There is almost an air of desperation in the recent unanimous adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2259 that seeks to bring together a critical mass of Libyan factions and actors to support a new unity government of national accord that will oversee a peace process.
Libya’s new Presidency Council will form a government within 30 days of the UN resolution, and the resolution stipulates that this government will be the only authority recognized as sovereign by other states, but with no consequences for states that ignore that stipulation. Currently, in addition to the myriad militias and warlord factions in Libya, there are two rival “governments” in Libya, the House of Representatives based in Tobruk, and the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli.
The prospects of the new government of National Accord can be judged by the fact that on 15 December, Agila Saleh Essa Gwaider and Nouri Abusahmain, presidents of the House and the GNC respectively, met in Malta in an attempt to broker an alternative deal that excludes international actors, and they have both refused to endorse the UN deal; indeed many other politicians and militias still remain outside and opposed to the process. The alternative proposal intends to form a new temporary legislative body composed of GNC members and 100 tribal leaders from the eastern region. [Abdel Qader Huweili, a member of the GNC] told Middle East Eye that the latter would be selected through the sponsorship of the tribes “to maintain the Libya unity”.
The UN itself has been widely discredited following the revelation of emails proving that the UN’s special envoy to Libya until November, Bernadino Leon, had been effectively working as an agent of the UAE, and far from being an honest broker, was following the UAE’s agenda seeking to promote the House of Representatives and delegitimize the GNC. Since he left his UN post he has been appointed to a highly remunerated position in UAE.
The situation in Libya is beyond catastrophic. For example, Abdul Hakeam Al-Yamany reports how in the Eastern city of Benghazi the health service faces complete collapse, with 60% of the hospitals completely closed, and the remaining health centres unable to meet even the basic needs of the population. Benghazi Medical Center, with only 260 beds, is now the only hospital serving a metropolitan district of 1.1 million people.
“The security situation is now even worse than what we saw during the Libyan Revolution four years ago,” said Leon Tombo, a Philippine national and a nurse in the emergency room of the Benghazi Medical Center, in May 2015. He added, “I will resign at the end of this month, and many of my colleagues have already left. We are no longer safe inside the hospital; bombs and bullets are hitting the building, and a number of my colleagues have been injured in these attacks.”
In another report Al-Yamany, describes how the education sector has collapsed.
Over a year ago, on May 16, 2014, General Khalifa Haftar launched the so-called Operation Dignity against extremist militias in Benghazi. Since that time, the city has been engulfed in an armed battle that has ravaged its infrastructure, destroyed most of its institutions, and led to the displacement of entire neighborhoods of the city. The crisis has particularly affected the education sector in Benghazi. Only 60 of the 400 schools in the city escaped damage and are able to accept students. … …
Mohammed al-Barghathi, a 12-year-old from the [Banina neighborhood, which has largely been destroyed], added, “My friends and I tried to clean our school multiple times so that it could be used for education, but the random shelling continues to fall on our region. Three of my friends died when they stepped on an unexploded shell hidden in the school yard.”
Meanwhile, the schools in safer neighborhoods have mostly been transformed into shelters for internally displaced persons who have left their homes in nearby areas of conflict. The Benghazi Crisis Committee is trying hard to develop solutions to displaced persons using the schools as temporary housing until the war ends in the city. Essam al-Hamali, the official in charge of social affairs in the Benghazi Crisis Committee, said, “We have 13,000 displaced families in Benghazi. We have temporarily placed them in schools located in relatively safe areas, because we have no other place to house them.”
General Khalifa Hifter is a onetime confidante of Muammar el-Qaddafi, now turned warlord leader, who is waging war on the Jihadis in Benghazi. The conflict has taken on the aspect of a war economy typical of failed states, where armed conflict has “destroyed the local legitimate economy so that many people have no other source of income except through joining an armed group, and in which access to resources depends on violence”
Many of the pro-Hifter forces — their leaders say anywhere from 40 to 80 percent — are in fact neighborhood militias. The struggle in some areas has taken on a vicious familial and even ethnic quality, marked by the settling of ancient scores, between the east’s Bedouin Arab tribes and families from western Libya, some of whom have distant ties to Turkey. “This is about fighting the Turks and Freemasons,” the leader of one tribal militia told me. Another described children as young as 14 or 15 fighting in his ranks. I heard stories of summary executions of prisoners, forcible eviction of families and destruction of property.
