NATO's Canadian commander in Libya 'disappointed' with lack of progress

Retired lieutenant-general Charles Bouchard, former commander of the NATO-led mission in Libya, told CBC News he had hoped more would have been done to support the Libyan people in their transition toward democracy and stability once the military intervention ended.

UN oversight following Gadhafi's overthrow insufficient to the task, Charles Bouchard says

CBC's Catherine Cullen looks at how Libya has deteriorated since NATO intervened in 2011 2:43

The Canadian commander who led NATO's mission in Libya three years ago says the international community under the guidance of the United Nations should have done more to ensure the country was on a path to long-term stability.

Retired lieutenant-general Charles Bouchard, former commander of the NATO-led mission in Libya, told CBC News he had hoped more would have been done to support the Libyan people in their transition toward democracy and stability once the military intervention ended.

"Our view was to create an environment where diplomacy and dialogue would take place, where people would start talking … we created that environment by stopping the violence, but at that point more was needed, and I'm not certain more was completed," Bouchard said.

Amid increasing reports of violence on the streets of Tripoli, the Canadian government closed its embassy earlier today, suspending operations and withdrawing staff members from Libya.

The closing follows a similar decision by other countries, including the United States, which moved its diplomats from Tripoli to neighbouring Tunisia and shut its embassy over the weekend.

UN role 'insufficient'

​The NATO-led mission in Libya provided air cover to protect civilians and allow rebel forces to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi.

Once the military intervention ended, Bouchard said, the fate of the Libyan people was left in the hands of the UN, which he deemed "insufficient" to the task.

"Once the mission was finished we handed over the mission to a very limited UN organization which was limited in scope, limited in its mission, and limited in numbers — which certainly I would have assessed as insufficient to accomplish the stability objective that we set for ourselves."

Bouchard, who was honoured by the Canadian government for his role in ending Gadhafi's dictatorship, said he is disappointed there hasn't been more progress.

"There is no doubt in my mind that the work that we did in Libya was right, that we needed to do it, that we saved lives. I have no doubt about that."

"I am proud of the work that we accomplished but I remain disappointed as I see the outcome today."

As NATO countries under the guidance of the UN consider future missions, "They should not only consider what the military task is but what will be done after that military mission is completed," he said.

"To me the secret is to bring all of these [countries] together, but to do it as early as possible in the conflict or even before the decision to get involved so that people will have a road map to take them to a successful conclusion."

Bouchard retired in April 2012 after more than 37 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He is now chief executive for Lockheed Martin Canada, the maker of the F-35 fighter jets.


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