Libya: Another American Foreign Policy Mistake

We are all watching developments in Libya.  Tunisia and Egypt have disappeared from the headlines.  It is rather odd to me that of all the movements in the Arab world to remove long-entrenched dictators, the one that has gathered the strongest response from America is that in Libya.  America has frozen 30 billion in Libyan assets, and is positioning naval forces in the Meditteranean.  We are going to regret this.

America should be concentrating its efforts on aiding Egypt and Tunisia.  These are the two countries with perhaps the best odds at achieving democracy, should they survive the revolutionary turmoil that they are currently in.  A few days ago demonstaters in Tunisia were fired upon as they were protesting the interim government.  There were several deaths.  This is not good.  There is a fragile transition underway, and it could easily be derailed by such developments.

Libya is in the early stages of civil war.  "The Resistance" is gathering strength and has recently begun consolidating control over the oil fields in the east to use against the regime.  These are estimated to be 80% of Libyan production.  Mark my words: whoever the leaders in this "resistence" are that have taken control of the country's oil will not simply hand that control over to any hypothetical interim government.  Get ready for the warlords, people.

Whatever nastiness happens in Libya is now going to be stamped with the ubiquitous damnation, "American-backed".  Here is a sample of a future news article that the next generation of Eurotards will never allow us to forget:

"A ferry full of undocumented refugees fleeing the civil strife in Libya was intercepted off the coast of Sardinia this morning.  The humanitarian crisis in Libya continues to spiral out of control as the American-backed junta in Libya  persists in killing babies with impunity..."

Why do we (Americans) involve ourselves in efforts that have little chance of success, and thus guarantee that we are associated with the inevitable failure?  The intelligent strategy would be to pour all available energy and resources into developing democracy in Tunisia and Egypt, and leave Libya to Europe.

Momo,You missed your calling,

Momo,

You missed your calling, and a financial winfall, as you should be imployed by dictators and tyrants the world over as their chief spoksperson and apoligist.

 

 

Chris, I can’t believe that

Chris,

I can’t believe that you are unable to understand my position towards the dictators and tyrants the world over. I assume you are unwilling to understand it.

Everyone who has read my posts can see that I am not an apologist of tyrants. Are you perhaps noticing that your position is indefensible and trying to hide that by vilifying your opponent?

Your entire case of the

Your entire case of the legality and the legitimacy of the Lybian war rests on the alleged danger for civilians.

There have been reports of many civilian deaths. Fortunately, there is reason to believe that many have been averted (Eric)

Not enough, Eric. We are not talking about the brutal suppression of opposition here, or about deaths that in other context are “collateral damage”.

Peoples have the right to sort out their internal conflicts internally. This right is the only guarantee for the equality and autonomy of nations. It is absolutely vital to defend this right. The alternative is giving in to domination, imperialism, colonialism. There is no third option.

There is a limit to the right to sovereignty. Nobody is claiming to defend themselves from a Libyan attack on their country. That leaves the protection of civilians against genocide or crimes against humanity.

Do you know what that is?

Yes, of course. It is something to mention in order to end all discourse. Very popular among the people who believe in ascribing attributes and properties to nations and every single national of these nations. This behaviour serves a double purpose: it is used to justify domination, and at the same time it blurs the memory of what crimes against humanity are, which is very convenient for everybody who advocates to commit them.

Jay’s definition is inaccurate, though. Here is a better one, which additionally has the advantage of being the law.

Article 7: Crimes against humanity

1.         For the purpose of this Statute, "crime against humanity" means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

            (a)     Murder;  

            (b)     Extermination;  

            (c)     Enslavement;

            (d)     Deportation or forcible transfer of population;

            (e)     Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;  

            (f)     Torture;  

            (g)     Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;  

            (h)     Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;

            (i)     Enforced disappearance of persons;  

            (j)     The crime of apartheid;  

            (k)     Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.  

2.         For the purpose of paragraph 1:  

            (a)     "Attack directed against any civilian population" means a course of conduct involving the multiple commission of acts referred to in paragraph 1 against any civilian population, pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organizational policy to commit such attack;

            (b)     "Extermination" includes the intentional infliction of conditions of life, inter alia the deprivation of access to food and medicine, calculated to bring about the destruction of part of a population;  

            (c)     "Enslavement" means the exercise of any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership over a person and includes the exercise of such power in the course of trafficking in persons, in particular women and children;

            (d)     "Deportation or forcible transfer of population" means forced displacement of the persons concerned by expulsion or other coercive acts from the area in which they are lawfully present, without grounds permitted under international law;

            (e)     "Torture" means the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, upon a person in the custody or under the control of the accused; except that torture shall not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to, lawful sanctions;

            (f)     "Forced pregnancy" means the unlawful confinement of a woman forcibly made pregnant, with the intent of affecting the ethnic composition of any population or carrying out other grave violations of international law. This definition shall not in any way be interpreted as affecting national laws relating to pregnancy;  

            (g)     "Persecution" means the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity;  

            (h)     "The crime of apartheid" means inhumane acts of a character similar to those referred to in paragraph 1, committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime;  

            (i)     "Enforced disappearance of persons" means the arrest, detention or abduction of persons by, or with the authorization, support or acquiescence of, a State or a political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge that deprivation of freedom or to give information on the fate or whereabouts of those persons, with the intention of removing them from the protection of the law for a prolonged period of time.  

