Now listen you, people of NATO. You’re bombing a wall which stood in the way of African migration to Europe, and in the way of Al-Qaeda terrorists. This wall was Libya. You‘re breaking it. You’re idiots, and you will burn in Hell for thousands of migrants from Africa and for supporting Al-Qaeda. It will be so. I never lie. And I do not lie now."
This is what Muammar Gaddafi wrote in an open letter obtained by the Russian daily Zavtra and published in May 2011 several months before the Libyan leader was killed.
No doubt Saddam Hussein and Bashar al Assad could have made equally prescient warnings about the dangers of deposing them. But US/NATO went right ahead doing their utmost to achieve regime change.
With Iraq it was straightforward invasion. That turned out badly and western electorates wouldn't stand for sending more troops to die in foreign adventures. So when a chance came up to depose Qaddafi in Libya they bombarded from the air, abusing a UN Security Council resolution, mandating civilian protection.
And with Syria they used proxies, arming the opposition to the Assad regime via the CIA with weapons from Qaddafi's arsenal and encouraging the flow of money and weapons from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Of course it is all done in the name of removing odious dictators. But the US has supported a lot of odious, brutal dictators in the past, ranging from the very same Saddam to the Shah (Reza Pahlavi) of Iran; from Mobutu of Zaire to Somoza in Nicaragua etc. etc. Indeed there is a new tyrant emerging almost next door to Syria, who is tolerated if not loved by USA. I refer to Field Marshall el Sisi in Egypt, who shows every sign of becoming a new middle eastern tyrant (was it LBJ would said "A bastard, but our bastard"?)
So I am afraid the moral argument doesn't hold much water for me. Simply put the US cannot tolerate regimes which won't bend the knee to US hegemony.
The blowback from Libya has been building for the last few years, as the trickle of refugees across the Mediterranean has grown along with the presence of ISIS and other jihadi groups. Just as Gadaffi warned. And the blowback from Syria has now exploded creating a serious refugee crisis for Europe.
Sadly very few commentators link these disturbing events with Western efforts to remove the dictators. No lessons seem to have been learned. Rather we hear calls for more bombing of ISIS or a more determined effort to oust Assad. I am afraid it is only going to get worse.