« "Suckerpunch" A Review by Alan Farrell | Main | #Maliki and Obama »

06 April 2011


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Paul Hartvigson, Denmark

Offering Quadafi some deal. Would he take the bait?

1) There are examples of dictators being brought to task, despite the promises of a former generation of politicians. Pinochet comes to mind, even if he was only detained in London - not persecuted in Spain. I wouldn't feel safe myself - and I'm allegedly not even paranoid,

1a) A judiucial court will tend to seek justice on it's terms, and not be limited by political compromises. No-one's above the law, that's the princple, and a title classic Law - vs. Politics issue.

1b) How does one defend pardoning the biggest fish (and those characters that have jumped ship), and then go about persecuting the third and foruth tier of the regime?

2) The lonely life of an ex-dictator is not apealaing. He might be certifiable, but that's seems to be part of his driving force.

Take any 68 year old psychopat and coorporation owner and try to impose him into retirement.


Michael Brenner, I pay you the highest compliment: You are a real human being. It is so refreshing in this day of cowardly cyncism and lazy stereotyping.


Philip Girardi gut punches "humanitarian" interventions: "Many countries are not shy about massacring civilians. The United States has itself killed tens of thousands of them in Iraq and Afghanistan...By any metric Israel should be attacked first to prevent massacres of civilians as it has killed thousands of Arabs in internationally recognized war crimes carried out in Lebanon and Gaza...Both Republican and Democratic doctrines should be rejected because experience suggests that they do not save lives anywhere, quite the contrary, and each unfortunate overseas adventure only represents a new burden that has to be borne with no discernible gain for the American people."

William R. Cumming

Any use of IED's or snipers by either MQ or insurgents in Libya?


I'm getting worried now. Not by the WaPo, but NATO.

Turks turn back Libya rebel boat(s) carting weapons & supplies from Benghazi to Misrata:


(link from b's site. He's too Hard Old Left for me, but he's got interesting sources)

Did Obama & co know that turning things over to NATO (rather than, say France & UK) would lead to stalemate? How can leaving Qadhafi in power be anything but a disaster - diplomatically, strategically (long-term), and foremost, morally?

Also, any thruth to the allegation that an Israeli "private" security company arranged a bunch of mercs for Qadhafi?

The beaver

@ Mr Brenner

Thank you for both posts and you are right about the education level of Tunisians- a couple of them are even working in the space program for NASA.
As far as 'backward people" may be some should research the names "Ahmed Zewail" and "Najib Mahfooz" before making such comments!!!!

Cloned Poster

Mr Brenner

/respect blog


Thank you for your clear and insightful post Dr. Brenner.

I still get the distinct impression that the Obama and Israeli Administrations don't want the Libyan insurgents to succeed. It ain't stupidity, it's malice aforethought.



Very bad news about Misrata-a rebel sucess there would be the quickest, easiest way to force Qaddafi back on the defensive, given the threat to his communications to the east and to Tripoli itself. What are the Turks' motives?

Michael Brenner


If this account is correct, our conduct has moved from being irrational to being criminally insane. I mean both words literally.

It is quite extraodinary that the general issue receives almost no attention, and absolutely no critical comment, in the American, British, French and German (as far I can tell) media.

We seem to be caught in a seamless nightmare where one appalling action succeeds another.


Not worth arguing about, but a few anecdotes of successful Tunisians (which noone would deny) doesn't vindicate their higher education system.

You go long on Tunisia--I'll go short--that's what it takes to make a market!

FB Ali

I would suggest that any meaningful discussion of Western intervention in Libya must start with a recognition and acknowledgement of the doublespeak and dissimulation underlying it. The words do not match either the actions or the intentions.

The UN resolution authorizing (and lending legitimacy to) the intervention calls for the imposition of a ceasefire, and permits the imposition of a no-fly zone and other measures to protect civilians. Its stated purpose is humanitarian and not regime change. The actual intervention taking place equates the Libyan rebels with the resolution’s “civilians”, and the “measures” with destroying Qaddafi’s military power while enhancing that of the rebels.

The fact is that in Libya there are civilians supporting the rebels, and civilians supporting Qaddafi. Armed rebels attacking regime troops and towns cannot be considered to be “civilians”; at least, not honestly. It is also most likely that a no-fly zone could have been established merely by issuing an ultimatum to Qaddafi, stating that any of his planes that took off would be shot down, and any AD site switching on its radars would be destroyed. There was no need for a pre-emptive bombing campaign that undoubtedly killed civilians. Similarly, regime attacks on Benghazi (or other rebel-held areas) could have been stopped through a threat of air action against any attacking troops; there was no need to kill a lot of Libyan soldiers and civilians while neutralizing Qaddafi’s military power.

That is where the legalities of the issue lie. (That is also why Turkey stopped the rebel ship carrying arms to Misrata; it did what the UN resolution called for).

Now for the other side of the doublespeak and dishonesty. The West and many of the Arab states want Qaddafi to be removed. The hope was that the bombing would achieve that. Now, hope is being pinned on defections (or, sotto voce, regicide). Some are all for providing arms and training to the rebels. Others worry about who runs the rebels. Still others, making hay while the sun shines, are getting rebel leaders to sign cheques on the Libyan accounts frozen in Western capitals.

