2003 and 2011 – Iraq and Libya – On this day, two US led military interventions started with one end result – A weaker standing in world ‘policing’
On this day in 2003, the United States, along with coalition forces primarily from the United Kingdom, initiates war on Iraq. Just after explosions began to rock Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, U.S. President George W. Bush announced in a televised address, “At this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.” President Bush and his advisors built much of their case for war on the idea that Iraq, under dictator Saddam Hussein, possessed or was in the process of building weapons of mass destruction.
Hostilities began about 90 minutes after the U.S.-imposed deadline for Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq or face war passed. The first targets, which Bush said were “of military importance,” were hit with Tomahawk cruise missiles from U.S. fighter-bombers and warships stationed in the Persian Gulf. In response to the attacks, Republic of Iraq radio in Baghdad announced, “the evil ones, the enemies of God, the homeland and humanity, have committed the stupidity of aggression against our homeland and people.”
Though Saddam Hussein had declared in early March 2003 that, “it is without doubt that the faithful will be victorious against aggression,” he went into hiding soon after the American invasion, speaking to his people only through an occasional audiotape. Coalition forces were able to topple his regime and capture Iraq’s major cities in just three weeks, sustaining few casualties. President Bush declared the end of major combat operations on May 1, 2003. Despite the defeat of conventional military forces in Iraq, an insurgency has continued an intense guerrilla war in the nation in the years since military victory was announced, resulting in thousands of coalition military, insurgent and civilian deaths. – History Channel
President Barack Obama launched an air campaign against Libya on this day in 2011. The decision to order the strikes came after the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution, spearheaded by his administration, that authorized military intervention in Libya.
President Barack Obama said the military action sought to save the lives of peaceful, pro-democracy protesters who found themselves the target of a crackdown by Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi.
Two days after the U.N. acted, the United States and other NATO countries, including Britain and France, enforced a no-fly zone over Libya by Gadhafi’s air force while starting to bomb his assets. Seven months later, in October 2011, after a military offensive backed by a group of Western powers, rebel forces conquered the North African country, located Gadhafi and killed him.
According to Alan J. Kuperman, writing in the March-April 2015 issue of Foreign Affairs: “Not only did Gadhafi endanger the momentum of the nascent Arab Spring, which had recently swept away authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, but he also was poised to commit a bloodbath in the Libyan city where the uprising had started.”
Obama declared: “We knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi—a city nearly the size of Charlotte—could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.” In the Rose Garden speech after Gadhafi’s death, Obama noted, “Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives.”
Speaking on March 28 at the National Defense University in Washington, Obama said: “The United States and the world faced a choice. Gadhafi declared he would show ‘no mercy’ to his own people. He compared them to rats and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we have seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day.”
“It was not in our national interest to let that [massacre] happen. I refused to let that happen.”
But Kuperman, an assistant professor of international relations at John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, held in his article that the NATO allies’ assessment turned out to be premature.
As he put it: “In retrospect, Obama’s intervention in Libya was an abject failure, judged even by its own standards. Libya has not only failed to evolve into a democracy; it has devolved into a failed state. Violent deaths and other human rights abuses have increased severalfold.
“Rather than helping the United States combat terrorism, as Gadhafi did during his last decade in power, Libya [began to serve] as a safe haven for militias affiliated with both al-Qaida and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS). The Libya intervention has harmed other U.S. interests as well: undermining nuclear nonproliferation, chilling Russian cooperation at the U.N., and fueling Syria’s civil war.” – SOURCE: “This Day in Presidential History,” by Paul Brandus (2018)
Via History Channel , Libya Report