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13 March 2011


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FB Ali

Col Lang,

Your analysis and comment are exactly right!

Sam Will


Right on the mark , as usual...you only forgot to mention the European pussy-cats with no militaries left, no common policy on anything to speak of and a dire economy/unemployment, deficits etc.

William R. Cumming


Clifford Kiracofe

Yes, the window for action is closing and it is days not weeks.

The Arab League just approved the no-fly zone option. The GCC has done the same. EU states can do as they wish individually. There is no need for further UN sanction; governments can recognize Benghazi and give assistance directly. There has been quite enough of consensus building.

The US Congress, on a bipartisan basis, has said it supports a no fly zone.

From London per the Telegraph:
"At the special regional Cabinet meeting in Derby on Monday, the Prime Minister told his colleagues that a no-fly zone over Libya would not require a specific UN Security Council resolution. This was as clear a statement of intent as David Cameron has yet made on the fate of Colonel Gaddafi. The PM would like UN backing, naturally, but does not regard the endorsement of the world's biggest focus group as a prerequisite for robust intervention in the Libyan crisis.

There are even those in the Cabinet who believe that Britain could impose a no-fly zone without American support. "Not desirable, but possible," says one. The very fact that such strategic possibilities are being countenanced at this level of government is remarkable indeed."

Delay to put assets into place so as to gain consensus and to be in a position to take effective military action is one thing. Failure to act now in the present situation is quite another.

Will Paris act unilaterally? Will London join Paris for a joint action?

Just what will Washington do as the window closes? It will not be that many days until the American people and the world find out. The Ides of March...

Roy G

Add Khouri's fellow traveler Michael Young to the list. What's interesting is that they are advocating to actively disarm Lebanon's bulwark against their #1 threat and aggressor, Israel.

That McCain and Lieberman visited Lebanon in late Feb, only to see the outgoing Hariri, adds to the perception that all this Freedom talk is political bs – the same that it ever was.

Libya is a hard situation, but then again, that's why you keep your powder dry, militarily and diplomatically. The GWOT kabuki has severely compromised the US ability to lead in this kind of situation.


And the top Libyan al-Qaida commander is saying he wants Ghaddafi out. That's no way to get a no-fly zone.


Obama will study this matter for six months. If he is intellectually honest, he will then conclude that he should have acted within six days. The only occasion on which he moves with rapidity are those in which his personal reputation is threatened. McChrystal is a case in point.

The administration has been whining to the press that it is wrong to expect action because they have only had a few weeks to consider what to do. This is why you have contingency plans. You cannot expect a revolution to freeze all action while you decide how best to respond.

We currently have a stable of dictators with whom we have formed alliances. We support them with military goods and they sell us oil and refrain from attacking Israel. Internally they are repressive and provide limited progress for their citizens. They distract their citizenry from their domestic wrongs by pretending that a horrible wrong was done by Israel by forcing a tiny portion of the Arab population from a percentage of their lands. Israel is a scapegoat for the Arab regimes in the same way the Jews were a scapegoat for Hitler.

The Arab street is thus a pressure cooker. Our policy has been to hope that the steam can gradually be let off as the regimes are pressured to give up their power by tiny amounts until modern educated democracies are formed and the citizenry become interested in running their own lives. Germany after WWII is the end result which is sought --- the citizenry there conduct their own lives and their own governance and do not yearn after lost territories

The problem is that that more frequently the transition between tyranny and democracy is often a step function -- an abrupt revolution which may or may not bring something better in its wake. But because we have been supporting the tyrants the Arab Street will quite reasonably regard us as the enemy unless we help them now. But if we help them now, and they do not succeed or do not succeed in all relevant countries, we will lose our alliances with the tyrants. That is our practical dilemma.

This is compounded by the moral question of whether or not we have any obligation -- moral or prudential -- to offer substantial support for those seeking to obtain the form of government we advocate.

Countries which have looked to the United State for help in removing a tyrant have routinely been bitterly disappointed. They confuse our preference for, and urgings towards, democracy with a prospect for substantive support of an abrupt and uncertain revolt. It does not follow that because we applaud democracy that we have an obligation to participate in other people's revolutions. Where we have indeed deliberately induced people to revolt, there we do have a moral obligation to support them. That said, it may be in our best long term interests to support the attempts of people to establish democracies. And there is a degree of tyranny and slaughter of civilians which all human beings have a moral obligation to oppose forcefully.

