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October 28, 2017 12:14 am

Intervention in Libya – a bad idea

Monday, February 15, 2016 @ 3:44 AM

By Peter Ewart

It is quite astounding.  The federal government is hinting that Canadian troops could be involved in yet another military intervention in Libya.  Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has said as much in recent media interviews (1) (2). 

What is most astounding is that the Trudeau Liberals have made no apology for Canada’s participation in the disastrous U.S., U.K. and France-led intervention in Libya back in 2011 which they supported and which ended up assisting Islamic sectarian and terrorist forces to overrun the country, torture and murder its leader, and reduce Libya to the status of a failed, dysfunctional state.

Despite any criticism of its government, before the NATO intervention, Libya had the highest standard of living in Africa and one of the highest in the Middle-East.  Relative to other countries in the region, it had an advanced social and physical infrastructure with free or low-cost higher education, health care, housing and other services.  And it had amassed one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world from its abundant oil production (3).

What was the Libyan government’s supposed crimes to deserve such terrible punishment?

One reason – it kept the tribal, regional and religious sectarian forces inside the country in check and under control.  Another reason – it followed a nationalist direction that deprived outside interests, especially those of Europe and the U.S., from controlling the country and its oil wealth.  For still another reason – it was working to unite countries in Africa against imperial and neo-colonialist pressures, including through the establishment of a pan-African currency backed up by gold (3).

As a result of these “crimes”, Libya and its leader Muammar Qaddafi were endlessly demonized by Western politicians and the mass media.  Furthermore, as evidence has since revealed, the U.S. (under Hillary Clinton’s leadership), U.K. and France provided arms, training and funds for fanatical Islamist sectarian forces (pre-cursors to ISIS) to wage an armed rebellion against the central government (4).

As a result of the ensuing civil war, the U.S. and European powers imposed a no-fly zone which soon escalated to bombing Libyan government forces.  This latter was done under the pretext that the Libyan government was about to unleash a massacre of the rebels.  This so-called massacre later turned out to be a complete fabrication (5) and was designed to provide an excuse for the bombing campaign which, unfortunately, the Conservative government of that time authorized Canada to take part in.

As a result of the NATO bombing campaign and the support of the “rebels”, Libya was overrun by sectarian forces, including fanatical Islamic groups, and was reduced to a basket case of violence, chaos and poverty which it remains to be to this day.

Yet now we have the Trudeau government and the Defence Minister mumbling about possibly going back into Libya?  Have they no shame?

It is quite interesting that various countries – including Syria, Iraq and Libya – targeted for regime change by Western powers in recent years had nationalist, non-sectarian governments that kept a check on religious sectarian forces.

In each of these cases, various Western powers, along with countries such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, have supported terrorist and sectarian forces to instigate armed rebellions thus providing justification for foreign intervention and aggression.  The irony is that all of these same countries also claim to be waging a war on terrorism or a war on ISIS, yet in practice are doing the opposite (6) (7) (8).

The result has been the same.  Fanatical sectarian forces, such as ISIS, Al Queda, and other terroristic groups (labelled “moderate rebels” by Western governments), have ended up greatly strengthened.  As a result, Libya, Iraq and Syria have been engulfed in terrible sectarian strife and reduced to the status of failed states.

Indeed, it appears that these sectarian terrorist forces have become a weapon of choice for foreign powers to destabilize national governments in the Middle East.  Even bigger countries, with large Islamic populations, such as Russia, Iran and China are now threatened.

Such activity is playing with fire and risks drawing the world into much larger and more dangerous conflicts.

Which brings us back to the Liberal government actions.  A question needs to be asked.  Is Canada’s possible participation in a Libyan intervention mission part of some backroom deal that the Trudeau government has made with the Obama administration?

The Opposition in Parliament has got it wrong when they claim Canadian military operations in Syria are being downgraded.  As others have pointed out (9), despite ending its bombing mission in Syria, the Canadian government is actually ramping up its training forces in that country by three times and increasing spending to $1.6 billion over 3 years.

And now it is flirting with the idea of joining still another Libyan intervention led by the U.S. and other countries.  What else is coming down the road from the Trudeau Liberals, who in the last federal election, were trying to garner votes on the basis of their “anti-war” credentials?  Why are we hurling our soldiers into this complicated mess?  Why are we making them a pawn in someone else’s bigger game?

We need to be vigilant.  And we need to get out and stay out of the Middle East.

Peter Ewart is a columnist and writer based in Prince George, British Columbia.  He can be reached at: peter.ewart@shaw.ca


  1. Chartrand, Fred.  “Harjit Sajjan hints at a Canadian military mission in Libya.”  Canadian Press.  February 13, 2016. 
  2. Hanly, Ken.  “Op-ed: Canada could intervene militarily in Libya.”  Digital Journal.  February 13, 2016.  http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/politics/op-ed-canada-may-join-foreign-military-intervention-in-libya/article/457423
  3. Brown, Ellen.  “Libya: All about oil, or all about banking?”  Asia Times.  April 14, 2011. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MD14Ak02.html

Hoff, Brad.  “Hillary’s dirty war in Libya – New emails reveal propaganda, execution, coveting Libyan oil and gold.”  Global Research.  January 4, 2015.  http://www.globalresearch.ca/hillarys-dirty-war-in-libya-new-emails-reveal-propaganda-executions-coveting-libyan-oil-and-gold/5499358


It’s only a ‘live fire’ exercise for what’s likely to come. Which we won’t be able to sit aside from as some kind of a neutral country oblivious to whatever else goes on outside its borders. Even if we wanted to do that, we’d have to have a far larger military than we’d be prepared to have to be able to do it, and even then it still might not be possible.

We are hopelessly imbued with the international idea that we have to ‘export or die’. And that means capturing some foreign markets for whatever we have to offer that provides the most employment at the highest remuneration for Canadian workers and those who employ them. At all costs. Real costs, that is. Anything that reduces competition from those hoping to supply those same markets is therefor considered economically good for us. If its accompanied by the destruction of our competitors’ infrastructure, all the better. We can create still further opportunities for ourselves and our never ending quest for employment by helping rebuild it later. We might even give them the money to spend on our exports, (for what other use would be ‘Canadian’ money to them?).

In this, the Liberals won’t be any different than the Conservatives were, or the NDP might have been, or even the Greens. We may actually have had a greater chance of disengagement had we re-elected the Conservatives ~ they, at least, would’ve more quickly learned how futile the whole process is far faster than the others will, or would have.

This is more or less true.

Western intervention has been a disaster in the middle east. I’m not condoning the dictators like Assad, Gaddafi and Hussein as they are/were terrible people. But they did keep their countries in a more or less functional state with a decent standard of living.

If the western world wants to get their fingers involved in nation building, they need to do more than remove a dictator. They also need to properly plan and execute a system to set up a new government/nation. Iraq was set up with a western style government but has only seen limited success. Libya and Syria have been complete disasters.

Part of the original problem with the middle east is the borders created by the western world after WW1 and WW2 when the colonizers(Britain, France) left the area. A lot of the borders were merely lines drawn in the sand. The tribal people in various parts of Libya don’t get along. Until they learn to, there will always be conflict. A strong dictator suppressed that and the country was in decent order. Iraq and Syria are identical. Removing the dictator and letting the people try to sort out their own order just causes anarchy.

Like I said, I’m not condoning the dictators because they were terrible. But these people don’t know how to create their own government. They need help. If we are destroying their system, we need to help them set up a new one.

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