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19 March 2011


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Adam L. Silverman

MJ: Certainly not. As an American it is ultimately what is best for America, Americans, and her allies. As a decent human being it is also about what is right. Unfortunately at the level of national policy making it is not always possible to completely align those two things. The personalities certainly matter, and their relationships to each other, but in the end it isn't about those personalities, it is about what does it mean for the US, for Americans, and in this case for the people we would be trying to help.

 Charles I

It's gonna be a mess because of the situation on the ground which might have been completely avoided. Vietnamese hug, was it some wag posted? It has been handled with usual human adroitness and aplomb.

I must acknowledge the stark clarity of your argument that a 2-war war three-week democracy is ill suited for further unfunded ill considered diversion, contraindicated in deference to your own.

A lot is being made of whom to deal with in the Libyan "Opposition", who is our partner, etc.

Valid concerns, but for the Libyan people to figure out and organize as best THEY can. An Interim Transitional National Council is in place, recognized by France, and such work, as haphazard as it may be, has been reported from the outset.

Those interested in taking names - I've already forgotten any Egyptians I learned, aside from MB, who Monica Crowley pronounced in control of Egypt last night on the McLaughlin(sp?)Group - may bone up here:


I'm heartened by TTG's post somewhere today that the fluidity of desert battlespace can make for accurate strategic assessment and murky prognostication. Ditto politically.

William R. Cumming

So Dr. Silverman is the US participation in the Libyan intervention based on strategy or tactics? What might be the difference?

My answer is strategic and all about Egypt and Saudi Arabia!

Roy G

Tactical remedies such as the no-fly zone and military responses to MQ are comforting because they are all 'inside the box.' What is more difficult is truthfully analyzing the situation, and how it came to be. England and France are both compromised/implicated, because Blair, Sarkozy and Berlusconi all cozied up to MQ because the price was right – for their corporate allies. There are credible reports that Israeli mercs and arms dealers are busy staffing and arming MQ's forces. So, if one looks at the situation in a different light, Libya is a case of privatizing gains (arms/oil sales) and socializing losses (armed intervention by state actors).

It's a much easier fiction to pass along that MQ, like Saddam, is simply crazy, which precludes a look at what the men behind the curtain are doing, which in this case was to sell MQ all the arms they could, and welcome him and 'his' oil into the global profit structure.

This line of inquiry doesn't help the current situation, however, a true analysis has to require looking into this prickly issue: the corporate profit imperatives of BAE and other arms dealers have ratcheted up the lethality of this situation tremendously, and now 'we' are stuck dealing with the repercussions.

By failing to analyze the past, we are failing to learn the lessons of the first decade of GWOT, and by keeping to 'business as usual' we are subjected to the increasingly grotesque spectacle of the likes of Tony Blair being propped up as the Middle East 'Peace Pasha,' and the duty of saving the Libyans from the arms 'we' sold MQ. Not an easy or pleasant prospect, but turning away from insanity never is.

Mike Moscoe

The French are apparently already taking action. The AP has a photo of a plane going down outside Benghazi. My a/c recognition is a bit rusty. Is that a MiG-23 or a French a/c. It looks like Europe may be handling this problem themselves.

Patrick Lang


It is reported to be a rebel aircraft. pl

William R. Cumming

Great comment IMO by Roy G.! Infanticide in another guise! Or perhaps "blowback" of another form.

Patrick Lang


I must say that I think you have read this wrongly. This is much too pessimistic. It appears that you have over-learned the lessons of the last ten years. Military history did not begin with the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Armed force has not become unsuable and lacking utility. After all, Qathafi was about to capture Benghazi with his pile of rolling junk. This is a minor military task. Qathafi's forces will begin to withdraw from Cyrenaica when it becomes clear to his forces that they are completely exposed to air attack. The country may ultimately be partitioned if no training or equipment is provided to the rebels. That would prevent an advance to clear te rest of the country. That will be another story. p

Patrick Lang


"It's a much easier fiction to pass along that MQ, like Saddam, is simply crazy,"

If you are referring to me, you should know that I NEVER thought or said that Saddam was crazy. Never! pl

Patrick Lang


Perhaps you should wait and see if he is right. pl


What if this conflict is simply become, whatever it may have started as, a tribal battle? What happens if and when MQ is gone? However he 'gets gone'

What if the tribes keep fighting after MQ's departure? Which one do we back?

Patrick Lang


"Which one do we back?"

None. We depart and leave them to their own deserts. In Iraq the neocons intended that we should go away within a few months having left Chalabi to try to seize power. Several things interfered with that vision, most notably the ferocity of the nationalist insurgency against us, caused largely by our idiot disbanding of the Iraqi military. So, we stayed. After eight years the outcome is that a government leaning toward Iran has emerged, maintaining itself with a good deal of force and coercion. Would Chalabi's government have been different? Would a Baathist restoration have been worse from our point of view than the outcome that we have and that which is probably developing? pl


Couple of questions. Will the Libyan government forces be required to withdraw from Benghazi only or must they vacate Adjadabiya? Will the Republic of Cyrenaica have any oil revenues?