3.         For the purpose of this Statute, it is understood that the term "gender" refers to the two sexes, male and female, within the context of society. The term "gender" does not indicate any meaning different from the above

 

Read that. Note: a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.

 

A military attack on Libya is justified if it is the only means (!) to end or prevent this crime. (Since no-one claims other justifications for war)

There is no evidence that Gaddafi commits a crime against Humanity.

Brendan is eloquently advocating the mother of all war crimes, the crime against peace: a war of aggression. And BigC is torn, but inclined to agree with him. You shock me. You really do. (To the others here: you don’t. Your support of wars of aggression isn’t new. You can carry on debating which countries you want to do it) But Brendan and BigC: make sure that you know what you are doing.

Note: a widespread or

Note: a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.

Momo,

This was and remains the case. This began with huge protests that recevied a response of attacks with live amo, tanks, and aircraft.

Attacks against the

Attacks against the protesters, Brendan. Criminally brutal attacks to crush protests. The group of victims was defined by their actions. But it was not an attack against a civilian population (a group defined by what they are), let alone a widespread or systematic one.

You are blowing up the foundation of international relations: the ban of violence.

Not enough, momo What would

Not enough, momo

What would have been enough?

The Libyan government of Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, is committing "gross and systematic violations of human rights." A variety of sources report numerous repeated attacks by the Libyan authorities on the civilian population of Libya, including by firing live ammunition at demonstrators. Many hundreds of demonstrators have been killed by Libyan state authorities.

Colonel Gaddafi has admitted the systematic intent behind the violence unleashed on the Libyan population and has given cause for substantial concern that further violence will occur. On February 22, Colonel Gaddafi spoke of protestors as "cats and dogs" and threatened to "cleanse Libya house by house." His son Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi said on February 20 that the authorities would "fight to the last man and woman and bullet" in combating the protests and threatened that "rivers of blood" would flow.

The League of Arab States on February 22 denounced the acts of violence being committed against civilians as severe violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, in particular the hiring of foreign mercenaries and the use of live ammunition and heavy artillery against protestors ...

Human Rights Watch

http://tinyurl.com/67fucou

In the internal Libyan

In the internal Libyan perspective Gaddafi has no legitimacy. Every Libyan has the legitimate right to topple his government by non-violent or violent means.

Every Libyan civilian can legitimately pick up arms and take part in the armed uprising against Gaddafi, thus morphing from the status of a civilian into that of a combatant. They have the right and our sympathy.

From the foreign perspective an intervention is legitimate and legal if it is the only means to stop or prevent a crime against humanity, a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.

You have no evidence for that.

You are advocating an intervention to support one side in an internal conflict. This is no legal reason for a foreign intervention. It is a war of aggression, a crime against peace, the severest war crime existing, and you are arguing in favour of it. 

By the way, there is no evidence for the hiring of mercenaries either. The rebels have made many prisoners, but couldn’t produce evidence that any of these are foreigners. Apparently Gaddafi uses regular military, and the mercenaries are another trap of embedded media. It’s irrelevant for the legality of a foreign intervention though.

I simply can't understand why

I simply can't understand why you not consider Gaddafi's own words and that actions of his troops as they prepared to enter Benghazzi. Both words and actions implied...

(a)     Murder;  

(b)     Extermination;  

Is it required to wait until after the murder and extermination to act? What about the reponsibility to protect?

Momo,You are clearly not

Momo,

You are clearly not looking around at the evidence that is out there on youtube and elswhere. The media was effectively shut down, Al Jazeera and others booted out in fact, so you have to search for amateur video evidence. I've seen a large volume of it.

Start by Googling Lybia + Protest + Violence + video

There is indeed evidence of mercenaries by the way, and unfortunately the reprecussion was that innocent migrants were rounded up afterward as suspected mercenaries. I'm hoping that they were expelled to Tunisia and not killed, but I doubt it.

a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.

Yes, there is evidence of a systematic attack against unarmed protestors. The Libyan diplomatic corps is defecting because of it. Pilots are defecting to avoid carrying out orders to bomb their own people.

Eric and Brendan,What is

Eric and Brendan,

What is there not to like [about the United Nations]? It's all the nations of the world. Unless you're planning on leaving the planet, you'll just have to grin and bear it.