The net on all of this is that practical help should be supplied to those opposing Qathafi if it can still be effectively done.


As usual 100% correct Col. Lang.

Now let us look forward; What does The United States position on Libya signal to the Egyptian Army? What does it signal to ruling elites everywhere? It signals that we value "stability" over anything else.

This is the act of "monumental stupidity" that I warned that Obama the narcissist would commit before the end of his reign. The Obama Administration has sided with the dictators.

I would now expect the Egyptian Army to take a far less compromising view towards the re writing of the Egyptian constitution. I would now expect the Saudis to be more brutal in suppressing dissent.

What do you think is going to happen at the Egyptian /Libyan border near Umm Sa'ad? My guess is that the Egyptian army will seal it, with extremely unpleasant humanitarian consequences.

Please note, this is not about "Kumbaya" feelings. This is going to have economic and strategic consequences in the years ahead, the initial one being the creation of a European force projection capability.

Sam Will and Norbert Salomon, your comments regarding European financial stability and economic issues indicate that you have perhaps taken the commentaries in the American financial press at face value. Much of what is written in the American financial pages is self serving propaganda designed to deflect attention from Americas economic woes. The Europeans can and will look after themselves quite well.

If you would like in depth discussion of this subject look here:


Sam Will

Dr. Brenner and Pat Lang are absolutely correct on every count..., re Libya and the broader MENA implications...and beyond.
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...Roy G is right as well...


Spot on PL and Jane. Core problem unfortunatley is Obama has surrounded himself with a terrible Cabinet and staff with single exception of Bob Gates. This crew will dither til it is much too late. Our first response to Japanese disaster (sending the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and it's support) was initiated totally by Mullen and Gates without any White House input. Rather than "Best and Brightest" he's surrounded himself with the most politically acceptable. Panetta at the CIA? Geithner and Bernanke at Treasury? And the list goes on. These folk will never stup up to the plate and do the right thing. Really hope I'm wrong.

different clue


I wonder if the top Libyan commander of al quaeda just wants Quadaffi to stay in power in the bloodiest way possible. That way the al quaedists can blame the West for not helping Libyans and can try recruiting among a Libyan population in fresh despair with no where else to turn.

I wonder why the Saudi royal family would consider Quadaffi regime survival a good thing. Didn't Quadaffi overthrow a king? However long ago that was, should the Saudis be expected to forget and forgive that, and let it stand as a precedent? I am surprised the Saudis are not
supporting the root and branch and any-stray-seeds destruction of every last regime Quadaffist as delayed comeuppance for having overthrown a king.

Charles I

It can seem that the delay in dispatching "help" presents as calculated to ensure a fair degree of disruption, destruction and legitimation short of another Rwanda, which would, after all, require several weeks of tut-tutting.

WRC, citing his sources limned that doleful policy, sans ultimate help. It certainly plays out like it, city by city. There was a clip of Doctors - largely expats - evacuating one town and hospital on the news last night. The flight of humanitarian foreigners who can flee last before the fur really flies seems a realistic tocsin to me.

What's the Bar? Can't be Gaza. Kosovo's kind of an embarrassing example all told.

A singular low cost opportunity to do exactly the right thing for a huge mutual payoff all around (certain short sellers excepted)has already been squandered. Surely it is in Sarkozy's interest to get off the first shot, relegate the US to Johnny-come-latey bandwagoneers.

Who can't even cope with a little gang of aging tribal satraps be it carrot stick coming-out or cash.

Still, life goes on apace, wherever we look. As the rebels retreat, as tumbled Japan soggily belches radioactive steam, as Mr. King divines the domestic rot in America's souls, as settlers mourn their fellows slaughtered in their beds to no good effect here is a trite sign of irrepressible spirit.



My prediction that MQ would be out by the end of this month will likely be wrong. My advice on what the US should do has not changed at all.

I would urge the US to avoid the temptation to involve itself with this. No good can come of it for US interests OR EVEN LIBYAN interests. The analogy is not Iraq or Afghanistan, but Somalia, 1992-93. There seemed to be a clear case for humanitarian intervention back then. It was tried. I dare say, Somalia is not one bit better off for it now, and neither are we.

The US is blamed (rightly, IMHO) for placing the Shah in power. For putting Mahmud Abbas and his traitorous cronies in charge of the PA, of Supporting Mubarak until it was impossible to save him.

