Last week, there was a minor news story about a Libyan armed mob storming the Russian embassy in Tripoli, resulting in one of the Libyan attackers being shot and killed.
The incident had apparently been sparked by the murder of a Libyan air force pilot the previous day. A Russian woman has since been arrested and charged with that murder.
While this particular case may seem like a bizarre occurrence, the fact is that it serves to illustrate the absolute chaos that continues to grip this war-torn country.
It has been almost two full years since president Moammar Gadhafi was brutally murdered in cold blood at the hands of a vengeful mob in the streets of his hometown Sirte.
Gadhafi’s death signified the final resistance of his regime and tribal followers who had resisted the NATO-backed rebel onslaught for nearly eight bloody months. It was supposed to be a glorious victory for democracy.
From the outset of the conflict, the Western media demonized Gadhafi for his eccentricities throughout his heavy-handed three decades in power. The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973, which authorized NATO-led air forces to enforce a no-fly zone over the skies of Libya.
This was intended to prevent Gadhafi loyalists from using their aircraft to establish an unfair advantage over the rebels. However, instead of levelling the playing field, NATO forces under the command of Canadian Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard decided to tip the balance in favour of the rebels.
To prevent Gadhafi from bombing innocent Libyan people, NATO mounted its own massive bombing campaign, which inadvertently resulted in the deaths of innocent Libyans.
As for enforcing the UN-imposed arms embargo, NATO forces had a policy of enforcing this mandate only against weaponry intended for Gadhafi loyalists. Munitions headed for the rebels were openly ignored, while Britain and France made no secret of the fact they were openly supplying weaponry to the rebel factions.
When the inevitable end came, the NATO allies declared it a tremendous victory. The combined might of the most sophisticated military alliance in the world had successfully toppled a sixth-rate democracy with a primitive arsenal.
Proof of the discrepancy in technology is the fact that in eight months of continued air strikes, the combined NATO air fleet did not suffer a single casualty.
This bloodless victory was also achieved in part because the western powers deployed only a handful of Special Forces boots on the ground.
After more than a decade of frustrating ground combat in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the Libyan intervention appeared to be a blueprint for easy success: bomb with impunity and arm the rebels to do the actual fighting.
The result: Gadhafi was overthrown, no NATO blood was spilled and the cost of all those precision-guided munitions we expended can easily be recuperated through future oil trade with resource-rich Libya.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper celebrated Canada’s lead role in this military feat of arms by staging a Napoleonic-scale victory parade, complete with a flypast over the Parliament buildings. For his outstanding generalship in saving the world from Libyan domination, Bouchard was fast-tracked to receive the Order of Canada.
Unfortunately, for the Libyan people, it seems that no real plans were made for what would happen after the victory parades.
Those who fought to oust Gadhafi were never unified under a common banner. They fought for very diverse objectives, many of them, in fact, linked to al-Qaida.
Much of the conflict’s root causes were tribal, and many of those from the Gaddafa and Warfalla tribes, which were aligned to Gadhafi, still suffer brutal reprisals at the hands of the former rebels.
Despite the best intentions of the impotent central government, the young ill-disciplined volunteer militia who fought against Gadhafi still refuse to hand over their weapons.
Tens of thousands of Libyans remain illegally detained in makeshift prisons throughout the country.
In the Tawergha suburb of Misrata, the rebels conducted one of the most extensive examples of ethnic cleansing in modern history, driving some 10,000 residents from their homes for the simple reason that they are black.
It has been more than a year since the 9-11 anniversary attack in Benghazi, which saw U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans die when al-Qaida terrorists stormed their embassy.
Although American security services finger-point and try to analyze their intelligence failure in the anarchy that is post-Gadhafi Libya, no actual perpetrator has yet been brought to justice for the attack.
Before entering any debate about a potential western intervention in Syria, perhaps we should admit the magnitude of our mistake in Libya.
Two years of anarchy is not a victory.