If you think it could usefully be reformed, that's generally accepted, especially by those who take a hopeful view of the organization. It has evolved but important steps, such as setting up a permanent UN army may prove to be for ever out of reach. 

You two have far more faith in the United Nations than I do.  You seem to feel that no matter what the repercussions in Libya, that everything will be kosher because it has the UN stamp of approval.  I consider the UN to be highly overrated, and this entire Libyan episode is yet another example of it.  I love the UN on paper, but in practice I think it is a farce.

What the UN lacks, and what it needs most, is clear, coherent, and authoritative leadership towards a universal goal.  The UN was basically created as a means to prevent developed nations from engaging in another world war.  Times have changed, and perhaps it needs a reformed mission statement.  Lets say that the UN took the position that it sought to move the world towards global peace by encouraging global democracy.  That would serve to narrow its scope, and focus it more on a defined objective.  Would it then be more respected and effective?  I think not.  Until the UN can be a truly global force, free from petty international rivalries and short term domestic considerations of its individual members, it will always be hopelessly dysfunctional.

Lets look at the dynamic between America and France.  The French have what I would call a more "feminine" approach to international relations.  I read somewhere that men and women had different approaches to social dominance.  Men tend to view society as heirarchical.  They want to move up the ladder until they are at the top of the pyramid, so to speak.  Women tend to see society as grouped into a series of concentric circles, and their idea of social succes is to be located at the center of this arrangement.  The Americans want the ability to line everyone up and get them to march towards a common purpose, whereas the French are perfectly happy if the world views them as the premier source for advice on fashion, recipes, and relationships.

Americans see a need for global leadership.  At some point, someone has to say, "All right.  We have argued about it long enough.  Everybody get in the back of the truck and lets head on over to Libya.  You can continue to bicker about it on the way, but I'm driving."  The need for leadership is crucial, and in many ways it is quite natural that America should assume that role, as America is the only one with a truck and gas money.  As we have seen so far in the Libyan affair, America can get nations to line up for a common cause, but once American leadership ends, things tend to break down.

The French do not have the economic, military, or diplomatic resources that the Americans do, but feel themselves to be culturally and intellectually a more suitable choice for global leadership than the Americans.  (Actually, I would say that many nations feel that way.  Not as a slight to America, but it is natural for people to think that they could do a better job.)  Their strategy for leadership is to actively cultivate spheres of influence, such as a bloc of French speaking nations inclined to side with the French in international affairs, or as presenting themselves as an alternative to American leadership for any transient allignment of nations on any particular issue.  Essentially, the French have made a career out of consistently defying America as vocally as possible.  This comes from a nation that is for all practical purposes an ideological ally.

Now look at the nations who are not ideological allies.  The Russians have their own pretensions of global leadership, but with a rather uninspiring domestic model hardly worthy of emulation, while the Chinese consider "global leadership" to be something of an oxymoron.  Put all of these personalities in the same room and you have the greatest excuse for the most elaborate, inefficient, and dystopian bureaucracy engaged in the latest international reincarnation of The Great Game.

Why did the French get so far out in front of the Libyan situation?  Because they were so far behind in support for the Egyptian and Tunisian democracy movements.  Why did the Americans join in with the French aggressiveness?  Because Obama is increasingly being seen as lacking a sophisticated agenda domestically, and didn't want to give the Republicans another talking point in 2012 as the Arab Spring appeared to fizzle.

Your error is in assuming that the United Nations is a supranational organization diligently working through international crises to find the wisest long term solutions to the world's problems.  In reality it is a sloppy consortium of ad hoc decision makers more prone to base their votes according to the lingering resentments against who got chosen to host the next World Cup or Olympic Games.  It is viewed by many Americans as a vastly corrupt, inefficient and confused bureaucracy which is prone to a liberal, elitist, and anti-American strain which is obviously endemic to vast bureaucracies.  It is viewed by many Arabs as simply another tool that the West uses to indirectly maintain their former imperialist control over them.  It is viewed by any nation that has ever hosted a peacekeeping operation as nothing more than an elaborate scheme to allow Belgians to pocket $100,000 a year while eating popcorn as the Serbs shoot every male over the age of 14 in Srebrenica.

So yes, Eric, the United Nations is composed of its individual members, but until the organization has a global vision and a clarity of global purpose that supercedes the prevailing moods and petty rivalries of its individual members it is going to be considered largely irrelevant to the majority of the planet.  Watch and see what happens with the implementation of UNSC 1973, as poor planning, poor execution, poor leadership, and poorly defined goals takes its toll on the people of Libya.

My response to this would be

My response to this would be excessively long, and perhaps it would be better suited as it's own thread. I'll think about it, but I've already overstayed in here.

So, very quickly...

