Perhaps Libya will make policy- and decision-makers realize that between 1999 and 2011 we witnessed not too much military intervention to protect human beings but rather not nearly enough. The international action against Libya was not about bombing for democracy, sending messages to Iran, implementing regime change, keeping oil prices low, or pursuing narrow interests. These may result from such action, but the dominant motivation for using military force was to protect civilians. A collateral benefit is that the (to date) encouraging nonviolent and democratic revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt may have greater traction. Now that the Arab world is no longer a democracy-free and human rights–free zone, Qaddafi’s “model” for repression will no longer be interpreted as an acceptable policy option by other autocratic regimes.
From the Economist, Jan. 10, 2015:
Meanwhile Libya’s ungoverned spaces are growing, and with some 6,000 km of border the country’s problems are hard to quarantine. Each month 10,000 migrants set sail for Europe. Libyan arms in the hands of groups allied to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb triggered the collapse of order in northern Mali two years ago; some of those who subsequently fought against the French there have now returned to Libya, where they are reportedly running jihadist training camps. On January 3rd, IS claimed to have extended its reach to Libya’s Sahara too, killing a dozen soldiers at a checkpoint on a jihadist transit route to the Sahel. The conflict is as likely to spread as to burn itself out.