President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are promising a quick, limited attack on Syria, with "no boots on the ground," and no entanglements. Clean. Antiseptic.

That makes it a good moment to check out President Obama's last war of choice — Libya. Of course, we had last fall the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi. But how's the rest of the country faring?

Not well at all, according to The Indepedent's anti-war war correspondent Patrick Cockburn:

Mutinying security men have taken over oil ports on the Mediterranean and are seeking to sell crude oil on the black market. Ali Zeidan, Libya’s Prime Minister, has threatened to “bomb from the air and the sea” any oil tanker trying to pick up the illicit oil from the oil terminal guards, who are mostly former rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi ....

Libyans are increasingly at the mercy of militias which act outside the law. Popular protests against militiamen have been met with gunfire; 31 demonstrators were shot dead and many others wounded as they protested outside the barracks of “the Libyan Shield Brigade” in the eastern capital Benghazi in June.

Again, Cockburn is a very opinionated writer who has a made a career reporting the case against war, so take his report with a grain of salt if you like. But as Obama lobbies for another war, we ought to reflect on whether Libya is far messier than promised. We know Afghanistan and Iraq were.

Why would Syria be different?