US versus Russia in Libya: Good versus Evil?

The reality of our world today is that it is essentially divided into spheres of influence; not between countries, but between America’s dispatched military assets in the form of permanent air, naval and military bases.

These spheres are commonly referred to as:

USSOUTHCOM; Western Hemisphere (south America and the Caribbean),

USCENTCOM; Middle East,

USAFRICOM; Africa, USPACOM Pacific Ocean & Asia,


USEUCOM; the EU, parts of Eurasia, the Middle East and Russia .

With this in mind it is easy to fall into a reflexive  and subconscious trap of associating ‘Russian intervention’ or the intervention of any other state that is not allied to the US as something outlandish and crude.

To begin with, it cannot be overstated that globalisation invites and entices ‘intervention’ be it economic, cultural, diplomatic, or, as the US usually prefers, hard flung military power. Moreover, it is irrefutable that ‘intervention’ has become a hallmark of US foreign policy, which has interfered in power struggles across the world to ensure an economic and military global order conducive to its emergence and subsequent status as a global superpower, at the expense of the Soviet Union, China, Africa, and Latin America.

Therefore, why the surprise that other nations, in this case Russia, are allegedly supporting the Libyan National Army in eastern Libya?

For some time now militias have been battling for influence over the “oil crescent” in Libya so as to secure leverage in Eu-brokered negotiations over the future of Libya. On March 14th forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar retook key oil ports of Ras Lanuf and Es Sider, allegedly with the assistance of Russia. Although Russia has denied any such intervention, the chief of USAFRICOM, Thomas D Waldhauser, complained in a recent Senate hearing that “Russia is trying to exert influence on the ultimate decision of who and what entity becomes in charge of the government inside Libya”.

Even if this allegation is true, in what way is this any different from US intervention in Libya which has sought to bring to the table militias who opposed the results of the Libyan election and forced the internationally recognised government to relocate to Tobruk? What we are witnessing in essence is the demonization of Russian influence or any influence that affects the hegemony of the US on the global stage.

This is not limited to the situation in Libya. In 2015 the Chinese government protested the Obama administration’s agreement to sell weapons to Taiwan, flagrant disregard of the bilaterally agreed “One China” policy.  Considering that from “1950 to 1979” the U.S. operated the “Taiwan patrol force”, a fleet of naval warships to protect Taiwan from Chinese invasion, it is no surprise that the Chinese government protested the sale of weapons to Taiwan as it is indicative of intervention designed not only to hamper the reunification of China, but also to use the island as leverage in diplomatic trade negotiations with the Middle Kingdom.

This is a clear example of the US seeking to destabilise parallel, and perhaps symmetrical, ambitions of another nation. Therefore, the question must be asked. Why is US intervention ‘good’, and Russian or Chinese intervention ‘bad’? Why is US assistance acceptable or subjected to far less media scrutiny, and Russian or Chinese assistance causes a media circus?

Some believe the hysteria is tied to “Russia’s growing involvement in Libya [which] has come as the US is distracted by crises elsewhere in the world”. This could not be further from the truth. The US today remains a dominant player in Africa alongside France. U.S. military presence in Africa has sky-rocketed in the past 10 years under the pretext of fighting terrorism. As cited by investigative Journalist Nick Turse “In 2016, 17.26% of all U.S. Special Operations forces — Navy SEALs and Green Berets among them — deployed abroad were sent to Africa” which deployed intermittently to 33 African nations.

Albeit quantitatively different from holding over 50,000 troops in a far-flung nation like Kuwait, the U.S. has created a large footprint in Africa with various light but lethal special forces deployed to the continent and who have been swift to ‘react’ to sudden explosions of instability.

This demonstrates that Syria has not eclipsed U.S. focus. Such distracting sentiment from the US is merely a form of pronouncing its displeasure and frustration that another bully has entered the playground, one that cannot be simply muscled out of the way, and one who, so far, has yet to blink.

Russia’s emergence as a challenger to the US has led some analysts to suggest that the global order as we know it is falling apart. This is simply not true. The challenges that the US faced during the Cold War were greater and more dangerous than those it faces today. Instead, it is more accurate to state that the US is facing a reality check whereby it may need to respect the fact that other nations that are not called America have ambitions and the means with which to realise such ambitions.

The Russians have moved in. Deal with it.


David Emeka Ogbogu