One particularly menacing feature of US interventions in the War on Terror era is that "victory" comes with an expiration date. So Afghanistan was a success story (according to Bush and then Obama) before it went on to become the longest war in US history (and still ongoing). Similarly in Iraq, the US managed to spike the football in celebration a few times, before reality rudely overturned each occasion (Bush first, Bush et al on the surge, then Obama).
The wars just don't seem to stay won. Invariably, the US has to return or extend its stay to stabilize the government so it can delay the embarrassment of admitting failure until someone else's term in office.
It appears we can now formally add another country to this trend. Libya was widely hailed as a success in 2011 after the intervention, including by current Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, amongst others. Indeed, as we note frequently here (largely because we can scarcely believe she was stupid enough to say it in public), she referred to Libya as a case of "smart power" as recently as last fall.
But last week, the US officially conducted a large bombing raid on the country killing around 50 people, at least two of whom appear to have been innocent European hostages. (To be fair though, they were Eastern Europeans, Serbians to be specific, so there's about zero chance anyone in Western media or governments is going to give a damn. Reportedly, their names were Sladjana Stankovic and Jovica Stepic, which clearly sound far too foreign to elicit widespread compassion.)
The goal was to attack ISIS militants who are stronger than ever in Libya now that the country has no real government to speak of. And the attack comes amid recent acknowledgement that US troops are in the country already and actively trying to find allies to work against Syria.
Just like Afghanistan and Iraq, it appears that initial "success" in Libya was but the first round of a much longer conflict. And while Libya has been a wreck since almost immediately following the initial overthrow, it appears things have now deteriorated to the point that the US is considering more active re-intervention. There's not any obvious reason to believe force will achieve a positive outcome, but the public relations need to "do something" is likely too strong to resist.
For more reading on this subject, we're recommending the analysis offered by former Congressman Dr. Ron Paul, who helps shine more light on the futility and blatant illegality of latest attacks. Here's the piece:
Intervention Fail: Back to Libya