But Libya? The US did not put MQ in power. Did not support him, and only barely tolerated him for the last few years. It did not encourage the Libyan protesters ala Shiite Iraqis in 1991.

Here is the one area where the US bears absolutely no responsibility for the current situation. It cannot rightly be blamed whatever the outcome.

Let's keep it that way.


Col. Lang makes the absolutely unavoidable logical point:

"evasions of responsibility for the catastrophe that the "Freedom Agenda" of the Bush Administration and Obama's coat-trailing in Cairo have brought on through encouragement of revolt"

No one anywhere on earth can believe a single word that comes out of the mouth of an American "leader" at this time. Period.

Extreme? Ask the "rebels" in Libya. Ask the victims of fraudulent foreclosures okay'd by the Federal Reserve in the U.S.

If elected representatives lie constantly to the people, what is left?

FB Ali

Dr Kiracofe,

The ‘no fly’ zone is a red herring. Even if someone were to bite the bullet and put it in, it would not save the rebellion. That can only be done on the ground. The only practicable solution that would prevent Gaddafi from finishing off the rebellion is TTG’s solution of limited-objective air strikes. A week or so ago it could have been done with the couple of anonymous chopper sorties armed with anti-tank missiles that I had proposed on another thread, but the situation has deteriorated considerably since then, not least in the morale equation between the two sides.


An excellent analysis. Yes, it can still be effectively done with TTG’s proposed method.


It’s not a matter of blame. I suggest you read Dr Brenner’s post on why the US should help the rebels fighting for freedom from tyranny ‒ for both moral and practical reasons.

William  R. Cumming

Lysander! Sorry but respectfully disagree that the US "bears no responsibility for the current situation"! The oil and its exploitation in Libya was only possible with US assistance. True that MQ overthrew or conducted that overthrow without US approval but that coup was never challenged by the US and if my information is correct MQ will not be challenged now. Did you know that MQ has a very sophisticated Washington lobbying operation?

Clifford Kiracofe

FB Ali,

As my other posts indicate, I support TTG's and Col. Lang's assessment and options.

The so-called "no-fly zone" is diplomatic and political cover. Many things can be done under this guise. Having the Arab League and GCC endorsement for it is a positive step.

My preference is suppressing to the greatest degree possible Q's air, armor, and artillery on the ground. We can pretend, if needed, that this helps establish the no-fly zone.

As he has used some naval assets for shore bombardment, perhaps there are some ships we could include in the target set.

Sequential sorties to do this can be billed as preparation for the so-called "no-fly zone." Smiles all around.


Yes, A-10s...


We froze $30 billion in financial assets from MQ. He fights with mercenaries.

Isn't there someone at the CIA that could figure out how to relieve MQ of his cash and then his mercenaries? Last I checked they went to the highest bidder and I know how to pay for them.

different clue


I remember reading somewhere that we began our
Somalia intervention with humanitarian intent . . . to
force just enough a general truce among the warring clans around the food-delivery routes that food could be delivered. Somewhere in there, Boutros Boutros Ghali tricked us into sending American forces into action against Farah al Aidid's militia-folk to settle a grudge which Ghali held against Aidid on behalf of the United Nations forces or something. That is what led
to our overt combat involvement and Black Hawk Down and all that came after. (That is just my lay
news-reader's impression. Someone who knows better may wish to correct me on basic details).

Libya never had the Somalian tradition of inter-clan warfare, did it? Isn't the tribal confederation situation there much simpler, and didn't almost all the East and Central Libyans want the
Quadaffi regime ended? And many Tripolitanians as well?

Two nights ago I heard on BBC a French Bureau person who said that in his opinion, precisely none of the major power governments wanted to get involved. Not a single one of them. Not France, not Italy, not anyone. His sense was that they were all engaged in verbal delay in hopes that the Quadaffists could exterminate the rebellion and reconquer the country before anyone's refusal to act became all too embarrassing.

Since the European governments are not concerned with Israel's one-percent-based fears; what is
Europe's reason for wanting Quadaffi to just simply win and get it over with? (Assuming that BBC person was correct about what Europe really wants for Libya).



A good idea, but why further enrich the Erik Prince's of the world?


different clue : Immigration.

Europe needs strong and complaint governments in the southern Mediterranean if it's to have a hope of controlling refugee movements, without having to take the step of patrolling the Med. impounding any ship carrying refugees. Ghaddafi was playing ball on that front.