Ultraconservative Salafists are said to be among the most competent fighters in General Hifter’s ranks; they too fight out of local and sometimes tribal solidarity, confounding the notion that this is a purely ideological war between secularists and Islamists.
On the other side, the composition is equally murky. To be sure, the Islamic State is present and growing. But one military critic of General Hifter, who wishes to remain anonymous, estimates that many of the opposing fighters are not hardened jihadists, but youths from Benghazi’s marginalized families who got caught up with Islamist militias and are now looking for a way to stop fighting.
Armed groups on all sides of the conflict have disregarded civilians and committed violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and violations and abuses of human rights, including abductions, extrajudicial executions, unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment. Armed groups have targeted Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) seeking to document and denounce such violations and abuses. Moderates who have supported the UN-facilitated efforts for a ceasefire and political dialogue have also been targeted by armed groups. … …
A series of savage attacks by extremists took place during the reporting period. In January at least 9 people, including 5 foreign nationals, were killed in a terrorist attack on an international hotel in Tripoli. In February, ISIL-affiliated terrorists claimed responsibility for the abduction and beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians, prompting retaliatory air strikes on Dernah by Egypt. In February, nine were killed in an attack at Mabruk oilfield southeast of Sirte, and three oil workers were kidnapped. On 6 March, terrorists killed eight oil workers and kidnapped nine workers at Al Ghani oilfield, south east of Tripoli. Car bomb attacks in public areas in Tripoli, Tobruk and Benghazi caused many casualties. In April 2015, two groups of Ethiopian Christians were executed by ISIL in Libya in two locations. … …
The UN, NGOs, and the media reported summary executions by a Sharia “court” in Dernah, and killings of security officials and current and former civil servants including judges, HRDs, media workers, and a female member of the General National Congress. …
Armed militias, mostly from Misrata, continued to prevent about 40,000 residents of Tawergha, Tomina, and Karareem from returning to their homes as a form of collective punishment for crimes allegedly committed by some Tawergha residents during the 2011 revolution. Those displaced continued to seek safety and shelter in makeshift camps and private housing in many areas, but they remained subject to attack, harassment, and arbitrary detention by the militias … …
The condition of prisons and treatment of prisoners under the jurisdiction of the different sides in the conflict remained a serious concern throughout this period. HRDs continued to report arbitrary detentions, mistreatment, torture and extrajudicial killings in detention centres on all sides.
Libya has, since 2011, suffered a collapse of civic infrastructure, with the health and education sectors decimated, with the productive, peacetime economy replaced by brigandage, and with a catastrophic collapse of womens’ rights. The rule of law has completely collapsed, with all parties in Libya refusing to cooperate with jurisdiction of tthe International Criminal Court: for example, the trial that resulted in the death sentence for Saif Islam Gaddafi was held in absentia as he himself is rotting in a extra-judicial militia run prison, and no prosecution evidence was presented, the court moved straight to judgement. Even by 2012 the UN was reporting
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay … raised concerns about detainees being held by revolutionary forces, saying there were some 8,500 prisoners in about 60 centres.
“The majority of detainees are accused of being Gaddafi loyalists and include a large number of sub-saharan, African nationals,” she said. “The lack of oversight by the central authority creates an environment conducive to torture and ill treatment”
What is therefore odd, is that supporters of the NATO intervention which destroyed the Libyan state don’t accept that the adventure was misjudged.
In October 2011, Seumus Milne described in the Guardian how the NATO intervention had been a disaster. I refer to Milne as he has become a bête noir of the pro-war lobby.
In response, Daniel Knowles wrote in the Telegraph:
In Milne’s view, without Nato’s support, Gaddafi would have entered Benghazi, murdered a few thousand people and order would have been restored. In actuality, without Western support, Libya either would have endured a much longer and more brutal civil war (with a much stronger chance that the most violent rebels would win out), or else it would have finished with Gaddafi still in power, only now forced to use far more repressive measures to maintain his grip. …
It is absolutely in the West’s interests to overthrow despotic, disgusting regimes like those of Gaddafi, and to encourage more pluralistic, liberal ones in their place. It is also good for those people, who now have a chance to build a better society.