I have described the UN process here as "flawed" and "imperfect", which is clearly true, and quite possibly an understatement, but that doesn't mean that it should be abandoned. The institution can only be strengthened by correct actions properly executed. Right now, that means filtering all possible responses through the security council and, through the five permanent members... which has been mostly a catastrophe. In this case it functioned, I can only imagine that happened because of the full moon.

For critics who claim that the UNSC is not democratic enough because of the permanent members, the vetoes, the fait accompli process, well, the general assembly is mostly made up reps from nations who are not free democracies either, so there is no democratic solution at this point in history, only a slow process toward that outcome.

A renewed commitment to reforming this institution will require that nations and their people see a role for the UN in conflict resolution. At one time that was the blue helmets, but that symbol has become a bit sullied in recent years (Srebrenica, Rwanda, etc.). Libya is an interesting test case for a new role, one that confirms the responsibility to protect and at the same time represents a real warning to other nations (think Syria, Iran) who’s populations might be coming to a boil, ruled by regimes that resort to violent repression as a first response.

One thing I am convinced of is that inaction will surely lead to a weakened and ever more useless squabble house.

UN reforms I would like to discuss elsewhere:

  • Doing away with the “permanent” status of members of the SC
  • Move to a “ranked membership system” in the general assembly using classification of nations rated by commitments kept to treaties, individual freedoms and democracy.

more faith in the United

more faith in the United Nations than I do.  You seem to feel that no matter what the repercussions in Libya, that everything will be kosher because it has the UN stamp of approval. JFT

Not faith. Hope and not a great deal. As for Libya, the key to a successful conclusion lies with the Libyan National Transition Council.

prone to a liberal, elitist, and anti-American strain which is obviously endemic to vast bureaucracies. JFT

It would be inappropriate for international civil servants to be either pro or anti any national government. Nor is the bureaucracy 'vast'.

The UN has 63,450 employees in the entire UN system worldwide.. By comparison: the United States Department of Education employs nearly 71,000 people; the city of Ontario, Canada, has over 80,000 public employees; and the Coca Cola Company has 74,000 employees.
http://www.un.org/geninfo/ir/index.asp?id=160

You lay great emphasis on 'leadership'. I would stress 'co-operation'. In the nature of things, the UN is bound to reflect the the divisions among its members. It's a democracy of nations, not an organization where a Great Leader among nations should play an imperial role.

Not faith. Hope and not a

Not faith. Hope and not a great deal.

Hope is not a plan.  It's a coin toss and certainly not the basis for foreign policy.

Hope wins elections however.

Hope wins elections however.

And "reality"

And "reality" wins re-elections.

Italy is gonna get the

Italy is gonna get the refuges anyway.  And Lybian oil will be sold on the free market, at the same price as any other Gulf State's.  So Italy and France can both buy oil anywhere the supply exists.

Mike,I am very concerned

Mike,

I am very concerned about poorly defined objectives for US participation and no real mission statement from the president.

I guess the implied mission statement would be to establish air superiority for our European allies and then retire from the intervention.  What bothers me so far is the lack of an exit strategy for even so simple a mission.  I would have liked to have seen a definite expiration date for American involvement.

As I said earlier, I welcome the Europeans having a more assertive foreign policy and taking on a larger share of global police work.  I think it is a good thing for the world to have a second liberal democratic superpower working towards similiar foreign policy goals as the US.

However, the Europeans have frequently proven themselves to be uncoordinated and philosophically incoherent when attempting to work in unison.  We are now faced with the problem of handing over the reins of this operation to a squabbling fracas.

The French and the Turks do not want NATO to take the reins because its membership would largely imply Muslim exclusion.  The Italians and British rightly expect that such an international operation should fall under the international command structure of Nato.  If they don't sort this out, we might be stuck in the forefront of an operation that we don't even want.  Obama should have made sure such a critical detail was worked out before he committed us.

It sounds like the debate is getting nasty:

The squabbling continued as Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini again threatened to take back complete control of Italian airbases if NATO did not take the reins of the mission.

"Who, if not NATO, can take on this task?" said Frattini in comments to Italian media.

Some Italian politicians sought to settle old colonial scores by cynically noting that if France was allowed to lead this mission, it would get all the Libyan oil contracts and Italy would get all the Libyan refugees.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/europe/03/22/libya.nato.squabbling/index.html?hpt=T1

NATO is inappropriate because

NATO is inappropriate because of Turkey's refusal to endorse intervention. Germany approves of the goals of the resolution and I think they will eventually participate once they see results.

NATO is also a lazy response. They try and use NATO for all kinds of stuff it is not intended for. This is a new paradigm that requires a command structure that reflects the coalition itself. It should also reflect the UN as the source of the negotiated objectives and mission statement. If a cease fire is indeed called, then the transition to UN monitoring would or could be integrated into the decision making about actions or reactions.

