All of the Countries which the U.S. “Regime Changed” – Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya – Have Descended into Brutal Chaos

Quantifying the Effects of Regime Change

Since 2001, the U.S. has undertaken regime change in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

All 3 countries are now in chaos … and extremists are more in control than ever.


In Iraq, hardcore Islamic jihadis known as ISIS have taken over much of the country – shown in red as the new “Islamic State” or self-described caliphate – using captured American weapons:

USA Today notes: “Iraq is already splitting into three states“.

Christians are being rounded up and killed, and Christian leaders in Iraq say the end of Christianity in Iraq is “very near”. But as we documented in 2012, Saddam Hussein – for all his faults – was a secular leader who tolerated Christians.


Libya has also descended into absolute chaos.   We reported in 2012:

Al Qaeda is now largely in control of Libya.  Indeed, Al Qaeda flags were flown over the Benghazi courthouse once Gaddafi was toppled.

(This is – again – in contrast to toleration of Christians under Gadaffi.)

The Guardian noted in March:

According to Amnesty International, the “mounting curbs on freedom of expression are threatening the rights Libyans sought to gain“. A repressive Gaddafi-era law has been amended to criminalise any insults to officials or the general national congress (the interim parliament). One journalist, Amara al-Khattabi, was put on trial for alleging corruption among judges. Satellite television stations deemed critical of the authorities have been banned, one station has been attacked with rocket-propelled grenades, and journalists have been assassinated.


Ever since the fall of [Gadaffi’s] dictatorship, there have been stories of black Libyans being treated en masse as Gaddafi loyalists and attacked. In a savage act of collective punishment, 35,000 people were driven out of Tawergha in retaliation for the brutal siege of the anti-Gaddafi stronghold of Misrata. The town was trashed and its inhabitants have been left in what human rights organisations are calling “deplorable conditions” in a Tripoli refugee camp. Such forced removals continue elsewhere. Thousands have been arbitrarily detained without any pretence of due process; and judges, prosecutors, lawyers and witnesses have been attacked or even killed. Libya’s first post-Gaddafi prosecutor general, Abdulaziz Al-Hassadi, was assassinated in the town of Derna last month.


When residents of Benghazi – the heartland of the revolution – protested against militia rule in June last year, 32 people were killed in what became known as “Black Saturday”. In another protest in Tripoli last November, 46 died and 500 were injured.

Under militia rule, Libya is beginning to disintegrate. Last summer forces under the command of the warlord Ibrahim Jadran took control of eastern oil terminals …. These forces which hijacked a oil tanker this month, prompting threats from Libya’s prime minister that it would be bombed until US forces captured it this weekend. Clashes have broken out in Jadran’s home town of Ajdabiya. In painful echoes of Iraq’s nightmare, a car bomb exploded at a Benghazi military base last week and killed at least eight soldiers, and Libya’s main airport was shut on Friday after a bomb exploded on its runway.

One of the great perversities of the so-called war on terror is that fundamentalist Islamist forces have flourished as a direct consequence of it. Libya is no exception, even though such movements often have little popular support. The Muslim Brotherhood and other elements are better organised than many of their rivals, helping to remove the prime minister, push through legislation, and establish alliances with opportunistic militias.

Ominously, Libya’s chaos is spilling across the region. The country is awash with up to 15 million rifles and other weapons, and a report by the UN panel of experts this month found that “Libya has become a primary source of illicit weapons“. These arms are fuelling chaos in 14 countries, including Somalia, the Central African Republic, Nigeria and Niger.


There is a real prospect of the country collapsing into civil war or even breaking up. Unless there are negotiated settlements to its multiple problems, Libya will surely continue its descent into mayhem, and the region could be dragged into the mire with it.

No wonder western governments and journalists who hailed the success of this intervention are so silent. But here are the consequences of their war, and they must take responsibility for them.

28-year CIA veteran Paul Pillar – who rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts – wrote in May:

Just when one might have thought the mess in Libya could not have gotten worse, it has.


