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.

Criticism of an American

Criticism of an American politican’s words, and immediately you call it anti-Americanism again!

That makes clear that what you want is that everyone treats every US American as infallible. You are the best example to prove that idiotic theory of yours wrong.

Momo,You have such aggressive


You have such aggressive ignorance.  Here is the excerpt that you are referring to:

The White House condemned Syria's "brutal repression of demonstrations" and said those responsible for the violence must be held accountable.

The Egyptian military, which receives about $1.3 billion a year in U.S. aid, has run a caretaker government in Cairo since Mubarak was forced to step down on February 11 following mass demonstrations against his three-decade rule.

Gates cited Syria, Libya and Iran as examples of "authoritarian regimes (that) have suppressed their people and have been willing to use violence against them."

"And so I think that what we see is the opening to the future that's occurring in virtually all of these countries," said Gates.

At no point is it ever implied that these are the only repressive regimes in the region.  And, as far as the region goes, yes, I would consider Libya to be a part of the Middle East as it is being used in this context.

Opinions vary as to what countries make up the modern definition of the Middle East. Historically, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been long associated with the Middle East, but in recent years, some sources now consider them to be more closely aligned with Europe based on their modern economic and political trends. We have moved in that direction, and the same applies for the island country of Cyprus, as it does for Georgia, the former Russian republic.

The African country of Egypt is still thought (by some) to be in the Middle East, as well as the northern African countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.

Here we attempt to show the modern definition of the Middle East, but in world of geography, there are often many answers or (personal or political opinions) to what appears to be a simple question

Very hilarious article Robert

Very hilarious article

Robert Gates has found out there are authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. Three. Can you guess which? Er, Saudi Arabia, perhaps? Nope. Bahrain? Hell, no. Israel? Stupid question. Jordan, where at least one demonstrator was killed today and about 200 injured? Oh no.

Syria, Iran, and Libya. And that's it. (Question to the Americans here: do you really count Libya to the Middle East or has Gates no idea of geography?)

And then he even lauds Egypt’s army, which is still fighting the opposition as “empowering revolution”!

I'm happily surprised by

I'm happily surprised by Robert Gates' honesty.

Sec. GATES: This command and control business is complicated. And we haven't done something like this kind of on-the-fly before and so it's not surprising to me that it would take a few days to get it all sorted out.

I'd call that uncommon candour.

BigC,He's reduced to doling


He's reduced to doling out guns to "volunteers" with all the obvious risks entailed in that.

That is going on everywhere.  Here is one of the earliest news reports that I found on the rebel organizational development, with similiarly chilling prospects for the future:

Leaders of the revolutionary coalition based in Benghazi's courthouse have sought to reassure the public that guns are not falling into young, untrained hands.

But some evidence suggests civilians in Benghazi region are stocking up on weapons found after Gaddafi's forces fled.

That could make it harder for rebel army officers to stop the emergence of badly-disciplined militias lacking the coordination to fend off a major assault from the west.

Callers to Benghazi's "liberated" radio station have complained that guns are now "in the hands of children."

Rebel soldiers at a military base in Djabiya, 150 km southwest of Benghazi, said light weapons had already been distributed to young men from the town.

Yes I'm aware the rebels have

Yes I'm aware the rebels have done it.  It would be surprising if they didn't!

But Daffy has an army.  My point is that it indicates the level of desperation he has reached.  Handing out weapons to civilians is extremely risky as there is a good chance they will reach the wrong civilians.

This is interesting:

This is interesting:  He's reduced to doling out guns to "volunteers" with all the obvious risks entailed in that.

Read towards the bottom about the siege of Adjabiya:

"Fleeing residents said the streets were deserted, and that government troops were opening fire at random."

And that's the thing.  The only way he can keep control is by killing everyone so that only his goons are left standing.  As I said earlier, a rational dictator (Mubarak, Ben Ali etc) would have seen the contradictions involved in committing suicide in order to survive.  Gaddafi doesn't.  Whatever the motives for the intervention (and I wholly mistrust them) , it is necessary.

Twitter rumour about that

Twitter rumour about that says one son is dead, and that he may have killed another son for refusing orders. [unverifiable]

I'm beginning work on the movie script tonight. Looking for titles: "Mad Dog's Dawn"?

The rumour isn’t new, but

The rumour isn’t new, but there are too many ways how Khamis Gaddafi was killed. One is getting the impression that he was killed several times.

The rumour about Khamis was

The rumour about Khamis was from the 20th I believe, but has been re-iterated today by other sources. Muattasim being killed by his father is new, and incrediby tragic. Who could be cast as Gaddafi in the movie? Benicio Del Toro?


{edit} I just saw a picture of Muattasim. No question he will be played by Kianu Reeves.