I'm clearly reaching here, (and at the same time trying to offend Mike's military sensibilities), but NATO is not on. How about:

European Taskforce for Airspacecontrol, Reconnaissance & Demilitarization Alliance

The EUROTARD Alliance?

Actually, I agree with you in

Actually, I agree with you in principle.  NATO is not appropriate, yet NATO is a mature alliance capable of providing the C2 structure if the US is unwilling to take lead.  Yet look at all the infighting within this "mature" alliance!  Do you really think crafting a new coalition with an reasonable chance of success is possible given the time constraints?  I don't.

I DO however like the notion of a EUROTARD Alliance, if only for the name.  :-)

 

 

Mike,Also, UNLIKE Bush, Obama

Mike,

Also, UNLIKE Bush, Obama has failed to notify congress before committing troops, potentially violating constitutional requirements.

O.k., I will say it before you do: "President Obomber".

"...and not briskly jump on

"...and not briskly jump on the bandwagon of a gung-ho rush to war."

Excellent advice at this point.  I am very concerned about poorly defined objectives for US participation and no real mission statement from the president.  Even what little that has been offered is somewhat contradictory to make it politically palatable, but does not meet military planning standards as measurable and achievable.   Regime change is the implied goal that no one seems willing to commit to, but is the only one that will reasonably achieve some measure of protection for the civilian population which is the stated military objective.

Also, UNLIKE Bush, Obama has failed to notify congress before committing troops, potentially violating constitutional requirements.

Brendan,I am sure that Egypt

Brendan,

I am sure that Egypt would like to shape events in a future Libya.  That is no surprise.

Remember that you have significant opposition from Russia, Germany, Turkey (critical), and the American public (even more critical).  This needs to be accomplished without American leadership, and if the current spat over French/NATO leadership is any indication, this is going to be sloppy and internationally divisive.

Just encouraging you to consider the variables, and not briskly jump on the bandwagon of a gung-ho rush to war.

Spain has voted to join the

Spain has voted to join the coalition intervening in Libya.

Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero said , "We are in Libya to defend citizens from attacks by Libyan forces." The motion was passed virtually unanimously with three votes against and one abstention. Prime Minister Zapatero said that the mission has a UN mandate and "the responsibility is to protect: If a state does not do its duty to protect, we must intervene."

Egypt is assisting on the east as well. Even with the rise in hand wringing and purse clutching from certain corners of the world, Gaddafi's immediate neighbors seem determined.

Brendan,You seem to find

Brendan,

You seem to find yourself continually on the wrong side of that fence, and history.

I could say the same about you.  The objective is obviously regime change, and using the creative arguments of the Europeans of the Iraq war era, this action could be seen as illegal, no.  What makes it ok now?

As far as justification for regime change, there is far less of it than there was for removing Saddam.  Gadaffi has recently renounced terrorism, paid reparations to his victims of it, renounced possession of WMD, and agreed to inspectors to verify it.  If Saddam had done all that, the US would have had no justification to remove him.

Satellite imagery shows that loyalists leveled a mosque used by rebels as a command center in Zawiya, but other than that hard fact we don't have a lot of hard intelligence proving that Gadaffi is indeed involved in large scale execution of war crimes.  I have not seen any trove of photographs of dead women and children, have you?  You are justifying an intervention on heresay.  The US made that mistake a few years ago also.

You seem to think that the Libyans are going to greet you as liberators and always think of you fondly.  You do not understand the situation on the ground, and there are far more loyalists than you could imagine.  Most of them are simply "the silent majority", that don't want to live through an era of chaos.

Don't get me wrong.  I want to see Gadaffi go, and I am perfectly willing to be a little creative in interpreting the rules to make it happen.  The point I am making here is that you are being both naive when it comes to the challenge of a Libyan democracy in the near future, and hypocritical in not understanding that you are following the same path as the American experience in Iraq.  At least America stayed long enough to physically implement and protect a new democracy.  You are just going to unleash a civil war and then leave.  Where is the morality in that?

The UNSC is a country club of the world's rich nations which allows them to rubber stamp their continued global domination.  It has no respect outside the country club, and you shouldn't believe that your cause is just merely because you have UNSC 1973.  Remember that one of the first attacks of the Iraqi "insurgency" was against the UN, which was actually opposed to the US invasion in the first place.  Remember?  The attack that killed Sergio Vieira de Mello?

The UNSC is a country club of

The UNSC is a country club of the world's rich nations which allows them to rubber stamp their continued global domination. JFT

If you look at the membership of the Security Council you'll see that that isn't true; For resolution 1973: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Gabon, Lebanon, Nigeria, Portugal, South Africa, Britain, France and the USA.  Germany, Russia, China, Brazil and India abstained.

