In This Review

All Necessary Measures? The United Nations and International Intervention in Libya
All Necessary Measures? The United Nations and International Intervention in Libya
By Ian Martin
Hurst, 2022, 224 pp.

Martin, a UN Special Representative to Libya from 2011 to 2012, has produced a judicious, thoughtful analysis of international involvement in Libya during and immediately after the 2011 uprising against Libyan President Muammar al-Qaddafi in Libya. This book combines the perspective of an insider with the acuity of a seasoned practitioner and analyst. Martin painstakingly weighs the pros and cons of the NATO intervention in 2011, concluding that “a smooth path to a modern democratic state” was not possible. At the same time, he argues that outside powers must bear much of the blame for the country’s collapse into civil war: the United States advocated for and supported the NATO operation but refused to take responsibility for it; European countries worked at cross-purposes; and the UN was hamstrung by coordination challenges. Martin acknowledges but plays down one of the most destructive features of the international involvement: within days of the imposition of an international arms embargo on Libya, at least half a dozen countries began sending arms and military personnel to aid an uprising they did not understand. This support continued long after Tripoli fell and contributed mightily to the country’s plunge into civil war.