I don’t think a contemporary

I don’t think a contemporary actor is up to this amount of demonisation. You must go back very far in time and find a real Peter Lorre type of actor. You want real evilness, don't you?

Good idea.  Can you act?  You

Good idea.  Can you act?  You do have a penchant for long, paranoid, rambling speeches.  You are a natural for the part.

With your state of mind I

With your state of mind I don’t believe that you are able to grasp what “paranoid” means. And now you have proven again that my suspicion is right.

Momo,You barely understand


You barely understand English.  It is more obvious than you think.  Here is the definition of paranoid:

1. Relating to, characteristic of, or affected with paranoia.

2. Exhibiting or characterized by extreme and irrational fear or distrust of others

Here is the definition of ironic, which you also don't understand.

1. Characterized by or constituting irony.
2. Given to the use of irony. See Synonyms at sarcastic.
3. Poignantly contrary to what was expected or intended: madness, an ironic fate for such a clear thinker.

The definition of irony that

The definition of irony that BigC used the other day has a great advantage: it used the word “wit”, which I recommend you look up.

As to paranoia, did you even notice how well the definition fits you?

How about

How about "delusional"?

Delusional disorder, previously called paranoid disorder, is a type of serious mental illness called a "psychosis" in which a person cannot tell what is real from what is imagined. The main feature of this disorder is the presence of delusions, which are unshakable beliefs in something untrue. People with delusional disorder experience non-bizarre delusions, which involve situations that could occur in real life, such as being followed, poisoned, deceived, conspired against, or loved from a distance. These delusions usually involve the misinterpretation of perceptions or experiences. In reality, however, the situations are either not true at all or highly exaggerated, as can be seen in the writings of "Momo" on the discussion forum openDemocracy.

People with delusional disorder often can continue to socialize and function normally, apart from the subject of their delusion, and generally do not behave in an obviously odd or bizarre manner. This is unlike people with other psychotic disorders, who also might have delusions as a symptom of their disorder. In some cases, however, people with delusional disorder might become so preoccupied with their delusions that their lives are disrupted.

Although delusions might be a symptom of more common disorders, such as schizophrenia, delusional disorder itself is rather rare. Delusional disorder most often occurs in middle to late life and is slightly more common in women than in men.

Yes, “delusion” is an

Yes, “delusion” is an appropriate description for you.

The conversation with you has made me sleepy, you won’t hear more from me this night.

Momo,Côte d'Ivoire is melting


Côte d'Ivoire is melting down. By your definition of IL, should the UN leave now or bolster it's troops and try to stop it, or maybe even try and remove Gbagbo?

"Gbagbo's regime is intentionally driving the country to chaos … Gbagbo-controlled media broadcast hate speech and incite violence."

In Ivory Coast the UN, that

In Ivory Coast the UN, that is already there, has a chance to prevent more massacres, and for this aim they must stay. They mustn’t side with one of the two bad guys though. It is fairly obvious that Ouattara hasn’t got legitimacy with wide parts of the populations either.

Any attempt to install a government in a foreign country is illegitimate and will lead to more conflict(and will backfire): A government must be seen as legitimate in the eyes of the population, otherwise you need a fairly strong occupation force.

Ouattara has won an election

Ouattara has won an election and so he must be considered ligitimate. Broad international support also makes him legitimate.

On formal grounds he has that

On formal grounds he has that legitimacy, but in reality his support is too low to enforce the result of the election. And it is tied to ethnicity: this is divisive. The broad international support has a two-edged effect: is he a puppet of foreign powers? If you want the citizens to answer that question with yes, you only need to intervene.  

A solution of this conflict will come neither from abroad nor from one of the two conflict parties. Ivory Coast needs a people’s movement. Walk like an Egyptian. Unfortunately this is not in sight.

Yes, he does have the

Yes, he does have the legitimacy of having won the vote in a country that claims to have democratic institutions. Your opinion seems to be that might is the only factor we need be concerned with. Bollocks. A corrupt leader cannot hang on to power by force of his atrocities. I'm afraid I cannot agree with you yet again.

A corrupt leader cannot hang

A corrupt leader cannot hang on to power by force of his atrocities

Never said he should be allowed to do that. Apparently you haven’t got that I hope that both bad guys are replaced by a government that doesn’t split the country along the ethnic lines. If one of them wins, no matter which one, there will be very bloody massacres. Weren’t you one of the guys claiming you supported humanitarian intervention, not taking side in an internal conflict? It would matters even worse, although in Ivory Coast that seems to be impossible.

Sweet dreams, Mo.  Don't let

Sweet dreams, Mo.  Don't let the Americans get you.

Wow.  That is one

Wow.  That is one creepy-lookin' dude.  He looks like a guy that would have his 1982 van parked outside a kindergarten, with a sign reading "free candy".