Eric,I am going to come back

Eric,

I am going to come back later with a post on why I am less than fond of the United Nations.  I might make more sense to you and Brendan if I did.

 less than fond of the United

 less than fond of the United Nations. JFT

What is there not to like? It's all the nations of the world. Unless you're planning on leaving the planet, you'll just have to grin and bear it.

If you think the organization could usefully be reformed, that's generally accepted, especially by those who take a hopeful view. It has evolved but important steps, such as setting up a permanent UN army may prove to be for ever out of reach.  

...there are far more

...there are far more loyalists than you could imagine.  Most of them are simply "the silent majority", that don't want to live through an era of chaos.

I do have some reservations about this. It's hard to get information that is believable or verifiable about public opinion, in Tripoli in particular. Other places it is clear that Gaddafi has no support, but I agree that this is not necessarily the case in Tripoli or everywhere for that matter.

Are they all going to immediately start roadside bombing each other because of the prospect of chaos or uncertainty? I highly doubt it.

Brendan,Perhaps it is best

Brendan,

Perhaps it is best that I respond to this second post.  It seems like you and I are digging in to our positions, and might not be listening closely to the other at this point.

I do have some reservations about this. It's hard to get information that is believable or verifiable about public opinion, in Tripoli in particular.

Thanks for that.  I do need the occasional acknowledgement that at least some aspects of what I am attempting to convey are getting across.

My big concern is that this situation did not seem to be approached cautiously.(!!!)

I do not believe that the rebels were in immediate danger of extermination.  In past conflicts that I have followed, the press was reporting imminent collapse of the favored side daily--  For years.

As a rule of thumb, it would be better if we were not involved at all, but perhaps--perhaps--an intervention was necessary, but I hadn't really seen the evidence that it was.

(I have heard that the intervention has emboldened people in Tripoli, and they have become more vocal in openly criticising the regime.  That is a good thing.)

The intervention is going to widen the war.  That is just the way these things work.  We don't really know if the LPNTC has any real legitimacy on the ground, so we don't really know who we are dealing with on the ground.  There are just so many things that we don't know.  The French led the push for some unknown reason (maybe it is a good one) but this all happened too fast.  It appears our response was emotional, not carefully measured.  This is all coming across as rather reckless--particularly if you are not a North American or European citizen--and there will be a nasty civil war that follows.  We will carry the blame for it.

Hi Jay, I'll do my best to

Hi Jay,

I'll do my best to keep an open mind if you will. The outcome will tell us who's mistaken and I'm comfortable with being wrong if it turns out that way. I think this gesture by the coalition comes from the right direction and with good intentions even if all the players have, or are defending their national or commercial *interests*

This response was not cautious due to the arduous task of organizing and approving a multilateral response through the UNSC. It was, however, just in time. Loyalists had blasted rebels out of almost every town down the coast to Benghazi. They had already started violent sorties in the city. Gaddafi then made his "cockroaches" speech that day and that was the trigger for action.

They would have gone into the city of 1,000,000 to hunt down and eradicate the opposition fighters and politicians. This is Gaddafi thinking everyone is busy with the Japanese catastrophe and no one is paying attention. He was very close to succeeding.

I would suggest to you that there was more than a significant prospect for violence against civilians, crimes against humanity, torture, and so on. I don’t need to convince you of this, it’s pretty clear that this was a distinct possibility. Review the liveblog of the day here for confirmation.

We’ll have to deal with the concept of potential blame at a later date should “a wider war” cause undue suffering. At the moment, I am convinced that this intervention has averted undue suffering and that Gaddafi has been limited to whatever extent. If everyone left tomorrow, I believe that they have already achieved something and left the situation much better than it was last Friday.

In addition, you should also know that Moammar had big money on Arizona over UT and rumor has it that he bought the refs.

Brendan,There's only one UT,

Brendan,

There's only one UT, and it's in Knoxville.

Alan,There's only one UT, and

Alan,

There's only one UT, and it's in Knoxville.

Why don't you follow your historical precedent and get your Tennessee ass down here and do something about all these Mexicans.

(Just kidding by the way.)

Longhorns I meant

Longhorns I meant

Jason, sometimes I get the

Jason, sometimes I get the feeling that you are arguing for the sake argument. Like a lawyer with a guilty client, the thrill is all in seeding doubt in the mind of the jurors because there is simply no evidence to work with.

The objective is obviously regime change

The objective of the Libyan opposition / rebels / demonstrations is regime change. The objective of the UN, the objective I am agreeing with, is the protection of those citizens as they demand change and reform.

The UN is not trying to justify regime change, so the comparison with Saddam and Iraq, quite simply, ends there.

This action does have a legal basis derived from UNSC resolution 1973. It has support from the Arab League, it has participation of Arab countries, but most importantly it is being cheered by those who have been subjected to violence and murder by their own government, the Libyan people.

The UNSC is a country club of old powers due to the veto.

