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The plight of oil-rich, tribally segmented Libya resembles that of several other war-torn countries in the greater Middle East, namely Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen. In each case, a combination of internal strife and misguided external intervention has sustained a long-running conflict.

Recalling the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) in his 2014 memoir “Duty,” former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates argued that the United States was good at overthrowing a regime, but had no idea what should take its place. The reason, Gates argued, was that the U.S. failed to consider national and regional complexities. The same was true of the 2011 NATO-led military intervention in Libya.

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