Already when Knowles wrote this, the promise of a “better society”, was a macabre insult to the tens of thousands of lives broken by a society teetering on the abyss, as the state was destroyed and rival militias fought over the spoils. It has become a lazy caricature of those seeking to hold to account the folly of British military misadventures that this is due to knee jerk “anti-imperialism”, but perhaps as a Conservative Knowles might reflect on the wisdom of Edmund Burke in his reflections on the French Revolution.
The effect of liberty to individuals is that they may do what they please. We ought to see what it will please them to do before we risk congratulations, which may soon be turned into complaints. Prudence would dictate this in the case of separate insulated private men; but liberty when men act in bodies is power. Considerate people before they declare themselves will observe the use which is made of power; and particularly of so trying a thing as new power in new persons, of whose principles, tempers and dispositions, they have little or no experience.
More extraordinary is that as recently as October 2015, the Labour Party’s own cheerleader for war, Kate Godfrey, wrote in the Telegraph that
I was in Libya as Colonel Gaddafi very deliberately fostered a refugee crisis in which thousands of people died on ghost transports, on buses and on trucks that couldn’t take the strain of their carriage. Gaddafi was opening up passes to Africa’s south in a great scheme to blackmail the EU. I was there as the migrants died of thirst. But really they died of a vindictive, bloody blackmailing policy. They died because of Gaddafi.
Seumas Milne says the Nato intervention in Libya is “a catastrophic failure”. He thinks that Gaddafi would never have enacted a brutal repression against the protesters of the Arab Spring. He thinks that “if there were global justice, Nato would be in the dock over Libya.” I was there, and Milne was not, and Milne is wrong.
He is wrong on Libya, and he will be wrong on Syria
Elsewhere, Godfrey wrote
The Gaddafi regime fell in weeks – as it were always going to fall. Within three days of the start of anti-government protests, the opposition were in charge of the country’s second capital, Benghazi. Six weeks and UN Security Council Resolution 1973 had been adopted, a no-fly zone was in place, and a coalition of 27 states from Europe and the Middle East sent in strikes against pro-government forces.
Six months after the start of protests and Tripoli fell. Gaddafi died, and Libya disintegrated into areas under control by separate more-or-less Islamist militias. And this is more-or-less where Libya remains.
Because Libya was never a cohesive country. It was, and is, barely a country at all but a scattering of six million people in a vast desert, with almost all of them concentrated in a thin coastal strip. The capital, Tripoli sits at the top left, the second city – and virtually the second capital – Benghazi, at the top right. With the exception of that coastal strip, the rest is sand, and one-Toyota towns.
During Gaddafi’s day the powerful kept an occasional politic presence in Tripoli and dwelt in their tribal areas and in loathing. The moment they had the opportunity to go after Gaddafi, they went after him. Given the intensity of feeling, the three days to take Benghazi looks restrained.
There was no depth to the Libyan state. The only question was, would the regime have the chance to use their control of the air? … …
People say Libya under Gaddafi worked. It was a police state. It was a wretched grey murder-state with basic dental. I spent a lot of time there, and I saw hunger, and fear, and Mukhabarat, and those on the good days.
At the best of times, Gaddafi’s regime was a stretched and grubby sticking plaster over a country that didn’t work.
There was no Save the Dictator option, and neither should there have been.
I lack Ms Godfrey’s talent for divining the opinions of the population of an entire country.
Nor can I speak for her experience of meeting people in Libya who were hungry, but according to the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), in 2010 Libya had the highest HDI in the African continent, and in 2012 had a GDP of $US 14000 per capita, equating to a spending power per head of $11900; the highest standard of living in Africa. Libya under Gaddafi also had free health care and education, around a quarter of the population were university educated, and more than half of graduates were women.
As Hugh Roberts explained in the London Review of Books in 2012
The socio-economic achievements of the regime can be attributed essentially to the distributive state: that is, the success of the hydrocarbons sector and of the mechanisms put in place early on to distribute petrodollars.
The comic opera absurdity of the so-called Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriyya, the puppet uniforms, and Gaddafi’s Bedouin chic did indeed provide a grotesque façade for a state that endorsed and encouraged terrorism, and brutal internal repression. It was a particularly absent state, lacking any political party or parties, and while it had a functioning bureaucracy with some degree of popular participation, it had neither the culture nor institutions for allowing political differences to be aired or resolved. We need to understand that the murder, torture and repression of political opponents is the attribute not of a strong state, but of a weak state.