Russia and China probably want the "west" to get mired again, but they did not vote against, never mind veto. Regardless of their posturing, they have tacitly agreed to an intervention by allowing the vote to end up 10-0

You seem to think that the Libyans are going to greet you as liberators

See the US pilots who were rescued by Libyans and thanked by the people who found them. Very moving. I should mention that “we”, the coalition will likely never meet the Libyans in person as "we" are never going to enter their territory without invitation.

Sergio Vieira de Mello

I remember it well. A very disturbing turn of evens to be sure. A close friend of mine was working directly for him in Iraq when that happened which made for a long tense day for me. Aside from being an example of erratic and violent reaction to the perceived occupation, why would you think that is relevant? Is that a possibility if the UN tries to occupy or peacekeep without an invitation from the warring parties? Er, yes, I suppose it is.

The objective of the Libyan

The objective of the Libyan opposition / rebels / demonstrations is regime change. The objective of the UN, the objective I am agreeing with, is the protection of those citizens as they demand change and reform

The rebels are staging an armed uprising. They are combatants.

The stated objective of the UN is the protection of civilians. There is no proof that civilians are in danger though, but the UN has most decidedly not said they protect one armed faction against the other. That would have been a bit too blatantly against international law.

But you are right of course: the true objective is support for the rebels.

See the US pilots who were rescued by Libyans and thanked by the people who found them. Very moving.

And then the pilots were fetched by helicopters and the villagers report six of them were shot by the helicopter crews, which the US deny. Very moving indeed. No more flowers for helicopter crews, I guess.

There have been reports of

There have been reports of many civilian deaths. Fortunately, there is reason to believe that many have been averted.

 Details have emerged of huge casualty figures in the Libyan city of Benghazi, where troops have launched a brutal crackdown on protesters More than 200 people are known to have died, doctors say, with 900 injured. The most bloody attacks were reported over the weekend, as funeral marches were said to have come under machine-gun and heavy weapons fire. Human Rights Watch says at least 173 people have been killed in Libya since demonstrations began on Wednesday. BBC 20 February 2011

 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12517327

That article is over a month

That article is over a month old, Eric.  Stoner.

"...and the villagers report

"...and the villagers report six of them were shot by the helicopter crews, which the US deny."

If they were "reporting" then they were not shot at...or they would not still be alive to report.  Perhaps it was wedding party reporting it?

Mike,I actually read that

Mike,

I actually read that report earlier.  Allegedly, 6 Libyans were injured during the rescue operation, including a 10 year old boy who might lose his leg.

I have no reason to doubt it, as a contingent of Libyans running towards a rescue operation with the intention of thanking the foreign troops for the intervention, and then being mistaken for a rush of loyalists in the darkness is not that far out of the question.

I have not heard it reported in the American news yet, but I have been watching Fox today.

 

Perhaps.  I haven't seen it

Perhaps.  I haven't seen it yet either but there is certainly reason to question the veracity of the report given the poster offering it.  But I'm sure the pucker factor was extremely high for this CSAR mission and without clear assurance who the good and bad guys were approaching the aircrew being extracted.

Why didn’t you use the link I

Why didn’t you use the link I provided, if you don’t trust my information?

The most likely explanation for the soldiers’ behaviour is that in a situation were soldiers might possibly be in danger, they routinely shoot. Probably they are trained to do that. In consequence it means that they set soldiers’ safety higher than civilians’ safety.

That’s the lot to send on a mission to protect civilians.

Hi Momo. It is true that the

Hi Momo. It is true that the locals were injured by shrapnel from a bomb dropped between the pilot and the villagers who were searching for the pilot. This is unfortunate and a potential PR disaster. I was writing about commenting about the other pilot who was retrieved and taken care of by the villagers. My point was that locals are supportive of the intervention, and that is still the case even after this incident.

Brendan,I really feel it is

Brendan,

I really feel it is an awkward turn about that I can find this action appropriate, proportionate and legitimate while you, a onetime fence-sitting hawk, react as though you are chewing tinfoil whenever the word "intervention" and "Arab" come up in the same paragraph.

Actually, it is when the words "Arab", "intervention", and "America" come up in the same paragraph that I get catatonic.  That is the kiss of death as far as I am concerned.  It is just too soon.  There is still propaganda circulating out there that America is "at war with Islam", and to be involved in another conflict with another Muslim nation is more grist for the rumor mill.

I have never been a hawk.  I am an internationalist and always have been.  I supported the removal of Saddam because he was a threat to international order, and set a precedent that the United Nations could be ignored with impunity.  I was surprised when the French put so much effort into blocking his removal, and absolutely shocked when the populations of our supposed Western allies put so much effort into condemning America and championing Saddam--especially from our friends in Canadastan by the way.  It was America that began this process of forcibly democratizing the Middle East, which you didn't support then, but do support now.  Where is your consistency?