Saudi Arabia and several other Arab states have evacuated their diplomats from Libya, the United States is preparing for possible evacuation of U.S. personnel, and the country appears on the brink of a larger civil war.


Those in Libya closest to being called secular liberals seem to be associated with military officers of the old regime.


The intervention already has negatively affected U.S. interests, particularly in providing a disincentive to other regimes to do what Gaddafi did in negotiating an end to involvement in terrorism and an end to production of unconventional weapons.

And things have only gotten worse since then … and Benghazi has fallen to the jihadis.

(It should be remembered that the U.S. helped sew the seeds of chaos in several ways.  Not only did we engage in direct military intervention against Gadafi, but also – as confirmed by a group of CIA officersarmed Al Qaeda so that they would help topple Gaddafi.)


Opium production is at an all-time high under the American occupation of Afghanistan.

And the New York Times reports this week that the Taliban are currently making huge gains in Afghanistan … in some cases expanding even beyond their traditional areas of influence prior to 2001:

The Taliban have found success beyond their traditional strongholds in the rural south and are now dominating territory near crucial highways and cities that surround Kabul, the capital, in strategic provinces like Kapisa and Nangarhar.

U.S. troops are just now leaving, and so the worst may be still to come.  In addition – as we discuss below – the U.S. previously imposed regime change on Afghanistan … and the results were bad.

History Repeats

The U.S. carried out regime change in Iran in 1953 … which led to radicalization in the country. Specifically, the CIA admits that the U.S. overthrew the moderate, suit-and-tie-wearing, Democratically-elected prime minister of Iran in 1953. (He was overthrown because he had nationalized Iran’s oil, which had previously been controlled by BP and other Western oil companies). As part of that action, the CIA admits that it hired Iranians to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its prime minister.

If the U.S. hadn’t overthrown the moderate Iranian government, the fundamentalist Mullahs would have never taken over. Iran has been known for thousands of years for tolerating Christians and other religious minorities.

Hawks in the U.S. government been pushing for another round of regime change in Iran for decades.

Hillary Clinton and then-president Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser have both admitted on the record that the U.S. previously carried out regime change in Afghanistan in the 1970s by backing Bin Laden and the Mujahadin … the precursor to Al Qaeda.

And look how that turned out.


The U.S. has heavily backed the Islamic rebels in Syria in an attempt to implement regime change in that country.  The result?

As shown by the map above, they’ve taken a third of the country as part of their “caliphate”

And the jihadis are now busily crucifying, beheading and slitting the throats of Christians. (Yup, Syria was previously known for tolerating Christians.)

Haven’t These Wars Made It Safer at Home?

But haven’t all of these wars made it safer here at home?   Nope … a top Pentagon officials says we’re no safer – and perhaps less safe – after 13 years of war.

As we’ve pointed out for almost a decade, security experts – conservative hawks and liberal doves alike – agree that waging war in the Middle East weakens national security and increases terrorism. See this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

Regime Support

But the U.S. doesn’t always back regime change. Sometimes we work to support regimes …

… Unfortunately, they tend to be some of the most brutal tyrannies on the planet.

Postscript:  We can probably add Ukraine to the list of regime changed countries falling into chaos and murderous extremism, given that:

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  • tom

    Iraq was certainly a mistake however polling shows that most libyans and afghans see the intervention in their nations as being right.

    To suggest that these two nations were plunged into chaos ignores the fact that these nations were in a worse condition beforehand with the taliban ruling afghanistan and gaddafi committing mass human rights against his people.

    In regards to syria the cause of its situation was assads misrule, nothing the us could have done could have changed its present state.

    Ukranians themselves also support the overthrow of their leader which they themselves did, not the us.

    • Target4Tyrants

      How would they poll Afghanistan exactly?
      What was Gaddafi’s more recent mass human rights violation on his people? He was no saint, but from my understanding he had made major improvements to his country and infrastructure towards his end.
      LOL Assad’s fault? You realize the rise of ISIS is because we trained and funded them to overturn Syria. Just look at the photos of McCain shaking hands with them recently.
      uh… You realize the stated department along with soros openly bragged that they dumped 5+ billion into political activist groups to push for joining the EU don’t you? It isn’t hard to youtube the damn videos.
      Stop being a useful idiot for authoritarians.

