Since the attack that took the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in September 2012, Benghazi has taken on a life of its own, serving as everything from a rallying cry against the Obama administration to a derisive hashtag poking fun at administration critics. But for all the talk about the year-and-a-half-old scandal, what’s happening in the real Benghazi, Libya, today has received little attention. As limited military aid and training flow into Iraq and Syria, Libya is slipping closer and closer to outright civil war.
After the end of the 2011 NATO military campaign in Libya that ousted Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the transitional government that was set up seemed to be poised for a peaceful transition of power. But before long, former rebels and militia groups, unhappy with the slow pace of change after Qaddafi’s government was toppled, began to clash with government forces.
The attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi prompted many Western governments to close up their diplomatic missions in Libya, and the situation there continued to unravel. In October 2013, then-Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was briefly abducted from a hotel in Tripoli by an armed militia; three months later, the country’s deputy industry minister was assassinated.
Now, a retired general named Khalifa Haftar has launched a full-on campaign against Islamist militias and what’s left of the Libyan government, and a parliamentary election last week drew a weak turnout that reflected Libyans’ lack of confidence in a tattered political system. In one district in Benghazi, Islamist militants fired on a local security headquarters on election day, killing four and wounding at least 30. Haftar’s promises to rid the country of “Islamist terrorists” (in his words) have won him support among Libyans who are exhausted with the violence and uncertainty that has plagued the country for years.
Despite the deteriorating situation, the U.S. has indicated that it’s unlikely to get involved in Libya again anytime soon. “There is an acknowledgement that there is only so much we can do,” a U.S. official told Reuters. The farthest the U.S. has been willing to go so far is to send special envoys to Libya to try to bring together warring factions, a move that is unlikely to make a dent on its own. A $600 million international program to train a Libyan “General Purpose Force” that was announced last year has yet to get off the ground. The limited scope of announced American involvement in Iraq and Syria makes clear the lack of appetite for further engagement in the region. In all likelihood, Libya is on its own as it struggles to create a cohesive government once again.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”