Beware Missile Stockpile in Libya

What’s wrong with this picture? On the one hand, Gen. Carter Ham, head of U.S. Africa Command, says (as the Associated Press puts it) that “the military mission in Libya is largely complete and NATO’s involvement could begin to wrap up as soon as this coming week after allied leaders meet in Brussels.” On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal reports:

Spread across the desert here off the Sirte-Waddan road sits one of the biggest threats to Western hopes for Libya: a massive, unguarded weapons depot that is being pillaged daily by anti-Gadhafi military units, hired work crews and any enterprising individual who has the right vehicle and chooses to make the trip.

Given that Libya’s borders appear to be unguarded, there is no telling where all this weaponry could go. Some of it could wind up in the right hands–e.g., being used to help anti-Assad rebels in Syria battle for freedom. But some of it could also wind up in the hands of jihadist terrorist groups who might even acquire the capacity to shoot down civilian airliners with looted surface-to-air missiles. And with NATO refusing to take an active role in shaping post-Qaddafi Libya, we have scant influence to affect the outcome.

Perhaps it will all work out all right; I certainly hope so. But, as I have repeatedly argued ever since the start of this intervention, I fear the Obama administration might be repeating the same mistakes made by George W. Bush–declaring victory too soon, being overly focused on deposing a dictator, and not doing enough to secure an adequate end-state.