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12 March 2011

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different clue

The problem is that many Americans would consider any action in Libya to be a continuation and extension of our war in Iraq and Afghanistan. And most of us here view Iraq/Afghanistan through the end of the telescope which makes it look like "trauma" to us. It certainly seemed to look that way to Secretary Gates who wet-blanketed a no fly zone so fast and hard that one suspects he saw the mere mention of it as being a deliberate plan to involve America in a quagmire occupation.

I don't think a traumatized government and public can think fast or gracefully or focused-ly enough to see the difference or how to do it differently. Those Americans in or near government or force-levers who do see the difference and understand how to do something different in a different way will have to figure out how to work with and through the Europeans over the next few days to destroy Quadaffi's weakest links and sharpest spearpoints so as to buy the rebels enough time to shame and embarrass an unwilling world into helping the rebels even more substantially.

Those "in" governments who believe in this may have to act "around" or "against" their governments to get this done in the next few days. As someone rightly pointed out very recently, the big power governments are afraid that their exploited citizenry might take such heart from a Libyan rebel success that they (we) might try to insurrect in some way against our own Upper Classes. And the upper-class-front American government would rather see millions of Libyans die than to see millions of Americans take such inspiration from a Free Libyan success that they (we) might try something analogous against our own Koch Brothers, for example.

So people "in" the governments of America AND Europe will have to figure out how to act fast, hard, and successfully before their government-employers can shut them down cold.

different clue

(Let me clarify that I surely mean legal non-violent economic and political insurgency here in America, such as what is just barely beginning now in Wisconsin against the Koch Brothers front "Governor Walker" administration. That's the sort of thing that Obama and his sponsors want a stop put to real fast and hard. They certainly don't want to see a successful Free Libya inspire yet more "Wisconsins" here in this country.)

Clifford Kiracofe

"They also are looking at the United States to redeem itself."

So true, well said.

Retired (once-Serving)Patriot

They also are looking at the United States to redeem itself.

Sadly, this very noble aim is directly at odds with this equally true statement:

That [American] idealism has been badly eroded at both home.

Thank you Dr. Brenner for a superb piece. And thanks to this Committee of Correspondence for the rare greenspace of thought in today's dimmer, dirtier world.

RP

jon

Very good points, and they can guide action, but they do not indicate what the US might do. I would set our goals vis. Libya to support the populace in their struggle for liberty and democracy. That should take precendence over our commercial interests in the country. And it might include persuading the rebels to give up rapidly if their position is hopeless, and giving them asylum.

I believe that when the dust settles the wider Middle East will see that the US acted with restraint and on behalf of greater liberty and democracy throughout the region, and that this will help to improve their opinion of the US. This may have commercial and diplomatic benefits.

I do not see the US pressing the Saudis very hard, as the pressure on lesser partners has been tepid and measured so far.

Even less do I see any rapid or substantial change in relations with Israel. Israel will be able to point to their democracy and stability throughout all this turmoil, as the rock the US must rely on in the region. Any change in status with Israel is likely to take a long time and be minimal, unless Israel acts precipitately to force greater US distancing. Given what they have done previously, I'm not sure what that might require.

Patrick Lang

jon

"And it might include persuading the rebels to give up rapidly if their position is hopeless, and giving them asylum," and yet you write that our goal should be freedom and liberty for the Libyan people? Strange. As to the"How" TTG has spelled that out clearly. I support his position. pl

FB Ali

In his usual manner, Dr Brenner has eloquently and succinctly put the case, on both moral and practical grounds, for the US to support the Libyan revolt for freedom.

I would add one other practical consideration. If the rebels are crushed, as is likely if they receive no aid, the message to all those young Arabs and Muslims who aspire to be rid of oppression and misrule would be: your only friends and allies are al-Qaeda and the jihadis.

William R. Cumming

General Ali! Pretty much agree with your comment and now of course the US military/industrial complex does need an enemy just not a very competent one.

What are prospects post insurgency that MQ realizing how really incompetent the US and EU are will strive to be a dominant player in the Maghreb? And Arabia? He seems meglomanic to me so the world may seem to be his oyster!

Sam Will

Dr. Brenner and Pat Lang are absolutely right on every count..., re Libya and the broader MENA implications...and beyond.
PL,
I agree with you on Rami Khoury and others, like Michael Young..., sometimes they get it, a lot of times they don't...but they have a smooth writing style...pleasing to the West somehow...

rjj

...message ...your only friends and allies are al-Qaeda and the jihadis.

ohhhh merde - not unintentional? tactical fecklessness?

Sidney O. Smith III

Glad to see the good professor is back. Thought we had lost him to the allure of the Huffington Post.

For what it is worth, I draw a sharp distinction between assisting rebels in an organic revolution, already begun by the people, in which the aim is self determination as contrasted to a Jacobin revolution that operates under the pretext of spreading democracy via military conquest.

The differences are stark and cannot be overemphasized.

Self determination by those involved in the rise of Islamic awareness may not lead to the freedom and democracy as envisioned by Westerners, particularly as was espoused by Jacobins who successfully promoted engineered revolutions built upon lies, including the pretext of spreading democracy.

The notion of "deconstruction" followed by "reconstruction" has little to do with self determination.

Anytime a Jacobin speaks of spreading freedom and liberal democracy in the Middle East, one, imo, should apply a strict scrutiny standard to determine intent.

Odds are reasonable that rebel leaders who are Muslim and educated as to US foreign policy in the Middle East would do the same. Could explain why so many say, “Yankee go home” or equivalent thereof.

If we want to become the “good guys” to use the good professor’s words, then, imo, the focus should stay on self determination for the Libyan people and nothing more.

tunde

fantastically written piece, professor.

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