      • tom

        >How would they poll Afghanistan exactly?

        Face to face interviews.

        >but from my understanding he had made major improvements to his country and infrastructure towards his end.

        Towards his end he was committed mass human rights abuses in places such as mistrata, hrw and amnesty have clearly documented his abuses.

        >You realize the rise of ISIS is because we trained and funded them to overturn Syria. Just look at the photos of McCain shaking hands with them recently.

        Isis came after assads misrule, not before.

        >uh… You realize the stated department along with soros openly bragged that they dumped 5+ billion into political activist groups to push for joining the EU don’t you?

        Yes, it still doesnt change the fact that polling evidence shows that most ukranians see the overthrow as right.

        >Stop being a useful idiot for authoritarians.

        Please stop being an idiot in general, thanks.

        • Postbag

          “Polling evidence”
          You’re a fucking joke for sucking that up..

          • tom

            Its better to look at evidence as opposed to making and believing things just off the top of your head.

    • Emblematic

      What are you; a scumbag neo-con, a hasbara troll, or just a Fox News-watching moron?

      • tom

        Im none of those things.

    • moredread66

      Actually you may as well add Bonsia, East Timor and kosovo to the list… these three placeshave it much better since the west intervened ….. I suppose it depends on what the final plan for those countries was– maybe they did plan chaos in Iraq and Libya- maybe they were just stupid

  • nomadfiles

    “All of the Countries which the U.S. “Regime Changed” – Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya – Have Descended into Brutal Chaos”

    It’s almost like that was the plan.

    • Mac Hoban (Tasmania)

      Not at all. To believe that is to miss the point entirely. “American Exceptionalism” is the villain here, the irrational belief that whatever Uncle Sam does is right because the US is unique good and pure among the nations. The results of this toxic optimism give the lie to the myth.

      • nomadfiles

        Yeah, that’s what gets the hoi polloi on board. But the elite are a hell of a lot more calculating. There is nothing inadvertent about these dire developments. They got their foot on the accelerator on a highway to hell.

      • ClubToTheHead

        American Exceptionalism: The belief that no matter how many
        foreign governments and their elections the US subverts; no matter how many
        baseless wars devastate no matter how many millions; no matter how many are
        tortured and imprisoned without cause for no matter how long; no matter how
        many non-white Americans populate the extreme lower classes and prisons: The
        Government of America would NEVER do anything so underhanded and deceptive to
        its own people.

        • Emblematic

          “no matter how many non-white Americans populate the extreme lower classes and prisons”
          You were going well until that part.

          • ClubToTheHead

            White American prison population is underrepresented and non-white prison population is overrepresented.

            White Americans believe they are exceptions to injustices non-white Americans endure, and so do not see it as their problem.

            White Americans still see themselves as privileged beneficiaries of American Exceptionalism.

          • Kevin Clements

            So all the crime committed by non-whites is just a figment our imaginations ?

          • ClubToTheHead

            American Exceptionalism, as I see it, is the belief that Americans will never do to its own white population what it has done to other races. America has never had a black nationalist government, for example, much less one that murders as policy in the name of the State.

            Non-white race crimes, existant as they are, have not been constituted in national policy as American crimes.

          • nomadfiles

            Some of it is.

      • Undecider

        It was the plan, as a matter of fact. When you study “order out of chaos” and the people behind the curtain, what has occurred in those nations is exactly what they planned for. Spend some time research the “globalists” and their thuggish operations. What you’re seeing in those regions is exactly what they calculated for. They are the ones who run the Muslim extremists and social media to achieve their aims. I’d say, they’ve been pretty successful at turning the Middle East upside-down and inside-out. The question is, as a population, when will they figure out they are being played? You don’t work for the global mafia and not get thrown under the bus, in the end.

