Foreign Policy Question of the Day

Why don’t we talk about the chaos in Libya as much as we talk about the chaos in Iraq?

This time it was the guards from an Austrian-run gas facility in Libya’s Saharan southwest. They were shown beheaded in a series of images posted to social media on March 8. A few weeks earlier it had been 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian labourers, their throats slit, some murmuring prayers as they were slaughtered in the central coastal city of Sirte. A month before that it had been the storming of the five-star Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli in which nine were killed, including US and French nationals.

The message was clear: not only had the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the group known as Isis , expanded its network to lawless, warring Libya, it has managed to spread tentacles throughout the vast oil-rich desert nation.

“What else needs to happen to create alarm?” asks a senior official of the Italian government, among the countries most anxious about the emergence of Isis at the heart of its former colony. “All the signs are converging. We have to avoid what happened in Syria. We did not understand the dramatic nature of the problem and we woke up with the tables turned.”

The emergence of Isis has waylaid what was already a shaky western consensus on how to end the complicated Libyan civil war and further marred the 2011 toppling of Muammer Gaddafi, once a signature achievement for the British, French and US administrations. The severity of the problem — as well as domestic political constraints — has left a sense of powerlessness and drift that is only starting to be challenged. Libya is back on the agenda of world leaders. An EU summit on Thursday will discuss events in the country.

More here (subscription required). Could the reluctance to talk about the chaos in Libya have something to do with the fact that said chaos was caused by a war launched by a Democratic president? Writing for myself, I’m pretty sure that if George W. Bush–or any other Republican–had ousted Muammar Qaddafi, the news programs would have been flooded any and every zone on the planet–and some zones off-planet–in talking about how Libya had become Hell on Earth.

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