When the United States and its NATO allies helped insurgents overthrow Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the belief was that the intervention prevented a humanitarian catastrophe and that a post-Gaddafi Libya would be stable and democratic. Instead, Libya became a cauldron of chaos and human suffering. Rival, mostly Islamist militias vie for power in a multisided civil war. There is a vast flow of desperate refugees trying to get across the Mediterranean to Europe, many of whom perish in the attempt. Libya is a case study in how good intentions are not enough in foreign policy.

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