The stronger state is one where there is sufficient culture of respect for the rule of law in civil society; political institutions that allow the resolution of disputes; and the willingness of governments to renounce power to their political opponents via constitutional means. Constitutionality is the hallmark of a state whose sovereignty rests upon popular consent.
Godfrey’s argument fails on a number of particulars. Firstly, she fails to distinguish between the stability of the Libyan state, and the particular expression of the government of that state. Governments and states are not the same thing, and governments can be changed by political process while still maintaining states. The military action by NATO in assistance of the rebels destroyed the state itself, and thereby destroyed the monopoly of armed force from the state and also the bureaucratic institutions which allowed the administrative and distributive economic functions of the Libyan state to function for its population. Even a repressive state plays a public safety role through excluding other actors from exercising war and brigandage on its territory.
Speaking in June 2015, the Tunisian Human Rights activist Amira Yahyaoui, emphasized the importance of public safety:
Security is a top priority. [Tunisia is] a very small country threatened by al Qaeda from Algeria and [the Islamic State] from Libya — that’s a huge mess, right? And more than that, one of the keys of success of Tunisia is that we don’t have Egypt’s military. Ben Ali was a dictator, and he made the choice to weaken the military, to avoid a military coup. But it’s now becoming a huge problem. Today the Tunisian military is really unequipped. The terrorists are very tech-y today, they use social media to organize, so this is one of the reasons I’m doing this.
But the second reason is that, for human rights activists, security is a taboo. Security means you are anti-human rights. But that gives space to those who are not very keen on human rights to take care of this topic. I think that people from a human rights background should be more involved in security issues, and stop thinking that security is a taboo. If we want to defend people’s rights, the first thing we need to defend is their right to live and not to die. That’s the first step.
Godfrey is blasé about the collapse of the Libyan state, saying that it was inevitable. It was only inevitable once NATO destroyed the armed forces defending that state. This created the security vacuum that was itself a human rights catastrophe greater than any furious dogs of war that Gaddafi could let slip.
She is also simply wrong that there was not a political alternative. Arguably the NATO intervention curtailed any prospect of a process in Libya leading to a stable resolution. It is worth quoting Roberts at length:
The claim that the ‘international community’ had no choice but to intervene militarily and that the alternative was to do nothing is false. An active, practical, non-violent alternative was proposed, and deliberately rejected. The argument for a no-fly zone and then for a military intervention employing ‘all necessary measures’ was that only this could stop the regime’s repression and protect civilians. Yet many argued that the way to protect civilians was not to intensify the conflict by intervening on one side or the other, but to end it by securing a ceasefire followed by political negotiations.
A number of proposals were put forward. The International Crisis Group, for instance, where I worked at the time, published a statement on 10 March arguing for a two-point initiative: (i) the formation of a contact group or committee drawn from Libya’s North African neighbours and other African states with a mandate to broker an immediate ceasefire; (ii) negotiations between the protagonists to be initiated by the contact group and aimed at replacing the current regime with a more accountable, representative and law-abiding government. This proposal was echoed by the African Union and was consistent with the views of many major non-African states – Russia, China, Brazil and India, not to mention Germany and Turkey. It was restated by the ICG in more detail (adding provision for the deployment under a UN mandate of an international peacekeeping force to secure the ceasefire) in an open letter to the UN Security Council on 16 March, the eve of the debate which concluded with the adoption of UNSC Resolution 1973.
In short, before the Security Council voted to approve the military intervention, a worked-out proposal had been put forward which addressed the need to protect civilians by seeking a rapid end to the fighting, and set out the main elements of an orderly transition to a more legitimate form of government, one that would avoid the danger of an abrupt collapse into anarchy, with all it might mean for Tunisia’s revolution, the security of Libya’s other neighbours and the wider region. The imposition of a no-fly zone would be an act of war: as the US defense secretary, Robert Gates, told Congress on 2 March, it required the disabling of Libya’s air defences as an indispensable preliminary. In authorising this and ‘all necessary measures’, the Security Council was choosing war when no other policy had even been tried.