The experience of Iraq has taught me that ordinary people have little patience or tolerance for the fight for freedom, and that they especially do not understand the dynamics of the Middle East.  When there is ugliness, they are quick to blame that entity which is perceived to have the most "power", because it is assumed that they have the ability to prevent the ugliness but didn't do so because they were incompetent, or because there was profit in ugliness.

In Libya, there WILL be ugliness.  America is at least intelligent enough to know that they don't want to be around for it, while the Europeans are fighting over who will be seen as the leaders of the Libyan intervention.  These idiots have not been paying attention.  They are so busy primping for a beauty contest of international prestige that they are not paying attention to the lessons of the Iraq war.  This is a game of musical chairs where the rules are reversed.  The last thing you want is to be the winner, where you are still seated and everyone else has left.

I earlier said that it would be good for the world if there was a second great power--the EU--aggressively pursuing a liberal, democratic agenda in the world.  Let the Europeans handle Libya, and when they get their asses kicked by unintended consequences and the concurrent global condemnation, it will help to heal the wounds of Iraq and reunite the Western powers in a common cause.

Lessons of the Iraq War:

#1  This is not going to be easy.

#2  When you remove a longstanding Arab tyrant with foreign intervention, you will unleash an inscrutable anarchy.

#3  The people you are helping will turn on you, as it provides them with political legitimacy and street cred to oppose foreigners.

#4  Despite all of your sacrifices for democracy, you will only be remembered as being responsible for every death in the ensuing civil war.

#5  There are far more "Momos" in the world than you could ever imagine.

#6  Arab pride dictates that they would rather be beaten down for decades by one of their own than ever deign to acknowledge aid from the West.

#7  People who originally supported intervention (such as yourself) will later claim that it was a dumb idea all along, and the civil war will thus spread to your own country.  You will then elect the first politically incompetent pretty boy that comes along promising "change".

#8  You will somehow be labeled as "a threat to global peace", participating only for oil revenues.

#9  It will be claimed that you "lost" the war, even when Gadaffi is gone and Libya is a democracy.

#10  You can't give up.  When you break it, you buy it.

If you think that a UNSC resolution absolves you from the consequences of violating these rules, then sign right here on the dotted line and knock yourself out:

Print:          ____________________________

Signature: ____________________________

Witness:    jayfromtexas                                        

Jay,Eric is correct. I don't

Jay,

Eric is correct. I don't want to bring up Iraq yet again. Your understanding of how that unfolded is simply different from mine. In my view the UN and the UNSC is one additional check and balance on liberal democracies who want to intervene in states that are imploding into civil war. This is an imperfect structure, but it should be supported and it does have legitimacy among member states.

You were hawkish on Iraq, which was a bad thing to be hawkish about, so that's why you are a fence-sitting hawk. You seem to find yourself continually on the wrong side of that fence, and history.

 I supported the removal of

 I supported the removal of Saddam because he was a threat to international order, and set a precedent that the United Nations could be ignored with impunity. JFT

Totally false. The threat to international order came from the United States and was fulfilled by aggression against Iraq in defiance of the UN.

Of course it’s totally false.

Of course it’s totally false. Jay claims that it is axiomatic the US were interested in spreading freedom and democracy though. All evidence shows us that the opposite is true. It’s a thought crime to believe the evidence, not Jay’s words, though.

...the next day we launch

...the next day we launch $200 million worth of missiles...

Do we send that bill to the UN?

 

Do we send that bill to the

Do we send that bill to the UN?

I think they will just subtract it from your tab :-)

Branden,Why is there so much

Branden,

Why is there so much hand wringing by US media and commentators? They are insisting on "defined goals" "defined measures of success" and "a defined mission" "defined objectives".

There is so much anxiety now because Obama punked us.  One day he was only asking for Gadaffi to step down, the next day we launch $200 million worth of missiles at him.  We never had the opportunity to debate this as a nation.  Congress declares war for our country, not the UN.

"Defined goals, measures of success, and mission" are a way of avoiding another Vietnam or Iraq.  It is also a way of avoiding another Lebanon or Somalia, where we have to watch our soldiers get blown up in their barracks or dragged through the streets.  We need any more open-ended commitments in the Muslim world.

Hey, I like and can

Hey, I like and can appreciate the fact that there is a sensitivity to further engagement, particularly in the Muslim world. I feel that Gaddafi (Sarkozy and Ban, too) left Obama with no choice in this case, and as I've already suggested, I don't think that there is any long term commitment at all, particularly from the US, with the legitimacy provided by the SC resolution.

I really feel it is an awkward turn about that I can find this action appropriate, proportionate and legitimate while you, a onetime fence-sitting hawk, react as though you are chewing tinfoil whenever the word "intervention" and "Arab" come up in the same paragraph.