College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

International Studies


Libya, United States, September 11th 2001, Arab spring, international military intervention


The purpose of this study is to examine the fluctuating United States-Libya relations from September 11th, 2001 to the 2011 international military intervention in the Libyan conflict. Both world events critically shaped the course of U.S.-Libya relations in conflicting courses and therefore raise important questions on the economic, strategic and political incentives for both the U.S. and Libya behind the normalization of U.S.-Libya relations. This study uses theoretical (neorealism, liberal internationalism and neo-Gramscian analysis) and qualitative research methods in order to investigate the rationale for the U.S. government’s decision to support the 2011 international military intervention in the Libyan conflict. In doing so, I explain why the U.S. supported the Libyan rebels against the Libyan government, a recent U.S. ally. I also demonstrate that the U.S. involvement in the international intervention in Libya was over-determined,” or having more than one determining factor, since both a humanitarian and strategic interest in backing the intervention existed. Furthermore, my research suggests that the U.S. support for an intervention in Libya was driven by U.S. interest, yet ultimately was influenced by a larger agenda. This agenda included European states (Britain and France) and Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates) whose interests included regional and political stability, or in other words, maintaining the status quo, as well as commercial interests regarding Libya’s oil and natural gas reserves. The historic animosities towards the Libyan government shared by these key states are significant in their support of the 2011 international military intervention in the Libyan conflict.