Rory Stewart a deputy governor of two provinces in southern Iraq in 2003-4, and the author of The Places In Between, about his 2002 walk across Afghanistan, is now a Conservative MP.
The last two decades of intervention suggest one thing: that interventions are intrinsically unpredictable, chaotic and uncertain. They can work: the international community played a prudent and constructive role in Bosnia, and the Bosnia of 2005 was far better than that of 1995. But in Iraq and Afghanistan, disorder and chaos seemed predestined. Guilt at lost lives, embarrassment, pride, fear of Islamists and hubris all prevented the West from acknowledging failure: instead of pulling back, they dived ever deeper. And their occupation bloated, warped and corrupted the fundamental structures – social, political and economic – of the countries they were purporting to help.
The lesson for Libya was that the West should not be dragged too far in and that it should anticipate chaos.
No one is going to come out this smelling of roses.