The proposal for a cease fire and negotiations could not allow the absent state model of the jamahiriyya, to survive. The jamahiriyya lacked the civic institutions and political traditions to engage in negotiations, and so would have needed to generate them. There is evidence that the jamahiriyya was reformable, and the compelling impetus of a peace process would have accelerated support for the reforming current led by Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, who had been previously praised by among others Tony Blair, and was well placed to use the crisis to its advantage to create civic institutions. This option needed to be explored, and powerful voices within the African Union were urging Gaddafi to participate.
As Hugh Roberts explains:
It was the fashion some years ago in circles close to the Blair government – in the media, principally, and among academics – to talk up Saif al-Islam’s commitment to reform and it is the fashion now to heap opprobrium on him as his awful father’s son. Neither judgment is accurate, both are self-serving. Saif al-Islam had begun to play a significant and constructive role in Libyan affairs of state, persuading the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group to end its terrorist campaign in return for the release of LIFG prisoners in 2008, promoting a range of practical reforms and broaching the idea that the regime should formally recognise the country’s Berbers. While it was always unrealistic to suppose that he could have remade Libya into a liberal democracy had he succeeded his father, he certainly recognised the problems of the Jamahiriyya and the need for substantial reform. The prospect of a reformist path under Saif was ruled out by [NATO’s intervention].
Paradoxically, because the rebellion arose in the Libyan context without pre-existing civic and political institutions, the opposition also needed time to coalesce and develop. The military victory of NATO not only ruled out reform of the jamahiriyya, but it also ruled out the opposition going through the process of political evolution and clarification, the development of institutions, mechanisms of accountablity and self-discipline. The state was destroyed without anything else to fill the void.
Back in 2014, Thomas Friedman argued in the New York Times that the wave of global protests – what he calls the “square people” has broadly been contained at the level of protest.
Behind massive street demonstrations there is rarely a well-oiled and more-permanent organization capable of following up on protesters’ demands and undertaking the complex, face-to-face, and dull political work that produces real change in government. This is the important point made by Zeynep Tufekci, a fellow at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, who writes that ‘Before the Internet, the tedious work of organizing that was required to circumvent censorship or to organize a protest also helped build infrastructure for decision making and strategies for sustaining momentum. Now movements can rush past that step, often to their own detriment.’
It is worth considering how Tunisia became an exception, again to quote Friedman:
Daniel Brumberg, a democracy expert at Georgetown University and the United States Institute of Peace, points out that the most successful Square People in the Arab world, who forged a whole new constitution, are in Tunisia, which is the Arab country that had “the most robust civil society institutions — especially a powerful labor union federation, as well as business, human rights and lawyers associations — that could arbitrate between the secular and religious factions,” who had come together in the square to oust Tunisia’s dictator. Tunisia also benefited from an army that stayed out of politics and the fact that the secular and Islamist forces had a balance of power, requiring them to be inclusive of one another.
The crucial feature in the development of stable political institutions is that they have legitimacy based upon popular engagement. Respect for the rule of law, especially constitutionality, cannot be imposed from outside; and even the successful German experience was domestically driven, in conjunction with protracted nation building support by the occupying powers. Conspicuous successes in conflict resolution, for example the end of South African Apartheid, or the process started by the Good Friday Agreement in Ireland, have involved long term commitment from the protagonists themselves to resolve their differences.
Kate Godfey is quite explicit that she believes that those like myself and Seumus Milne who argue that NATO’s intervention in Libya was a failure are wrong. She therefore presumably believes it was a success.
It is therefore worth comparing her views with those of Sir John Sawers, who was Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, for five years until November 2014.
“When crisis erupted in Libya, we didn’t feel it right to sit by as Gaddafi crushed decent Libyans demanding an end to dictatorship.
“But we didn’t want to get embroiled in Libya’s problems by sending in ground forces. After Gaddafi was ousted, no-one held the ring to help manage a transition to something better … …
“Libya had no institutions. Who or what would take over? The answer? Those with the weapons. Result? Growing chaos, exploited by fanatics.”
James Robbins, the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent comments on Sir John’s views as follows:
Most foreign policy analysts seem to agree that the major Western powers, Britain included, are now caught in a sort of policy no-man’s land between intervention and non-intervention.
Politicians are trying to satisfy citizens who continue to expect security and protection, but who also seem increasingly unwilling to tolerate the sort of defence spending that protection might require, and, more importantly, the scale of sacrifice in soldiers’ lives which ground combat inevitably brings.