I keep flashing back to "Yes, Prime Minister" and the three step foreign office response "First you say nothing's going to happen. Second you say something might be happening but we can't do anything about it. Third you say there might be things we can do but we need time to study the situation and finally you say there was something we could have done but it's too late now".


different clue,

You may very well be right about Somalia and BB Ghali, I don't know. I recall the US blocked his bid for a second term as Sec General. Maybe that was the reason.

Yes, Libya and Somalia are quite different. My point was that these things can get out of hand in a hurry, despite everyone's best intentions.

Some of the risks of intervention include, but are not limited to;

1) killing the wrong guys. Families of the dead are never amenable to hearing "we didn't mean it." You can be sure MQ is not above using human shields.

2) MQ portraying the rebels as a tool of thee west.

3) Failure. We can drop lots of bombs and MQ wins anyway. Then what? Ground troops? Sanctions that will starve the people but leave MQ untouched? Or just shrug our shoulders and go home?

Keep in mind I'm of Egyptian decent. I would absolutely LOVE for MQ to be thrown out on his back side, along with Yemen's dictator, Bahrain's royal family, Bashar Assad, and MOST of all the Saudis. But these are things they have to do themselves. The best bet for the US is to neither help nor hinder.

BTW, why is Egypt not getting involved? Doesn't Egypt have a lot more at stake in Libya? 1.5 million Egyptians live there. It's right next door. It would be ideal to have an allied government rather than MQ in power. While hardly the best, I assume Egypt's army is strong enough to tip the scales in favor of the freedom fighters. And if it fails, Egypt does not have the prestige issues the US has to worry about.

And yet, it doesn't. Perhaps it has assessed that the risks of intervention out way the benefits.

Mark Logan

different clue,

I do not think it was any plot by Ghali, just the thought that we would be leaving Aideed to resume his attempt at genocide against the people of the south, if we didn't take him down.

I also suspect the ramp-up of the effort and commitment was due to George HW's trip to Biadoa, where he saw with his own eyes the scope of the catastrophe.

The references to Somalia must be about the effects of long term strife, rolling over a population like waves of locusts. Somalia hasn't got much in common with Libya, at least not that I am seeing.


Jane: "We currently have a stable of dictators with whom we have formed alliances. We support them with military goods and they sell us oil and refrain from attacking Israel. Internally they are repressive and provide limited progress for their citizens. They distract their citizenry from their domestic wrongs by pretending that a horrible wrong was done by Israel by forcing a tiny portion of the Arab population from a percentage of their lands. Israel is a scapegoat for the Arab regimes in the same way the Jews were a scapegoat for Hitler."

Arab regimes use Israel as a scapegoat similar to Hitler? A bit different this time Jane. What large population of Germans were slaughtered by the Jews similar to the thousand odd civilians killed in the last Gaza punishment by Israel? Or was this justified as prevention and retribution for the 10 odd Israelis killed over the last 5 years by rocket attacks?

The depredation of any semblance of human rights and dignity, afforded the occupied Palestinian people, and the preclusion of any type of viable state via illegal settlements by Israel, with support by the US for over 40 years, makes a mockery of your following statements:
"That said, it may be in our best long term interests to support the attempts of people to establish democracies. And there is a degree of tyranny and slaughter of civilians which all human beings have a moral obligation to oppose forcefully. "

We encouraged the people of Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia to revolt? If you mean we refinanced our corrupt banking system via the Federal Reserve, so they could inflate another bubble (commodities this time, housing last time). Thereby starving and infuriating the majority on the street in these poor countries--I whole-heartily agree.


Washington is doing The Long Stall.

99% of the non intervention arguments I see are 'Oh, no we can't get entangled again.'
Noticed that Anthony Cordsman who thinks we should stay in Afghan, the country that is the grave yard where other countries go to die, is opposed to helping the Libyans because..."how do we know a no fly zone would work".
The obvious answer is we don't know and won't know unless we try, will we?

As to the other complaint that Libya would become another long term project for the US, that isn't necessarily a given....we didn't stay on and invade Iraq after the Gulf War.

As my Jesuit uncle says...there is an exception to every rule.
I think the benefits to the US reputation in acting for the Libyan opposition to a mad dictator, aside from the humanitarian considerations, are that exception. We should provide what the rebels request and only what they request.
But we all know that the US AF could get rid of Qaddafi in 20 minutes if we wanted to.

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