Written by a leading Libya analyst and former US diplomat, the book describes how the U.S. and U.K wound up snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in Libya, not once but several times, in the process transforming the North African country into a central node in the spread of Islamism and its most extreme manifestations, Al Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS). As of mid 2016, it is generally accepted that the 2003 Iraq War was a major factor in the creation of ISIS. What is not as well known, is how the Iraq conflict conditioned other, equally dangerous dynamics, which converged in Syria, Iraq and Libya more than a decade later. The book explains, in particular, how the Iraq war also conditioned the US rapprochement with Libya; how the latter made Gaddafi's regime more susceptible to fall in the Arab Spring; and how the self-described "moderate Islamists", backed by state sponsors, Qatar and Turkey, managed to convince the West that they would work with the United States to roll back Al Qaeda, ISIS and its affiliates in Libya-- while doing the opposite. The net result of these 'compound errors' was to promote chaos in Libya, deepen conflicts in Syria and Iraq.Chorin describes how these policies resulted, first, from an 'information vacuum', itself a produce of nearly two decades of multilateral and unilateral US sanctions on Libya; a growing confidence in the ability (and desire) of the Muslim Brotherhood to fight Islamic extremism, and a high level of "distraction" and "regional fatigue" -- which in turn had its origins in the chaos wrought by the Iraq war, and was stoked by the attack on the US compound in Benghazi. The latter should have been a wake up call, but instead, drove the international community out of Libya at a critical time, and gave Islamists free reign to produce gains by force and intimidation they had not been able to attain through the ballot box. Faced with a chaotic mess, and unwilling to invest the resources and thought required to stabilize Libya, the international community fastened to an ad hoc and ill-conceived Unity Plan, which has virtually guaranteed the dissolution of Libya as a centralized state, and has put much of North Africa at grave risk. The book includes an illustrated, annotated timeline of events, and map of key players and their inter-connections, to illustrate its shocking conclusions.
av Ethan Chorin