He has better moments. In the

He has better moments. In the movie, he'll be having a trist with Secretary Clinton that ultimately gets him killed. I can't give away any more, script is half done already.

Brendan,Stop for the love of


Stop for the love of Christ!!!  That might be the same photograph, but anyone that makes Hillary Clinton look positively radiant is a one man creep show!!

No, Gaddafi can behave very

No, Gaddafi can behave very rationally under stress. Random shootings instal fear, and that’s what he wants. Ruthless, but not mad, at least not at all times.

The motives of the intervention worry me less than the consequences.

From the opinion pages of the

From the opinion pages of the New York Times, here is a great article detailing why aid to Yemen is critical in its time of transition:

I believe that the dangers of non-engagement described by the author apply to all of the countries emerging from dictatorship, but with different concerns and requirements.

One of the aspects of the Arab Spring that is dampening my enthusiasm is the fact that there is so much change occurring at once.  One of the examples of the Iraq war that the world should be paying attention to, is the commitment required to escort a country towards post-dictatorial democratic development.

If the leaders fall, but the regimes remains in place, this is only symbolic improvement.  The real revolution occurs in convincing people to do business differently.  For example, if the Theocracy were toppled in Iran, we would still have the Iranian Revolutionary Guard controlling most of the business interests in the country.  This organization would thus maintain most of the control in the country, and would continue to thrive no matter what political entity claimed to be in control in Tehran.  Wresting control away from people with a vested economic interest in the status quo is far more difficult than demonstrating on the street against a figurehead.

There is so much work ahead of us in any one particular country, but to have half a dozen countries on the verge of anarchy in the space of 3 months forebodes an extremely anxious time in human history, especially when ongoing commitments, domestic politics, and economic constraints will reduce the potential for global leadership focused by America.

There is so much work ahead

There is so much work ahead of us in any one particular country JFT

Relax. Let go of the megalomania. The Arabs will be doing some of the work for themselves. It's called democracy.

Thank you, Eric.  After

Thank you, Eric.  After re-reading my post, I can understand how certain personality types would regard it to be championing America somehow.  I should correct that before Momo, and perhaps Chris, chime in.

The "us" was intended to refer to "The West", or more precisely, the institutions in our respective countries that correspond to the American State Department.  Or even any allignment of nations interested in the propagation of global democracy.

I would like to press you on what "work" you think the Arabs will be doing for themselves, and why you seem to assume that the Arabs already have democracy, but I have a message to relay instead.  Your mom just called me.  She says the music down in the basement is too loud, and that she wants you to stop leaving your underwear on the floor after you shower.

Chris,...enjoy your gold


...enjoy your gold coloured watch.


...lazy afternoon humor.

Which is it, Dudley?  Do you prefer the Limey rules of spelling or the Yanks'?  Are you inspired by the dynamism of American modernity, or still smitten by the Brits' adherence to the time-hono(u)red traditions of Middle English?

Scooped again, I see...I

Scooped again, I see...I really should invest in reading a little prior to posting.

Jay,look at the leading


look at the leading headline at the Drudge Report, it's hilarious.

Chris,Are you talking about


Are you talking about the headline, "Canada Takes Charge On Libya"?  That is a novel headline.

Your southern neighbors have so sufficiently shielded you from the vagaries of international politics that you are tragically unaware of the simple rules of a game of "hot potato".

However, if the world is to have a new policeman, at least he will bear the kind, handsome face and good intentions of a Dudley Do-Right.

Jay,If America was the


If America was the international policeman for these so many years, than you were paid well. Retirements a bitch, enjoy your gold coloured watch.

...enjoy your gold coloured

...enjoy your gold coloured watch.

You ungrateful bastards can't even spring for a real gold watch, can you?

That's not even the worst of

That's not even the worst of it, your pension was lost in the 2009 financial crises. Let's hope things don't get as bad as Detroit..

Seriously, it's amazing what's happened there. Is it the future of America...dum...dum...dum...


lazy afternoon humor.

Chris,I went to your Canadian


I went to your Canadian article on the Detroit disaster.  I read the same story in the American news the other day, and was made aware of a problem that is alluded to in the Canadian article:

Detroit has withered away, doomed by its poisonous race relations and the declining power of the American auto industry.

I was reading the comment section on the American story, and was blown away by the viciousness of the racism.  Worse than anything from 1950s Mississippi.  I sure as hell wouldn't want to live there.

Never mind.  This is off topic.

Brendan,I hope to hell that


I hope to hell that your optimism is warranted.  Perhaps we are seeing a new mindset emerge in the Arab world, one that refuses to accept the economic and social results of closed dictatorships, and that things really are changing in a liberal democratic direction.