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    • Tom Feuhrer

      It was the plan, Osama Bin Laden’s and it’s been playing out this entire time.

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    • porkacise
  • It’s all going according to plan.

  • TDi guy

    how about Syria, Egypt, even Libya, since France started bomb them at beginning of the conflict ? I think it’s not right to say. I don’t know what is better totalitarianism regime or right to chose? Its always bothering me.

  • Ash

    The 1980s Afghan war and America created the Talibaan, the Iraq war created ISIS, the Clinton administration and Ethiopia created Al-Shabab, the unregulated oil companies siphoning oil wealth from the Niger delta, government mismanagement and disenfranchisement has lead to the creation of Boko Haram in Nigeria. This is all getting out of hand. Contrary to popular reports it is the vast majority of Muslims that are being killed along with their Christian neighbours. Governments in each of these countries perpetuate the actions of these groups. In chaos the corrupt can remain in power and do what they like. There is chaos all along the Middle East. This has not been created by accident. One by one we all need to reignite the Civil Rights movement for the world.The truth of the matter is people want justice, they want equal rights to education to jobs and most of all security to prosper. Creating division among people and condoning injustice is creating an unstable world. Climate change will only make matters worse.We have to stand up and do what we can now to stop this for the security of future generations. “Evil prospers when good men do nothing”.

  • pamameen


    It is TRUE that the world could have saved the death of about 1,500,000 innocent Iraqis if Saddam was allowed to rule Iraq

    Basically millions and millions of simple folks like many of us on this forum are totally confused and unaware of what is happening in the Middle East civil wars and the issues between the Muslim sects that include Kurds.

    All of us want major changes in the political administration of Muslim nations. Massive changes in the regimes.

    We want more of God fearing Muslims to become political leaders of the Muslim world

    But what to do and how to bring this about? By bloody revolution and by bloody civil wars?

    NO NEVER, we have to choose between anarchy and a less Islamic junta, monarchy or autocrat

    I would choose a leadership that allows the Muslims to allow freedom to practise Islam but many of the leaders themselves are hypocrites as we witness in many nations

    Both Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Assad of Syria were hard core Arab socialists (in fact sort of communists) and faithfully followed the teachings of their Guru Michel Aflaq the founder of Bathist party, neither went anywhere near the Masjids ( probably their images decorated the places of worship) and Muslim nations never failed to recognise them as leaders. WHY?

    Look at Libya What has been the sufferings of the people of Libya after the violent overthrow of Gaddafi. More PEACE there or more inter-tribal killings there?

    For the sake of saving the millions of innocent people of a Muslim nation, at times we have to forgive and forget the shortcomings of our leaders and rulers rather than trying to change the regime, create massive anarchy ( look at Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya , Syria and ????) by getting help from insincere and manipulating Non-Muslim world powers.

    Iraq is right in front of our eyes. Tens of thousands of People like me hated Saddam Hussein and went to the extent of morally co-operating with his opponents and dissidents in seeking help to punish and execute Saddam and overthrow his administration (Remember Dr. Ahmed Chalabi and gang). What were the consequences?

    But right now the same people feel the foolishness, naivety and immaturity of such political thinking ( I was in favour of Americans shaking things up with Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship)

    But later wished if only Saddam had remained in power and we could have saved Americans raping, rupturing and destroying a Muslim nation.

    I would say that we have to be patient, pray hard and should not try to create anarchy and confusion in Muslim societies for the sake of political power. There are hard lessons for the Muslims from these tragedies. United we stand and divided we fall.

    Let us wait until Allah swt Bring about a change in leadership

    Quran 3: 26

    Say, “O Allah , Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and
    You take sovereignty away from whom You will.
    You honor whom You will and You humble whom You will.
    In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, You are over all things competent.

  • Gabriel Topman

    I agree with this. Its impact has made those economically vibrant cities a less stable place for savvy business people. Working at as given me the opportunity to meet a few people who have fled those countries.

    I guess change is not great when an outsider is promising it but they have not succeeded in delivering tangible results anywhere with that approach.