more damning. This coup was not the result of personal rivalries or “ancient hatreds.” Instability in Mali, and across North Africa, is a long-term result of the NATO attack on Libya in 2011.
That attack, in which the United States played a key role, may now be ranked among the most recklessly self-defeating military interventions of the 21st century. It was sold as “humanitarian intervention,” but wound up producing a human rights disaster. It turned Libya, once one of the most stable and prosperous countries in Africa, into a failed state and breeding ground for terror. In nearby countries, it has nourished a generation of murderous militias. The coup in Mali shows that after-effects of the Libya attack are still reverberating.
Libya’s leader, Muammar Qaddafi, had been a thorn in America’s side for decades. He had aided terrorists, including those who blew up an airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. In his later years, though, he came out of the political cold. Under an agreement painstakingly negotiated by the George W. Bush administration, Libya paid $1.7 billion to a fund for victims of Lockerbie and other terror attacks. Then, eager to show his good will, Qaddafi went a step further. He agreed to give up his nuclear weapons program. That may have been his fatal mistake. Stripped of his nuclear deterrent, he was exposed to those in the West who wanted to punish him for years of defiance. ...
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