What Libya got was neither full intervention nor complete non-intervention, but a sort of limited intervention.
That limited intervention, sanctioned by the UN, led by David Cameron for Britain and President Nicolas Sarkozy for France, was based on the new-ish doctrine of the “Responsibility to Protect”. … …
The huge difficulty with limited intervention, of course, is the unpredictability of outcomes.
That fickle and unfathomable “law of unintended consequences” delivered catastrophic results in Libya.
Western policy relied on maintaining the unity of anti-Gaddafi forces once they had dealt with their shared enemy.
Light-touch Western efforts to help Libyans put aside their tribal and factional differences forever and embrace power-sharing through representative government based on national unity, have comprehensively collapsed.
The doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect” (RtP) is certainly not an unchallenged one, and it is viewed by – for example – India, China and Russia with some skepticism. At the heart of RtP is the concept that state sovereignty is constrained, and that it can be lawful for another state to intervene to avoid humanitarian disaster. Certainly, using examples of the Rwandan genocide, or Pol Pot’s Cambodia, it is clear that outside military intervention can be a necessity, though there should be a high threshold of violence to overcome, an emphasis on caution, the exploration and preference of non-military options, consensus and shared responsibility through the UNSC, the involvement and indeed primacy of regional actors, and follow through and civic and economic capacity building to ensure that the outcome is not a failed state.
The prime difficulty is that the type of military action advocated as a success in Libya by Kate Godfrey was one that would almost inevitably lead to disaster. Whatever the merits of the exercise of RtP in any particular instance, any resulting military action needs to be integrated in a workable political system that works towards stable outcomes.
Warfare is a brutal business. Von Clauswitz famously observed that war is the continuation of diplomacy by other means. Just contemplating the incongruity of this statement with the modern reality of wars involving warlord polities like ISIL, and the descent into anarchy, reveals an entire sea change from war as traditionally understood in Europe as the organized exercise of violence by states in pursuit of political aims.
The exclusion of non-state actors as legitimate participants in war derived in Europe from the widespread introduction of firearms, but in particular through the social codification of laws of war, derived from Huigh de Groot’s (Grotius) work “The Laws of War and Peace”, that became adopted across Europe by professional practitioners of war, seeing the mutual benefit of self restraint. Even from the outset, Grotius’s work was ignored during the expansion of European powers into the colonies, and was later challenged by the citizen armies of the Napoleonic era and increasing destructive power of armaments; but for some extensive period, the exercise of military power was regarded as deliberately conservative of social stability.
Whereas seventeenth Europe, particularly Germany, had endured war of the same brutal totality as consumes, for example, modern Syria, the military historian, Robert O’Connell observed that the codification of rules of war meant that “for two centuries these men succeeded in capturing and integrating the gun into a workable political system”.
What NATO’s intervention into Libya reveals is an exercise of military might where the means do not match the will; and that was socially regressive in destroying the institutions of social stability thus destroying the civic foundations of a peacetime economy. In so doing, it has allowed the creation of a war economy, where access to economic resources is directly dependent upon the exercise of violence. Such a breakdown of civil society and public safety are exactly the conditions into which a warlord polity like ISIL can advance. Indeed, while other Jihadi actors like Boko Haram are merely franchise holders of so-called Islamic State (ISIL), according to the UN, ISIL in Libya is integrated with their confederates in Iraq and Syria.
NATO’s action did not locate itself within a framework of seeking political stability, and indeed it undermined and forestalled a political peace process from the African Union. Indeed, contemporary with the Libyan war, the state of Bahrain unleashed a wave of repression not dissimilar to that which prompted NATO intervention in Libya. The British government took precisely the opposite view to that which they took in Libya, believing that political stability in Bahrain outweighed other considerations, and that reform could be encouraged through dialogue and engagement.
Military action should never be engaged in unless there are clear, realizable political objectives, that the risks are considered, where there are clear exit conditions, and where the consequences of failure as well as the consequences of success are factored into the decisions. What is more, embarking on war where the military means and will are insufficient, and are known to be insufficient at the outset, to ensure that the political objectives can be met guarantees failure. What is more, any exercise of RtP must ensure commitment to a political process that emphasizes social stability as an outcome – destroying states and letting anarchy reign may satisfy the liberal interventionists, but the left is right to oppose and hold such vanities to account.