If not, we are watching the world's most sensitive/politically unstable region become even more unstable.  Unless something is fundamentally different about the Middle East that could qualify the statement, "This 'aint ya daddy's Middle East", this will be just another Arab excuse to crush hope.  Our hope, and their own.  That is one area of the world where the "better angels of our nature" rarely prevail.

Time will tell. From my

Time will tell. From my perspective, the Arab street (in all it's permutations) is doing what it can. This article is a decent summary response to skeptics that I hope sways you somewhat on Libya specifically.

Brendan,I just read the


I just read the article that you linked to in The Economist.  I would first like to say that damn near 100% has already been covered on this thread.  I don't remember an occasion where the posters here had been so far out in front of news analysis.  We discuss something, and then a day or two later I hear similiar analysis on the news.  Good job, guys.

The article does do a good job of detailing the arguments of the "skeptics", or, the "realists".  It didn't do much to sway me overall, as my opposition is not coming from my brain (the facts are lined up), or my heart (I would like to see Gadaffi defeated), but from my gut.  I have seen this a dozen times in my lifetime, and it never works out.

Of course the gut is the least reliable portion of the body to make an argument, as mine is currently demanding that I go downstairs and make lunch and is entirely unimpressed by the article that you sourced.  There are a couple of points that the author himself acknowledges but immediately disregards that I consider to be more than sticky:

Neither Bahrain or Yemen is susceptible to an air campaign as Libya is, with its long stretches of desert that expose Colonel Qaddafi’s advancing tanks. You intervene when you can, not to be consistent.

I think a long term, consistent, broad-based strategy to develop liberal democracy in the Middle East should be paramount.  The West should hold summits that focus entirely on this issue.  I am sure that you are aware that Western, and especially American, perceived inconsistencies are tremendously problematic for us when it comes to convincing the Arab street of our (presumedly) benign intentions.

Success in Libya is not guaranteed—how could it be? It is a violent country that may well succumb to more violence, and will not become a democracy any time soon. But its people deserve to be spared the dictator’s gun and be given a chance of a better future.

This is a critical point that I have been making since the first page of this thread.  We keep wanting to label the rebels as "pro-democracy forces", and this is an error.  We don't know who we are helping.  If we are not advancing the political situation, we are accomplishing nothing towards our ends, and are just making a bad situation worse.  Gadaffi is a bastard, but we should take his warnings seriously when he claims that he is the only force preventing outright chaos in Libya.

Giving tacit acknowledgement to Eric's "Mad Max" scenario, many nations in the Middle East are going to need a period of outright chaos before a new order can arise, and I think it is best that we stay out of that.  We have a tendency to take the blame for it.

Your "gut" is just being

Your "gut" is just being difficult. Go fix yourself a bowl full of logicaroney.

Brendan,Also, I think the


Also, I think the growing coalition will make "collateral damage" far less likely. I'd like the American pilots to sit this one out very soon. These Americans are a bit hair triggered if you had not noticed.

Good news.  Recently announced that the NATO mission over Libya is going to be taken over by a Canadian:  Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard.  Here come the cluster pucks.


That really is good news.  I

That really is good news.  I know Charlie Bouchard from his NORAD days as deputy commander of 1AF.  He's a pragmatist and a damned fine general officer.

Charlie Bouchard, eh? He's

Charlie Bouchard, eh? He's got a mean slapshot.

There is no question of

There is no question of 'interfering in a civil war'. That's the Gaddafi line. The 'responsibility to protect' has been exercised by UN peacekeepers, member states and regional organizations in regard to many countries.

Including Iraq.  Saddam killed WAY more of his people including use of chemical weapons to wipe out whole towns, but that wasn't a civil war worth intervening?  Somehow Gadaffi is a dictator worth intervention and Saddam was not?  How come the Arab League has withdrawn their support of UN "responsibility to protect" ?  Hypocritical!  

Mike,You are claiming that


You are claiming that Iraq II was justified by the responsibity to protect? Are you forgetting that there was a no fly zone in Iraq before the invasion by the United Sates? It was justified under resolution 688.

The invasion that followed was the illegal part.

I'm claiming one dictator is

I'm claiming one dictator is just as bad if not worse than the other.  You can't justify humanitarian intervention  in Libya without justifying the humanitarian intervention in Iraq.

Are you forgetting that there was a no fly zone in Iraq before the invasion by the United Sates?

What I don't forget was how little the No Fly Zone mattered in effecting regime change. 

I'm claiming one dictator is

I'm claiming one dictator is just as bad if not worse than the other.

Actually, no one is claiming otherwise. I'm saying to you that the same action – exactly – was taken against Saddam. It's the extra step the the US took unilaterally at little George's bidding that caused all the hubub.