Patrick Lang


I believe in the idea of Libyan teritorial integeity. No reason to give that up. Yes, if there were a "Republic of Cyrenaica," it would have most of the oil revenues. I suppose this is a trick question leading to a conspiracy theory response. pl


"that MQ, like Saddam, is simply crazy"

i"ve never seen anywhere that SH al-Tikriti was Loco b/ i did read in one of the foreign policy journals the following. That one of his ministers told a journo that he had fell of a camel and landed on his head thereby impairing his faculties.


ok, i see that i read it in a comment to the above article.

"My sister was an ambasador plenipotentiary to Libya in 1979 to urge Gaddafi cease supporting Uganda's thug Idi Amin. He refused to see her for 5 months, and her contacts, the Prime Minister Jalloud and foreign minister Mansour , warned her that he is nutty, but cunning and smart as hell, because as a boy he fell off a camel and landed on his head! This from is own Prime Minister !

When she finally met him, Gaddafi dismised "


For America to have survived as long as it has, there must be elements of its decision making apparatus that can learn from failures - which is the only true path to wisdom. Dr. Silverman is right to be sceptical. We need to ask ourselves why we should intervene.

We have some experience to guide us. The Iraqi and Afghan models of "nation building" are clear failures. The model of helping Jihadsts against a deeply unpopular Government was successful in removing the Russians from Afghanistan, although we failed to plan for the day after. So to me the answer to the question "can we remove Ghaddafi?" is yes we can.

Then comes the question of should we? I believe that an element of American national interest is moral authority - "walking the talk". We currently have a debit balance in this account. Intelligent action by America in support of human rights creates some credits. Working with the Arab League and European countries in a constructive manner to achieve this is also a good thing. For example, a constructive outcome could well be a framework for a multinational approach to creating stability in the Gulf that does not rely disproportionately on an American presence and thus the American taxpayer.

Dr. Silverman asks the good question of exactly who we think we are dealing with? That leaves the unspoken question; tell me how this ends. We know what we don't want; another despot, another mob of region destabilising jihadists that we have armed and trained. I am assuming that either Britain or France has succeeded in forging enough ties with the revolutionaries to answer this question.

On a related note, I get the distinct feeling that something is up in Israel. I try to watch a few Hasbara around the Internet, and they have gone very quiet in the last Two weeks after an orgy of activity associated with asking America for another Twenty billion.


Not at all. I'm trying to get a handle on the reality. I'm wondering if Cyrenaica's borders would include Al Kufrah. I guess you see Ghadaffi gone and the rebels controlling the whole country.

Patrick Lang


Possibly. PL

Patrick Lang


That is an interesting thought. Why is it that Australia has survived so long, having has people like Cosmo Lang around?

I don't actually remember any intances in which the US was seriously threatened by "an ending," other than the WBS. In that one, the Lincoln Regime ruthlessly abused its powers; suppressed a free press, suspended Habeas Corpus, executed at least 20 thousand civilians after condemnation by military commissions later decleared unconstututional, carried out mass arrests of state legislators who might have voted for secession, starved prisoners of war to death by the thousands in the midst of plenty, bombarded citied filled with civilians and burned a number of these to the ground, allowed its troops to cruelly abuse civilians in territories through which they passed, etc., and still we survived as a people.


PS The leaders among the "opposition" were never tried for treason? Why is that? pl



If you are inclined:
I wonder to what extent L. Paul Bremer was really the loose cannon that story purported him to be with regard to disbanding the military and some of the other crap he pulled.
Did the administration really operate like that?


Roy G

Apologies for the mixup, Col. Lang, as I was not at all referring to you.

R Whitman

If this is the right thing for the US to do, why no congressional resolution??


I agreed with TTG and PL on the proper approach to rendering support to parties unknown to us. It is a job for covert action and special operations.

To be blunt, if we got it wrong, the cost of abandoning an ODA, or simply stating they overstepped their bounds is so much lower than that which accrues to a situation where we have fired a half million bucks worth of Tomahawks at a $100,000 target deck (and that is generous).

With that expenditure of treasure at stake, one can only imagine the centripetal force of a $50 million aircraft and, God forbid, a captured pilot being paraded down the street.

The tyrant's stuff is old, it's true, but go in harm's way often enough and there's always a golden BB somewhere. After that happens, letting go of the tarbaby is eversomuch more difficult.

God protect and preserve the United States, even though we may be on the most difficult path we could have chosen.

Will Reks


I have an acquaintance who was born and raised in North Carolina. He is virulently anti-Lincoln. One of his favorite insults is to go on about Lincoln's alleged homosexuality. He refers to the Civil War as the War of Northern Aggression.

I have only contempt for people like Rick Perry who throw around the word secession for political gain.

I favor union but I am not blind to atrocities and infringements on civil liberties committed by the North.

Have we ever fought a war where such things didn't occur? Let alone a civil war.

Patrick Lang

Wil Reks

Tell me where it says in the Constitution or declaration of independence that secession was not a right of the states.

No war without atrocities? You sound like my German neighbor. Licoln was not homosexual? According to today's mores there is nothing wrong with his gayness. pl

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