Drones, Deniability, and Disinformation: Warfare in Libya and the New International Disorder
Western governments have watched the battle over Libya’s capital, Tripoli, with disinterest, even as it has drawn in a growing number of foreign powers. But this conflict has more to teach us about the future world order, or disorder, than many observers appreciate.
The patterns of warfare in Libya today not only reflect the erosion of the U.S.-led international order, but they directly contribute to its demise. Three aspects in particular highlight the new international disorder. Armed drones embody a trend toward military action that minimizes the risks and costs to the intervening powers, thereby encouraging them to meddle in conflicts where no vital interests are at stake.
With arms-length instruments such as drones and mercenaries, intervening states also seek to maintain a degree of deniability. The main reason why for the rise of deniability, however, is that the great powers are increasingly tolerant of even dubious denials of an increasing range of foreign meddlers.
The authoritarian states intervening in Libya also lead disinformation campaigns whose scope illustrates dramatically altered international power relations. Warfare in Libya reveals seismic shifts in international order that have invited cavalier meddling by distant powers big and small, amid international indifference.
(Source: War on the Rocks)