Perhaps some of this is behind the collapse of any rational policy that Dr Brenner sees in Libya. One cannot be rational unless one is first honest ‒ with oneself, at least.

William R. Cumming

FB Ali! Agree with your analysis. I dub the Libyan intervention a failure and I was for it.
MQ is going to survive into old age and the US will rue the day it ineffectively intervened based on the UN resolution. Consultation with the Congress and Congressional assent formally would have been wise and still not too late except that this Administration is well known for starting lagte and quitting early. So consistent theme for the historians of Obama's one term. Not ready for prime time IMO.


"What are the Turks' motives?"

They couldn't be trying to resolve a messy situation? Nah.

Michael Brenner

FB Ali,

I have a different interpretation of the Turkish action and the UN mandate. A close reading of the UNSC resolution refers only to arms shipments from outside the country to Libyan belligerents. It makes no reference to movements from one part of Libya to the other. Therefore no legal basis existed for the NATO interdiction.

Moreover, there is something perverse about NATO's passivity in attacking Gaddafi's forces and its aggressive behavior toward rebel supply efforts. The underlying attitude was revealed this morning by the stunning refusal of Admiral Harding (U.K.), operational commander of the NATO forces, to apologize for the disgraceful airstrikes on the rebel's tank column yesterday. Beyond the confirmation of the abysmal incompetence of the entire operation, and confirmation that there are underlying political machinations going on,it raises serious ethical questions. We seem to have become morally coarsened to the point that human suffering, and standards of political decency, are intentionally obscured so that we need not face them. We are moral cowards as well as hypocrites - as Iraq and Afghanistan already have demonstrated. This is not a naive pacifist plaint. Much death and suffering is either inescapable or something that we can do nothing about. Neither is true is this case.

The West's historical record on sensitivity to the distress of alien peoples (during the 9/11 decade and earlier) should put us on guard against cavalier dismissals of mayhem inflicted on Muslims in particular and non-European others in general.

Subliminal racism is alive and does influence attitudes.

At a practical level, what do the strategic geniuses in Brussels, Naples and Washington think is the reaction out behavior in Libya among the peoples whose hearts and minds we are investing trillions to capture lest they become mortal dangers to us?

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner

Today I heard the NATO spokesman claim that the alliance had flown more than 900 sorties over Libya in the past four days. Since no one on the ground had seen or heard these planes, I was puzzled. So early this morning I called a couple of acquaintances at NATO to see if they had any explanations for the discrepancy. Here is a summary of what they reported.

1. Military decisions are privy only to the Council and the indefatigable Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

2. Bits of information are being actively traded. Four interpretations of what is happening are circulating.

* The allies are deploying only state of the art, cutting edge stealth aircraft. They are so stealthy that not only are they invisible to radar, they also are invisible to the human eye, inaudible to the human ear, and their munitions explode soundlessly. Moreover, the most avant garde of those munitions cause no damage upon impact with the target.

* The sorties are part of a mission to map Libyan coastal topography to ascertain the most suitable sites for post Gaddafi Club Med resorts and condo complexes.

* The sorties are operating according to an old contingency plan for hunting Red October trying to sneak through the Mediterranean.

* The aircraft were mistakenly directed to the Ivory Coast were their devastating performance has received top marks from senior commanders and the Military Committee.

* Some key personnel have given up bombing for Lent

3. The current line at Brussels betting parlors makes the second of these the favorite at 3-2 odds.


Gentlemen, I think the White House policy is rational. The intention was to blunt the momentum of the Arab Spring without appearing to be hypocrites in regard to support for democracy. This has, I think, been achieved by the abandonment of the Libyan rebels.

The cost to the White House - looking stupid and ineffectual, is, in my untutored opinion, judged to be less than the potential costs of a successful Libyan rebellion increasing the momentum for change in Saudi Arabia.

I know that contradicts Hanlons Razor, but....

Patrick Lang


I don't believe any of the conspiratorial explanations of NATO/US ineptitude and confusion. I think it is just that. pl

The beaver

@ Michael Brenner

The sorties are part of a mission to map Libyan coastal topography to ascertain the most suitable sites for post Gaddafi Club Med resorts and condo complexes.

Giscard D'Estaign fils' innovation with Qatari funds :-)


Colonel, Netanyahu is in Europe, Vienna, Berlin, seems there is a strong push for their point of view

michael brenner

It is not unreasonable to think that our acquiescence in the Bahrain crackdown and our selling out of the Libyan rebels emboldened the Egyptian military to engage in their own bloodbath in Tahrir Square this morning.

Perhaps someone with keener realist instincts Than I can explain how this serves American interests unless we see our overriding interest in marshalling a coalition of Sunni autocrats for a war of Armeggedon with Iran.

Michael Brenner


Col. sir,

Re: "No! No! No! the Germans are the achilles heel of NATO because the Israelis control them. Your Fancophobia is showing."

Non! Non! Non! Je suis un amoureux de toutes choses français (en particulier les membres de la gent féminine). israël conduit les Allemands par le nez? J'ai récemment entendu dire que Mme Merkel a été bouleversée avec quelqu'un dans leur entourage.



Déjà vu, messieurs?

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad