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Libya no fly zone
March 17, 2011 6:29 PM   Subscribe

UN Security Council approves no-fly zone over Libya.
posted by Meatbomb (916 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Third time's the charm. It'll be over by Christmas.
posted by Justinian at 6:35 PM on March 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


just about to post this. here's a link to the UN Security council meeting on Libya.
posted by justalisteningman at 6:35 PM on March 17, 2011


It's about time.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:35 PM on March 17, 2011


U.N. Security Council approves no-fly zone over Libya Charlie Sheen.
posted by larry_darrell at 6:36 PM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


but seriously intervening to stop a dictator from slaughtering his own people is what the USA SHOULD do

ever think we play the role of old fashioned gods? oppressed people pray to us for justice. sometimes we kill them. sometimes we help them. sometimes we just hurl thunderbolts randomly
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:36 PM on March 17, 2011 [64 favorites]


And?
posted by Samizdata at 6:37 PM on March 17, 2011


There have been reports on twitter that various cities erupted in celebrations/protests upon news of the resolution, including Tripoli. It seems as though this move has been, at least at this point, important simply for the fact that it has given the rebels a huge boost of confidence. On twitter, @acarvin and @ShababLibya are good to follow for Libyan news.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:40 PM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Bit fucking late.
posted by Artw at 6:40 PM on March 17, 2011 [19 favorites]


but seriously intervening to stop a dictator from slaughtering his own people is what the USA SHOULD do

ever think we play the role of old fashioned gods? oppressed people pray to us for justice. sometimes we kill them. sometimes we help them. sometimes we just hurl thunderbolts randomly


Team America: World Police?
posted by ghharr at 6:40 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good, and the countries that are in the region should take the lead (meaning Europeans and the mysterious Arab countries that are planning to participate).
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:42 PM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


OPPS, sorry sir, I bombed the armoured column.
posted by clavdivs at 6:44 PM on March 17, 2011


It is not just a no-fly zone. It is "all necessary measures" but "excluding an occupation force". Everything short of Iraq/Afghanistan appears to have been authorized.
posted by vidur at 6:45 PM on March 17, 2011


Here's the reaction in Benghazi on hearing the news of the UN vote.
posted by honestcoyote at 6:45 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


This resolution doesn't simply mean "shoot down a Gaddafi plane if you see it", it means "you have the right to aerially bombard the shit out of every military target you can find".
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:46 PM on March 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


What could possibly go wrong?

This post from digby seems worth talking about.
Boy, I sure do hope that the threat of a no-fly zone forces Qaddafi to step down because if not it looks like we've got us another shooting war in the Middle East, once again based on the trope that we are good guys racing in to save the people from the bad guys. If only we could actually achieve such things, or were really interested in doing that.

This is not a war to save people. If we cared about that we would be intervening in Cote D'Ivoire, where there has been horrible violence on the same level as that in Libya. There is human misery all over the planet that we can't even be bothered to look at, much less intervene. So let's not kid ourselves about what this is about:
Oil reserves in Libya are the largest in Africa and the ninth largest in the world with 41.5 billion barrels (6.60×10^9 m3) as of 2007. Oil production was 1.8 million barrels per day (290×10^3 m3/d) as of 2006, giving Libya 63 years of reserves at current production rates if no new reserves were to be found. Libya is considered a highly attractive oil area due to its low cost of oil production (as low as $1 per barrel at some fields), and proximity to European markets. Libya would like to increase production from 1.8 Mbbl/d (290×10^3 m3/d) in 2006 to 3 Mbbl/d (480×10^3 m3/d) by 2010–13 but with existing oil fields undergoing a 7–8% decline rate, Libya's challenge is maintaining production at mature fields, while finding and developing new oil fields. Most of Libya remains unexplored as a result of past sanctions and disagreements with foreign oil companies.
posted by gerryblog at 6:48 PM on March 17, 2011 [38 favorites]


The resolution actually authorized all necessary force to protect Libyian civilians. That's permission to bomb anything they want. Politico reports that Hillary Clinton personally pushed Obama into this. She didn't want to see another Rawanda situation. So go Hillary!
posted by humanfont at 6:49 PM on March 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


::sigh::
posted by Splunge at 6:49 PM on March 17, 2011


What it means is "We, the United Nations, say it's naughty to do military stuff over there. So DON'T, or we'll shake our finger at you." Nothing more.
posted by Samizdata at 6:49 PM on March 17, 2011


What it means is "We, the United Nations, say it's naughty to do military stuff over there. So DON'T, or we'll shake our finger at you." Nothing more.

No, that was the previous resolution about Human Rights. This one has teeth.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:50 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


This just became a war, didn't it?
posted by reductiondesign at 6:51 PM on March 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also the US apparently is going to take a back seat in this. Rumor has it the French will he running this one, with NATO support. Also I've heard that the Egyptian Airforce may play a role to get some additional popular support for the military transitional government. It wOuld actually be kind of cool to see the Egyptian military liberating other nations in the middle east. Bring back the United Arab Republic.
posted by humanfont at 6:53 PM on March 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


This is not a war to save people. If we cared about that we would be intervening in Cote D'Ivoire, where there has been horrible violence on the same level as that in Libya.

It's absolutely true that the UN's comparatively greater interest in Libya is not humanitarian. The interest is that Tripoli is 226 miles away from the EU.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:53 PM on March 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


> What it means is "We, the United Nations, say it's naughty to do military stuff over there. So DON'T, or we'll shake our finger at you." Nothing more.

It means so much more. However, the actions to be taken are to be taken by member countries. The UN has done what it could - making the use of force legal.
posted by vidur at 6:53 PM on March 17, 2011


This just became a war, didn't it?

In the sense that the previous round of people shooting and bombing each other was just a peaceful protest, yes.

obviously I'm not blaming the lack of peace on the rebels
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:54 PM on March 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


ever think we play the role of old fashioned gods? oppressed people pray to us for justice. sometimes we kill them. sometimes we help them. sometimes we just hurl thunderbolts randomly

"What poor gods we do make"
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 6:54 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Partition would an easy solution here.
posted by stbalbach at 6:54 PM on March 17, 2011


Can there be a Survivor: Tripoli? Can there, huh?
posted by jonmc at 6:55 PM on March 17, 2011


330-comment post on MetaFilter, March 19, 2003.
posted by gerryblog at 6:55 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


330-comment post on MetaFilter, March 19, 2003.

We could probably just do a Find/Replace and save us all some time.
posted by LordSludge at 6:57 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


This just became a war, didn't it?

Let's hope not. Let's hope that this just became an uncontrollable shitstorm for Gaddafi.

Best case scenario is that the soldiers/mercenaries/generals/sycophants/whomever who are still supporting the regime decide that the risk is currently too great and that now is the time to defect. The regime's floor of support could very quickly be yanked out from under it. Worst case scenario . . . this just became a war.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:57 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


who are still supporting the regime decide that the risk is currently too great

My money is on this. It doesn't take too much shit getting blown up around you to decide to call it a day.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:00 PM on March 17, 2011


"What poor gods we do make"

I was thinking more Zeus than YHWH, yeah

But seriously an oppressed people rose up against their oppressors. Now they need some extra help. Why not give it to them?

With great power comes great responsibility
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:00 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


330-comment post on MetaFilter

That was all? The Japan disaster has so far spawned 3 FPPs (and one MeTa) totalling over 6,600 posts.
posted by stbalbach at 7:01 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


They will attack "command and control" first. This means all communication, all defenses, they will try to kill all leaders. They will crater all runways, destroy all aircraft in the air and on the ground. This will be done at first light if not sooner in an attempt to cut the head off the snake and eliminate any response from their army.
posted by JohnR at 7:01 PM on March 17, 2011


I don't know much about the situation in Cote D'Ivoire. The situation in Libya makes intervention about as easy as it gets.

The Libya civil war, as it currently stands, is largely a civil war with one side fighting conventionally, in uniforms and in an organized fashion. The terrain is wide open flat empty desert with most of the civilian population concentrated in cities and towns. Therefore, when you think you've spotted an armor column to bomb, you've probably spotted an armor column and not a wedding party.

If you're going to compare this to past conflicts, think of Kosovo or the NATO attacks on Bosnian Serbs, not Iraq or Afghanistan. To a lesser extent, think of the 1991 Gulf War. There's a reasonably clear objective and broad international support, including support from many of the nations of the Middle East. The people we are ostensibly saving are absolutely thrilled at the thought of being saved. This is very different than what happened in Iraq.
posted by honestcoyote at 7:03 PM on March 17, 2011 [12 favorites]


But seriously an oppressed people rose up against their oppressors. Now they need some extra help. Why not give it to them?

In some form or another this has been the justification for every instance of U.S. overseas adventurism for the last fifty-five years. When's the last time it worked out?
posted by gerryblog at 7:04 PM on March 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Partition would an easy solution here.

My impression is that Gaddafi is nigh-universally despised, and is hanging on to power solely because of his vast wealth, and also that he is a crazy mofo, and would sooner see his forces wiped out than settle for half of Libya.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:04 PM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


That was all? The Japan disaster has so far spawned 3 FPPs (and one MeTa) totalling over 6,600 posts.

It was a simpler time. Before open registrations, right?

posted by gerryblog at 7:04 PM on March 17, 2011


>Rumor has it the French will he running this one

If the French really do take the lead-- and certainly, if the Egyptians noticeably participate--, that would be a very good thing.

Not because they'd be any neater than the US would-- in fact, they might use fewer precision munitions-- but, well, just because they aren't us.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Op%C3%A9ration_Epervier
posted by darth_tedious at 7:05 PM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


think of the 1991 Gulf War. There's a reasonably clear objective and broad international support, including support from many of the nations of the Middle East.

...and bugger-all clue about what to do afterwards.

In some form or another this has been the justification for every instance of U.S. overseas adventurism for the last fifty-five years.

And the next.
posted by pompomtom at 7:06 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Andrew Exum-
What happens if Gadhafi pulls back? Do we continue to try and press the advantage of the rebels until his government falls? Do we have the authorization to do that? Do we expect a civil war in Libya to drag out, and if so, how will we take sides? If Gadhafi falls, what comes next? What will the new Libyan government look like? Will they be friendly to U.S. interests? Someone please tell me how this ends.
posted by lullaby at 7:06 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


So Mohamed Bouazizi is the new Franz Ferdinand, eh?
posted by rkent at 7:06 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


enough of this amateur bullshit, here come the masters of war!
posted by kitchenrat at 7:06 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


So go Hillary!

Is it okay to say here that she still makes my flesh crawl?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:06 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]



But seriously an oppressed people rose up against their oppressors. Now they need some extra help. Why not give it to them?

In some form or another this has been the justification for every instance of U.S. overseas adventurism for the last fifty-five years. When's the last time it worked out?


To mangle a phrase: a stopped security council is right twice a day.

Yes: its about oil and proximity to the EU. Yes it is a nightmare. BUT

If implemented properly, I think this is a better (noet I didn't say good!) option than the alternative which is to watch ghadaffi liquidate his opponents after shelling the crap out of benghazi.
posted by lalochezia at 7:07 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is Sarkozy's moment. The French get to make up for Algeria. The US doesn't have anything ready to go as I understand it. The DOD was really pushing against this as our generals think with 3 wars (Yemen, Afghanistan and Iraq) we'd rather not get over extended.
posted by humanfont at 7:08 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


vidur: It is not just a no-fly zone. It is "all necessary measures" but "excluding an occupation force". Everything short of Iraq/Afghanistan appears to have been authorized.

What is an occupation force? Is it one that one that sticks around to make sure there isn't future fighting after the peace, or something else? I ask because I don't know, and a quick bit of Googling is turning up nothing worthwhile.

Lovecraft In Brooklyn: ever think we play the role of old fashioned gods? oppressed people pray to us for justice. sometimes we kill them. sometimes we help them. sometimes we just hurl thunderbolts randomly

1) remember when the US wasn't about being Number One Gun? Well, maybe not remember, because the non-intervention days of the US are long-gone. 2) There are other fickle gods in this world, and the US is already trying to be demigods in Iraq and Afghanistan, realizing full and well that we are not omnipotent nor omnipresent.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:09 PM on March 17, 2011


I feel like this venn diagram adequately sums up some complicated feelings on US involvement in this sort of thing.
posted by troika at 7:10 PM on March 17, 2011


No Fly Zone: Yay!
posted by ovvl at 7:10 PM on March 17, 2011


think of Kosovo or the NATO attacks on Bosnian Serbs

..except there is no Russia waiting in the wings to intervene on the side of Gaddafi.
posted by stbalbach at 7:11 PM on March 17, 2011


lol no fly zone
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:11 PM on March 17, 2011 [15 favorites]


We'll be greated as liberators!
posted by empath at 7:12 PM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


EMRJKC'94: context?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:13 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Empath: look at the videos from Benghazi. Read the #libya twitter feeds. We're already being greeted as liberators and we haven't actually done anything yet.
posted by honestcoyote at 7:14 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


But seriously an oppressed people rose up against their oppressors. Now they need some extra help. Why not give it to them?

Sure yeah, let's just liberate all people everywhere! Spread democracy at the barrel of a gun -- it's worked fantastically well so far.
posted by empath at 7:14 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


troika: "I feel like this venn diagram adequately sums up some complicated feelings on US involvement in this sort of thing."

I think that is as far from a statement on the matter as you could get. Surely the "people who don't remember the Bosnian War" is meant to be a superset of the other two, or there is no point in even drawing it.
posted by mkb at 7:15 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


gerryblog (quoting digby): This is not a war to save people. If we cared about that we would be intervening in Cote D'Ivoire ... or "we" would have stepped in weeks ago, when the rebellion appeared to be making serious progress, except in the few Gaddafi strong-holds, instead of when it looks like the rebels will be "defeated," and by defeated we mean massacred, and civilians killed in air-strikes.

I really don't like the idea of the US (or anyone, for that matter) as being the Sword of Righteousness, stopping or smiting the bad rules who had been left in power for DECADES, but looking back, the 100 hour Gulf War sounded so .. clean. 100 hours, how bad was that? Sure, that was getting Iraq out of Kuwait, instead of ousting a maniacal despot and setting up a new government in a country where the "good guys" are largely unknown, due to the prolonged reign of said despot.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:16 PM on March 17, 2011


I feel like this venn diagram adequately sums up some complicated feelings on US involvement in this sort of thing.

I'm not sure this is how Venn diagrams work.
posted by reductiondesign at 7:17 PM on March 17, 2011 [23 favorites]


let's just liberate all people everywhere! Spread democracy at the barrel of a gun

C'mon, the alternative is another Rwanda, mass killings. It's a no-fly zone, long way from liberators or Democracy, chess game of many moves. Immediate move is to prevent a possible holocaust of Libyan citizens and immediate game over. Also, the "we" in this case is a broad coalition including other Arab states. Sometimes it's right to intervene.
posted by stbalbach at 7:18 PM on March 17, 2011 [12 favorites]


EMRJKC'94: context?

JAT Airways flight 454 was flying from Belgrade to Tripoli, and halfway through the flight, the pilot learned that the UN Security Council had authorized a no-fly zone over Libya, and so he went back to Belgrade, and thus passengers were 0wn3d.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:18 PM on March 17, 2011


I find it genuinely amazing how many people are behind this given the history of Western intervention in the arab world and the widespread ignorance about both the rebels and their intentions, and Libya more generally in both past and present. It's weird, man.

I'm am happy to admit that I don't know about this, because I don't know anything about the rebel forces, or anything about the current situation in Libya - or for that matter anything about the past situation in Libya more complicated than what could be answered as a Jeopardy question.

I certainly don't know if a no-fly zone is ultimate gonna result in more deaths than lives saved.

I find the reflexive celebration really weird. It's not like this shit hasn't happened - badly - before. It's like people forgot Iraq, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Argentina, Panama, Vietnam, and most of Africa.
posted by smoke at 7:18 PM on March 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Why no no-fly zone in Bahrain? Where Saudi Arabians literally invaded the country and are in the process of massacring protesters?
posted by empath at 7:19 PM on March 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


This can only end, well.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 7:24 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The UN to the Rescue in Libya: Is it too Late?
posted by homunculus at 7:24 PM on March 17, 2011


I'm not sure this is how Venn diagrams work.

I'm quite sure it isn't.
posted by axiom at 7:24 PM on March 17, 2011


Ultimately, the skepticism being expressed by many posters is entirely natural and healthy. Why exactly are the powers that be doing this, and doing this now? I think it is because of a genuine fear of Gaddafi. We have all seen the tide turn in the last week, the rebels being routed from Zawia and Brega - the Europeans and other Arab countries saw it too and it scared them shitless. They don't know what will come next in Libya, but they do know that an emboldened Gaddafi with nothing left to lose, a ruined country to oversee, and an open invitation to a nice little sit-down at the ICC is a dangerous motherfucker who will do monstrous things and who simply cannot hold onto power any longer.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:25 PM on March 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is not about the US. Read the article. France and a few other countries (including two Arab countries) are going to take the lead. The Arab league approved the no-fly zone days ago. The US hasn't even confirmed the extent of its involvement.

There are other countries in the world and they are very involved. This is not about the US.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:27 PM on March 17, 2011 [23 favorites]


I find it genuinely amazing how many people are behind this given the history of Western intervention in the arab world and the widespread ignorance about both the rebels and their intentions, and Libya more generally in both past and present. It's weird, man.

I'm am happy to admit that I don't know about this, because I don't know anything about the rebel forces, or anything about the current situation in Libya - or for that matter anything about the past situation in Libya more complicated than what could be answered as a Jeopardy question.


How could you find peoples' support amazing if you admittedly don't know anything about the rebel forces/the current situation in Libya/anything about the past situation in Libya?
posted by seventyfour at 7:27 PM on March 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


How could you find peoples' support amazing if you admittedly don't know anything about the rebel forces/the current situation in Libya/anything about the past situation in Libya?

What do you know about them?
posted by empath at 7:28 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


What I've read in the NYT and heard on NPR. What I've read on aggregating type sites like this one. Basic stuff. I haven't taken a college level course and the information I've learned could be wrong. But I have some basis for evaluating the UN's decision. It just seems odd to make a statement pro or con with no knowledge whatsoever.
posted by seventyfour at 7:30 PM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Am I wrong in thinking that somewhere, in the corridors of power, it was thought that the devil they knew was preferable to the devil(s) they don't?

Sure seemed to me like it had been decided to let Qaddafi stick around, since roughly a week ago he could have been toppled with a light bloodless push (asylum somewhere and some spending money).

So I wonder what changed people's minds, that intervention is now a go? Second thoughts? Spectacle of a bloodbath?

I don't expect or want the US to be the world's cop, but I also can't shake the sense that the West sorta kinda liked the relative stability of having a handful of controllable despots in place, as opposed to genuine democracy in the Arab world.

Oh well. Hope Libya gets all safe and quiet again, so the 6,000+ foreign oil workers can return and get busy again.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:32 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know that Libya tried to kill Marty and Doc Brown.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 7:33 PM on March 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


And based on the admittedly little knowledge you have, you're willing to put soldiers lives at risk, and to have them launch a bombing campaign which will almost certainly kill innocent people along with Gaddaffi's forces and which has an unknown outcome, to support a rebel movement whose motives you don't know very much about?

And if the NFZ doesn't cause Gaddafi to fold up and go away? What then? Do we invade, do we arm the rebels?

Or if the NFZ emboldens the rebel forces and they massacre a bunch of 'african mercenaries' in retaliation, what do we do then?
posted by empath at 7:34 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


It just seems odd to make a statement pro or con with no knowledge whatsoever.

This isn't exactly true. We have quite a bit of knowledge of our own failures in such exploits. As such the default mode should be to get involved only very reluctantly, and extreme skepticism about motives, plans, etc.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:36 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


What I've read in the NYT and heard on NPR. What I've read on aggregating type sites like this one. Basic stuff.

So, nothing then. Just like me. A few articles and website is not a strong base for formulating foreign policy.

I'm not saying this is a bad thing, or a wrong thing. But I am surprised that people view it as cause for celebration. It should be - whether you believe it's good or not - a decision made with a heavy sense of foreboding, fear about the many unknowns involved, and recognition coupled with respect that enforcing this will result in more Arab deaths at Western hands, rightly or wrongly.

Cheering doesn't just seem gauche to me, but truly, seems ignorant.
posted by smoke at 7:38 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


So Mohamed Bouazizi is the new Franz Ferdinand, eh?

I thought that was The Klaxons
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:39 PM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


So I wonder what changed people's minds, that intervention is now a go? Second thoughts? Spectacle of a bloodbath?

perhaps this.

I imagine France and Italy would rather not deal with the humanitarian and economic mess that mass immigration would bring. Sarkozy and (especially) Berlusconi are having enough difficulties right now without the specter of drowned refugees washing up on their shores. A small military intervention may be worth the price of keeping all those Libyans in Libya for them right now.
posted by Chrischris at 7:39 PM on March 17, 2011


Gaddafi threatened to storm the rebel bastion of Benghazi overnight, showing "no mercy, no pity. We will come. House by house, room by room."
posted by stbalbach at 7:41 PM on March 17, 2011


Sure seemed to me like it had been decided to let Qaddafi stick around, since roughly a week ago he could have been toppled with a light bloodless push (asylum somewhere and some spending money).

So I wonder what changed people's minds, that intervention is now a go? Second thoughts? Spectacle of a bloodbath?


Roughly a week ago, Western nations knew that the rebels didn't want intervention, but would accept a no-fly zone given their lack of air power. The West believed that Gaddafi's days were numbered and kept out because they knew their involvement would sully the revolution.

Since then: the rebellion is in danger of being destroyed, and there seems to have been some deal done trading Arab League support for Western action in Libya with US acceptance of Saudi involvement in Bahrain.
posted by pompomtom at 7:41 PM on March 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm not saying this is a bad thing, or a wrong thing. But I am surprised that people view it as cause for celebration. It should be - whether you believe it's good or not - a decision made with a heavy sense of foreboding, fear about the many unknowns involved, and recognition coupled with respect that enforcing this will result in more Arab deaths at Western hands, rightly or wrongly.

The people rose up and fought a dictator. They waited to ask for help but now they need it. Not all revolutions are going to be non-violent

and yes, before you ask, I supported the second Iraq War. i didn't know how bad it would get but from my point of view removing a dictator is a Good Thing.

Australia's foreign minister has supported a no-fly zone, though i'm not sure what we can do to help
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:41 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cheering seems justified to me, at least on one level. I think of this from the perspective of a resident of Benghazi. Before the UN resolution, I would have felt completely doomed to a violent and painful ending as Gaddaffi's forces assaulted my city and days and weeks of urban warfare would follow.

Now, there's a very good likelihood this won't happen. This is as good a reason to cheer as any.

Of course there are unknowns and this could end up blowing up in the faces of all concerned, but in terms of the immediate humanitarian needs, this intervention is a good thing.
posted by honestcoyote at 7:42 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


It basically breaks down as follows. An air campaign will start n the next 24 hours with French Air Power in the lead. They will hit various command and control centers, some airbases and possibly some artillery and armor positions near the rebel lines. Then we will see what the rebels can do. Meanwhile a few forward air controllers and special operations guys will make contract with various rebel leaders and participate in calling in air strikes to support key rebel attacks. Ghadafi will be gone in under 10-15 days. If the rebels can't home together or get power hungry and fall apart, then the Foreign Legion comes in as liberators and it is an awful mess.
posted by humanfont at 7:44 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Somebody earlier asked why Egypt was not involved. Well, there's this, from the AJ liveblog:

3:16am The Wall Street Journal, citing US and Libyan officials, is reporting that Egypt's military has begun shipping arms over the border to Libyan rebels, with US knowledge.

The shipments - mostly small arms such as assault rifles and ammunition - appear to be the first confirmed case of an outside government arming the rebel fighters. Those fighters have been losing ground for days in the face of a steady westward advance by forces loyal to [Gaddafi].
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:44 PM on March 17, 2011


HRC didn't want to see another Rawanda situation.

Proving she knows just as much about Rwanda as her husband did.
posted by docgonzo at 7:45 PM on March 17, 2011


Let's not forget that France, having already recognized the opposition government, would be in for a massive diplomatic headache should Gadaffi and his supporters end up prevailing.
posted by reductiondesign at 7:45 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cheering seems justified to me, at least on one level. I think of this from the perspective of a resident of Benghazi. Before the UN resolution, I would have felt completely doomed to a violent and painful ending as Gaddaffi's forces assaulted my city and days and weeks of urban warfare would follow.

And if you live in Tripoli? How do you feel tonight?
posted by empath at 7:46 PM on March 17, 2011


No point in ever peacefully protesting if the guys in charge can kill you all and claim sovereignty.

* this isn't just the US. France, the EU, etc are taking the lead
* Every Libyan I know is very happy of this, including my father, still stuck in souq al jumma, tripoli, as are my in laws and whole extended family
* we've seen how gaddafi crushes cities in revolt, once gaddafi took over zawiyah, his men went door to door, looking for injured or people with weapons to kill

empath:
The people of Tripoli are waiting to get out, each time, they have been shot at and killed.
posted by mulligan at 7:47 PM on March 17, 2011 [24 favorites]


Empath, I'm going to move aside so that you can get at the strawman behind me. I'm not making bold statements pro or con the UN decision because I understand the limits of my knowledge which, again, is mostly derived from reputable if bourgeois sources. I would hope that rhetoricians on both sides, pro and con, would do the same. I was just surprised that someone who admittedly knew nothing about a situation would have such a strong opinion. I thought it was interesting. As to the action at hand, I guess I'll wait to hear what All Things Considered thinks about it.
posted by seventyfour at 7:47 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


And if you live in Tripoli? How do you feel tonight?

There have been unconfirmed reports of people taking to the streets in Tripoli in celebration.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:47 PM on March 17, 2011


One hopes that France and Italy have their fighters all fueled up and on the runways right now. This declaration means that Gaddafi will basically have to be "all-in" in the next 48 hours, if he hopes to finish the rebels by taking Benghazi before the UN can actually get around to enforcing their no-fly zone. The point will be moot if the rebels can't hold out long enough for air-power equation to make any difference.
posted by Chrischris at 7:50 PM on March 17, 2011


Man, we'll find any excuse to feed our oil addiction, won't we.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:50 PM on March 17, 2011


HRC didn't want to see another Rawanda situation.

Proving she knows just as much about Rwanda as her husband did.


Docgonzo, that seems a rather shitty and simplistic thing to say.
posted by msali at 7:51 PM on March 17, 2011


There's a corner store near me that is ran by guys from Libya. I was in there a few hours ago, when another guy from the neighborhood ran in and told them about the no-fly-zone. He pulled out his phone and they all watched a news video of it on it.

They "woooo'd" like as if they were fratboys wearing green tshirts tonight.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:51 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


One hopes that France and Italy have their fighters all fueled up and on the runways right now.

Either way, I'm expecting to wake up to some very interesting news tomorrow.
posted by reductiondesign at 7:52 PM on March 17, 2011


> What is an occupation force? Is it one that one that sticks around to make sure there isn't future fighting after the peace, or something else? I ask because I don't know, and a quick bit of Googling is turning up nothing worthwhile.

The most restrictive interpretation of "occupation force" implies not having any ground troops for any duration whatsoever. A somewhat liberal interpretation could allow short-term commando teams for specific targets. Either way, use of air force is easily covered, as is the use of missiles.

The language of excluding an occupation force also hints that future UNSC resolutions would take a call on what to do once fighting stops - conduct elections? send in peacekeeping troops?
posted by vidur at 7:53 PM on March 17, 2011


Either way, I'm expecting to wake up to some very interesting news tomorrow.

Gotta have your bowl, gotta have cereal?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:54 PM on March 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


So... is the Obama administration going to get a rubber stamp from Congress at some point...?
posted by lullaby at 7:57 PM on March 17, 2011


Hopefully, someone somewhere is working on a government transition plan good for the people of Libya.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:01 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, the Reagan-worshipping Republicans will like it.
posted by mkb at 8:02 PM on March 17, 2011


Well, the Reagan-worshipping Republicans will like it.

Let's not jump the gun. My right-wing relatives are already sending me emails about "outsourcing our foreign policy to the UN."
posted by gerryblog at 8:05 PM on March 17, 2011


Ok, a pulling things out of my ass prediction: If Gaddafi's forces look like they are going to win this thing, it would not surprise me to see an Egyptian military force, supported by European airpower and logistics,cross the border and push back the Libyan government forces. This would be a very useful (for the Egyptian military, who are now the defacto rulers of a still turbulent state) re-assertion of Egypt's regional pre-eminence as well as a pointed demonstration to the rest of the Arab world that Mubarrak's toppling has neither weakened Egypt nor in any way blunted its power. Also, said cooperation would demonstrate that a new Euro-centric rather American-centric axis of influence (EU-Egypt-(probably) Turkey) is developing. From Egypt's and the EU's perspective, Libya's military (Mercenaries? Really?) is small potatoes and would prove an easy target in this little exercise.
posted by Chrischris at 8:06 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


So... is the Obama administration going to get a rubber stamp from Congress at some point...?

This is one of the good wars. Obama doesn't need the approval of Congress for those.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:07 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good for the UN, and good on the French for stepping up.
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:11 PM on March 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


The full text of the draft resolution is available here. I can't find the final version on the UNSC website yet.

The part about occupation force reads "excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory", so it seems like ground troops are not allowed at all. For now.
posted by vidur at 8:12 PM on March 17, 2011


If Gaddafi's forces look like they are going to win this thing, it would not surprise me to see an Egyptian military force, supported by European airpower and logistics,cross the border and push back the Libyan government forces.

That would violate the resolution, from my understanding of it.
posted by empath at 8:13 PM on March 17, 2011


smash cut to: "That's not an occupation force. It's a Freedom Squad."
posted by gerryblog at 8:14 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


it would not surprise me to see an Egyptian military force, supported by European airpower and logistics,cross the border and push back the Libyan government forces.

I think the hope is that air power alone will give the rebels the time to re-equip and recuperate and then deal with Gaddafi for good. What frightens me is that Gaddafi might decide to turn the cities he does control into strongholds, forcing the NATO/rebel alliance to choose between dropping bombs close to/among civilian targets or going house-to-house against an entrenched and better-trained opposing force.
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:19 PM on March 17, 2011



If Gaddafi's forces look like they are going to win this thing, it would not surprise me to see an Egyptian military force, supported by European airpower and logistics,cross the border and push back the Libyan government forces.

That would violate the resolution, from my understanding of it.


They're not going to care about that. They'll take care to get authorized by the rebel council in Ben Ghazi, but Egypt can't afford having Ghadaffi next door anymore. He's bound to cause them trouble because their revolution succeeded.
posted by ocschwar at 8:21 PM on March 17, 2011


An air campaign will start n the next 24 hours

It has already started. Col. G puts up some much as a kite and it's wheels up. Big sky art is already available.
posted by clavdivs at 8:23 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


What frightens me is that Gaddafi might decide to turn the cities he does control into strongholds, forcing the NATO/rebel alliance to choose between dropping bombs close to/among civilian targets or going house-to-house against an entrenched and better-trained opposing force.

Of course he will. He'll put AA guns on top of hospitals and schools, etc, and will bring out bodies of dead children after every air strike.
posted by empath at 8:23 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the hope is that air power alone will give the rebels the time to re-equip and recuperate and then deal with Gaddafi for good. What frightens me is that Gaddafi might decide to turn the cities he does control into strongholds, forcing the NATO/rebel alliance to choose between dropping bombs close to/among civilian targets or going house-to-house against an entrenched and better-trained opposing force.

If he does that they can just wait it out. And only bomb what tries to drive out of the cities.

He is old, after all. And his lieutenants have more reason to trust the rebel council in BenGhazi than they have to trust each other for the inevitable succession battles. They'll cut deals if they havne't already.
posted by ocschwar at 8:23 PM on March 17, 2011


That would violate the resolution, from my understanding of it.

Egypt will point to a "burgeoning, uncontrollable refugee crisis on its border" as justification.
The Eu will point to "a humanitarian crisis which threatens to devolve an already unstable region into further chaos" as justification.
Then France, with the tacit support of both the US, the UK, and China, will veto any General Counsel call for withdrawal until such time as Mr. Gadaffi is out of the picture permanently.

You know as well as I do, that the UN resolution is simply diplomatic cover--useful as a pretext to action but utterly meaningless in its particulars regarding enforcement. The powers involved will do what they will, and have enough clout to disregard any inconvenient checks on their power.
posted by Chrischris at 8:24 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


why are commando teams or snipers never an option with these things? i don't understand why we didn't assassinate Saddam. we know who Gaddafi is. he has very little support among his people. he just needs to be removed, right?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:25 PM on March 17, 2011


You know as well as I do, that the UN resolution is simply diplomatic cover--useful as a pretext to action but utterly meaningless in its particulars regarding enforcement.

No, I know full well that imposing a NFZ is an act of war and will have unpredictable consequences. It could very easily draw in Tunisia and Egypt, Libya could launch terrorist attacks, etc.. Gaddafi has nothing to lose at this point.
posted by empath at 8:26 PM on March 17, 2011


choose between dropping bombs close to/among civilian targets or going house-to-house against an entrenched and better-trained opposing force.

The rebels have neither the training nor the stomach for house to house assaults.
posted by pompomtom at 8:27 PM on March 17, 2011


I wonder if this will embolden the masses in other nearby countries to action in their country?
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 8:28 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


"No, I know full well that imposing a NFZ is an act of war and will have unpredictable consequences. It could very easily draw in Tunisia and Egypt, Libya could launch terrorist attacks, etc.. Gaddafi has nothing to lose at this point."

Egypt and Tunisia both sent supplies to the Lybian rebels. Mind you, those were food and medical supplies, but from Gadaffi's viewpoint, Egypt and Tunisia crossed the Rubicon weeks ago.

They'd be nuts not to give this guy his coup de grace at this point.
posted by ocschwar at 8:30 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


we know who the bad guy is. that's the hard bit. all that high tech tech and we can't just kill him?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:31 PM on March 17, 2011


empath, your playing up the downsides of the NFZ, while ignoring the downsides of doing nothing and letting Gadaffi go "house to house showing no mercy, no pity," in Benghazi, a city of 100s of thousands of rebels.
posted by stbalbach at 8:33 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


If we're lucky, one of his sons or someone close to him will shoot him and then cut a deal with the rebels.
posted by empath at 8:33 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


but seriously intervening to stop a dictator from slaughtering his own people is what the USA SHOULD do

Just like Saddam Hussein, eh? Dictator? check. Slaughtered and oppressed own people? check.

How'd that work out?
posted by Justinian at 8:35 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


maybe we can post a bounty? or kill him and make it look like an accident?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:35 PM on March 17, 2011


i don't understand why we didn't assassinate Saddam

Because 'you' (whoever that encompasses) couldn't. Interestingly the US is far from omnipotent.
posted by pompomtom at 8:35 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just like Saddam Hussein, eh? Dictator? check. Slaughtered and oppressed own people? check.

How'd that work out?


we didn't know it would go bad, and even if we did it was still the right thing to at least attempt and stop him

'Evil triumphs when good men do nothing'
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:35 PM on March 17, 2011


Because 'you' (whoever that encompasses) couldn't. Interestingly the US is far from omnipotent.

you're telling me American commandos couldn't assassinate one dictator? hell doesn't even Australia have some squad of uber-commandos?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:36 PM on March 17, 2011


I'm with those who say we don't know a great deal about who the rebels are so this may well not be as clear-cut as it looks at first blush. On another forum I frequent there's one bloke who's on the one hand a bit of a pro-"People's Jamahiriya" loonspud but on t'other has made some interesting points about the rebel's use of the flag of the old puppet colonial regime and the differences between the main body (not all) of the Libya rising and the popular rebellions elsewhere in the region. Not pretending to know much better myself and your gut tells you stopping aerial assaults on civilians has to be a good thing, but wouldn't be surprised to find there's more to this than the obvious.
posted by Abiezer at 8:36 PM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


I read an article, can't seem to find it now, that suggested that Saddam would have gone down in this anti-dictator wave had the US not removed him first. I think the Libya thing proves that isn't necessarily the case. Peaceful protest only works when the other side is more afraid of shooting you than not shooting you.

I don't see a way out of this without some form of military involvement, and I feel for the people of Libya, but the US is busy enough elsewhere. I'm slightly more comfortable with the international community taking the lead, but I think I've had enough of granting freedom with bombs.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:37 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


maybe we can post a bounty? or kill him and make it look like an accident?


I'm partial to the comfortable retirement in exile solution, but I suspect that was tried early on and the bastard declined.

Realistically, this is the best solution. It doesn't take much to keep the airspace and highways clear for a few weeks and let the chips settle where they may.
posted by ocschwar at 8:37 PM on March 17, 2011


The "we" in the second Iraq war is not in any way the same "we" that is participating in this UN-sanctioned military action.

Really, it's not that similar.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:37 PM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


It could very easily draw in Tunisia and Egypt, Libya could launch terrorist attacks, etc.. Gaddafi has nothing to lose at this point.

All the more reason for the surrounding powers to eliminate his regime quickly.

Pretty much every other nation in the Maghrib has excellent rationales for toppling Gaddafi--this resolution and a fortunate confluence of events (the recent Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings being merely two of the more recent) provides a nearly irresistible pretext for doing so.
posted by Chrischris at 8:38 PM on March 17, 2011


we didn't know it would go bad, and even if we did it was still the right thing to at least attempt and stop him

Oh fer Christ's sake.
posted by waitingtoderail at 8:38 PM on March 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


i don't understand why we didn't assassinate Saddam.
off topic but do you want primary sources, secondary or a few i heard about. My favorite was the 89' plan. Robert Baer was (allegedly) involved in one "attempt".

bounties don't work, Col. G has more money. This U.N. decison is humanitarian also, these rebels we get slaughered if not given some help.
posted by clavdivs at 8:38 PM on March 17, 2011


" I'm partial to the comfortable retirement in exile solution, but I suspect that was tried early on and the bastard declined."

I believe that there weren't very many countries willing to take him in. He has pretty much pissed off every country it's humanly possible to piss off.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:39 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


'Evil triumphs when good men do nothing'

you're telling me American commandos couldn't assassinate one dictator? hell doesn't even Australia have some squad of uber-commandos?


I think you've been watching too much GI Joe.
posted by empath at 8:39 PM on March 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


we didn't know it would go bad, and even if we did it was still the right thing to at least attempt and stop him

Jesus christ.

(begins banging head slowly and repetitively against the wall)
posted by Justinian at 8:40 PM on March 17, 2011 [8 favorites]



I'm partial to the comfortable retirement in exile solution, but I suspect that was tried early on and the bastard declined.


that better be a euphemism for 'prison'
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:41 PM on March 17, 2011


I believe that there weren't very many countries willing to take him in. He has pretty much pissed off every country it's humanly possible to piss off.


So what? I'd let Ghadaffi sleep in my guest room if it would stop the slaughter.
posted by ocschwar at 8:41 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]



Jesus christ.

(begins banging head slowly and repetitively against the wall)


I went to college in an ultra-left wing college in Massachusetts. I grew up with people who opposed Iraq. and i have not heard one convincing argument against removing dictators
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:42 PM on March 17, 2011


we know who the bad guy is. that's the hard bit. all that high tech tech and we can't just kill him?

Oh, come on. You think his military forces and large chunks of his government are standing by Gaddafi out of nostalgia? A sense of ethics, perhaps? This guy and his cronies have been in power for decades now. There's blood on a great many hands. The people Gaddafi depended on to actually carry out his orders are well aware of what their future holds if the rebels take charge.

This isn't 24, for Chrissake. There's not just one bad guy who you can remove with some sexy Hollywood-style 'extreme prejudice' and make everything magically better.

If we're lucky, one of his sons or someone close to him will shoot him and then cut a deal with the rebels.

Only if they think the rebels will actually...well, what can they hope for, from the rebels? Exile? Perhaps be allowed to take along some of their loot? Again, this isn't just about Gaddafi. This is about the entire governmental and security-state apparatus, minus some individuals who did switch sides early-on. If any of Gaddafi's people were willing to do what you propose, empath, they wouldn't have fought so savagely to not only hold off the rebels but take back the rebel-held parts of Libya. They're in this to survive, and short of some sort of amnesty backed by the international authorities, I don't see any potential deals being made here.

you're telling me American commandos couldn't assassinate one dictator? hell doesn't even Australia have some squad of uber-commandos?

Tell me you're being ironic here. 'Commandos' aren't magic. Dictators usually have doubles, security staff, and live inside several thick layers of secrecy concerning their habits and movements.

Also, again, kill a bastard, and often enough bastard second-in-command steps up into the breach.
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:43 PM on March 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


and i have not heard one convincing argument against removing dictators

It is more of a mangement issue.
posted by clavdivs at 8:44 PM on March 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


I went to college in an ultra-left wing college in Massachusetts. I grew up with people who opposed Iraq. and i have not heard one convincing argument against removing dictators

I am literally speechless. I don't even know where to start.
posted by empath at 8:45 PM on March 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


"I'm partial to the comfortable retirement in exile solution, but I suspect that was tried early on and the bastard declined.

that better be a euphemism for 'prison'"

No. Plenty of dictators have had the removal of their power expedited with the offer of comfortable life in exile.

The Duvaliers, the Shah, Idi Amin, lots of others.

It's unjust, but OMFG does it save lives,
posted by ocschwar at 8:45 PM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


What's the point of having a country that spends that much on the military if they're not going to use it to enforce justice? I know people think I'm joking but I'm really not. America is pretty only good for two things at this point - their military and their entertainment media. They might as well use the former to help people.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:48 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am literally speechless. I don't even know where to start.

Here.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:49 PM on March 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


I grew up with people who opposed Iraq. and i have not heard one convincing argument against removing dictators

i grew up in the usa and i have not seen one word in the constitution that says we are obligated to remove dictators
posted by pyramid termite at 8:50 PM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


i have not heard one convincing argument against removing dictators

Everyone is in agreement about removing the dictators. What they don't agree on is (a) the meaning of "remove"; (b) the meaning of "dictator"; and (c) the implementation aspect of such removal.
posted by vidur at 8:51 PM on March 17, 2011 [12 favorites]


"What's the point of having a country that spends that much on the military if they're not going to use it to enforce justice?"

What war are you talking about? This is not primarily a US military action, and I think that's better for everyone--better PR, better logistically.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:51 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


This just in -

In addition the UN No-Fly Zone
The Astroturfing Campaign ™ has begun

Bloggers have been advised to watch for suspicious sock puppet activity.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 8:51 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


you're telling me American commandos couldn't assassinate one dictator? hell doesn't even Australia have some squad of uber-commandos?

Sure, but they'd have to get by Gaddafi's Amazonian Guard.
posted by homunculus at 8:53 PM on March 17, 2011


Jesus fucking Christ people, I know the party line in Metafilter is knee-jerk "BUT AMERICA THE COLONIAL OPPRESSOR LAWLS" but get some perspective here and read the damn article before you shoot off your witty little quips about Iraq and Afghanistan and whatnot.

This situation is totally different from those countries. Because, they're like, you know, different countries, with different histories, and different backgrounds, and there's a very different situation that's led to this decision as well as very different actions taken. For example, if you RTFA, the US is not taking the lead here. THE US IS NOT TAKING THE LEAD. Please drop your stupid Bush hand-wringing. Aim them at France and the like if you must.

Second--I think it is funny in a terribly bitter way that if this resolution was passed and Quaddafi reached Benghazi and the horrors visited upon that city and that people would get out and make a thread in Metafilter the response would probably be "Why isn't anyone helping? What is the US doing? These people need heeeeeelp!"

I'm no conservative war hawk. The issue of Western intervention in the Middle East is a complicated one. But I'm all for giving this instance a pass because anyone can see the writing on the wall: if this resolution did not pass, if someone didn't intervene, the stories of bombings and massacres of civilians would be peanuts compared to what Quaddafi had planned.
posted by schroedinger at 8:54 PM on March 17, 2011 [43 favorites]


Just like Saddam Hussein, eh? Dictator? check. Slaughtered and oppressed own people? check.

How'd that work out?


Yes, please tell me about that grand heroic Iraqi rebel army that had pushed Saddam to the brink, forcing him even to go so far as to hire mercenaries to augment his forces. I'm all ears.

Saddam's grip on power was orders of magnitude greater than anything Gaddafi can even dream about right now. That, and his armed forces were more than a match for any of the surrounding antagonistic powers who might have wanted to see him go.

The two situations are so completely different as to make your point, frankly, laughable.
posted by Chrischris at 8:55 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


They might as well use the former to help people.

They. Yes, as you're not even from here.

I know you're all racist drunk criminals there in Australia, but man, you should probably put down your Foster's and get back to I don't know, setting loose some more cane toads, and stop posting insane things on the internet.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:56 PM on March 17, 2011


Afghanistan is probably a closer comparison as far as the available rebel force. Very different in culture, tribes, terrain, etc.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:57 PM on March 17, 2011


What's the point of having a country that spends that much on the military if they're not going to use it to enforce justice?

This is that military that failed to assassinate Saddam Hussein? I think the answer may lie along the "spend less money on your military, it's not as fantastic as you think it is" axis.

(OK, I'm being facetious. The real answer is "the maintenance of the plutocracy", but that's not what we're talking about just now).
posted by pompomtom at 8:57 PM on March 17, 2011


Yes, please tell me about that grand heroic Iraqi rebel army that had pushed Saddam to the brink, forcing him even to go so far as to hire mercenaries to augment his forces. I'm all ears.
posted by empath at 8:57 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Plenty of dictators have had the removal of their power expedited with the offer of comfortable life in exile.

The Duvaliers...


Unfortunately they don't always stay retired.
posted by electroboy at 8:58 PM on March 17, 2011


empath that was in 1991

seriously everyone trying to make this Iraq part n+1 you are jerking your knees so hard you're going to need to replace them with titanium.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:59 PM on March 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


empath that was in 1991

And the no-fly-zone we imposed to protect the kurdish rebel army lasted for over 10 years and ended in an invasion.
posted by empath at 9:00 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


1991, and emboldened by the promise of aid that never arrived.

Also, from your own source:
With little more than small arms, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and some captured tanks and artillery pieces, the rebels had few surface-to-air missiles, which made them almost defenseless against Iraqi helicopter gunships and indiscriminate artillery barrages. The central government responded to the uprisings with crushing force. According to Human Rights Watch:
“ n their attempts to retake cities, and after consolidating control, loyalist forces killed thousands of anyone who opposes them whether a rebel or a civilian by firing indiscriminately into the opposing areas; executing them on the streets, in homes and in hospitals; rounding up suspects, especially young men, during house-to-house searches, and arresting them with or without charge or shooting them en masse; and using helicopters to attack those who try to flee the cities. (my bolding).

You are making a false equivalence argument to score rhetoric points here.
posted by Chrischris at 9:04 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The two situations are so completely different as to make your point, frankly, laughable.

Not if you're following the actual thread. Your objection is practical while the argument being made is a moral one. The argument being made wasn't "this one is justified because it will be successful for reasons X, Y, and Z while the Iraq invasion was doomed", it was "this is justified because there is a dictator oppressing his own people" which is exactly the same as in Iraq.

You don't get to make one argument and then switch to a different one in order to refute a reply to the first argument.
posted by Justinian at 9:05 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Regarding assassinating dictators:

There's a story about Saddam. At one point he was at a party when his driver let slip where Saddam would be sleeping that night. Saddam pulled out his pistol and executed the driver on the spot.

That's the level of security we're talking about, only one or two people know where your target is going to be more than a few hours ahead of time, he moves in an armed convoy, and sleeps in a fortified compound.

Just figuring their movements to the point where you can set up an attack is a major intelligence coup, much less actually carrying it out.
posted by Grimgrin at 9:06 PM on March 17, 2011


There's a story about Saddam. At one point he was at a party when his driver let slip where Saddam would be sleeping that night. Saddam pulled out his pistol and executed the driver on the spot.

I heard his army tossed hundreds of babies out of their incubators in Kuwait!
posted by Justinian at 9:07 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm aware that Saddam used air power to fight the rebels. That was why we imposed the no-fly zone, which protected kurdistan, at least. But it didn't take Saddam out of power. And I'm not sure how a nfz takes gaddafi out of power. It could very well just maintain the status quo. We'd be better off just invading now, tbh. Fighting wars half-way is about the worst case scenario.
posted by empath at 9:08 PM on March 17, 2011


I know you're all racist drunk criminals there in Australia, but man, you should probably put down your Foster's and get back to I don't know, setting loose some more cane toads, and stop posting insane things on the internet.

FWIW Lovecraft in Brooklyn is very conspicuously an American abroad.
posted by claudius at 9:09 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


You don't get to make one argument and then switch to a different one in order to refute a reply to the first argument.

Where in any of my comments have I said anything about the moral justifications for removing Gaddafi? The point I've made all along is that in the regional and geopolitical calculus of this affair, the powers involved will exploit this opportunity to further their own goals--as they always have. The moral justifications they will employ are merely happy accidents which serve to reinforce their rationales. Nations will collaborate for this particular regime change not because they all got together and agreed it was the just thing to do, but because each of them sees gains to be made in their own interests for doing so.
posted by Chrischris at 9:14 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


They. Yes, as you're not even from here.

I know you're all racist drunk criminals there in Australia, but man, you should probably put down your Foster's and get back to I don't know, setting loose some more cane toads, and stop posting insane things on the internet.

If you really want to be a bigot, maybe try to get it right.
posted by pompomtom at 9:17 PM on March 17, 2011


yeah. Australians drink VB or Coopers, not Fosters
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:19 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


HRC didn't want to see another Rawanda situation.

Proving she knows just as much about Rwanda as her husband did.

Docgonzo, that seems a rather shitty and simplistic thing to say.


If by "rather shitty and simplistic" you mean "right on the fucking money" then yes, I agree.

-----

What frightens me is that Gaddafi might decide to turn the cities he does control into strongholds, forcing the NATO/rebel alliance to choose between dropping bombs close to/among civilian targets or going house-to-house against an entrenched and better-trained opposing force.

Why wouldn't he do this? Does he have a strategy superior to it?

-----

why are commando teams or snipers never an option with these things? i don't understand why we didn't assassinate Saddam.

We can't even take out Castro over God knows how many years and you think we could have done Saddam or Gaddafi at the snap of the fingers? Read about the Dora Farm strike some time.
posted by BigSky at 9:20 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Justinian: Saddam was very good at counterintelligence.

"The ramifications of the collapsed coup had yet to sink in. Any remaining hopes within the CIA were quashed when, on June 26, the Agency's Amman station allegedly received a transmission from one of their secure satellite phones. On the line was the Mukhabarat, who told astonished CIA agents that the game was up. Within days the CIA team in Amman vanished. "

That's Scott Ritter, not a Bush propagandist.
posted by Grimgrin at 9:20 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Where in any of my comments have I said anything about the moral justifications for removing Gaddafi?

You didn't post the original comment I was replying to, either. I'm saying that it is disingenuous to say that Iraq and Libya and completely different on practical grounds and any argument to the contrary is laughable when the original comments were not talking about practical grounds but about moral ones having to do specifically with dictators and oppression.
posted by Justinian at 9:20 PM on March 17, 2011


We'd be better off just invading now, tbh. Fighting wars half-way is about the worst case scenario.

Politics is the art of the possible. The status quo in Libya is no longer a tenable option, but neither, politically, is full-on military intervention. Better to ease into this conflict with Air power and logisitcal support to the rebel army on the ground; actual invasion, should it be necessary, will come later, and will come from another regional power (Egypt), whose geographic position relative to the conflict and regional supremacy guarantee both legitimacy and a more organic transfer of power.
posted by Chrischris at 9:21 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Grimgrin: I guess I missed the part in that article where Saddam was at a party and pulled out his sidearm and executed his driver on the spot?
posted by Justinian at 9:22 PM on March 17, 2011


We can't even take out Castro over God knows how many years and you think we could have done Saddam or Gaddafi at the snap of the fingers?

ok, things are getting dicey. We (U.S.) have a deal with Castro did you know this?
posted by clavdivs at 9:23 PM on March 17, 2011


.................ZOOM,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,>

------------------------------******------------- that helped.
posted by Mblue at 9:24 PM on March 17, 2011


> Australians drink VB or Coopers, not Fosters
We've discussed this recently.

posted by vidur at 9:26 PM on March 17, 2011


Justinian, point taken. I'm primarily interested in the practicalities of this conflict, and have been doing my wretched little prognostications pretty much exclusively from that viewpoint. I'll leave the ethics of the thing to others, as I am even less qualified (both by training and temperament) to comment in that context than the one I've worked from so far.
posted by Chrischris at 9:27 PM on March 17, 2011


Saddam once shot two men for passing a note at the 1982 assembly. Barzan even published a book called "Attempts on the life of Saddam Hussein".
killer title.
posted by clavdivs at 9:31 PM on March 17, 2011


ok, things are getting dicey. We (U.S.) have a deal with Castro did you know this?

What deal with Castro? And what does it have to do with this?
posted by BigSky at 9:35 PM on March 17, 2011


Bit fucking late.

Always, man. ALWAYS.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:53 PM on March 17, 2011


after Oct. 1962, castro wanted a condition not to be invaded if the missles were pulled out. The Sovs made it a condition...wait, read it here. There were allegedly plans to kill him after 62'.
posted by clavdivs at 9:54 PM on March 17, 2011


Doesn't seem to have much to do with the desire of the U.S. to kill Castro. This article claims that the latest attempt was in 2000.
posted by BigSky at 10:07 PM on March 17, 2011


So go Hillary!

Is it okay to say here that she still makes my flesh crawl?


Uh, looks to me like Obama is governing from dead center, just like Hillary would have. That's different than you imagined, isn't it? What should make your flesh crawl is how the left (and many on the blue) were fooled by Obama's rhetoric. He was always a centrist. He still is. So, chill with the negative characterizations Hillary - someone who has probably done more for humanity than 100 of yourself's (sic).
posted by Vibrissae at 10:21 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


At one point he was at a party when his driver let slip where Saddam would be sleeping that night. Saddam pulled out his pistol and executed the driver on the spot.

valium would have helped that bash
posted by pyramid termite at 10:34 PM on March 17, 2011


empath wrote: "And if you live in Tripoli? How do you feel tonight?"

I'd be hoping the spy planes have been getting really good pictures and the intelligence agencies got their information correct, so that the leech "leading" my country would get what's coming to him with a minimum of my compatriot's blood being shed.

Either that or I'd be volunteering to roll into Benghazi in a tank in the hopes that the rebels could be wiped out before French bombers show up, rendering the whole operation moot.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of room for handwringing in Libya right now. Seems like you'd pretty much have to be for or against your dictator, what with a civil war going on around you.

schroedinger wrote: "Second--I think it is funny in a terribly bitter way that if this resolution was passed and Quaddafi reached Benghazi and the horrors visited upon that city and that people would get out and make a thread in Metafilter the response would probably be "Why isn't anyone helping? What is the US doing? These people need heeeeeelp!""

To be fair, the more vocally against this are the folks who were arguing against those upset that the nobody appeared to be doing anything to help the rebels. Their argument is perfectly consistent.

Justinian wrote: ""this is justified because there is a dictator oppressing his own people" which is exactly the same as in Iraq."

Other than the minor difference of the slaughter (allegedly) being actively ongoing at the time of the action being taken against said dictator.
posted by wierdo at 10:49 PM on March 17, 2011


desire of the U.S. to kill Castro

Perhaps elements, not every american wants Castro dead, but I admit to bias, I love Cuba. He isn't dead is he? He even says he holds no grudge against the american people and I believe him.
my ole pops lived there and clav clan vacations there, great country. sure, things should change more but give it some time. Cuba Libre.

this thread is about saddam, i mean "Col. Q and the no-fly zones."

Triopoli: 3-18-11

Put yorewar faceohn

heads says british fighter-bombers with french fighters but who are the other two nations...

That man the other day on AJE, pleding for guns and missles, not just multi-rocket launchers. This gentleman wanted Stingers.
I would hedge a bet the u.s. will have no direct tactical role with any thing larger then something you cant see anyways.
posted by clavdivs at 10:50 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


So... is the Obama administration going to get a rubber stamp from Congress at some point...?
This is one of the good wars. Obama doesn't need the approval of Congress for those.
What are you people talking about? Why would Obama need congressional approval for the French army to move in under UN authority?
why are commando teams or snipers never an option with these things? i don't understand why we didn't assassinate Saddam. we know who Gaddafi is. he has very little support among his people. he just needs to be removed, right?
...
we know who the bad guy is. that's the hard bit. all that high tech tech and we can't just kill him?
...
maybe we can post a bounty? or kill him and make it look like an accident?
I don't understand why you think this is logistically possible. Just because you have some 'elite commandos' sitting around doesn't mean you can magically get them into the country, locate Gadaffi, kill him, and escape unharmed. That's just magical thinking.
posted by delmoi at 10:57 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Momar's mercs do not want to fight this plane.
posted by vrakatar at 10:59 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


What are you people talking about? Why would Obama need congressional approval for the French army to move in under UN authority?

He doesn't. But come on, you know that American resources will deployed.
posted by empath at 11:02 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's inconsistent to use the consequences in Iraq to argue against the idea of a No Fly Zone in Libya, given that the No Fly Zone in Libya has significant differences in scope, setting, support and objective.

If you want to argue that it was wrong for the US to topple Saddam because it's wrong for the US to get involved in foreign wars, fine. That's an ethical or ideological position. And from that position, it would be wrong for the US to get involved in toppling Qaddafi.

You can argue that the consequences are likely to be bad, but in that case, Iraq is only mediocre support for the argument at best, and seems much more like an appeal to emotion.

Complaints about the Knee-Jerk People's Army seem pretty well-founded here, given that pushing back against all the faulty assumptions would take all night (for example, that we have not intervened somewhere else that also meets stated conditions, e.g. human rights violations, is not an argument that we should not intervene somewhere that has human rights violations).

But gee, conservatives don't stay here because they're wrong, not because it's an echo chamber, right?
posted by klangklangston at 11:17 PM on March 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


sure, if your a quaker.
posted by clavdivs at 11:26 PM on March 17, 2011


I'm against getting involved in any war of choice, period, for any reason, anywhere.
posted by empath at 11:31 PM on March 17, 2011


given that the No Fly Zone in Libya has significant differences in scope, setting, support and objective

Honestly, what is different about the objective? Libya has oil that the West needs. The civil unrest is causing price instability, which adversely affects Western economies. If this was about securing people's freedoms, the UN would have been in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain etc. for the same reason.

But gee, conservatives don't stay here because they're wrong, not because it's an echo chamber, right?

That's such manipulative bullshit, klang. Come on, you're smarter than that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:55 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just imagine if Gaddafi started using white-phospherous.

The international community would never tolerate anything like that, right?
posted by moorooka at 12:05 AM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Egypt and Tunisia handled their own business, and their leaders didn't bomb the shit out of them.

I agree that this is not about people's freedoms; all wars are economically inspired. But the unrest in Libya is not what's causing the price of oil to go up. It's the oil futures speculation. But this is some nice smoke and mirrors. There was just this thread that discussed that.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 12:14 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always thought the unilateral action of the Iraq war was a lost opportunity. The sanctions were devastating to the innocent Iraqi populace, but Saddam was a proven bad actor who needed to be contained somehow. If the Bush administration had actually been interested in liberating the country, instead of gaining quick political capital while personally enriching their buddies, they would have taken the time to pursue a multilateral strategy stronger than sanctions.

The sanctions preserved the status quo, but they were incredibly unjust. It would have been great if we had established precedents that allow the world to come together and help people fight off their oppressors. It seems to me like this is what's happening in Libya now.
posted by heathkit at 12:16 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


If this was purely about oil, then why wouldn't the west just let the rebels be crushed? Gaddafi was doing a decent business. Oil companies apparently enjoyed working with his son, Saif-al-Islam.

This could be accomplished with little to no effort and no risk at all to the western nations. Public handwringing about how awful the massacres were, and private deals where Gaddafi would reward the west for their non-interference.
posted by honestcoyote at 12:28 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's the point of having a country that spends that much on the military if they're not going to use it to enforce justice?

What's the good of having power if you're too wise to use it?
-- Ged, in Ursula Le Guin's Wizard of Earthsea
posted by msalt at 1:13 AM on March 18, 2011


I'm against getting involved in any war of choice, period, for any reason, anywhere.

A fine and admirable humanitarian stance. You should have just said that at the beginning of the thread rather than rattle off comparisons.

I'm ambivalent myself about the no-fly zone; it may erupt into a huge mess, but it seems like the continuing massacre of Libyans combined with Qaddafi's batshit craziness was also guaranteed to turn into a huge mess.
posted by benzenedream at 1:15 AM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


We could implement a no-fly zone with a couple of well-placed aircraft carriers. There's not a whole lot of military targets that much further inland—it's all desert. And our risk is practically nil, the problem is I'm not sure it will be enough. It was my understanding that the rebels were losing to ground forces, not air strikes, so I'm not sure just what we think a no-fly-zone is going to accomplish.

And I don't know why having the French taking point on this doesn't bother more people. The French have the advantage that they're not the United States, but their reputation in the area isn't the shiniest. And nobody is more stubborn than someone trying to right an old wrong.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:40 AM on March 18, 2011


"I'm against getting involved in any war of choice, period, for any reason, anywhere."

That's fine. I find that philosophy naive and one that abrogates the responsibility of power. The war against Nazi Germany was a war of choice. We did the right thing. The war in former Yugoslavia was a war of choice. We did the right thing by getting involved.
posted by klangklangston at 1:47 AM on March 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


If the USA had taken a lead there is no way Russia & China would have abstained. As it is this "inaction" (WTF?) of the Obama administration has forced certain closer interests to step up to the mark.
The behind the scenes negotations to make that resolution have teeth is huge.
This is your tax dollars working.
And yes, it's about oil and yes it's about proximity to the EU who don't want floods of traumatised refugees, Italy can't cope with the existing situation. Why do we seem to have a problem with cold hard reality? No-one intervened in Cote d'Ivoire except a few brave charities because there was no return for the powers that be. We would all wish it were a fairer world, it isn't.
But since bombing has just started in the West again it's time for France to act with or without Egypt. France has a lot to gain from this, distraction from internal problems, supporting a significant Muslim North-African minority which is anti-Qaddafi, atonement for Algeria....

I actually have enormous respect for the way the US administration has managed this. (What I can't stomach is Obama finding his roots in Co Offaly and going to visit his "ancestral home", WTF? Every single US Pres still needs the 'Irish' vote??)
posted by Wilder at 1:53 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The war against Nazi Germany was a war of choice. We did the right thing.

Well, no: Hitler declared war on you three days after the start of the war with Japan. You didn't declare war on anybody.
posted by alasdair at 1:57 AM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


So what? I'd let Ghadaffi sleep in my guest room if it would stop the slaughter.
posted by ocschwar at 9:41 PM on March 17


Sounds like a setup for a sitcom...
posted by Harald74 at 1:58 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the USA had taken a lead there is no way Russia & China would have abstained.

I believe the reason Russia abstained is probably because they are/were allies with Libya. And also sold them arms. Yeah, that sounds about right.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 2:30 AM on March 18, 2011


And also sold them arms. Yeah, that sounds about right.

Britain and France also sold Libya arms.
posted by moorooka at 2:35 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


This older article made an interesting point:
In foreign policy, though, there is a fairly discernible pendulum. A period of nervousness or isolationism tends to lead to an atrocity going ahead unhindered, which then inspires a period of more muscular interventionism – until a foreign adventure becomes a painful blunder, at which point the pendulum swings back...

I fear that we’re seeing the results of this pendulum yet again in Libya today. The severe problems suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the vast unpopularity of both ventures at home, has made the international community either wary or downright hostile to the idea of risking any sort of intervention – particularly in the Middle East.
But so did the Daily Mash with Fingers crossed Libyan rebels aren't insane.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:38 AM on March 18, 2011


"Well, no: Hitler declared war on you three days after the start of the war with Japan. You didn't declare war on anybody."

We had ample opportunity to avoid war with Germany — Germany had sought treaties with the United States — and we certainly didn't have to invade Europe. There was almost zero risk of invasion from Germany.
posted by klangklangston at 2:43 AM on March 18, 2011


And also sold them arms. Yeah, that sounds about right.

A familiar pattern, that. Sell arms to X, watch as X points arms in wrong direction, declare war against X.

Iraq? Yep. Afghanistan? Yep. Libya?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:45 AM on March 18, 2011


This seems to be a recurring theme:

1794

1986

2011?
posted by ironbob at 3:14 AM on March 18, 2011


As somebody who currently lives in France, I have somewhat mixed feelings about this. On one hand it's definitely the moral thing to do (albeit Sarkozy may have slightly less moral ulterior political motives). It's interesting to note that the only French party which hasn't welcomed this UN resolution is the far-right FN. On the other hand, I really hope this succeeds and Gaddafi is quickly ousted, because otherwise his retaliation is going to be characteristically nasty...
posted by Skeptic at 3:26 AM on March 18, 2011


I must repeat it: here in France, the only political leaders openly against intervention in Libya really are the Le Pen father and daughter comic couple. Even the Communists are looking forward to bombing the shit out of Gaddafi, really.
posted by Skeptic at 3:34 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why no no-fly zone in Bahrain? Where Saudi Arabians literally invaded the country and are in the process of massacring protesters?

There was a panel discussion at my university on Wednesday where this came up. All panel members said they'd be surprised to see the US push for a no fly zone as it would raise awkward questions about how little they're doing in Bahrain.

On a gut level, I'm happy Benghazi should be protected, but I'm deeply concerned about what will be the ultimate result of this intervention. I hope it will work out well, but just about all evidence is to the contrary.

Also, the hypocrisy of the international community is amazing here, but the example I'm thinking of would constitute a fairly epic derail, so I'll keep it to myself.
posted by knapah at 3:37 AM on March 18, 2011


Update: "Libya Ready for Ceasefire".

The UN resolution has certainly provoked a reaction. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
posted by smoke at 3:43 AM on March 18, 2011


So what? I'd let Ghadaffi sleep in my guest room if it would stop the slaughter.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:54 AM on March 18, 2011


Update: "Libya Ready for Ceasefire"

Well, that came quickly. The regime wants to survive. That's probably not a good idea at this point....


I'm reading through the thread, but has the state of Libya's IADS been discussed? What would have to be struck at the outset of a no-fly operation?
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:24 AM on March 18, 2011


I must repeat it: here in France, the only political leaders openly against intervention in Libya really are the Le Pen father and daughter comic couple. Even the Communists are looking forward to bombing the shit out of Gaddafi, really.

Then why isn't Sarkozy doing it instead of the United States, really? Where was France a month ago?
posted by blucevalo at 4:26 AM on March 18, 2011


Then why isn't Sarkozy doing it instead of the United States, really? Where was France a month ago?

WTF, have you not read anything? Give it a few hours and the headlines will all be "France has bombed the shit out of Libya".
posted by Meatbomb at 4:29 AM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Then why isn't Sarkozy doing it instead of the United States, really
Because they are?

Seriously, do people think the U.S is in charge of the U.N, vise versa or something? All these comments about Obama and congress or whatever... it's so bizarre.
posted by delmoi at 4:34 AM on March 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


I hope it will work out well, but just about all evidence is to the contrary.

What do they call people who continually repeat an experiment whilst expecting a different outcome? The colonel is not the only one who is insane.

*Checks on popcorn supply.*
posted by three blind mice at 4:35 AM on March 18, 2011


Then why isn't Sarkozy doing it instead of the United States, really? Where was France a month ago?

WTF? Where was the US a month ago?

Is the answer something about 'quagmires'?

What's your point?
posted by pompomtom at 4:38 AM on March 18, 2011


Blog post on Libya's SAM network including sat imagery and analysis
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:09 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The UN resolution specifically rules out a ground invasion. There are no quagmires on the menu today.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:10 AM on March 18, 2011


Note that the blog post is from May 2010.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:12 AM on March 18, 2011


Give it a few hours and the headlines will all be "France has bombed the shit out of Libya".

Those wild and crazy Norwegians say they want to join the fun.

Well, this seems really well thought-out.

*Checks popcorn supply again.*
posted by three blind mice at 5:13 AM on March 18, 2011


It seems like if Norway, Denmark, and Canada are readying troops and planes to attack you, you are probably a pretty bad dude.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:17 AM on March 18, 2011 [16 favorites]


Well, as of currently (1:15pm here, or 13:15 for y'all familiar with the 24-hour clock we use in France), this is what Le Monde shows as the most recent update on French participation:
Les frappes militaires interviendront "rapidement", "dans quelques heures", et les Français y "participeront", a déclaré le porte-parole du gouvernement François Baroin. Il a dit ne pas vouloir préciser pour l'instant exactement "quand, comment, sur quelles cibles, sous quelles formes".
Quick-n-dirty translation: "Military strikes will occur 'very soon, in a few hours', and French forces 'will participate', declared François Baroin, spokesperson for the French government. He said he did not yet want to give details on exactly 'when, how, which targets, and by which means'."
posted by fraula at 5:19 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


What do they call people who continually repeat an experiment whilst expecting a different outcome? The colonel is not the only one who is insane.

Bombing Kosovo & Serbia worked.

[why did this take so long]

It would have been nice to see folks move faster. It takes time to organize this stuff. First who is going to do the bombing. US is busy, so only can provide some logistical support. The the folks at EU/NATO have to do some planning, while folks make contact with rebel leaders and figure out who is in charge, if we ought to work with them, etc. Then everyone has to plan some more. Meanwhile we also need the legitimacy for the operation. So that means African Union (Aka Gaddaffi Supper Club), or the Arab League. Can't go to the UN looking like a bunch of American Neocons. Then diplomatic horse trading with the Chinese and Russians who have a veto. Finally convince some Arab or North African stare to co sponsor the resolution. Aa that work takes time.
Then after you issue the resolution you have to see what Gaddafi does, since you have to give him an opportunity to back down. He'll probably try the ceasefire and negotiate tactic. He's got most of the oil fields back and is at the doorstep of Ben Gazi, so that puts him in a good position to hold on.
posted by humanfont at 5:22 AM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


The war against Nazi Germany was a war of choice.
?

In that Germany chose to declare war, I guess it was. But that can't possibly be what you mean, can it?
posted by Flunkie at 5:25 AM on March 18, 2011


It seems like if Norway, Denmark, and Canada are readying troops and planes to attack you, you are probably a pretty bad dude.

And if you are a pretty bad dude, you chuckle a bit at Norway, Denmark, and Canada making threats to launch air attacks against you from the other side of the world.

Bombing Kosovo & Serbia worked.

The no-fly zone, on the other hand, proved useless.
posted by three blind mice at 5:27 AM on March 18, 2011


This operation, as announced, will involve both no-fly (with attendant SEAD) and "no drive" (i.e. Battlefield Air Interdiction) missions.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:34 AM on March 18, 2011


Which will be interesting, because current doctrine doesn't include BAI as such.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:36 AM on March 18, 2011


In other news, scores dead and hundreds wounded as Yemen attacks protesters; in Bahrain, Pearl Roundabout has been cleared and the iconic monument damaged (destroyed? not clear) as mass protests continue.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:37 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Libyan foreign minister just declared that the government will implement a ceasefire live on Aljazeera.
posted by Catfry at 5:40 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mussa Khusa (don't you just love that name?), the Foreign Minister for Libya, to speak shortly from Tripoli.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:40 AM on March 18, 2011


So, cease fire. No more bombings, attacks, or assaultive measures. Yeah right. This will get tested soon. Let's see what happens if/when people take to the streets in Misrata, Zawiah, Sirte, or Tripoli. Or, more likely, the rebels try to retake some of the towns they lost, Gaddafi states that the rebels broke the cease fire, and the regime is justified in its retaliation. A sticky wicket.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:53 AM on March 18, 2011


.A fine and admirable humanitarian stance. You should have just said that at the beginning of the thread rather than rattle off comparison

I don't think of it as a humanitarian stance as much as a practical one, which is informed by history, so I think comparisons to other wars of choice are apt.

This will not be as easy or clean as everyone thinks it will be.
posted by empath at 5:57 AM on March 18, 2011


There are certain times in history when no morally righteous option exists. This is one of the times. There are only bad choices, and all we can hope is that the powers that be choose the one that is the least bad, then execute that decision expertly and with as little loss of life as possible.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:01 AM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


This will not be as easy or clean as everyone thinks it will be.

Actual air-to-air or air-to-ground engagements may be 'easy.' Otherwise, I'm not sure most people expect this to be clean or easy.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:04 AM on March 18, 2011


Italian fighter jets are unlikely to take part in any attack, given our (shameful) history with Libya. Three bases in Southern Italy are rumored to be preparing to launch the French attack, though, one in Puglia and two in Sicily.

The Libyan Ministry of Defense is reported to have said that, in case of foreign attacks on Libya soil, Libya will target foreign civilian and military vessels in the Mediterranean in retaliation, though whether Libya has the power to execute such a threat is debated.

I'm not sure why people are harping on this UN resolution being motivated by big oil. I hope you realize that, in Europe, the status quo with regards to Libyan oil was much, much, much more profitable and preferable. The Libyan regime and Southern Europe have very close financial ties. The UN resolution tells me that European governments, at least, may have finally pulled their head out of their asses, which are stuffed with Libyan money. Hopefully they passed this in time to avoid another tragedy like Yugoslavia.
posted by lydhre at 6:13 AM on March 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


I imagine that europe was far more worried about a refugee crisis, and rightfully so.
posted by empath at 6:16 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


MSNBC reporting that the journalists held by regime forces will be released today.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:17 AM on March 18, 2011


"I've dispatched Hillary to the Middle East to talk about how these countries can transition to new leaders—though, I've got to be honest, she's gotten a little passionate about the subject. These past few weeks it's been tough falling asleep with Hillary out there on Pennsylvania Avenue shouting, throwing rocks at the window." Also, President Obama, could you be more condescending? I'm pretty sure you can do better. Maybe pat your Secretary of State on the head too, while you're at it.
posted by lydhre at 6:17 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


While the Gridiron Club dinner is a Washington institution I could do without, that's pretty par for the course. It's kind of a roast.
posted by empath at 6:20 AM on March 18, 2011


Would you find it condescending if the person and pronoun were male? I can imagine a constant drumbeat from Hillary Clinton as your Sec-State could be abrasive, and it wouldn't be different if she were a man. She has a strong personality--which I like, most of the time, but I don't have to work with her. I find it more surprising that he'd complain about it in public.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:20 AM on March 18, 2011


(Even at the Gridiron 'roast.')
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:21 AM on March 18, 2011


And if you are a pretty bad dude, you chuckle a bit at Norway, Denmark, and Canada making threats to launch air attacks against you from the other side of the world.

Norway and Denmark and Canada are the other side of the world? Actually, the other side of the world is an uninhabited spot in the South Pacific.

/pedant
posted by blucevalo at 6:21 AM on March 18, 2011


Also, President Obama, could you be more condescending? I'm pretty sure you can do better. Maybe pat your Secretary of State on the head too, while you're at it.

Well, it rather sounds like an oblique allusion to an infamous "2am phone call" political ad. Say what you want about Obama, there's a guy who can keep his grudges...
posted by Skeptic at 6:22 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama is caught between Clinton and Gates, who pretty much recognizes that the US military is stretched to breaking point already.
posted by moorooka at 6:22 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


If Obama's position is basically, 'we can't offer much help, but we'll support Europe and the Arab league if they want to take the lead', than I am marginally okay with that.

I just can't imagine telling American soldiers that have already sacrificed so much that 'no, you can't go home for another year or three, because we need to help some rebels in another arab country.'
posted by empath at 6:25 AM on March 18, 2011


I can imagine a constant drumbeat from Hillary Clinton as your Sec-State could be abrasive, and it wouldn't be different if she were a man. She has a strong personality--which I like, most of the time, but I don't have to work with her.

Yeah, Hillary Clinton's an "abrasive" woman with a "strong personality" (i.e., shorthand for something else that I won't mention). So was Janet Reno, so was Madeleine Albright. I don't hear any male political figures being called "abrasive," ever.
posted by blucevalo at 6:27 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Empath, the refugee crisis has already started but it's originating from all over North Africa. Again, it would be more convenient for the Italian government to side with the Libyan regime on this one, given the treaties they had on "immigration" (which are horrid, horrid things, but I recognize the political problem immigration poses to the Italian government). So, again, the fact that they're about to turn their back to the easy-oil, easy-immigration solution gives me some confidence in their standards.
posted by lydhre at 6:27 AM on March 18, 2011


Some analysis on the Libya Ceasefire announcement from the Guardian libeblog (1:18pm)
The Libyan announcement of a unilateral ceasefire made by foreign minister Moussa Koussa leaves several important questions unanswered. Is it simply a ploy to divide the UN after the approval of the security council resolution? And how will a ceasefire be monitored and verified? Will the UN be allowed in? Fighting was reported from the port of Misrata shortly before his press conference in Tripoli. His offer of dialogue has already been rejected by the Benghazi-based rebels. The Gaddafi regime is pretty low on credibility so there will be plenty of scepticism about this statement. And Koussa pointedly refused to answer any questions after dropping his bombshell.
posted by memebake at 6:31 AM on March 18, 2011


I don't hear any male political figures being called "abrasive," ever.

Rahm Emmanuel? Alastair Campbell? Nicolas Sarkozy?
posted by Skeptic at 6:35 AM on March 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


The Libyan announcement of a unilateral ceasefire made by foreign minister Moussa Koussa leaves several important questions unanswered.

Okay, so we have a country split in two. What next? The rebels haven't agreed to a cease fire, so I imagine they're going to push out soon, and will expect air support, I imagine.
posted by empath at 6:38 AM on March 18, 2011


I am literally speechless.
Thank fuck. Oh, you didn't mean it.
posted by bonaldi at 6:39 AM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


It seems like if Norway, Denmark, and Canada are readying troops and planes to attack you, you are probably a pretty bad dude.

Come on. These are not peaceful countries. See: Afghanistan.
posted by klue at 6:40 AM on March 18, 2011


Yeah, Hillary Clinton's an "abrasive" woman with a "strong personality" (i.e., shorthand for something else that I won't mention). So was Janet Reno, so was Madeleine Albright. I don't hear any male political figures being called "abrasive," ever.
Rumsfeild was described that way. Not a good comparison. But anyway, Obama didn't call Clinton "Abrasive", he just said she was passionate. It was a joke, and a pretty bland one.
posted by delmoi at 6:42 AM on March 18, 2011


Given long enough, all Metafilter threads turn to either US politics or whether or not something innocuous is offensive.
posted by proj at 7:02 AM on March 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


Given long enough, all Metafilter threads turn to either US politics or whether or not something innocuous is offensive.

How dare you.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:04 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Given long enough...

You should try the Japan threads, I think they'd prove you wrong.
posted by tempythethird at 7:05 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, no: Hitler declared war on you three days after the start of the war with Japan. You didn't declare war on anybody.
The US declared war on Germany and Italy on December 11, 1941, after they declared war on the US. Subsequently the US declared war on Axis members Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania on June 5, 1942. That was the last time the US officially declared war.

posted by kirkaracha at 7:05 AM on March 18, 2011


Given long enough...

You should try the Japan threads, I think they'd prove you wrong.
posted by tempythethird at 7:05 AM on March 18 [+] [!]


Well, in the MeTa thread about Japan, there was outrage that people had said "our prayers are with you" rather than "our thoughts are with you" which struck me as particularly tone-deaf, but then again, my definition of innocuous will always be someone else's offensive.
posted by proj at 7:08 AM on March 18, 2011


Given long enough...

Maybe it's less like entropy, and more akin to a central tendency. We should probably spend some time discussing this in depth.
posted by aramaic at 7:11 AM on March 18, 2011


Add someone saying something about Palin and I agree. I was very proud when you guys managed to go many hundred comments in the old Libya thread before someone mentioned her.
posted by Catfry at 7:13 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


A lot of the more important issues have been covered up-thread, so I'll add this:

I don't know if this is what the Obama administration intended, but for the first time in a long time, Europe is taking the lead in an armed intervention. And I think that's a good thing (Europe's taking the lead, not the intervention itself, on which I'm undecided). It signals to me that maybe Europe is getting over its cycle of (correctly) vilifying the US for our militarism, and then backseat driving while the US, rightly or wrongly, attempts to right some wrong somewhere. When it comes to intervention, there are no easy calls and the costs are always high, and I'm happy to see someone other than the US enter the mire. Especially rich, moralizing, back-seat-driving Europe. (Disclaimer: I live in and love Europe.)
posted by tempythethird at 7:14 AM on March 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Would you find it condescending if the person and pronoun were male? I can imagine a constant drumbeat from Hillary Clinton as your Sec-State could be abrasive, and it wouldn't be different if she were a man.

Sexism works exactly that way, actually. You can't divest her gender from the comments made about her because if she were a man she wouldn't be called abrasive. She's be confident, or committed, or bold, or any other number of positive adjectives conveying aggressiveness.

And if you think Obama is new to this sort of sexist dog whistle, well, he is the one who said "I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she’s feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal" of Clinton during the primaries. Which, you know, us women and our hormones!

But this is a derail, which is my fault, though I am very annoyed that Obama would dismiss the growing crisis in the ME and use it as the butt of a joke at Clinton's expense.
posted by lydhre at 7:15 AM on March 18, 2011


Do you know what the Gridiron dinner is?
posted by empath at 7:17 AM on March 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here's his whole routine for context.
posted by empath at 7:19 AM on March 18, 2011


Sarah Palin is stupid, Hillary Clinton is threatening, and Obama is weak. Discuss.

After those important debates are settled, perhaps people would be interested in hearing that Bahrain destroyed the monument in Pearl Square, the casualties mount after today's massacre in Yemen and demonstrations break out in . . . Syria?

In Libya, reports of intense fighting in Ajdabiya and possibly Misrata.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:21 AM on March 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Especially rich, moralizing, back-seat-driving Europe. (Disclaimer: I live in and love Europe.)

That's a really unfair categorisation, particularly in the UK's case. Our Parliament and people were basically fed a set of lies by our government in order to help the US out in a particularly gung-ho, warmongering manner, and a lot of lives were lost because of it. So you can stick your 'back seat'.
posted by Summer at 7:23 AM on March 18, 2011


Add someone saying something about Palin and I agree. I was very proud when you guys managed to go many hundred comments in the old Libya thread before someone mentioned her.
And yet, you actually managed to mention Palin. Interestingly, she came up in the original japan nuke thread, as a quantity of comments (since her appearance on the national stage was greeted with a 5000+ comment thread here on metafitler)
And if you think Obama is new to this sort of sexist dog whistle, well, he is the one who said "I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she’s feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal" of Clinton during the primaries. Which, you know, us women and our hormones!
OBVIOUSLY.
posted by delmoi at 7:25 AM on March 18, 2011


In Libya, reports of intense fighting in Ajdabiya and possibly Misrata.

And according to Al Jazeera (via The Guardian), it is specifically Gaddafi's forces on the offensive:
Despite the ceasefire announcement, Gaddafi forces are not only attacking in Misrata but also in Ajdabiya, according to al-Jazeera, which reports "gunfire and heavy artillery clashes" at the southern entrance to the eastern city.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:25 AM on March 18, 2011


(Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates: "Bahrain destroyed the monument in Pearl Square"

From Wikipedia (entry already all in past tense)The six sails designate the six Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, and the pearl symbolizes united heritage.

This means something larger, somehow.
posted by charred husk at 7:28 AM on March 18, 2011


"Just like Saddam Hussein, eh? Dictator? check. Slaughtered and oppressed own people? check.

How'd that work out?"

That's a shitty argument. Never intervene, because some interventions didn't turn out to quite so well?

In the long run Iraq is better off without a murderous lunatic in charge. And Bosnians are better off without Serb death squads doing what they do best.
posted by unigolyn at 7:32 AM on March 18, 2011


In the long run Iraq is better off without a murderous lunatic in charge.

I'm not so sure about that. Or that they won't end up with another one after we leave.
posted by empath at 7:36 AM on March 18, 2011


That's a really unfair categorisation, particularly in the UK's case.

Ok I should have left the UK out of that statement, I guess I'm mostly referring to Germany and France.

But still, has any European country ever risked a humanitarian intervention? I'm no apologist for Iraq, or for that matter Grenada or Vietnam or any of those outrages. But at the same time, America at least tried in Somalia, Kosovo, etc. - has Europe ever put its army where its humanitarian mouth is?
posted by tempythethird at 7:36 AM on March 18, 2011


I was very opposed to the Iraq War, but I believe this action by the UNSC is justified. The U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 on the premise of a lie about weapons of mass destruction, not about Saddam's treatment of the Iraqi people. Saddam's brutal treatment of the citizenry was certainly used as an argument for war, but at the time, Saddam had made no threats to wipe out whole cities and it was, for all intents and purposes, about the WMD.

In this case, you have a leader who was making strides toward annihilating thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people. It would be abhorrent and morally bankrupting for the international community to do nothing while Gaddafi's forces level Benghazi and exact revenge on the population. And, it would embolden other repressive regimes to use brutality to put down dissent.

It is true that similar struggles are happening elsewhere in the world, that the NFZ might protract this conflict, that the petty dictators of the world are adept at contriving new ways of clinging to power and that some members of the Security Council have ruthlessly quashed dissent in their own countries. Despite these contradictions, I believe it is necessary for our international governing body to assert that brazen wholesale slaughter of civilians cannot be tolerated.
posted by sswiller at 7:41 AM on March 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


That's a shitty argument. Never intervene, because some interventions didn't turn out to quite so well?
No, the point is that people are making the same arguments for engagement in Libya that they did for engagement in Iraq.
In the long run Iraq is better off without a murderous lunatic in charge.
Well, I'm sure all the Iraqis with dead family members totally agree with you. In the "Long Run" Saddam would have died anyway.
posted by delmoi at 7:41 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


But still, has any European country ever risked a humanitarian intervention? I'm no apologist for Iraq, or for that matter Grenada or Vietnam or any of those outrages. But at the same time, America at least tried in Somalia, Kosovo, etc. - has Europe ever put its army where its humanitarian mouth is?
Firstly "Europe" does not have an army. Secondly, European armies were heavily involved in the conflict in Kosovo.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:42 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Firstly "Europe" does not have an army. Secondly, European armies were heavily involved in the conflict in Kosovo.

Especially given the fact that Kosovo was in Europe, all sides of that conflict were European.
posted by delmoi at 7:46 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ok I should have left the UK out of that statement, I guess I'm mostly referring to Germany and France.

Well France didn't agree with the recent set of US-led 'interventions', which is its right and in my opinion, also morally right. I wish the UK had had the same kind of balls.
posted by Summer at 7:52 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


But still, has any European country ever risked a humanitarian intervention?

I'm not sure that isn't an oxymoron.
posted by empath at 7:53 AM on March 18, 2011


You could call NATO the European army, if you overlook America and Canada's membership.

And yes, I shouldn't have included Kosovo in my list as NATO was very involved, but that's the only time that NATO was involved in an armed humanitarian intervention, and it was in its own backyard.
posted by tempythethird at 7:55 AM on March 18, 2011


Iraq was not a "humanitarian" mission. The official reason was WMD, which didn't actually exist.
posted by delmoi at 7:59 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aljazeera journalist situated in Tripoli report 'very large' explosions heard in the area.
posted by Catfry at 7:59 AM on March 18, 2011


Has Europe ever put its army where its humanitarian mouth is?

Well historically, pretty much every armed intervention by anyone anywhere has been trumpeted as 'humanitarian' (or whatever equivalent phrase would have held at the time) by whomever was benefiting from it.

Not that I'm against this current thing, but just to point out that the humanitarian justification is traditionally used a lot.
posted by memebake at 8:01 AM on March 18, 2011


Well France didn't agree...

I am not trying to make the case for Iraq or justify it in any way, in case you missed my earlier posts.

The case I am trying to make is that, though Europe has commendably not engaged in illegitimate wars as of late, it has also not attempted to right any wrongs either. In fact, as far as I remember, France was actually pretty complicit in Rwanda, let alone trying to stop it, or any other genocide.
posted by tempythethird at 8:01 AM on March 18, 2011


Just like Saddam Hussein, eh? Dictator? check. Slaughtered and oppressed own people? check.

How'd that work out?
That's a shitty argument. Never intervene, because some interventions didn't turn out to quite so well?
No, the point is that people are making the same arguments for engagement in Libya that they did for engagement in Iraq.
This strikes me as not being a careful statement, and potentially misleading as a direct result of its carelessness.

It would be more careful, in my opinion, to say that some people are making the same arguments for engagement in Libya that some people did for engagement in Iraq.
posted by Flunkie at 8:02 AM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Europe has commendably not engaged in illegitimate wars as of late,

What? The UK, Poland, Denmark, Slovakia, Lithuania, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain - all EU states - were all part of the multi-national force that invaded Iraq.
posted by three blind mice at 8:08 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


In fact, as far as I remember, France was actually pretty complicit in Rwanda, let alone trying to stop it, or any other genocide.

Well this is the problem, isn't it, of lumping all European countries together. We are NOT all alike with similar histories, motivations etc. The UK acts one way, France another etc.

Individually European countries are pretty small and weak, compared to the US. And getting us to do anything as a unit is pretty tough as we mostly don't agree on what constitutes justifiable intervention and what doesn't. So this 'step up Europe' attitude isn't very realistic.
posted by Summer at 8:10 AM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


backing up a little for context, it looks like the US/UN/NATO is taking zakaria's advice from 3/10:
Libya is burning. Its people rose, and the tyrant gunned them down. Unless something changes, Muammar Gaddafi and his sons will be able to reassert control over the country amid a mass slaughter of its civilians. This would be a terrible outcome... To have him survive would be a humiliation for Washington at a moment and in a region where its words still have great impact. It would also send a disastrous signal to the other rulers of the region — in Syria, Algeria, Iran — that Mubarak made a mistake and that the way to stay in office is to engage in mass slaughter, scare the U.S. away and wait out the sanctions and isolation. America would lose its opportunity to align with the rising forces of the Arab world. So the U.S. must follow through in its efforts to get Gaddafi out of office, pushing all diplomatic levers and seeking maximum multilateral support. It should ask the Libyan opposition for a public set of requests, so that Washington is seen as responding to Libyans, not imposing its will. If the Libyans request military assistance, Washington should move in that direction. I don't believe that a no-fly zone is a magic bullet... Gaddafi's main advantage is not in the air but on the ground... Giving arms, food, logistical help, intelligence and other such tools to the Libyan opposition would boost its strength and give it staying power.
he was, admittedly, wrong about iraq, but i think in this case it makes a lot of sense here, viz.
I would say the American position is that it will support NATO action if [the Arab League, the African Union or the U.N.] agrees to take the lead. I suspect that the American position may "stiffen," as Churchill would say, if Qaddafi's forces start slaughtering people. That would be a change in the "demonsrable need" meter. Sound legal basis is easy to handle. So that leaves the regional support for action as the major variable.
and playing realpolitik for a moment:
You should be applauding the way Barack Obama is handling the Libya situation. It is realpolitik in a most self-aware, calculating, interest-driven, human rights driven, cold-blooded form. It's something you claim to want in our foreign policy.

The US is not leading this, and probably won't, ever. That is why Barack Obama is not making a public drive for support. In fact, we were moved toward a no-fly zone by Arab countries largely, and Europe, decisively. When was the last time that happened? Ask yourself why Obama is acting this way.

He does not want to be in front, because he isn't, and he shouldn't be. That is a lesson America has learned, painfully, and which Obama is heeding...
apparently, that is coming at the expense of bahrain[*] to get the arab league/GCC (and china and russia, for the UNSC) on board; the question for me now then is US-saudi relations... i would hope, and expect, that translates into ongoing reform of 'our allies' in the region.
posted by kliuless at 8:11 AM on March 18, 2011 [9 favorites]


So, an immediate cease-fire declared but reports indicate that government troops are still attacking. I hope that the UN forces aren't going to sell Ghadafi the time he's trying to buy...
posted by rollbiz at 8:13 AM on March 18, 2011


This is how crazy the guy is: calling a ceasefire and then leaving the tanks surrounding the last rebel cities would have left him in a stronger position. Any attack by the rebels is then them abandoning the "peace treaty" and Gaddafi gets to complain that "they started it!". As it is, he's clearly just an idiot.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:16 AM on March 18, 2011


"Sexism works exactly that way, actually. You can't divest her gender from the comments made about her because if she were a man she wouldn't be called abrasive. She's be confident, or committed, or bold, or any other number of positive adjectives conveying aggressiveness."

Bullshit. You ignored the comment where a simple google search shows you that men are often called "abrasive." You're arguing a counterfactual in order to make an ideological point that's simply not true. You can object to Obama's attempts at humor in the Gridiron Dinner, but making this into a charge of sexism on the strength of ostensible difference in treatment is you projecting.
posted by klangklangston at 8:20 AM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Other than the UK, those countries were only token contributors, AFAIK. And, to their credit, they were all coerced into participating one way or another.

Well this is the problem, isn't it, of lumping all European countries together.

It is a problem, and there is an institution trying to solve it, the EU. I'm a big proponent of lumping Europe together and asking it to step up. If America had a European counterweight maybe it wouldn't have blundered into Iraq and Afghanistan and all these other things. And, like it or not, America is also the West's designated cop, and frankly, its exhausting. I'm all for shrinking the US's role in the world, but without Europe to fill the vacuum, I'm afraid it won't ever happen - and if it does the result will be very much not to America or Europe's liking.

The American states also all have different histories and motivations, and trying to keep everyone on board is hard as hell, but its not impossible, for the US or the EU.
posted by tempythethird at 8:20 AM on March 18, 2011


No, he's provoking outside military action while trying to claim he's fending off the attacking rebels. When the airstrikes come, they'll cart out dead bodies and state TV will show injured men in hospitals. Gaddafi will rally the country against foreign intervention. Horrible images of disfigured bodies will be shown around the world. Regardless of who is responsible for the dead and dying, Gaddafi may be betting that the rest of the world will not have the stomach for continuing with the air attacks if people suspect that their government/military is possibly killing more innocent civilians in yet another Muslim country.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:22 AM on March 18, 2011


Well, this is certainly a candidate for Worst of Metafilter. (And to think, I was just reading the RSA thread and thinking what a great resource this site is.)

It seems to me the big question (and the one that made a critical difference in Iraq and Afghanistan) is what happens if/when Quaddafi is removed. A functioning society needs to have someone with a legitimate monopoly on violence. Without that, you get anarchy which is arguably worse than a dictator. Given reports of cheering in Tripoli, the UN force itself might suffice. (I would say that's why Kosovo worked.) Barring that, I would hope the rebels are unified and considered legitimate by the populace.

I don't know the answers to those questions, so I hesitate to venture a strong opinion about intervention. But I think those are absolutely the questions to ask.
posted by bjrubble at 8:29 AM on March 18, 2011


I'm a big proponent of lumping Europe together and asking it to step up.

Isn't that what it's doing right now?

If America had a European counterweight maybe it wouldn't have blundered into Iraq and Afghanistan and all these other things.

Blundered into? Seriously? Blundered into in the sense that a bulldozer 'blunders into' a house.

I think a lot of people would disagree that there is a "vacuum" that needs filling. The US created Afghanistan and Iraq on entirely spurious grounds. There was no need for them to happen. But this is turning into a derail.
posted by Summer at 8:30 AM on March 18, 2011


This is how crazy the guy is: calling a ceasefire and then leaving the tanks surrounding the last rebel cities would have left him in a stronger position. Any attack by the rebels is then them abandoning the "peace treaty" and Gaddafi gets to complain that "they started it!".

This is actually Civilization strategy 101.
posted by empath at 8:33 AM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


You should be applauding the way Barack Obama is handling the Libya situation. It is realpolitik in a most self-aware, calculating, interest-driven, human rights driven, cold-blooded form. It's something you claim to want in our foreign policy.
Because "human rights driven, cold-blooded form" makes so much sense, right? I saw that comment earlier and it's a perfect example of what I hate about political debate, it's just some barely coherent nonsense about incredibly vague concepts like "interest-driven". It's stupid people pretending to be smart because they know a lot of words.
posted by delmoi at 8:40 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's stupid people pretending to be smart because they know a lot of words.

posted by delmoi


I had to.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:42 AM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


the world (with superior firepower) is, essentially, standing up to a bully...

fwiw, i'd also note that:
The sectarian framing in Bahrain is a deliberate regime strategy, not an obvious "reality." The Bahraini protest movement, which emerged out of years of online and offline activism and campaigns, explicitly rejected sectarianism and sought to emphasize instead calls for democratic reform and national unity. While a majority of the protestors were Shi'a, like the population of the Kingdom itself, they insisted firmly that they represented the discontent of both Sunnis and Shi'ites, and framed the events as part of the Arab uprisings seen from Tunisia to Libya. Their slogans were about democracy and human rights, not Shi'a particularism, and there is virtually no evidence to support the oft-repeated claim that their efforts were inspired or led by Iran.

The Bahraini regime responded not only with violent force, but also by encouraging a nasty sectarianism in order to divide the popular movement and to build domestic and regional support for a crackdown.
posted by kliuless at 8:48 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


the world (with superior firepower) is, essentially, standing up to a bully...

World politics is not middle school.
posted by empath at 8:51 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


World politics is not middle school.

Come'on we come to metafilter to get away from this sort of reflexive and simplistic one-sentence sniping. Anyone can see that there's a fair metaphor in there, if you think that its incorrect then state your reasons - even if that may take a few moments of thinking and a few more for typing. Quality not quantity.
posted by tempythethird at 9:05 AM on March 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


It seems like if Norway, Denmark, and Canada are readying troops and planes to attack you, you are probably a pretty bad dude.

To be fair, Canada probably has an election coming up, and the PM is looking to justify a $30 billion fighter jet deal. "Let me be clear: as good a job as our brave men and women did in Libya with those CF-18s, they could have done even better with F-35s. Do the math, they're better by SEVENTEEN!"

World politics is not middle school.

Gah, why are you still talking?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:08 AM on March 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Because "human rights driven, cold-blooded form" makes so much sense, right?

What do you prefer? Hot blooded? "Kick their ass, take their gas"?
posted by ocschwar at 9:12 AM on March 18, 2011


No, it's a dumb metaphor. Standing up to a bully puts yourself at risk, the bully isn't going to grab a few innocent nerds to use as human shields.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:14 AM on March 18, 2011


.Come'on we come to metafilter to get away from this sort of reflexive and simplistic one-sentence sniping. Anyone can see that there's a fair metaphor in there, if you think that its incorrect then state your reasons - even if that may take a few moments of thinking and a few more for typing. Quality not quantity

I'm pretty sure you should be complaining about the person making facile comparisons to viral youtube videos when actual people's lives are on the line.
posted by empath at 9:15 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I almost created a MetaTalk thread, becuase I don't like being told I'm saying something sexist when I think I know what I'm saying, and don't need a remedial lecture on gendered linguistics, thank you very much, but Libya hangs on a precipice and Japan is suffering so maybe I'll just stow it.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:20 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even if I were to agree with you, two wrongs still don't make a right. And if I highlight your name in this thread and scan through, I can quickly see that most of your contributions are of the "5 word continuation of pissing match" variety.
posted by tempythethird at 9:21 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Based rumors from crawling around the Internet. The French Aircraft carrier is in the Med now along with a US nuclear sub equipped with a crapload of tomahawk missiles. The USS Enterprise is going through Suez at the moment or may already he through. The French and British have moved various strike aircraft to their big base in Southern France. It looks like a few predators and reapers are being relocated from Adghanistan/Yemen. It sounds like US cruise missiles will hit the command and control and anti aircraft systems, then UAVs and British/French aircraft will bomb the shit out of tanks, artillery and other gear. I'm guessing tonight or Saturday since they will move in. There may also be some special forces going in as Forward Air controllers/ spotters. The US won't want to stay long after hitting the command/control and air defense network. Atab participation might be Egyptian as well as Saudi pilots. While the Saudis Arby's wager to supper an uprising, they hate Gaddafi.
posted by humanfont at 9:22 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Standing up to a bully puts yourself at risk, the bully isn't going to grab a few innocent nerds to use as human shields.

You obviously didn't go to my school.
posted by Skeptic at 9:24 AM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I mean I hate to go there, but all of you seem to be super willing to tell a soldier whose kid probably doesn't even recognize because he's been used in one 'intervention' after another for a decade that no, he can't go on leave, he can't visit his family, because he has to 'bring democracy' to another oil-rich arab country who wasn't a threat to the US and to support an opposition whose motives are unclear, and with no end goal in sight. They didn't sign up for this.

All of you want to cut defense spending so we can balance the budget and create jobs at home. Where are we going to get the money for this?

Any of you rushing to sign up to fight? Any of you donating money to fund this? It's real easy to play Rambo when it's other people's money and lives being risked. When you're not going to have to turn on the news and find out that bomb you dropped landed on an elementary school.

I'm just shocked that so soon after Iraq, all of you are so quick to beat the drums of war without any real public debate over the merits of this.

If Europe can do this, if the arab countries want to do this, that's fine for them. If Gaddafi just rolls over without us having to do anything, that's wonderful, but the bloodthirst in this thread is a bit unseemly.
posted by empath at 9:28 AM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


While the Saudis Arby's wager to supper an uprising, they hate Gaddafi.

"Sent from my iPhone."
posted by proj at 9:28 AM on March 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


May I suggest we do fewer arguments and one-liners and more information and discussion, folks? We can make this into a good live thread like the previous Egypt and Japan ones (those were great, thank you all who participated) if we just put our minds to it.

Here, I'll start.



People to follow on Twitter:

FMCNL — Hardcore aviation comms geek in the Netherlands. All infodump, zero analysis, but if there's a plane above the Med and it's got something funny going on, he'll tell you.

David Cenciotti — News from the Italian side.

Karl Stagno-Navarra — Maltese journo, was incredibly well-sourced (and fast!) during the negotiations to release the captured Dutch marines. Malta is a strategically important nation in the Libya question, and this guy knows what's going on.


Good liveblogs:

Le Monde (French) — this goes directly to the CoverItLive feed, check lemonde.fr for following days. France appears to be shaping up as lead nation, and Le Monde has especially good info from the
intra-European diplomatic front. Worth wrangling through Google Translate if you don't read French.

France24 (English)

NRC Handelsblad (Dutch, machine translation) — Gadaffi released the marines but kept our Lynx helicopter (leading people to joke last night that that's the first thing we're going to bomb). Dutch military involvement unclear so far.

AJE and the Guardian, obviously. When Guardian liveblogs close for the day or for mysterious reasons, new ones tend to appear on the News Blog front page.

Also, NPR, BBC.



Suggestions welcome!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:34 AM on March 18, 2011 [24 favorites]


Back when we began our war in Iraq, a liberal friend, in favor of the war, likened it to intervening in Bosnia. My response was that we weren't stopping a Bosnia, we were starting one. Unfortunately, I was right.
I thought also at the time it was painfully obvious that Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. A good friend of mine, Iraqi and once persecuted by Hussein told me that Hussein was a coward and would have forked over any weapons he had - if he could - to stop the war. He just didn't have any. Again, this assessment was correct.
Now we are set to intervene in Libya. And you know what? I'm cautiously in favor of it. I think that it has a high chance of success and this time we are stopping a Bosnia.
I say cautiously, because I don't know the internal politics of Libya and don't know the future stability of its next regime. Egypt has a large moderate class making its future looked good. With Iraq, and its history of the Baath/Sunni/Shiite/Kurdish conflicts, it was poised for a continued bloodbath once Hussein fell.
My Iraqi friend, who could have given me great insights into Libya, has since passed away.
I don't know what's next for Libya - the French Revolution model (bloodshed followed by a dictator) or the American Revolution model (difficulties but eventual prosperity).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:38 AM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Who said anything about bloodthirst? This is a really hard call and I'm personally on the fence. Dead civilians and collateral damage are bad, quagmires are bad, 21st century colonialism is bad, camouflaged American imperialism is bad, genocide is bad, insane dictators covering themselves in blood, money, and the flags of their nations are bad. Its all bad. You reject one you get another.

But please don't pretend that there is no shame in massive military and economic powers standing by while largely impoverished and unarmed people are slaughtered.

Do you really think that we imagine that standing up for those people is a picnic and won't have unintended consequences? You do your best to choose your course on a case by case basis.

And as for our soldiers - well they signed up to fight didn't they? We have an offensive army don't we? That doesn't mean we should use them wantonly - but I don't see you pushing for a purely defensive military.

Ok, I'm done.
posted by tempythethird at 9:39 AM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, dictators are bad. There are lots of bad things out there. I just kind of feel like there are issues the developed world could address with our technology and wealth that have less of a chance of serious blowback than military action to topple dictators.

Understanding that we can't fix everything, we should choose the courses of action that are least likely to break things more.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:46 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


And as for our soldiers - well they signed up to fight didn't they? We have an offensive army don't we? That doesn't mean we should use them wantonly - but I don't see you pushing for a purely defensive military.

To be clear, I am in favor of a purely defensive military. The size of our military is obscene. And its size is dangerous not just to other countries, but America as well.

And, I don't know -- maybe ask some soldiers why they signed up -- do you know any? I know that most of the ones I know didn't sign up just because they like kicking Arab ass.
posted by empath at 9:46 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


the bloodthirst in this thread is a bit unseemly.

Examples? I thought the link to a warplane image was a little bloodthirsty but that image was the exception. At most, the majority of the "pro" people seem to be cautiously optimistic that the action will lead to an improvement for Libyans (regardless of the motive for the UN's action).

On the other hand, you've shown quite the bloodthirst for straw men.
posted by seventyfour at 9:49 AM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]



I found this to be somewhat clarifying: Failed Analogy, by Lawrence F. Kaplan.

Apologies for the long excerpts. I didn't have time to write a shorter post.
The U.S. should stop comparing Libya to past conflicts and consider the crisis on its own terms.

[. . .]

Meanwhile, the historical analogy industry went into high gear. Was Libya Bosnia or was it Iraq, was it Kosovo or was it Somalia? [or Munich or Vietnam?] Since the putative “lessons” of history continue to be stupidly confined to these two events, once the loop got underway, everyone knew their cues. In this atmosphere of slow-motion capitulation to mass murder, subliterate commentators and slippery politicians erased any hope of engaging in a disinterested search of the past in order to find something that might illuminate the present.

[. . . ]

The many uses of analogy,” the historian David Hackett Fischer writes in his splendid Historians’ Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought, “are balanced by the mischief which arises from its abuse.” . . . the chief culprit being . . . the insinuation that because two events resemble each other in some respects they must therefore be alike in all respects. . . What makes today’s Libya analogies so plainly false is not the one thing that two episodes possess in common, but the many more that they do not.

But the ghost of Vietnam follows us everywhere—Beirut, Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Iraq, and now Libya. (I miss Richard Holbrooke, who constantly argued that “Bosnia was not Vietnam, the Serbs were not the Vietcong, and Belgrade was not Hanoi.”) In its revised version, the Vietnam Syndrome, now called the Iraq Syndrome, has generated “lessons,” too.

Is it really necessary to point out that, lessons notwithstanding, Libya is not Iraq? (It is not Bosnia or Rwanda, either, but, given the administration’s modest definition of American purpose, its members won’t be summoning these precedents any time soon.) The Obama team ought to respond to the Libya crisis on its own terms, if it intends to respond at all.

That means acknowledging: Most of all, paying due respect to reality means acknowledging this distinction between Iraq and Libya: In the former, the population was passive, bulldozed into silence, or it reflexively bucked outside intervention; in Libya, voices from one side of the argument have been roaring Solzhenitsyn’s 30-year-old admonition to “interfere as much as you can. We beg you to come and interfere.” But we have not interfered.

Thus another difference from Iraq: President Bush was bent on going to Baghdad; Obama may find himself in command of a juggernaut, but he clearly has a distaste for things military. Bush enshrined preemption in official policy; Obama simply has eliminated any obligation to link punishment to offense.

posted by Herodios at 9:55 AM on March 18, 2011 [19 favorites]


Oh, I've got a bloodthirsty image of a warplane.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:58 AM on March 18, 2011


So it seems to me like Libya's tactic is something like: 1) Declare a formal ceasefire, 2) Firmly deny that you are in fact still indiscriminately shelling civilians and thus.. 3) play for time while the other nations figure out how they can prove there's no real cease-fire and are hesitant to start enforcing the zone.
posted by Harry at 9:58 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obviously, current events in Libya do not fit neatly into one's own narrative of world politics. We have simplifying rhetoric that we use to understand these situations, but substantial heterogeneity exists among the events in the Arab world, both past and present. However, continuing to cast those who disagree with you as "bloodthirsty" is taking the least charitable and most antagonistic interpretation of others' positions. What I see in the majority of comments is, "Well, I know it may not be easy or simple, but if there's going to be an intervention, a multi-national force including the Arabs may be the best way to go." I haven't seen anyone saying, "Bomb their ass, take their gas, YEEE HAWW." In fact, I see a lot of nuance and trepidation. I just can't stand it when a small number of highly vocal individuals have an urge to polarize and politicize every set of events to fit their political master narrative and thus poison the conversation as everyone has to respond to their strawmen attacks or lose the will to participate.
posted by proj at 9:59 AM on March 18, 2011 [15 favorites]


That seems to be exactly it, Harry.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:00 AM on March 18, 2011


• French FM Juppé says tomorrow's meeting in Paris with Angela Merkel and possibly others will be "decisive" in decision-making on intervention. (NRC Handelsblad)

So it seems unlikely we will see airstrikes as soon as tonight, but who knows.

• Merkel reluctant to offer mil support, but apparently willing to send AEW&C radar flights to Afghanistan to relieve other nations. (WSJ)

• Obama to meet with R and D Congressional leadership before making a statement at 1PM ET. PM Harper: Canada to send six fighter jets to region. (Reuters)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:10 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maltese PM Gonzi says Malta will not serve as a base to enforce Libya no-fly zone. (AFP)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:12 AM on March 18, 2011


However, @ksnavarra says PM of Malta has agreed to allow airstrikes to pass through Maltese airspace.
posted by proj at 10:13 AM on March 18, 2011


empath, you wrote much earlier in the thread, "I'm against getting involved in any war of choice, period, for any reason, anywhere." That's fine. I understand your position and respect it. However, there are differences between this situation and Iraq. The US is not in this case sending troops in to invade a country and hold it indefinitely. The US is supporting an effort led by France to provide air support to the Libyan rebels who actually requested it.
posted by nangar at 10:14 AM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


A spokesman for the Libyan rebels said they are "coordinating air strikes" with the West. (Le Monde)

France "does not want to go through NATO" for military intervention in Libya. (Al-Arabiya)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:15 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the USA had taken a lead there is no way Russia & China would have abstained. As it is this "inaction" (WTF?) of the Obama administration has forced certain closer interests to step up.

I don't know if this is what the Obama administration intended, but for the first time in a long time, Europe is taking the lead in an armed intervention. And I think that's a good thing

You should be applauding the way Barack Obama is handling the Libya situation....The US is not leading this, and probably won't, ever. That is why Barack Obama is not making a public drive for support. In fact, we were moved toward a no-fly zone by Arab countries largely, and Europe, decisively. When was the last time that happened? Ask yourself why Obama is acting this way. He does not want to be in front, because he isn't, and he shouldn't be. That is a lesson America has learned, painfully, and which Obama is heeding...

The Way never does anything
and everything gets done.
If those in power could hold to the Way,
the ten thousand things would look after themselves.
If even so they tried to act,
I'd quiet them with the nameless,
the natural.
-- Tao Te Ching
posted by msalt at 10:23 AM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, it's a dumb metaphor. Standing up to a bully puts yourself at risk, the bully isn't going to grab a few innocent nerds to use as human shields.
Right, and the bigger problem is that we are not 'standing up to a bully'. We are talking about killing a murderer. As well as, potentially, a lot of other people who are neither killers nor bullies, but simply random people who live nearby.

No doubt the world would be better off without Gadaffi, but it's a serious question and using a metaphor only serves to reduce the seriousness of the issue.

Anyway I'm all for removing him but I think it's much better if it's not done by the U.S.
posted by delmoi at 10:26 AM on March 18, 2011


And our risk is practically nil, the problem is I'm not sure it will be enough. It was my understanding that the rebels were losing to ground forces, not air strikes, so I'm not sure just what we think a no-fly-zone is going to accomplish.

Have you noticed how many times American officials, from Gates to Clinton to Obama, have emphasized that a no-fly zone requires an initial bombing run? I took that at first to be either realism or an excuse to avoid acting.

Now I think it's American foreign policy subtlety, something I don't think I've seen in my lifetime. We're just responding to the Libyan rebels and the Arab League's request, letting French and British and Saudi Arabian pilots enforce the no-fly. I expect American spy satellites are carefully identifying all the radar facilities and anti-aircraft batteries in and around Tripoli, particularly at Gadaffi's HQ, and the ones close to his tanks, aircraft and artillery.
posted by msalt at 10:31 AM on March 18, 2011


From the BBC:
1730: The BBC's Mike Cartwright, at RAF Marham in Norfolk, says he's getting unconfirmed reports that two Tornado squadrons will be heading out to enforce the no-fly zone. Squadron 9 specialises in taking out surface-to-air missiles, while Squadron 31 specialises in launching the Storm Shadow cruise missile, which is used to target artillery and tanks.
posted by proj at 10:32 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Libya declares ceasefire but fighting goes on: Gaddafi's government says it will end military operations in line with UN resolution but reports of attacks continue.
posted by homunculus at 10:38 AM on March 18, 2011


Civil_disobedient: We could implement a no-fly zone with a couple of well-placed aircraft carriers ... the problem is I'm not sure it will be enough.It was my understanding that the rebels were losing to ground forces, not air strikes, so I'm not sure just what we think a no-fly-zone is going to accomplish.

Resolution 1973 authorises "all necessary measures" short of a ground invasion to protect civilians in Libya. (cite) ... so the Security Council has explicitly given the go ahead to air strikes, not just a no-fly zone. Pretty much anything except 'boots on the ground' is how its being reported.
posted by memebake at 10:53 AM on March 18, 2011


So it seems to me like Libya's tactic is something like: 1) Declare a formal ceasefire, 2) Firmly deny that you are in fact still indiscriminately shelling civilians and thus.. 3) play for time while the other nations figure out how they can prove there's no real cease-fire and are hesitant to start enforcing the zone.

That underestimates just how badly Nicolas Sarkozy needs a "splendid little war" to shore up his approval ratings. Now that he has UN blessing, he's going to go for it like an angry terrier. If this works out alright, he'll be sailing through to reelection next year. If it fails, well, he can hardly sink lower than where he currently is in the polls. Where we see Libya, he sees the Falklands.

Contrast this with the situation over the Rhine, where the Merkel government, although ideologically most close to Sarkozy's, is having absolutely nothing to do with this. Wars, successful or not, "humanitarian" or not, remain extremely unpopular in Germany, and, unlike Sarkozy, Merkel, who already has her work cut out dealing with the resurgence of the anti-nuclear movement following Fukushima, isn't going to energise her left-wing opposition even further with an extra foreign war.

It's quite depressing that the lives and deaths of thousands of civilians depend mostly on the short-term political calculations and spin of our frankly mediocre politicians.
posted by Skeptic at 11:12 AM on March 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


The Paris meeting tomorrow will apparently include representatives from the UN, EU, African Union and the Arab League. (DPA)

This is good.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:16 AM on March 18, 2011


According to a French diplomatic source quoted by Reuters, French and/or British planes could fly over Libya tonight or Saturday morning; the operation would be a "political gesture", the idea wouldn't be to actually strike targets in Libya. (Reuters via Le Monde)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:20 AM on March 18, 2011


By the way - to state the obvious, we live in interesting times. The Arab is reshaping itself to a greater degree since when? post World War I?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:22 AM on March 18, 2011


This looks like it's going to be a tough stance from the POTUS.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:24 AM on March 18, 2011


Obama: Clinton will also attend Paris conference.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:28 AM on March 18, 2011


A flyover for political purposes before taking out the air defenses?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:29 AM on March 18, 2011


Obama's face being broadcast on the big wall in Benghazi. I SEE NO SHOE THROWING. Progress, people. Progress.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:30 AM on March 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


A flyover for political purposes before taking out the air defenses?

I guess it will be a "flyover with benefits".
posted by Skeptic at 11:30 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


According to Obama, "members of the Arab League" have committed to a leadership role alongside Britain and France in the enforcement of the UNSC resolution.

I wonder which nations those are. Is Egypt on board already?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:31 AM on March 18, 2011


Qatar and UAE.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:32 AM on March 18, 2011


Egypt certainly has the air force to give Gaddafi a nasty slapping. But I'd heard rather the UAE and Qatar. They've plenty of shiny hardware and generally little opportunity to use it, so I guess they'll be eager.
posted by Skeptic at 11:34 AM on March 18, 2011


A flyover for political purposes before taking out the air defenses?

A flyover to intimidate Gadaffi's forces and hearten the rebels before you're actually ready to launch your careful, systematic attack. Like the Doolittle Raid in WW2.

If Libyan loyalists attack? Well, then I hope (and expect) they have the ability to send a less careful and more punishing response, that doesn't take as long to plan. Needn't be so diplomatic at that point.
posted by msalt at 11:36 AM on March 18, 2011


Ah, thanks guys.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:37 AM on March 18, 2011


Reports starting to trickle in from twitter that Gaddafi is currently making his move on Benghazi.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:20 PM on March 18, 2011


#
1916: The BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen says the response to the Libyan crisis illustrates the contradictions in Western policy in the region. He says the UK, France and the US will have to explain how Libya differs from other countries where forces loyal to authoritarian Arab rulers have killed civilian protesters.
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 12:43 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the BBC -- 1943: Al Jazeera TV reports that pro-Gaddafi forces are advancing quickly towards Benghazi.

Gaddafi is playing a high-stakes game. He is betting he can crush Benghazi or at least assert authority there before the NFZ takes place. Interesting.

The BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen says the response to the Libyan crisis illustrates the contradictions in Western policy in the region. He says the UK, France and the US will have to explain how Libya differs from other countries where forces loyal to authoritarian Arab rulers have killed civilian protesters.

Really? Who the hell doesn't think foreign policy is full of contradictions? This is like pointing out the sky is blue. Does he really think that is insightful commentary? They don't have to explain the contradiction because the contradiction is plain as day. We are intervening here because Gaddafi is a pariah who has been rejected by the international community. Our approach does not spread more broadly because we are allies of the leaders of those other countries where unrest is occurring (Bahrain, Yemen). Or because those other countries have few natural resources and we can't be arsed to assert ourselves (Ivory Coast). Right or wrong, that's the answer. It's not hard to figure out.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:52 PM on March 18, 2011


9:53pm France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Arab countries have told Muammar Gaddafi to "immediately" end attacks against citizens or face a military intervention, a statement from the French presidency says. It says that "a ceasefire must be put in place immediately, that is that all attacks against civilians must come to an end". It also says that Gaddafi must "end his troops' advance on Benghazi and withdraw from Ajdabiyah, Misurata and Az Zawiyah... that is not negotiable". It warns that if Gaddafi does not comply, "the [UN] resolution will be imposed by military means".
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:59 PM on March 18, 2011


Our approach does not spread more broadly because we are allies of the leaders of those other countries where unrest is occurring (Bahrain, Yemen).

And also because the US has itself been bombing rebels in Yemen for the past 2 years.
posted by empath at 1:00 PM on March 18, 2011


Do you not differentiate between rebels and terrorists? Not snarky, legitimate question.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:01 PM on March 18, 2011


I think it's also fair to say that we are intervening because 1) there is an international consensus to do so, not least among Arab countries 2) the scale and savagery of Qadaffi's repression is a magnitude greater than that of other dictators here and there 3) he has repeatedly shown willingness to wantonly kill civilians to further his objectives, both in this conflict and around the world.
posted by msalt at 1:01 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


My opinion (heavy on opinion, mind you): the protesters in the streets of Sanaa are rebels in that they are rebelling against the government, they are asking for Saleh to step down - they are interested, in other words, in regime change. Those in the desert cooperating with al Qaeda are less on the freedom-fighter scale to me, though of course there are some definite, systemic exclusion of power issues going on there which have led to disenfranchisement, poverty, and anger.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:04 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you not differentiate between rebels and terrorists? Not snarky, legitimate question.

How do you know who is who? I'm not being sarcastic. I don't think it's cut and dried in Yemen, at least. How many people are in "Al Queada" in Yemen who are hardcore islamists bent on waging war on the west, and how many are people with legitimate grievances against an autocratic government who gravitated to Al Queada because they have weapons and resources?
posted by empath at 1:10 PM on March 18, 2011


Wait. But you claimed that the US has been bombing the protesters (rebels) for two years. So you seem to know that they are the same. I find that odd, and not a view I've seen represented before. If you have more info I can dig into, I'd appreciate it.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:12 PM on March 18, 2011


No, the US has been bombing people that they claim are terrorists. Just as all of these dictators claim that the people they are killing are terrorists. I'm sure that some of them are terrorists. I'm sure that some of them are Al Qaeda. But given that Yemen is ruled by an autocratic dictator who has been battling uprisings for years, who knows who they are really targeting in their 'war on al qaeda'.
posted by empath at 1:17 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, that is a weird hand wavy dodge. First you state that we've been bombing the rebels for two years. Then you state that no, some of them are al Qaeda. Then you state that nobody knows who is being bombed. Never mind the strange idea that the United States would help the ineffectual, resource poor and unfriendly country of Yemen crush a popular rebellion for a reason other than strict national interest.

All I'm asking for is clarification as to why you think the Americans have been bombing the rebels for two years. I find it be a very odd statement and, again, if there is some link or resource you could direct me to to help me figure it out, I'd appreciate it.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:35 PM on March 18, 2011


You say 'the rebels', as if they were a single unified group. There are a lot of rebel groups in Yemen.
posted by empath at 1:40 PM on March 18, 2011


But. But. You said. When the. Oh gee holy fuck. Not worth it.

Benghazi is getting the squeeze as we speak.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:42 PM on March 18, 2011


U.S. Ally Yemen Does Its Best Gadhafi Impression
posted by homunculus at 1:53 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lugar: No-fly zone requires declaration of war.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:31 PM on March 18, 2011


Lugar didn't mention this during any of those Republican invasions, did he? What an asshole.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:38 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jumpin Jack Flash wrote: "He says the UK, France and the US will have to explain how Libya differs from other countries where forces loyal to authoritarian Arab rulers have killed civilian protesters."

I disagree with that sentiment. Intervention in one case does not obligate one to intervene in other cases, no matter how similar or dissimilar. Now, if you've said you were going to intervene (as the US did after the first Iraq war), you probably ought to do what you said you were going to do, but that is a wholly different thing than what that tweet posited.

And on preview, Lugar is an idiot if he thinks that the US Congress gets a say in what France, the UK, Italy, the UAE, and Egypt choose to do. (and it's funny how Bush didn't need a formal declaration of war, but Obama suddenly does..wonderfully inconsistent)
posted by wierdo at 2:41 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obama rules out U.S. ground troops in Libya.

Gotta agree with General Clark on this.
posted by clavdivs at 2:44 PM on March 18, 2011


Lugar pointed to the fact that 145,000 American troops are currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the annual U.S. budget deficit is already around $1.5 trillion.

I wonder who put them there. Hmmm....
posted by Skeptic at 2:45 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


(Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates, your bafflement baffles me. There are, as empath says, several active militant rebel groups in Yemen (this is separate from the Tunisia/Egypt-fueled mass protests that began in January). At least some of the rebels in South Yemen may have ties to Al Qaeda in Yemen -- see this Wikipedia article, for example. In North Yemen, the Houthis are alleged to be backed by Iran. I'm in no position to say whether any of those allegations are true, but under the circumstances it doesn't seem unreasonable to me to suspect that the US would be not terribly interested in fine distinctions between "armed rebels" and "terrorists" when it does its bombing runs -- especially when the insurgencies are a threat to regional stability to begin with. Given that context, nothing empath has been saying about Yemen seems particularly confusing or handwavey to me.

Anyway, Libya. Crazy situation, eh?
posted by twirlip at 2:54 PM on March 18, 2011


Honestly, if Luger is serious (he isn't) Obama should just call the bluff. Let the Republicans vote down military force to take down a terrorist supporting dictator.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:54 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, he shouldn't, I think. I'd love to see the spectacle, but he wouldn't want to be seen playing politics in a time of international crisis.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:59 PM on March 18, 2011


How Obama turned on a dime toward war
posted by homunculus at 3:07 PM on March 18, 2011


Obama doesn't have to do anything for Congress to take a vote, does he? Can't they put up their own resolution concerning the war? (Or does he have to initiate? )
posted by msalt at 3:11 PM on March 18, 2011


homunculus: Interesting, and I guess unsurprising, that Samantha Powers fingerprints are on this push for intervention.
posted by Weebot at 3:12 PM on March 18, 2011


Skeptic: Forgive the geopolitical ignorance, but why exactly is France so geared up for this? What is the history behind/background/context for that?
posted by Weebot at 3:20 PM on March 18, 2011


France ran south-eastern Libya (Fezzan) from 1943-1951.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:54 PM on March 18, 2011


south-western oops
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:55 PM on March 18, 2011


EMRJKC'94: Thanks, but that doesn't really explain the anti-Qadahfi sentiment, since looking over that, it says that France gave up control in 1951, and he came to power in 1969.
posted by Weebot at 4:12 PM on March 18, 2011


Weebot, I wouldn't say that "France" is particularly fired up about this. The atmosphere among the population isn't particularly warlike. However, there's just a broad consensus for action among French politicians. All mainstream political parties were badly broadsided by the Tunisian revolution, and Libya offers them the opportunity to redeem themselves. Whereas in Tunisia, Algeria or Morocco, the elites entertain very close ties to the French establishment, this is not the case for Libya. On the contrary, Gaddafi is universally despised, and he sponsored terrorist attacks against France in the 80s. Moreover, this would not the first time the French armed forces successfully confront Gaddafi: a small French army and air force detachment, together with the Chadian government forces, very comprehensively kicked Gaddafi's butt in Chad in the same period, in the only open war that he's ever dared to fight. Therefore, they aren't particularly afraid of his military acumen.
posted by Skeptic at 4:48 PM on March 18, 2011


FWIW, here's a Twitter search query I made on the names of several military airbases in the UK and around the Med. I'm sure it can be improved upon, I'm a layman. But might be interesting for those of us watching movements.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:35 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


But. But. You said. When the. Oh gee holy fuck. Not worth it.
You seem confused. "Do you not differentiate between rebels and terrorists?" Seems like the kind of thing someone would say as a joke. One mans terrorists are another man's freedom fighters. Quaddaffi claimed everyone who was fighting against him was "al-Quaeda" too. How do you tell the difference?
Obama doesn't have to do anything for Congress to take a vote, does he? Can't they put up their own resolution concerning the war? (Or does he have to initiate? )
Yeah, congress can declare war on it's own, I suppose but it's really unlikely that they would do that without presidential cooperation.
posted by delmoi at 6:36 PM on March 18, 2011


attack planned for Saturday after Summit in Paris (aj). Looks like the plan is lunch, a short bombardment, and perhaps some gellato or a cheese plate und au cafe fins.
posted by humanfont at 7:30 PM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is a little off-topic (about 2000 miles?) but the government in Bahrain today tore down the Pearl Roundabout monument, which had become a symbol of the pro-democracy* forces. The official Bahrain News Agency reported the change as a “face-lift” to “boost the flow of traffic.”

Video of the demolition.

* or terrorists, or rebels, or whatever.
posted by seventyfour at 7:39 PM on March 18, 2011


Looks like the plan is lunch, a short bombardment, and perhaps some gellato or a cheese plate und au cafe fins.

Like I said; a short, victorious war.
posted by Justinian at 9:54 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Breakfast. Operation Breakfast.
posted by vrakatar at 10:00 PM on March 18, 2011


The official Bahrain News Agency reported the change as a “face-lift” to “boost the flow of traffic.”

Yeah, it must have been tough to maneuver those Saudi tanks around it.
posted by Skeptic at 2:03 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gaddafi's forces entered Ben Ghazi. This just got a lot more complicated.
posted by humanfont at 3:38 AM on March 19, 2011


Who could ever have predicted that this could get horribly complicated? No one.
posted by Justinian at 3:41 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pro-Gaddafi forces enter Benghazi [BBC]

Libya crisis: [Libyan] war plane shot down [by rebels] over Benghazi (w/video) [Telegraph]

Telegraph Live Blog cites confusion: rebels say plane "may have been ours" (???) and shot down by friendly fire:

10.20 Rob Crilly, our correspondent in Benghazi, says rebels tell him the plane could have been theirs - and also is not convinced by initial reports that the fighter plane was a Russian-made Mig.

Twitter: No-one able to ID it. Consensus was that it wasn't a mig - possibly a mirage.

Rebels telling us they think the plane shot down was a rebel plane - fog of war #benghazi


Since when do the rebels have Mirages? Are the pilots who defected to Malta flying for them?
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:59 AM on March 19, 2011


This FT.com article refences a "small rebel air force:" Gaddafi launches assault on Benghazi

This February WSJ article on pro-rebel Libyan officers mentions some Libyan Air Force officers supporting the rebels, but it was unclear whether or not they had any usable aircraft:

One of the colonels said the rebel air force had no serviceable planes ready to fly.

Still, there were signs that the officers' comments may be an attempt at misinformation aimed at Mr. Gadhafi's forces in the west.

A senior manager working on the civilian side of Benghazi's airport said he knew for certain that fighter jets were docked in working order in bunkered hangars at the airport, though he refused to say how many. Another civilian official who sits on one of the city's leadership committees currently running Benghazi's affairs also said there were fighter jets, transports planes, and pilots ready to go.

Another indication that the commanders may be attempting to deceive came during the press conference. Another air-force colonel, Attiya Mansour, who said he had come out of retirement to help lead the rebel forces, vowed their forces "would fight down to the last person."

A quiet squabble ensued between Col. Mansour and one of the other colonels, Nasser al-Busneina.

"Don't say that," Col. Nasser al-Busneina quietly chided the first colonel in Arabic. "This is for inside information, not for the outside."


Well, that's interesting.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:10 AM on March 19, 2011


The Guardian blog reports: "an interview with Chris McGreal about the fighting in Benghazi, including the shooting down of a fighter jet, which "the rebels now concede it was their only plane".
posted by stonepharisee at 4:10 AM on March 19, 2011


....including the shooting down of a fighter jet, which "the rebels now concede it was their only plane"

Which may or may not be misdirection on their part?

Either way, it doesn't matter all that much now. The rebels are about to have as much air superiority as anyone could want. (Sparing the proverbial tank on the runway.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:12 AM on March 19, 2011


Since when do the rebels have Mirages?

According to the ABC it was a MiG 23.
posted by pompomtom at 5:25 AM on March 19, 2011


report of bombing of Benghazi since 6 am. Eyewitness reports they got footage of damage to 3 houses in a residential area with no military installations, missile into the bedroom of two kids 4 and 2 months who were injured.

Obviously you have to be suspicious on all accounts coming out but journos report cars streaming towards Egypt so they are trying to escape with their lives while the UN looks on. Reports that tanks entered the residential areas can surely be easily confirmed?

If I hear the French say once more they will be ready "within hours" I'll scream. Right throughout these events photographs and video links have been available within minutes, has all internet access to Benghazi suddenly dried up?
posted by Wilder at 7:21 AM on March 19, 2011


Several French Rafale fighter jets have overflown "all Libyan territory" on reconnaissance missions, a French military source told the AFP news agency.
posted by Catfry at 7:27 AM on March 19, 2011


Sarkozy to speak soon. Live video here.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:31 AM on March 19, 2011


2.25pm: French TV station BFM reports that French fighter jets are over Benghazi enforcing the no-fly zone. AFP also reports that several French fighter jets overflew "all Libyan territory" on reconnaissance missions.
posted by Catfry at 7:35 AM on March 19, 2011


The BBC liveblog might be a better live link - they are currently discussing the NFZ and have a camera trained on the doors from where Sarkozy will emerge.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:39 AM on March 19, 2011


Speaking now. More of the same -- aggression must stop immediately, allies prepared to act, etc.
posted by proj at 7:52 AM on March 19, 2011


Sarkozy says the summit has agreed to military action, BOTH enforcing the no fly zone AND attempting to prevent ground forces attacking civilians. This means attacking tanks and artillery from the air.
posted by Catfry at 7:53 AM on March 19, 2011


Le Monde live feed link confirming that French planes are enforcing the no-fly zone and are prepared to target Libyan army tanks etc. Sarkozy said that Gadhafi "can still avoid the worst" if he respects the UN resolution; "the diplomatic door will reopen once [Gadhafi's] attacks stop." And on the other hand, there's definitely a strong implication – "avoid the worst" – that French forces will step up their strikes if not.
posted by fraula at 8:47 AM on March 19, 2011


Uncle Sam just can't do anything right. The one time military action seems truly welcomed with open arms and may even lead to a swift positive outcome for the people of this region, it's the arrival of the French that oppressed people rejoice for and will remember.

But... anyone feeling sadistically nationalistic demands their schadenfreude can remind themselves that most likely by the time this is all over whomever grabs power will either be a secret or not-so-secret bad dude or will probably turn bad pretty quick. And there's always a healthy chance of unending quagmire!
posted by floam at 8:58 AM on March 19, 2011


it's the arrival of the French that oppressed people rejoice for and will remember.

But the rest of the world will remember that the U.S. held back and waited for international consensus instead of strongarming other countries into following them in.

There has been a bunch of reflexive US hate in this thread and others, but I don't think that it has been warranted.

Think about it - this is essentially the first major worldwide military action to happen during the Obama administration. Is it possible that there is a more nuanced approach to this sort of thing now? How would bush/rumsfeld have handled the Arab uprising?
posted by davey_darling at 9:06 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Uncle Sam just can't do anything right.

And why do I have the feeling that had Uncle Sam led the charge with guns blazing, you'd be excoriating the US's foolish blundering into yet another quagmire Lord-only-knows-where.

Uncle Sam just can't catch a break sometimes....
posted by tempythethird at 9:10 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't such criticism be well earned post-Iraq?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:16 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


France: one AWACS, two Rafales and two Mirages currently involved in the operation over to Libya, according to a military source quoted by Reuters. (Le Monde)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:18 AM on March 19, 2011


My first sentence there was intended to be read with a sarcastic tone. I don't actually think the US screwed up here, I'm just poorly commenting on how bad our image sucks and even when we're on the right side of things, "LOL it's the French air superiority to save the day!"
posted by floam at 9:18 AM on March 19, 2011


Mohammed Nabbous, Benghazi blogger, is dead (French)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:24 AM on March 19, 2011


According to the Prime Minister of Canada, a naval blockade of Libya is in place. (Le Monde)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:26 AM on March 19, 2011


According to the Prime Minister of Canada

I bet Harper has a raging war boner right now.
posted by davey_darling at 9:28 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is bad news, the Al Qaeda shipments of drugs that are fueling the rebellion will be shut down.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:29 AM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Unconfirmed: "France jets strike Ajdabiyah"
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:36 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says extensive military operations are coming very soon and Canada will be part of that. Mr Harper adds that naval actions including a blockade will take place in Libya, Reuters reports. (BBC) [emphasis mine]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:37 AM on March 19, 2011


Gaddafi has a warm relationship with the President, so this should turn out ok. To Obama, he wrote: “If Libya and the US enter into a war you will always remain my son, and I have love for you.” Libya is battling al-Qaeda, he said, seeking Obama’s advice. “How would you behave so that I can follow your example?” he asked.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 9:40 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The French defense ministry reports that a French plane has attacked a ground vehicle.
posted by Catfry at 9:57 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


FRENCH PLANE FIRED FIRST SHOT AT 1645 GMT ON A VEHICLE -DEFENCE MINISTRY (Reuters)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:59 AM on March 19, 2011


The French aircraft opened fire on a military vehicle at 17:45 Libya, according to the [French] Ministry of Defence. (Le Monde)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:01 AM on March 19, 2011


"#Malta ATC confirms 20 #France jets used airspace southbound #Libya: ID #Mirage, #Rafale" - Karl Stagno-Navarra
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:04 AM on March 19, 2011


"Currently, only the French Air Force is engaged over the Libyan territory. The Defence Ministry has also stated that the French operations are currently concentrated around the city of Benghazi." - Le Monde
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:07 AM on March 19, 2011


These are some notes taken by someone other than me about the French forces in use taken from a briefing on BFM-TV


4 Rafales armed for CAP launched from St Dizier
2 Rafales doing recon, one equipped with RECO-NG and the other acting as escort
2 Mirage 2000D aremed for strike launched from Nancy, joined up with 2 M2000-5F from Dijon
2 Rafales armed for strike (AASM) launched from Dijon
6 flights of KC135FR from Avord
1 E-3F AWACS from Avord
posted by Catfry at 10:07 AM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


French aircraft have destroyed their first target in Libya - military spokesman (Reuters)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:13 AM on March 19, 2011


The United States is not involved in the initial military action in Libya, led by France; but the U.S. is preparing missile attacks on Libyan air defenses. (AP via NOS)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:14 AM on March 19, 2011


"British ships have begun enforcing naval blockade" - AJE
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:15 AM on March 19, 2011


Der Spiegel: "Obama Finally Has His Own War"
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:15 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought the US was coordinating from CENTCOM in Qatar.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:16 AM on March 19, 2011


Good quote from Philip Gourevitch for the New Yorker:
To Qaddafi, everything that is not murder is theatre, and having scared us into joining his war he is now calling our bluff, saying, in effect, that the West once again pretends to be acting in the name of humanitarianism when the real motive is regime change.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:19 AM on March 19, 2011


Uncle Sam just can't do anything right.

And why do I have the feeling that had Uncle Sam led the charge with guns blazing, you'd be excoriating the US's foolish blundering into yet another quagmire Lord-only-knows-where.


Read down further in the comment. He strikes preemtively with the quagmire talk.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:20 AM on March 19, 2011


According to CNN, the first target engaged by French jets was a tank. This is yet unconfirmed.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:21 AM on March 19, 2011


LAT: "Other regimes emboldened by Kadafi's tactics"
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:31 AM on March 19, 2011


Spanish F-18 fighter jets are preparing to take part in enforcing UN Resolution 1973 - AJE
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:31 AM on March 19, 2011


Only a matter of time before pro Qaddafi wedding parties are hit
posted by Ironmouth at 10:32 AM on March 19, 2011


You can watch Libyan state TV here.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:36 AM on March 19, 2011


Analysis of the state of the Libyan armed forces, according to Le Monde (machine translation)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:38 AM on March 19, 2011


Breakdown of contributing nations
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:42 AM on March 19, 2011


AJE: the first strike took place SW of Benghazi and targeted four Gadaffi-loyal tanks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:46 AM on March 19, 2011


Breakdown of contributing nations

I don't know why, but the one comment on that page ("neato") had me LOL.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:50 AM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Le Monde: "Who will be involved in military operations in Libya?" (machine translation)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:52 AM on March 19, 2011


I thought the US was coordinating from CENTCOM in Qatar.

Do you have a source for this? I see reports along those lines on the Twitters, but no actual news stories. It seems unlikely to me, as the U.S. doesn't want to be seen as running this show. It might be doing its own coordination through CENTCOM, if that's what you meant.

Wouldn't be surprised if the Americans launch a few missiles though, there are quite a few indications to this end going around.

I'd be interested to read more about the extent of material U.S. involvement.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:04 AM on March 19, 2011


All that said, it is striking how wars -- no matter how they're packaged -- ultimately breed the same patterns. With public opinion split or even against the war in Libya (at least for now) -- and with questions naturally arising about why we're intervening here to stop the violence but ignoring the growing violence from our good friends in Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere -- the administration obviously knows that some good, old-fashioned fear-mongering and unique demonization (Gadaffi is a Terrorist with "deadly mustard gas" who might attack us!!) can only help. Then there's the fact that the same faction of war-loving-from-a-safe-distance "hawks" that took the lead in cheering for the attack on Iraq -- neocons on the Right and their "liberal interventionist" counterparts in The New Republic/Brookings/Democratic Party officialdom world -- are playing the same role here. And many of the same manipulative rhetorical tactics are now wielded against war opponents: the Libyan rebels are the new Kurds (they want us to act to protect them!), and just as those who opposed the attack on Iraq were routinely accused of indifference toward if not support for Saddam's tyranny, those who oppose this intervention are now accused of indifference to Gadaffi's butchery (as always: are those refraining from advocating for military intervention in Yemen or Saudi Arabia or Bahrain or the Sudan or dozens of other places indifferent to the violence and other forms of suffering there?).
posted by gerryblog at 11:04 AM on March 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


According to a Russian Foreign Ministry spox, Moscow "regrets" the military intervention in Libya (Le Monde / Reuters)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:16 AM on March 19, 2011


Gadaffi to appear on Libyan TV "soon" (France 24)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:17 AM on March 19, 2011


Glenn Greenwald lost a lot of my respect with that commentary. What kind of analyst can't see the difference between this and Iraq? Also, who says that public opinion is split or against intervention?
posted by msalt at 11:18 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


BBC understands PM Cameron to chair COBRA meeting this evening (BBC)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:18 AM on March 19, 2011


ccording to a Russian Foreign Ministry spox, Moscow "regrets" the military intervention in Libya (Le Monde / Reuters)

Does that mean "we regret that this had to happen" or does that mean "now that it is happening, we regret we didn't try to stop it"?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:19 AM on March 19, 2011



LAT: "Other regimes emboldened by Kadafi's tactics"
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane


eponytragic
posted by Herodios at 11:21 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, okay -- 1820: Russia has said it regrets the decision by western leaders to take military action in Libya, according to Reuters, citing a Russian foreign ministry spokesman.

Fair enough, Russia. But the time to have expressed that regret was during the resolution vote.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:21 AM on March 19, 2011


Good question, AH&WO. No details so far. I'd like to hear more, as well as exact quotes.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:22 AM on March 19, 2011


Hm. Fair enough? It's a difficult position to defend, methinks, to first abstain as a veto power and then express regret. Russia was clearly in a position to prevent authorization.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:24 AM on March 19, 2011


Or, actually, maybe there was some sort of deal cut whereby Russia would keep its reservations to itself until the military action had started. Still, it seems kind of weasely.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:24 AM on March 19, 2011


"Fair enough" in terms of Russia's opinion on the matter. I do agree that the timing of the expression of that opinion is suspect.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:25 AM on March 19, 2011


Agreed. Here's the quote (Reuters):
"Air force units from a host of countries began military actions in Libya on March 19," Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement. "Moscow regrets this military action."
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:26 AM on March 19, 2011


msalt, he speaks to those differences in the longer piece; I only quoted one paragraph. I would ask the same question of you, though: What kind of analyst can't see the similarities between this and Iraq?
posted by gerryblog at 11:27 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm mostly wondering what there is to be gained for the Russians geopolitically. They oppose intervention out of concern for sovereignty, that is their own troubles with secessionist movements, I get it.

But with strong support for the NFZ within the EU (minus Germany, who notably are paying lip service to it by sending surveillance flights to Afghanistan), with Canada on board and (albeit cautious) support from the U.S., what is Moscow going to do? Surely they don't want to be seen as a bloc together with Chavez and the like.

So I'm guessing this is just CYA language to maintain their line, otherwise they would've said "condemn" instead of "regret".
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:38 AM on March 19, 2011


I'm one of those dithering, unconfident fools who genuinely doesn't know which course is better - the implementation of the NFZ or abstaining from any sort of intervention altogether. I hope that our leaders have much more and much better information than we do as regular citizens, considering most of us rely on random twitter feeds, a few cable networks, and the reporting of a few brave journalists to help us understand the on-the-ground reality of the situation. But I do think it's very disingenuous for people like Greenwald and Sullivan to play the "well how is this different from Bahrain and Yemen?" card. Yes, there are similarities but there are also gigantic differences, as has been explained in this thread and has been shown by the actions of Gaddafi in the last month. First of all, we are allies of Yemen and Bahrain, which means we can exert at least some measure of leverage on their actions (the extent of that leverage and how much we genuinely wish to assert it are open for debate). Gaddafi is no such ally, nor is he an ally to, well, anyone in the world, save perhaps Chavez and Ortega. In addition, Saleh and the royalty of Bahrain have proven to be repressive but they have not committed the monstrous acts that Gaddafi has inflicted on his people. So anyone who says "well how is this different from ____" is going to get the stink-eye from me because it says to me they're either being disingenuous or they haven't done their homework. I'm much more persuaded by the arguments that we still have little understanding of who the rebels are and how widespread their support is, and concerns over what will come after the initial targeted attacks than I am by any cheap comparisons to other countries in the region or to Iraq.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:39 AM on March 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


Follow the Telegraph's Rob Crilly in Benghazi — anyone know more good journos on Twitter who are in Libya?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:42 AM on March 19, 2011


I'm much more persuaded by the arguments that we still have little understanding of who the rebels are and how widespread their support is, and concerns over what will come after the initial targeted attacks than I am by any cheap comparisons to other countries in the region or to Iraq.

Right, because if we don't have good planning after the initial military operation there could be chaos in the county, an insurgency against the new power, and perhaps even terrorist attacks from loyalists and resistance forces. We really need to focus on these concerns rather than comparisons to Iraq.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:48 AM on March 19, 2011


Right, because if we don't have good planning after the initial military operation there could be chaos in the county, an insurgency against the new power, and perhaps even terrorist attacks from loyalists and resistance forces. We really need to focus on these concerns rather than comparisons to Iraq.

So they're the same? We're sending in 130,000 soldiers? Because I thought that France had just bombed a couple of tanks, but maybe I missed the occupying force thing.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:49 AM on March 19, 2011


Russian ambassador to Libya dismissed.
posted by scalefree at 11:49 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


So they're the same?

Nope.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:52 AM on March 19, 2011


Well then I misunderstand your point.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:55 AM on March 19, 2011


There are ways in which they are the same and ways in which they are different, both are entirely valid to point out.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:58 AM on March 19, 2011


In addition, Saleh and the royalty of Bahrain have proven to be repressive but they have not committed the monstrous acts that Gaddafi has inflicted on his people.

They've been gunning people down in the streets. Syria is, as well, now.

I'm not sure that per capita, Libya is worse than Bahrain and Yemen.
posted by empath at 12:03 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm one of those dithering, unconfident fools who genuinely doesn't know which course is better - the implementation of the NFZ or abstaining from any sort of intervention altogether. I hope that our leaders have much more and much better information than we do as regular citizens, considering most of us rely on random twitter feeds, a few cable networks, and the reporting of a few brave journalists to help us understand the on-the-ground reality of the situation.

Exactly, me too. I'm as much a pacifist as the next progressive ("liberal" in American terms), but I can be convinced that violence to prevent greater violence is possibly justifiable. Whether this is applicable to the current Libyan situation, we simply do not know.

But I also believe that those who simply dismiss intervention outright tend to judge from a cynicism taught to them by history, most recently Bush and Blair. The threat posed by Saddam was oversold, we know that now. But the current intervention went through the UNSC, has strong international support, and can be justified under the Responsibility to Protect.

Can this "splendid little war" serve to prop up Sarkozy's electoral prospects, and might the victors carry away the spoils of a few cozy oil contracts? Quite possibly; I'm not naive. But that has no bearing on the justness of the mission in and of itself, I would think.

And as for those who cry "then why aren't we in Bahrain", if there are ten houses on fire in different parts of town, isn't it better to send one fire truck to one fire than no fire trucks to no fires?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:07 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


From NRC (Dutch, translation mine):
Update 8:07 p.m. Three U.S. Navy ships in the Mediterranean are preparing for operations in Libya, according to an anonymous U.S. official. (Reuters)

Update 8:02 p.m. The United States will conduct missile strikes on Libyan anti-aircraft sites later today, diplomats say. (AP)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:12 PM on March 19, 2011


Two things I'd like to learn more about, if anyone has info:

-The current state of Libyan air defences
-The Saudi position
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:14 PM on March 19, 2011


Russian ambassador to Libya dismissed.

Oh and thanks for this, scalefree. Anyone have background?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:14 PM on March 19, 2011


More on the alleged plans for U.S. missile attacks, from Navy Times
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:21 PM on March 19, 2011


EU High Representative Ashton: "Over the last hours I have been following the situation in Libya with the utmost concern."

Well good job Ms. High Representative! You're following things! Where would we be without you?!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:24 PM on March 19, 2011


I'm not sure that per capita, Libya is worse than Bahrain and Yemen.

The question is not just how bad the situation is, but whether we can constructively intervene. The situation, as I understand it, is that the rebel opposition is fairly large but ill equipped, and that there are massive, essentially empty spaces between towns and cities. Under those circumstances we can with a fair amount of confidence, and with less civilian casualties, destroy tanks and artillery that are being moved between towns, if only because they are there and moving East.

Bahrain has a very dense population (the 11th highest in the world according to wikipedia). It is also historically claimed by Iran, who clearly played some role in the Iraqi insurgency. Yemen, as you've pointed out before, has an insurgency which America has recently been bombing in the belief that they are Al-Qaeda affiliated. Both situations are too complicated or difficult for air attacks, and too dangerous for a ground invasion.
posted by Marlinspike at 12:43 PM on March 19, 2011


"CONFIRMED: #US launches first missiles onto #Libya targets"
posted by Catfry at 12:43 PM on March 19, 2011


Cameron reports that UK forces are in action above Libya.
posted by Catfry at 12:48 PM on March 19, 2011


US missiles are aimed at anti air systems as well as air bases. Aljazeera.
posted by Catfry at 12:54 PM on March 19, 2011


Obama's expected to speak soon. Operation is called Operation Odyssey Dawn. 11 guided missile attacks, 4 at targets around Tripoli. David Cameron says that UK forces are also in action above Libya.
posted by proj at 12:58 PM on March 19, 2011


The Twitter feed linked above says that missiles are aimed at targets IN Tripoli. There has been a lot of talk about human shields employed by Ghaddafi. I guess Libyan state tv might become unpleasant to watch.
posted by Catfry at 1:01 PM on March 19, 2011


The Twitter feed linked above says that missiles are aimed at targets IN Tripoli. There has been a lot of talk about human shields employed by Ghaddafi. I guess Libyan state tv might become unpleasant to watch.

9:48pm Libyan state television reports that civilian targets in Tripoli have been hit by "crusaders' warplanes".
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:02 PM on March 19, 2011


Operation Odyssey Dawn

The new album by Tony Orlando. (seriously who comes up with this shit)
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:05 PM on March 19, 2011


I'm against getting involved in any war of choice, period, for any reason, anywhere.

So you're a tacit Holocaust supporter? Great moral system you've got there, but. You and Lucky Lindburgh.

Well, no: Hitler declared war on you three days after the start of the war with Japan. You didn't declare war on anybody.

The US was actively supporting the UK prior to Pearl Harbour, and the UK would have collapsed financially without US aid. Moreover, defeating Japan didn't require intervening in Europe. Empath's stance would see the US clearing the Pacific years quicker and ignoring Germany.

Standing up to a bully puts yourself at risk,

The Libyan people themselves have been trying to stand up to the bully. Now the bully is going to kill them all with his mercenaries.

If people want facile comparisons to Iraq, this looks more like the early 90s rebellions there, which were encouraged by the West and then ignored as the Baathists mass-murdered the opposition forces we'd egged on in the first place. Leaving Iraq with limited domestic opposition to Saddam (they were all dead), and a missed chance for a domestically-lead overthrow.
posted by rodgerd at 1:05 PM on March 19, 2011


Regardless of the political side, the humanitarian side, the initial OPERATIONAL side has been very impressive, I have to say. The above twitter feed says 25 NATO ships are part of this operation. I thought the French effort was improbably fast, but now it turns out that a lot of military forces are ready and acting, right now. I'm surprised.
posted by Catfry at 1:07 PM on March 19, 2011


Yes, Catfry, it is happening very quickly. Right now it is roughly 11:00PM in Libya. It will be interesting to see what the situation looks like tomorrow morning.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:08 PM on March 19, 2011


"Witness: 'It's raining missiles on #Misurata with #Gaddafi troops fleeing in fear'"
posted by Catfry at 1:10 PM on March 19, 2011


I hope this won't turn into a major bombing of Tripoli. It only takes one mistake to irrevocably destroy Libyan public support. It's surely better only to defend rebel areas.
posted by Marlinspike at 1:10 PM on March 19, 2011



I'm against getting involved in any war of choice, period, for any reason, anywhere.

So you're a tacit Holocaust supporter? Great moral system you've got there, but. You and Lucky Lindburgh.


I have a great idea, we should resolve the complex debate over the morality of pacifism right now here in this thread with a start by calling people Nazi supporters.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:10 PM on March 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Bahrain has a very dense population (the 11th highest in the world according to wikipedia). It is also historically claimed by Iran, who clearly played some role in the Iraqi insurgency.

Bahrain also has Saudi troops on the ground. That complicates things right there as far as any intervention goes.
posted by scalefree at 1:10 PM on March 19, 2011


Can we just agree that the situation in Libya differs from Iraq (I and II), Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Iran, and who knows where else by the simple fact that the Arab League went to the UN and specifically asked for a NFZ on behalf of the Libyan people? That much seems simple enough to understand and to agree on.

There were earlier reports that Gaddafi was preparing for a live speech on State TV. Now that targets in Tripoli are getting shelled, I'm guessing that speech has been, uh, postponed.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:14 PM on March 19, 2011


Operation Odyssey Dawn

The new album by Tony Orlando. (seriously who comes up with this shit)
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates


Maybe it is dish soap related? Cleansing Libya of Quaddafi.
posted by futz at 1:14 PM on March 19, 2011


Operation Odyssey Dawn

The new album by Tony Orlando. (seriously who comes up with this shit?


I'm not sure I'm ready for his science fiction soft rock opera.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:14 PM on March 19, 2011



Can we just agree that the situation in Libya differs from Iraq (I and II), Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Iran, and who knows where else by the simple fact that the Arab League went to the UN and specifically asked for a NFZ on behalf of the Libyan people?


Was someone denying that happened?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:15 PM on March 19, 2011


9:48pm Libyan state television reports that civilian targets in Tripoli have been hit by "crusaders' warplanes".
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:02 PM on March 19 [+] [!]


You are fucking prescient.
posted by Catfry at 1:21 PM on March 19, 2011


Was someone denying that happened?

Not that I can tell. More questions? I'll gladly answer them!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:23 PM on March 19, 2011


You are fucking prescient.

Huh? I was copying/pasting from BBC liveblog. Sorry.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:25 PM on March 19, 2011


110 Tomahawk missiles. That's rather a lot of money burned.
posted by Catfry at 1:25 PM on March 19, 2011


Oh I thought it was a joke since the timestamp was in the future, relative to my local time.
posted by Catfry at 1:27 PM on March 19, 2011


Don't worry about the cost, cutting NPR is gonna fix the budget for the US.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:27 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


110$ million is cheaper then a lost plane.
on a personal not Col. Q I wish you a painful...choice for the remander of your life. F.U. from America.
posted by clavdivs at 1:29 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Offical F.U.s should be edited or withheld. I just wonder what ground element, if any, will be formed and which countries will take part.
posted by clavdivs at 1:31 PM on March 19, 2011


It is interesting that it sounds like the French operation has been independent of the US/UK operation. The spokesman for the Pentagon said he could not respond to questions about the French operations but he was able to talk about the UK operations.
posted by Catfry at 1:36 PM on March 19, 2011


Libyan state television claims that a French plane has been shot down near Tripoli. (Le Monde.)
posted by Dumsnill at 1:54 PM on March 19, 2011


Apparently, French MinDef denies this.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:57 PM on March 19, 2011


"The French government denies Libyan state TV's claim that a French fighter jet was shot down over Lybia." - NRC Handelsblad, translation mine

Can't find a French source for this yet.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:06 PM on March 19, 2011


And as for those who cry "then why aren't we in Bahrain", if there are ten houses on fire in different parts of town, isn't it better to send one fire truck to one fire than no fire trucks to no fires?

It depends how many more houses on the block the firefighters accidentally set on fire while trying to extinguish the original blaze.
posted by EarBucket at 2:06 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are there any reliable online streams of Libyan state TV? Their site has a few live streams but they seem pretty overwhelmed right now.
posted by av123 at 2:10 PM on March 19, 2011


Although in their liveblog, Le Monde is saying that they have not yet heard from the French Chief of Staff.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:12 PM on March 19, 2011


All French jets have returned to their bases - La Chaîne Info
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:14 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


AJ says four of its reporters detained in West of Libya.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:15 PM on March 19, 2011


Various French media now reporting all French planes back to base safely. Would seem to contradict the notion of a loss.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:16 PM on March 19, 2011


What are you people talking about? Why would Obama need congressional approval for the French army to move in under UN authority?

Besides the 100+ cruise missles we just used to blow up Libyans? Or are those the cruise missles of peace and thus do not count as an act of war?
posted by Justinian at 2:18 PM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Were they US cruise missiles? Honest question.
posted by futz at 2:21 PM on March 19, 2011


Never mind, it looks like US and UK missiles were fired.
posted by futz at 2:24 PM on March 19, 2011


Besides the 100+ cruise missles we just used to blow up Libyans? Or are those the cruise missles of peace and thus do not count as an act of war?

The Libyans actually requested that we launch 100 cruise missiles at them, so its cool.
posted by empath at 2:26 PM on March 19, 2011


Unfortunately, the constant attempts to drop smug political one-liners into this thread see 1:27, 2:26, etc.) is leading me to (remove from activity).
posted by proj at 2:27 PM on March 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


No journalists, situated in either Benghazi nor Tripoli have heard anything, no explosions, in fact it is very quiet they report. Supposedly this means that no targets has been aimed for actually inside or even close to those cities.
posted by Catfry at 2:29 PM on March 19, 2011


Unfortunately, the constant attempts to drop smug political one-liners into this thread see 1:27, 2:26, etc.) is leading me to (remove from activity).

Here are links to the Al Jazeera and Enduring America liveblogs, if you just want news. Metafilter is not a news website.
posted by empath at 2:31 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, Catfry, there were reports of explosions in and around Tripoli about an hour to an hour and a half ago. In my twitter feed, at least. Benghazi and surroundings are not being targeted.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:32 PM on March 19, 2011


Conflicting info then. The journo on english Aljazeera who was in Tripoli was very clear that they had quite good auditory, uh, 'visibility', and yet had heard nothing.
posted by Catfry at 2:35 PM on March 19, 2011


Here are links to the Al Jazeera and Enduring America liveblogs, if you just want news. Metafilter is not a news website.
posted by empath at 2:31 PM on March 19 [1 favorite +] [!]


I don't want just news, I just want something other than smug one-liners (of whom you are one of the primary purveyors). I don't appreciate the effort to fill me on what Metafilter is and isn't, either.
posted by proj at 2:36 PM on March 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


Well said, proj.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:37 PM on March 19, 2011


Were they US cruise missiles?

Yes, 110 of them. Al Jazeera English aired the pentagon's press briefing a little while ago, but I can't find a video of it yet. See empath's links above.
posted by finite at 2:38 PM on March 19, 2011


It seems to me that there are three general ways n which a dictator can go out.

1) Peacefully in his sleep, secure in his power and forgotten/irrelevant to the foreign policy of more powerful nations;
2) Living in luxurious exile;
3) In a heavily-fortified bunker with a shotgun in his mouth, surrounded by death he himself created.

Gadhaffi could have chosen 1, maybe. It is almost certain that he has rejected 2. In any case, he has put all of his chips on option #3. He will slaughter his own civilians in order to retain power they don't want him to have. This is already in practice. We live in a global community now and the world must take action.

I understand where empath is coming from but I simply cannot morally agree with him here. The world must intervene. It must. The rest is logistics.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:38 PM on March 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I loathe war, but I am glad this is happening (i.e. the French/U.S./British attacks). I was starting to have a bad Rwanda-related feeling about our non-involvement . Until humanity evolves further, I fear that military action is going to, in cases like this, the responsible, moral choice.
posted by angrycat at 2:42 PM on March 19, 2011


I think it is super ironic that the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is now involved in three wars simultaneously. That's gotta be some kind of record.
posted by Justinian at 2:46 PM on March 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Live stream from Benghazi [via]
posted by finite at 2:46 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tuli Kupferberg: Kill for Peace

Can we do Texas next?
posted by warbaby at 2:48 PM on March 19, 2011


I am pretty sure that Obama did not ask to be awarded the peace prize. Matter of fact, he seemed surprised by it.
posted by futz at 2:50 PM on March 19, 2011


I don't want just news, I just want something other than smug one-liners (of whom you are one of the primary purveyors). I don't appreciate the effort to fill me on what Metafilter is and isn't, either.

Feel free to flag and move on.
posted by empath at 2:50 PM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


AJ:

11:46pm

Muammar Gaddafi has made a short statement via telephone to Libyan state television, saying that these air strikes will cause another "crusade" to be launched, and that the Mediterranean and North Africa have become a battleground.

11:49pm

Gaddafi also said that the arms depots of Libya should be opened to citizens so that they can defend themselves.
posted by futz at 2:54 PM on March 19, 2011


US briefs journalists on Libya operation (that pentagon press conference I mentioned earlier... but without the Q&A that happened afterward.)
posted by finite at 2:56 PM on March 19, 2011


Yeah, mission naming is always interesting. (Got this link from a Mefite but sadly I can't remember who.)

U.S.: "Odyssey Dawn" - impressive-sounding, but ultimately reads like an Engrish word salad
UK: "Ellamy" - unremarkable and meaningless (that I know)
France: "Harmattan" - poetic and symbolic (it's the Saharan trade wind)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:58 PM on March 19, 2011


U.S.: "Odyssey Dawn" - impressive-sounding, but ultimately reads like an Engrish word salad

Which is exactly how it should sound. You shouldn't be able to infer anything about a mission from the name, that is terrible operational security. Calling stuff "Operation Iraqi Freedom" and the like is pure politics.
posted by Justinian at 3:06 PM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


NYT via Guardian:
That news [of French air strikes] came even before the Paris summit meeting adjourned, with President Nicolas Sarkozy announcing that French warplanes had begun reconnaissance missions around Benghazi, and the French military saying that a Rafale jet fighter had destroyed a government tank near there.

Even though the leaders at the Paris summit meeting were united in supporting military action, there were signs of disagreement over how it would proceed.

Two senior Western diplomats said the Paris meeting, which was organized by Mr. Sarkozy, may actually have delayed allied operations to stop Colonel Qaddafi's troops as they were approaching Benghazi. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on the matter.

The initial French air sorties, which were not coordinated with other countries, angered some of the countries gathered at the summit meeting, according to a senior NATO-country diplomat. Information about the movement of Qaddafi troops toward Benghazi had been clear on Friday, but France blocked any Nato agreement on airstrikes until the Paris meeting, the diplomat said, suggesting that overflights could have begun Friday night before Mr. Qaddafi's troops reached the city.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:10 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Operation Viagraficational sump pump.
Ha, your AO is mine mary.
They asked for stingers and we bring Tomahawks.
posted by clavdivs at 3:10 PM on March 19, 2011


Odyssey Dawn is obviously a reference to the Mediterranean.
posted by Tobu at 3:10 PM on March 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Tobu, duh - I didn't catch that but now it's obvious.

Justinian, I have no opinion on the matter other than that I find the apparent effort to make U.S. military operations' names sound "impressive" somewhat amusing.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:13 PM on March 19, 2011


well, i hope it does not mean the beginning of a 'long series of wanderings or adventures', though notable experiences and hardship is a given.
posted by clavdivs at 3:16 PM on March 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


What's the take on Gadaffi's speech? I'm seeing some doubt from Arabic speakers that it was actually him.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:17 PM on March 19, 2011


The initial French air sorties, which were not coordinated with other countries, angered some of the countries gathered at the summit meeting, according to a senior NATO-country diplomat. Information about the movement of Qaddafi troops toward Benghazi had been clear on Friday, but France blocked any Nato agreement on airstrikes until the Paris meeting, the diplomat said, suggesting that overflights could have begun Friday night before Mr. Qaddafi's troops reached the city.

Sour grapes? I could easily imagine US/UK brass annoyed at the French stealing the limelight right before their big operation started.
posted by Catfry at 3:17 PM on March 19, 2011


Not a bad write up of Col. Gs toys.
posted by clavdivs at 3:19 PM on March 19, 2011


well, i hope it does not mean the beginning of a 'long series of wanderings or adventures', though notable experiences and hardship is a given.

I was thinking Greek porn star.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:20 PM on March 19, 2011


Norwegian papers are reporting that a Norwegian camera man for Al Jazeera and three of his colleagues have been arrested by Libyan authorities.
posted by Dumsnill at 3:21 PM on March 19, 2011


Sorry, that was something that happened several days ago, it's only now being confirmed that one of them were Norwegian.
posted by Dumsnill at 3:23 PM on March 19, 2011


I think it is super ironic that the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is now involved in three wars simultaneously. That's gotta be some kind of record.

Oh, FFS. We get it.
posted by joe lisboa at 3:32 PM on March 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


"On Friday, the U.S. moved a Rivet Joint signals intelligence plane to Souda Air Base on a Greek Island, bearing the provocative call sign of “SNOOP 55.”
posted by clavdivs at 3:34 PM on March 19, 2011


Aside: Dutch people just went nuts in the past hour over the announcement on AJE that Dutch fighters were seen landing on Sicily, while the NL govt maintained all day that they would wait for a formal request by NATO. (The MinDef is already in hot water over his handling over the captured marines.)

Turns out AJE made the old "Dutch =/= Danish" gaffe. Yawn.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:37 PM on March 19, 2011


what is ironic is that Libya could attack the u.s. and I believe it would not be classified as a terrorist act. Like if he sent his bombers to attack u.s. ships.
posted by clavdivs at 3:38 PM on March 19, 2011


Can sending bombers to attack u.s. ships be classified as a terrorist act no matter who does it? That seems like the very definition of a military act, not a terroristic one.
posted by Justinian at 3:41 PM on March 19, 2011


the definition of terrorism is so fungible that it is mostly a cultural signal rather than being specific to actions.
posted by warbaby at 3:43 PM on March 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Can sending bombers to attack u.s. ships be classified as a terrorist act no matter who does it? That seems like the very definition of a military act, not a terroristic one.

Was blowing up the USS Cole a terrorist act?
posted by empath at 3:51 PM on March 19, 2011


Jesus Christ.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:52 PM on March 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Unconfirmed but interesting: according to ShababLibya, Gadaffi forces in Zintan have defected and joined the rebels.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:52 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


U.S. national security official calls Libya air defence systems "severely disabled" (Reuters)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:54 PM on March 19, 2011


Meanwhile, news from Syria is very disconcerting but it's hard to make sense of it all.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:01 PM on March 19, 2011


Was blowing up the USS Cole a terrorist act?

That's a difficult one. The target was military but the guys who carried it out were in a civilian vessel wearing civilian clothes. So that's a definitional question. But bombers are by their nature military units, so an attack by a bomber against a warship would be military.

Although it now occurs to me that we are probably talking about two different meanings of the word "bomber". I thought we were talking about big flying airplanes dropping bombs, but I suspect the original comment meant bomber as in one-who-detonates-a-bomb.
posted by Justinian at 4:03 PM on March 19, 2011


"gentlemen, we can have no confusion in the war thread!"
The french hit that recon unit to tell the libyan army, "we know were you are". This tells the army to halt and being far from base, they could defect. This is the question, will the rebels accept deserters from the Libyan army. This is were The Mad Col. G will put remaining SAMs under tents and other weapons intigrated into the populations living areas.
Perhaps he will just switch to a defensive posture and have his loyalists just return to life as "usual" much as usual. When the forces come at him, those loyal would fight harder. IOW, the least he does militarily, the better for his survival, for now.
even now the AJE reporter in Tripoli reports relative calm in her area.
posted by clavdivs at 4:05 PM on March 19, 2011


Was blowing up the USS Cole a terrorist act?

you bet and look at what it has cost us all.
posted by clavdivs at 4:06 PM on March 19, 2011


People ... clavdivs wrote, "Libya could attack the u.s. and I believe it would not be classified as a terrorist act."

Why are we having this phantom argument?
posted by nangar at 4:07 PM on March 19, 2011


Damn, goodnewsfortheinsane, that does not look good. And as we know, Syria does not respond well to this sort of thing.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:08 PM on March 19, 2011


under normal times, the ground operations would have been supported by the Egytian army but...
posted by clavdivs at 4:09 PM on March 19, 2011


"On Friday, the U.S. moved a Rivet Joint signals intelligence plane to Souda Air Base on a Greek Island, bearing the provocative call sign of “SNOOP 55.”

That'd be used for sniffing the RADAR displays attached to Libya's SAM batteries, basically letting the US see what they're seeing. I wonder whether they're going to bother bringing in any of the Project Suter platforms, probably a Senior Scout (modified Compass Call EC-130) or if they'll just call in airstrikes & take em out.
posted by scalefree at 4:09 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Zeinobia has a fairly long blog post about Syria (from yesterday).
posted by nangar at 4:10 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Libyan government demands urgent meeting of UN Security Council - AFP

Aside from the farcical nature of this news, how does this work exactly? Libya is not a member of the Council, and its ambassadors to the UN have defected. Or has the team already been replaced with loyalists?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:14 PM on March 19, 2011


AJ:

AFP reports that the United Arab Emirates will be contributing 24 fighter jets (Mirage 2000-9s and F-16s) and Qatar will contribute between four and six Mirage 2000-5s, citing a French official.
posted by futz at 4:15 PM on March 19, 2011


What happens if and/or when Gaddafi is overthrown? Is there an endgame here? If so, what is it? What happens if Gaddafi's successor is worse than the original? I ask in part b/c so far nation-rebuilding in the greater mideast has not exactly gone that well. And where exactly does the our ever-increasing commitments, in the age of military interventionism and world-policing, stop: Bahrain? Yemen? For better or worse, it seems especially arbitrary to have Gaddafi as an ally one day and an enemy the next, and while I'll be glad to see him go I also remember what's happened in Iraq. And the still largely uncertain fate of Egypt. In general I'm in favor of letting countries sort out their own problems, but I'm especially weary of the U.S. becoming potentially embroiled in still more unpredictable mideast wars. Just my two cents.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 4:17 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mohammed "Mo" Al Nabbous, founder of Benghazi webcast "Libya Alhurra TV," killed in firefight
posted by homunculus at 4:19 PM on March 19, 2011


posited off the cuff questions is not argumentive in any supernatural way.

well, you need your invisible planes to confirm real time the data from sats and other means pertaining to the collative aspects of your target needs. His SAMS and C and C is prime. The BDA should be interesting.
posted by clavdivs at 4:19 PM on March 19, 2011


I can't believe you made me click on boing boing.
posted by futz at 4:21 PM on March 19, 2011


What happens if and/or when Gaddafi is overthrown?

I think probably the more pertinent question is what happens if he's not. A NFZ isn't going to do the job. The rebels have to do it. And even with a NFZ, they don't have the man power or resources, barring mass defections.

Which leaves us with a permanent NFZ, or an invasion, or an extensive and destructive bombing campaign that will devastate the county.
posted by empath at 4:22 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


empath, you do realize that there is more to a NFZ than just not flying, right?
posted by futz at 4:24 PM on March 19, 2011


Yes, I've said that multiple times. I said that in previous threads where people were calling for one. Which is why I mentioned the extensive and devastating bombing campaign.
posted by empath at 4:27 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


good question empath. when the push comes, who will led it and who will assist. IMO, to fluid to even make a quess beyond speculation. For instance, if I ask alot of questions and point here and link this, it delays, gives me time to entrench a real defensive position. I sit back now and, what... nothing.
:)
posted by clavdivs at 4:28 PM on March 19, 2011


an extensive and destructive bombing campaign that will devastate the county.

Well it looks as if this is now the plan, and the bombing campaign has begun. Meanwhile our years and years of drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan, with their heavy civilian casualties, seem to me completely contrary to our "winning hearts and minds" there. In general America is good at starting wars it can't finish, and meanwhile at home our own economic troubles and turmoil show little sign of letting up. It all feels a little like the desperate dick-waving of an imperial military that cannot possibly last forever: the larger question here is how America, as a finite country, keeps from sinking Roman-Empire-style with all its overseas commitments.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 4:29 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


empath, you do realize that there is more to a NFZ than just not flying, right?

Not really. It's just that in this case they aren't just doing a NFZ.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:30 PM on March 19, 2011


empath, you do realize that there is more to a NFZ than just not flying, right?

That depends on whether or not Libya's tanks can fly.
posted by scalefree at 4:31 PM on March 19, 2011


IOW, if Col. G consolidates his forces, any offensive action taken by the our forces will look more and more like naked aggression, bombing tanks and ammo dumps...children. and that will be today.
posted by clavdivs at 4:32 PM on March 19, 2011


Care to extrapolate? I thought this is exactly what a NFZ is. Maybe I am wrong.
posted by futz at 4:33 PM on March 19, 2011


A no-fly zone (or no-flight zone) is a territory over which aircraft are not permitted to fly. Such zones are usually set up in a military context, somewhat like a demilitarized zone in the sky, and usually prohibit military aircraft of a belligerent nation from operating in the region.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:33 PM on March 19, 2011


Care to extrapolate? I thought this is exactly what a NFZ is. Maybe I am wrong.

A NFZ is a No-Fly-Zone. But the UN authorized more than a NFZ, and in any case, before you implement a NFZ, you need to destroy their anti-air capabilities, so it will always be about more than just stopping flights.
posted by empath at 4:35 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


oh no folks we got a ticket ta bomb bomb bomb about anything.
posted by clavdivs at 4:39 PM on March 19, 2011


What most Americans think a no-fly zone is going to be like: Nonstop NFZ Party
posted by circular at 4:41 PM on March 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hm. According to Le Monde, Libyan authorities have stated that they will no longer cooperate with European authorities to prevent illegal immigration. What a strange thing to say at this point.
posted by Dumsnill at 4:43 PM on March 19, 2011


‘All Necessary Measures’ to Protect Civilians'
posted by clavdivs at 4:46 PM on March 19, 2011


What most Americans think a no-fly zone is going to be like: Nonstop NFZ Party

I thought most Americans were against a NFZ. I saw a poll earlier this morning but I can't find it now.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:50 PM on March 19, 2011


According to Le Monde, Libyan authorities have stated that they will no longer cooperate with European authorities to prevent illegal immigration. What a strange thing to say at this point.

Refugees, and lots of them.
posted by empath at 4:53 PM on March 19, 2011


Yes, I know, but at this point Libyan state cooperation is surely moot?
posted by Dumsnill at 4:55 PM on March 19, 2011


What happens if and/or when Gaddafi is overthrown? Is there an endgame here?

What developed in Libya over the past month is a popular uprising that stalled because the government against which it rebels fought back brutally, going so far as to attack protesters with fighter jets.

Now, I am not a military strategist, but I imagine that the allied intervention will allow the rebellion to regroup and rekindle their uprising, not to mention boost their morale by having them know they do not stand alone and have the support of superior Western firepower.

Moreover, I would expect Gaddafi forces will start defecting in greater numbers, that is if the Great Leader doesn't kill them first; if the report from Zintan is correct then it is a hopeful indicator.

The question then relates to Gaddafi's ultimate fate. I see four possibilities:

a) With the wolves at the door, he cuts his losses and flees, to a cosy retirement in Chavez' beach house or whichever place will take him.

b) The rebels march on his palace and kill or capture him.

c) Coalition forces do it for them.

d) He stays on, somehow.

Now, option a) would seem unlikely to anyone who has a passing knowledge of his stubbornness and delusions of grandeur. But who knows, he has never been tested to this extent. b) would require a serious level of organisation and determination on the part of the rebels. c) would require either a strike aimed directly at him, which I'm not sure falls within the purview of the resolution, or ground operations, which seems to be beyond the scope of the mission as stated by the contributing nations (however note that the resolution bans occupation, not ground operations explicitly).
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:57 PM on March 19, 2011


In general America is good at starting wars it can't finish

Good thing we didn't actually start this war, then.

Is there some sort of physically incapacity afflicting those in this thread who keep insisting that the United States is the 'guilty party' if not sole mover behind a conflict that began weeks ago as a purely internal affair, expanded to involve EU and Arab League condemnation of Gaddafi and then the UN, and which Obama did his desperate best to ignore until he no longer could, and then decided to participate in only in a secondary role behind France, Britain and other Mediterranean players, and then only after UN Security Council approval? Some sort of weird neurological problem? Post-Bush traumatic disorder or something?

/rant

Does anyone know what the rebels are up to, at present? I know Gaddafi's forces were pushing into their territory at several points, but are the rebels pushing back, or advancing in other areas, or just sitting tight while the foreign air forces hit the loyalists? The latter would probably be a wise move, at this point. The more people wandering around out away from the cities, the more likely friendly fire could become a problem.
posted by AdamCSnider at 5:03 PM on March 19, 2011 [13 favorites]


e) Gaddafi is killed or is pushed aside, but the army doesn't join the rebels, and instead there is a civil war between groups trying to succeed him.

There are going to be a lot of groups in Libya who won't expect to be treated well by the rebel groups, and may fight to the end, Qaddafi or not.
posted by empath at 5:04 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The question then relates to Gaddafi's ultimate fate. I see four possibilities

Plans of this sort tend to go awry as situations unfold, but either way I did not ask about Gaddafi's "ultimate fate," I asked about the power vacuum that surely follows his departure. Who/what fills it, and does anyone have a plan?
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 5:04 PM on March 19, 2011


Libyan authorities have stated that they will no longer cooperate with European authorities to prevent illegal immigration. What a strange thing to say at this point

Not so strange. It's Gaddafi's not-so-secret weapon. Lybia prevented the sub-saharan Africans on its soil from crossing the Mediterranean. The "threat" of tens of thousands of illegal African immigrants washing ashore in Italy is supposed to make European leaders think twice. For instance, recent polls have shown that the French Front National (extreme-right, anti-immigrant) could win more votes than Sarkozy in the 2012 presidential race. The FN leader (who is against the UN operation) was actually in Southern Italy a few days ago, doing a little fear-mongering about this.
posted by elgilito at 5:05 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there some sort of physically incapacity afflicting those in this thread who keep insisting that the United States is the 'guilty party' if not sole mover behind a conflict that began weeks ago as a purely internal affair,

Let's be clear about one thing: the only reason France and the UK are on board is b/c America agreed to it. I understand that this is a UN resolution, but I am evaluating this as an American in terms of our already overextended military apparatus: i.e. if thing escalate in Libya or go off kilter, the U.S. stands to be forced into another situation for which there is no clear exit strategy. Iraq and Afghanistan were also sold as multi-national campaigns, but a lot of that was and is b/c the U.S. wants to prove it has international support for its actions. But frankly if the shit hits the fan in Libya the U.S. is the one with the most to lose IMO.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 5:09 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Post-Bush traumatic disorder or something?

Ask Obama since the continuity between his policies and the failed policies of his predecessor is almost complete now.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 5:12 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's Gaddafi's not-so-secret weapon.

Holy Tony Orlando and Dawn. Dumsnill's point is that the timing is strange, not the threat. Gaddafi has been playing up fears of oil shortages and a refugee crisis for weeks. Basically ever since Saif went on air for the first time. And clearly, if the European players have decided to start bombing after weeks of "Oh you guys, oh you guys, seriously, Imma get let these crazy Africans loose!" then one more threat isn't going to make a difference.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:12 PM on March 19, 2011


Thank you, (A) etc.. God.
posted by Dumsnill at 5:14 PM on March 19, 2011


Plans of this sort tend to go awry as situations unfold, but either way I did not ask about Gaddafi's "ultimate fate," I asked about the power vacuum that surely follows his departure. Who/what fills it, and does anyone have a plan?

I don't know. If anyone does, I'd like to hear it.

But it should be noted that officially at least, this is not about "regime change" as those drawing parallels with the Iraq War seem to insist: it is about the responsibility to protect, that is to stop Gaddafi from harming the Libyan people.

As for what happens if his successor is somehow "worse": I doubt that will happen, as all of this effort is so explicitly concentrated on removing the harm to Libyan civilians. So I doubt the rebels and the coalition will stand idly by if an equally brutal tyrant attempts to take the reins.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:15 PM on March 19, 2011


ShababLibya: "Regarding Gaddafi's phone call earlier tonight. everyone I spoke to for an opinion says they are %99.9 sure it is not him"
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:16 PM on March 19, 2011


Heh, did the Libya govt just say that the resolution is invalidated because "France violated the no-fly zone"?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:18 PM on March 19, 2011


it is about the responsibility to protect, that is to stop Gaddafi from harming the Libyan people.

We don't have a responsibility to protect the Libyan people! When did that happen?
posted by Justinian at 5:18 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


the United States is the 'guilty party' if not sole mover behind a conflict that began weeks ago as a purely internal affair

Clearly they aren't, but they certainly approved of and are participating in this military operation and had the power to stop it if they desired to. It seems perfectly relavent to discuss their involvement in this as a major player with serious potential to escalate involvement as well.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:20 PM on March 19, 2011


But it should be noted that officially at least, this is not about "regime change" as those drawing parallels with the Iraq War seem to insist:

Do you seriously think that? Let's say Gaddafi gives up on taking back Benghazi, and pulls his tanks back to Tripoli-- what then? Everything is swell, no more bombings, we partition the country and go home?
posted by empath at 5:21 PM on March 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


officially at least, this is not about "regime change"

Who can believe this though? Gaddafi like (to some extent) Mubarak and (to full extent) Saddam Hussein is now officially in the cross-hairs of the Western powers, who are actively working for his demise:

Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, has referred to a "broad understanding" that the Colonel "should leave". Naturally, Gaddafi surmised that his options amounted to "fight or flight", and chose the former.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 5:21 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gaddafi like (to some extent) Mubarak and (to full extent) Saddam Hussein is now officially in the cross-hairs of the Western powers,

If you think Mubarak was in the cross-hairs of the Western Powers, you're on drugs.
posted by rodgerd at 5:26 PM on March 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


We don't have a responsibility to protect the Libyan people! When did that happen?

In 2005.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:26 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


We in the USA are punched out. The fight is out of us espescially wrt any place with sand. We're bombing just out of habbit at this point.
posted by humanfont at 5:26 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


And as for those who cry "then why aren't we in Bahrain", if there are ten houses on fire in different parts of town, isn't it better to send one fire truck to one fire than no fire trucks to no fires?
Ridiculous. There is no way in hell that the Saudis, armed with American weapons, would march into a neighbouring country - which happens to be one of the most important American military bases in the world - in order to crush a democratic uprising there, if the USA hadn't given them the green light to do so.

America is not simply failing to protect the people of Bahrain, it is actively complicit in their murder.
posted by moorooka at 5:27 PM on March 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, we are gonna have to intervene in Bahrain now in that case, it's our responsibility.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:29 PM on March 19, 2011


There is no way in hell that the Saudis, armed with American weapons, would march into a neighbouring country - which happens to be one of the most important American military bases in the world - in order to crush a democratic uprising there, if the USA hadn't given them the green light to do so.

I think you've got the tail and the dog mixed up there.
posted by empath at 5:40 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you think Mubarak was in the cross-hairs of the Western Powers, you're on drugs

That's a fair point about me being on drugs, but also why I said "to some extent"...

while there's no question Gaddafi is disliked by the West while Mubarak was very much liked by the Western powers, there's no telling what might have happened in Egypt had a) Mubarak not chosen to hand the reigns of power over peaceably to Suleiman; b) the Egyptian army undergone a violent Tiananmen Square-style purge of the Cairo protesters (rather than standing back and offering tacit support); and c) civil-war-potential fighting broken out between militants from the popular uprising and the Egyptian government. Purely speculative of course, but at that point even Mubarak's options might have been something like "fight or flight." Gaddafi is far more psychologically warped than the taciturn Mubarak, but Gaddafi is also trying to avoid having to step down like Mubarak: for all we know he thinks Mubarak ceded his power too quickly, and should have told the Cairo protestors to go to hell.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 5:43 PM on March 19, 2011


empath: "But it should be noted that officially at least, this is not about "regime change" as those drawing parallels with the Iraq War seem to insist:

Do you seriously think that? Let's say Gaddafi gives up on taking back Benghazi, and pulls his tanks back to Tripoli-- what then? Everything is swell, no more bombings, we partition the country and go home?
"

This is certainly a possibility. The difference I want to emphasize is, in simplified form:

Iraq, 2003 — U.S.: "The stated policy of the United States is regime change."

Libya, 2011 — U.S.: "The use of force is not our first choice. But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy."

There may well be a power vacuum, and there may well be protracted civil war. But this alone does not not invalidate an intervention with broad international support in the Libyan conflict.

moorooka: "There is no way in hell that the Saudis, armed with American weapons, would march into a neighbouring country - which happens to be one of the most important American military bases in the world - in order to crush a democratic uprising there, if the USA hadn't given them the green light to do so."

I agree with you. My point is, and I'm sorry to repeat myself, that this notion alone does not invalidate intervention in the Libyan conflict.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:45 PM on March 19, 2011


Bachmann: too little intelligence.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:47 PM on March 19, 2011


African Union calls for an immediate halt to hostilities (AFP)

Heavy anti-aircraft fire heard in Tripoli (AJE)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:49 PM on March 19, 2011


Since our military is already in Bahrain would it really be an invasion?
posted by humanfont at 5:53 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bachmann: too little intelligence.

That's not the campaign slogan I would have picked, but the honesty is refreshing.
posted by empath at 5:56 PM on March 19, 2011 [16 favorites]


Wow. I'm really not getting where the anti-interventionist voices in this thread are coming from. Iraq was a bad choice for intervention, less obviously Afghanistan. Bosnia? Good intervention. Rwanda? Should have intervened.
posted by angrycat at 6:00 PM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


From what I've gathered from NPR, we have a very close and friendly relationship with Bahrain. They let us park our military there, and they're very friendly, which is important to us strategically. Pretty much the opposite of our relationship (everyone's relationship, really) with Libya.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:02 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


but our responsibility....
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:04 PM on March 19, 2011


Via the Guardian, the Sunday tabloid headline award goes to the "News" Of The "World".
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:08 PM on March 19, 2011


British warplanes are in action over Libya, Prime Minister David Cameron says - BBC
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:10 PM on March 19, 2011


Those of you who can't get BBC World News, there's a live stream here.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:12 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. I'm really not getting where the anti-interventionist voices in this thread are coming from.

Then you have not been reading. Several of us have explained it in detail.

Some reasons for opposition that have been mentioned in this thread:

1) The US is already in two wars, is nearly bankrupt and the military is stretched thin.

2) There is no clear end game, and no apparent 'exit strategy'.

3) It's unclear who the rebels are and what their goals are and how much they support democracy (indeed, their flag is from the former monarchy).

4) The imposition of a NFZ and it's concurrent bombing campaign will lead to the loss of innocent lives, and will devastate the infrastructure of the country for years to come.

5) There are other dictators engaging in violence against their own citizens right now, some of whom get large amounts of military and other financial support from the United States.

6) Gaddaffi posed no conceivable threat to the United States. Indeed, it will be a very long time before another dictator voluntarily gives up his WMD to curry favor with the west.

7) There's no guarantee that a NFZ will do anything but prolong a civil war which will continue to unfold under the watchful eye of the UN.

8) The US has a poor record of nation-building in the middle east, to say the least.

9) The intervention is unpopular in the US and hasn't been approved by congress.

10) Despite being requested by the Arab League, the Arab League is only providing token support.

11) War is unpredictable and messy and never as easy is it might seem at first.
posted by empath at 6:15 PM on March 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


furiousxgeorge, are you being sarcastic? If not then I don't know what to make of your comments. Member States of the UN do have a responsibility to protect. Political machinations often prevent that responsibility from being adhered to. I fail to see how that would invalidate an attempt to exercise that responsibility.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:15 PM on March 19, 2011


I think what I define as 'responsibility to act' you define as 'strong urging to act if political climate is appropriate.'

We are just on different wavelengths here.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:26 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK. Let's summarize:

All good American liberals oppose all foreign military intervention under any circumstances.

Obama has agreed to participate in a UN intervention supporting the rebels in Libya.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Therefore all American liberals should support Qaddhafi's government and oppose the rebels, because the rebels are now aligned with neo-cons, anti-liberals, pro-interventionists, conservatives and the Tea Party.

Anyone who has any sympathy for the rebels in Libya, or who believes that opposition to Qaddhafi in Libya was ever anything but an American neo-con plot to justify US intervention, is traitor to American Liberal cause and will be driven off the thread.

And, while we're at it, MetaFilter is not a news site. Quit posting F'ing links here.
posted by nangar at 6:29 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK. Let's summarize:

We really don't need to see a summarization of your hallucinations.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:31 PM on March 19, 2011


I was being little bit sarcastic.
posted by nangar at 6:34 PM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


empath and furiousxgeorge, I am unclear on your position about this intervention. Could you please repost your feelings about it so that everyone trying to discuss it can be clear on it? You've been very vague about your feelings. I wish you guys would just make your positions clear so everyone could know just how right you are!
posted by proj at 6:35 PM on March 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


OK. Let's summarize:

That was fun. Now do you want to actually argue with what I actually said?
posted by empath at 6:37 PM on March 19, 2011


empath and furiousxgeorge, I am unclear on your position about this intervention. Could you please repost your feelings about it so that everyone trying to discuss it

Are only the people that agree with you allowed to discuss it? Please feel free to flag my comments if you feel they're inappropriate, but I'll note what's at the bottom of the page:

Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the
issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.


Thanks for your input.
posted by empath at 6:38 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, Christ. If that doesn't make heads explode with bloodthirsty cognitive dissonance, I don't know what will. I'm done. And I'll make sure not come back to the thread after I've said I'm done, so you can skip the MetaTalk about that.
posted by proj at 6:45 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I oppose the intervention on general moral principles that require a higher standard for a justification for war and over fears that there is potential for the situation to escalate and become worse. However, i do feel the chance of a successful intervention is more likely.

My criticism of humanitarian justifications for wars of this sort is that they generally don't take in to account the far greater efficiency of humanitarian aid in other forms. This is handwaved away with political considerations, which I consider insufficient in a moral argument. Political considerations are for politicians. If you want to alter the political landscape you don't do it by going along with the status quo.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:46 PM on March 19, 2011


Gentlemen...
posted by warbaby at 6:49 PM on March 19, 2011


Some reasons for opposition that have been mentioned in this thread:

1) The US is already in two wars, is nearly bankrupt and the military is stretched thin.

We've drawn down in Iraq to about 50,000 soldiers (I've heard some lower estimates), from approximately twice as many before the withdrawal began. It'd be interesting to compare the saved costs of that change in personnel to the cost of the missiles and other support we've been providing. And I don't see how our naval resources are stretched all that thin at present - the army isn't involved, and it's that branch which is most stretched by Iraq and Afghanistan.

2) There is no clear end game, and no apparent 'exit strategy'.

Isn't the endgame essentially the same as it was in Serbia? Remove the dictator, allow the EU and other intergovernmental bodies to decided how to handle things from there? Again, I'm not hearing any voices whatsoever raised in favor of invasion, much less from the administration itself. Exit strategy is let the rebels and the UN sort things out.

3) It's unclear who the rebels are and what their goals are and how much they support democracy (indeed, their flag is from the former monarchy).

Then let them restore the monarchy. I think it's a stupid idea myself, but it's their country and their choice - we're just trying to stop them being mowed down by the guy they've decided shouldn't be in charge.

4) The imposition of a NFZ and it's concurrent bombing campaign will lead to the loss of innocent lives, and will devastate the infrastructure of the country for years to come.

More than if Gaddafi goes house to house on these people? Which he has declared his intention to do. This seems very similar in that way to the pre-invasion no-fly zone over Kurdish territory - the goal was simply to prevent slaughter. Also, as people have mentioned earlier, we're mostly focused on hitting all those tasty tanks out there on the open terrain between the big cities. How much infrastructure is there? Taking out bridges etc. would probably just slow our putative rebel allies down.

5) There are other dictators engaging in violence against their own citizens right now, some of whom get large amounts of military and other financial support from the United States.

So let's stop this dictator, since everyone in Europe and the Arab League seems to be behind it, and then put pressure on the Obama administration to take action in relation to other situations as well. It's clear from the Egyptian case that while our government would much rather allow the tyrants to do as they please, they can be frightened/pressured by domestic and international pressure to change. And making clear the double standard here can only help the case for that.

6) Gaddaffi posed no conceivable threat to the United States. Indeed, it will be a very long time before another dictator voluntarily gives up his WMD to curry favor with the west.

But this wasn't started over his attacking or threatening to attack the US, anymore than (again) the attack on Milosevic was started because he was threatening to start ethnically cleansing Montana. US interests are not directly served here - although I'd not underestimate the grim pleasure some long-time US State Department folks are probably taking in dealing with Gaddafi once and for all.

7) There's no guarantee that a NFZ will do anything but prolong a civil war which will continue to unfold under the watchful eye of the UN.

As opposed to ending it quickly in a massive bloodbath, or (if the rebels proved tougher than they seemed earlier on) letting the civil war continue under the less-than-watchful eye of the UN? There wasn't really an option of 'bloody conflict ends peaceably, everything goes back to normal.' If you're saying that Gaddafi butchering his opponents was an acceptable cost to return to the status quo, fine, that's an argument to be made, but I disagree.

8) The US has a poor record of nation-building in the middle east, to say the least.

True. Good thing we're not in charge, then. Unless you think the rebels, when they win, are going to invite us to write their constitution. I much doubt Sarkozy and whatever other European politicians are looking to make hay out of this will really want to share the limelight with us, either. Even if Obama were interested in getting more involved, which he has shown repeatedly he isn't.

9) The intervention is unpopular in the US and hasn't been approved by congress.

This is the sole really good argument I see here. Obama should face congress on this issue, and get their approval or (failing) back off. Although I'd be interested in the constitutionality of allowing the EU and rebel forces access to our intelligence resources on Gaddafi's forces.

10) Despite being requested by the Arab League, the Arab League is only providing token support.

Who among the Arab League nations is able to project power to Libya, except for immediate neighbors? And the rebels have themselves said that they don't want foreign military ground forces, which narrows the field to the rather unimpressive Arab air forces - Egypt might get involved, but the Sauds and others are also, as noted already, a bit busy suppressing domestic unrest at home.

All in all, I can see where you're coming from but I think that a reasonable case can be made that these objections are not as strong as they seem at first. On the other hand, I think a case can be made that the rebels don't really need us hitting Gaddafi as long as the EU forces are committed, so if Congress decides this isn't acceptable, I'd agree that Obama should step off. And I suspect that he'd be rather relieved to be told that, too.
posted by AdamCSnider at 6:52 PM on March 19, 2011 [16 favorites]


I just can't get over the fact that the government of the United States' new motto appears to be "not one cent towards food for starving babies, trillions for bombing the shit out of everyone on the planet". Whatever else you think about the intervention, every cruise missile we fire is over a million dollars taken right out of the mouths of our poor, the teachers in our schools, health care from our elderly, and research from our scientists.

These are billions of dollars to build nations everywhere on the planet except our own country. It'd be nice to try to build a nation here once in a while.
posted by Justinian at 6:52 PM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


4) The imposition of a NFZ and it's concurrent bombing campaign will lead to the loss of innocent lives, and will devastate the infrastructure of the country for years to come.

Not imposing a NFZ etc. will lead to the same...

Basically, you are condemning a whole section of Libyan society to death because war can be a bit messy and your handwringing might give you carpal tunnel.
posted by schyler523 at 6:52 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


@FMCNL USAF Electronic Warfare: Lockheed EC-130H Compass Call tail nr 73-1587 as SHEEN 53 overhead Mediterranean.

So maybe they are gonna play with the Project Suter toys after all. 'Course it could be just a Compass Call without the Senior Scout package.
posted by scalefree at 6:52 PM on March 19, 2011


That first line should be italicized as well, damn it.
posted by AdamCSnider at 6:54 PM on March 19, 2011


What happens if Gaddafi's successor is worse than the original?

I'm sure it's not impossible, but it would be astounding.
posted by snofoam at 6:58 PM on March 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Some reasons for opposition that have been mentioned in this thread:

Oh, I'll bite.

1) The US is already in two wars, is nearly bankrupt and the military is stretched thin.

This is a reason why it, the major global military power by far, is not assuming a lead role in this effort.

2) There is no clear end game, and no apparent 'exit strategy'.

The absence of a certain outcome does not invalidate this intervention. Furthermore, there is no exit strategy because there is nothing to exit: the effort is led by France and the UK, with aid from the U.S., Canada and Italy. This is not the Iraq War, where your objection would have been relevant.

3) It's unclear who the rebels are and what their goals are and how much they support democracy (indeed, their flag is from the former monarchy).

I concede this point. However, I must note that in the modern world, monarchy does not preclude democracy: I live in a nation that is both.

4) The imposition of a NFZ and it's concurrent bombing campaign will lead to the loss of innocent lives, and will devastate the infrastructure of the country for years to come.

Loss of innocent lives seems likely. The question then is if it will be worse than under the status quo. I've been following the news from Libya closely, and personally I am convinced that Gadaffi will spare no opportunity to silence his detractors.

5) There are other dictators engaging in violence against their own citizens right now, some of whom get large amounts of military and other financial support from the United States.

This does not invalidate the intervention in Libya, which is lead by European nations.

6) Gaddaffi posed no conceivable threat to the United States. Indeed, it will be a very long time before another dictator voluntarily gives up his WMD to curry favor with the west.

The United States, as UN member state, has a responsibility to protect the people of Libya.

7) There's no guarantee that a NFZ will do anything but prolong a civil war which will continue to unfold under the watchful eye of the UN.

While a protracted civil war is a possibility, an intervention may help prevent Gadaffi from murdering protesters en masse using fighter jets and tanks, which has happened recently.

8) The US has a poor record of nation-building in the middle east, to say the least.

This is true, and irrelevant to the situation at hand.

9) The intervention is unpopular in the US and hasn't been approved by congress.

The U.S. Congress has the power to declare war on behalf of the U.S. However, there are examples of U.S. wars undeclared by Congress, and the blessing of Congress is not required for this intervention which is being led by European nations.

10) Despite being requested by the Arab League, the Arab League is only providing token support.

Some member states have been silent on the issue. However, Qatar and the UAE are providing material support. Qatar PM:
"Qatar will participate in military action. Arab countries must take this action because the situation is intolerable. [...] The protest is not the cause of the massacre. [...] It has become open warfare involving mercenaries."
Also, the Arab League called for a no-fly zone well before the UNSC vote.

11) War is unpredictable and messy and never as easy is it might seem at first.

Well, what would you prefer? When 1,000-2,000 are dead, would you prefer Gadaffi stayed on and slaughtered the remainder of the rebels?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:59 PM on March 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Basically, you are condemning a whole section of Libyan society to death because war can be a bit messy and your handwringing might give you carpal tunnel.

Do you support an intervention in Yemen, in Bahrain, in Iran, in Syria? No? Why are you condemning them to death, but not the Libyans? Or do you have some other criteria for whether an intervention is necessary and just besides that civilian populations are in danger?
posted by empath at 6:59 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm really not going to engage in a point by ponit back and forth any more on this. I've laid out my objections to it as clearly as I can, and I hope people at least recognize that this intervention is not cut and dried and that the people who are opposed to it have legitimate and rational reasons to be opposed to it.

We'll see how this unfolds. I hope for the best. I don't expect it, though.
posted by empath at 7:03 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Saw the press conference by Clinton in Paris earlier, and she kept mentioning that the international community was behind the attacks and the NFZ. China, India, Russia, Brazil and Germany all abstained form the security council vote. They represent, what, more than 40% of the world population. Are they not to be counted as members of the international community?
posted by klue at 7:05 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Since our military is already in Bahrain would it really be an invasion?
posted by humanfont

yes by plank. no if it is saturday night.

heh, 'the sister' is over ranting about how many more countries-yadda-yadda, well, she saw Col. G speak in Togo when he was a reform darling with a fist full of readies.
posted by clavdivs at 7:11 PM on March 19, 2011


I was responding to Empath's pithy little one-liners that added nothing to the conversation...for the record, I would be more valuable as an analyst than a front line soldier but since I have 5 cousins (and countless friends from high school and college) that are currently fighting in either Iraq and Afghanistan in a relatively front-line capacity, I'd say I have a pretty good idea what the stakes are.

I was against the Iraq war because I saw that we were being sold a rotten set of goods and there was not overwhelming international support. In this case, if the ARAB LEAGUE FUCKING ASK FOR HELP, HELP THEM!
posted by schyler523 at 7:12 PM on March 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


'I don't mind Sunday night at all
'Cause that's the night friends come to call
And Monday to Friday go fast
And another week is past

But Saturday night is the loneliest night in the week'


the u.s. gives about $25 billion a year in foreign some up thread asked. well, thats prolly whats on the books.
posted by clavdivs at 7:19 PM on March 19, 2011


Are there any reliable online streams of Libyan state TV?

To answer my own question: I found a live stream of Libyan state TV. It's interesting to watch Gaddafi's propaganda machine at work. Currently it mostly consists of patriotic music videos interspersed with shots of military machinery and people waving around green flags. It will be even more interesting to see what kinds of things they broadcast once daybreak comes.
posted by av123 at 7:22 PM on March 19, 2011


empath: "I'm really not going to engage in a point by ponit back and forth any more on this. I've laid out my objections to it as clearly as I can, and I hope people at least recognize that this intervention is not cut and dried and that the people who are opposed to it have legitimate and rational reasons to be opposed to it."

I've asked you what your preferred alternative would be. Not which other comparable cases are not being sufficiently tended by the international community, not how this case related to to earlier cases: what you would prefer to this intervention.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:30 PM on March 19, 2011


Empath, it's a bit much to post a wall of arguments, and then object when they aren't all answered. It's a one-way hash debating style. Nevertheless, I'll try and offer a limited response.

2) There is no clear end game, and no apparent 'exit strategy'.
- Although none has been formally declared, in part because there wasn't time, there are fairly clear exit strategies, depending on how the rebellion progresses from here. If the rebels manage to take over we leave them in charge, if there's a stale-mate we continue the NFZ (as in Iraq), and try and negotiate a partition. If Gaddafi wins out then we can say the rebellion wasn't viable, and the rebels would be in no worse a situation than if we hadn't intervened.

3) It's unclear who the rebels are and what their goals are and how much they support democracy (indeed, their flag is from the former monarchy).
- It's unlikely they're worse than Qaddafi. And they're part of a much wider middle-east movement towards freedom (if not necessarily democracy). There's no particular reason to think they're worse than the rebels in Tunisia or Egypt, who seem to have turned out fine.

4) The imposition of a NFZ and it's concurrent bombing campaign will lead to the loss of innocent lives, and will devastate the infrastructure of the country for years to come.
- Clearly the bombing campaign so far hasn't had any major casualties, otherwise it would be all over the media (or at least Al-Jazeera). I agree we shouldn't get involved to the extent of destroying civilian infrastructure, as occurred in Iraq. There's no reason that should happen as a consequence of either enforcing a NFZ or making strikes on military infrastructure.

5) There are other dictators engaging in violence against their own citizens right now, some of whom get large amounts of military and other financial support from the United States.
- A list of significant differences has been posted above.

6) Gaddaffi posed no conceivable threat to the United States. Indeed, it will be a very long time before another dictator voluntarily gives up his WMD to curry favor with the west.
- It's not clear that Qaddafi would return to being friendly after a rebellion was crushed. After all the western condemnation, which presumably you don't object to, there seems a fair chance he would go back to being belligerent, if only as a domestic political tactic. And he has been a severe, if not existential, threat in the past. Also, you appear to be that suggesting we should reward his giving up WMD by allowing him impunity to crush the rebellion, which is thoroughly distasteful.

7) There's no guarantee that a NFZ will do anything but prolong a civil war which will continue to unfold under the watchful eye of the UN.

- It doesn't make the situation worse.

8) The US has a poor record of nation-building in the middle east, to say the least.
- There's no nation building mandate or necessity.

9) The intervention is unpopular in the US and hasn't been approved by congress.
- If it was popular would you be any more in favour?

10) Despite being requested by the Arab League, the Arab League is only providing token support.
- 30 fighter jets between UAE and Qatar is a significant contribution.

11) War is unpredictable and messy and never as easy is it might seem at first.

The last point ties into something general I wanted to say about these posts. Your opinion on intervention (never in any circumstances) is a belief outside the mainstream, ruling out, as it would, the American involvement in the Second World War, or in preventing the genocide in Kosovo. To draw a parallel with another reasonable but non-mainstream opinion, if you were a communist posting in a thread about deficit reduction vs stimulus spending, there's only so many times you can say you think all private property should be abolished. Your constant posts reduce the nuance of the debate possible, and redefine the debate to be much wider than is of interest to the majority of posters. That is, at least, my impression. I might well be wrong.
posted by Marlinspike at 7:35 PM on March 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Empath was specifically asked to give reasons, there is no obligation to debate them.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:37 PM on March 19, 2011


Empath, it's a bit much to post a wall of arguments, and then object when they aren't all answered.

I posted the wall of arguments in response to specifically someone saying they didn't understand the objections, and to the constant complaints that I was offering only pithy one-liners with no substance. I don't care if anyone responds to them, and I've said all I'm going to say about my objections at this point.
posted by empath at 7:39 PM on March 19, 2011


Oh bugger, clearly I am outside the mainstream in typing speed. Apologies.
posted by Marlinspike at 7:40 PM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Your opinion on intervention (never in any circumstances) is a belief outside the mainstream, ruling out, as it would, the American involvement in the Second World War,

Opposition to intervention doesn't preclude self-defense. We entered WW2 because we were attacked.

or in preventing the genocide in Kosovo.

That he likely would have to accept, unless some alternative means of preventing the genocide might have been found. In this case, Gaddafi apparently offered to leave.
posted by gerryblog at 7:41 PM on March 19, 2011


Editorial in The Independent on Sunday:
The Paris summit [...] is marred by the besetting fault of such negotiations: it has taken too long for the world community to come to this point. Nato could have declared a no-fly zone at the emergency meeting of the North Atlantic Council on 25 February.

[...]

It was significant that China and Russia allowed the UN to authorise the use of military measures, abstaining in the critical vote. That means that the doctrine of liberal interventionism is still alive. It is an idea that this newspaper supports: our contention has always been that it requires the legitimacy conferred by the UN or by collective action to avert crimes against humanity. That is why The Independent on Sunday supported British military involvement in Kosovo and in Afghanistan – although in Afghanistan we argue that our mission is now unclear and that our troops should now be withdrawn more quickly than the Government plans. And that is why we opposed the invasion of Iraq: it lacked explicit UN authorisation, and was certain to unleash terrible destructive forces.

Of course, a no-fly zone is an imperfect sanction. [...] All it might do is constrain Gaddafi's ability to wreak revenge on his own people, much as the no-fly zones did in northern and southern Iraq between 1991 and 2003. Yet that is much better than nothing, because there was no repeat of the mass killings of Kurds or Marsh Arabs in Iraq after the no-fly zones were established.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:41 PM on March 19, 2011


And also a bit slow in composing apologetic zingers.
posted by Marlinspike at 7:42 PM on March 19, 2011


empath: "I don't care if anyone responds to them, and I've said all I'm going to say about my objections at this point."

empath, I've asked you what your preferred alternative to this intervention would be. Is it the status quo?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:43 PM on March 19, 2011


Opposition to intervention doesn't preclude self-defense. We entered WW2 because we were attacked.

So, if Japan had kept on their side of the Pacific, and if Hitler avoided war with America, America should have sat back and watched the holocaust, occasionally issuing disapproving press statements? Not under any circumstances?
posted by Marlinspike at 7:47 PM on March 19, 2011


gerryblog: "In this case, Gaddafi apparently offered to leave."

There is no independent confirmation, that I know of, that Gaddafi actually considered stepping down. If there is I'd like to hear it.

The situation at hand is that he is very much still in charge. No parties in Libya or the region have publicly, seriously entertained the notion that he would voluntarily cede power under the current circumstances.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:49 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The sad thing about a society full of pacifists is that they wouldn't go to war to stop Nazis. The cool thing is that they wouldn't go to war for them either.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:49 PM on March 19, 2011


Your opinion on intervention (never in any circumstances) is a belief outside the mainstream, ruling out, as it would, the American involvement in the Second World War, or in preventing the genocide in Kosovo.

I believe more people opposed the Kosovo intervention than the Iraq War. If not, it was very close. Hardly outside the mainstream or radical. People keep bringing up WWII as an optional war or a humanitarian intervention. We were attacked directly by Japan and Germany was actively invading our allies. As far as I know, Libya wasn't threatening to attack it's neighbors. In fact, they had given up their WMD and renounced terrorism.

The way that mainstream opinion gets worked out is talking about them. 65% of americans opposed this intervention as of yesterday. If anyone is outside the mainstream, it's the people supporting it.
posted by empath at 7:54 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


[Comments removed - This is the official "go to metatalk or go elsewhere" notice. Stop calling each other assholes and stop getting personal with all of this, thanks. Don't turn this thread into an everyone vs. one person thing, take that to email.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:54 PM on March 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


empath, I've asked you what your preferred alternative to this intervention would be. Is it the status quo?

My preferred alternative would have been for the Arab League to resolve it without getting us involved.
posted by empath at 7:56 PM on March 19, 2011


So, if Japan had kept on their side of the Pacific, and if Hitler avoided war with America, America should have sat back and watched the holocaust, occasionally issuing disapproving press statements? Not under any circumstances?

I don't know. This world offers us difficult, often terrible choices. Knowing what we know now about the Holocaust it seems obscene to stand by and allow it to happen -- even at the terrible cost of WW2, which also killed millions, and injured millions besides.

But regardless of the historical counterfactuals we imagine a civil war in Libya is not the Holocaust, nor was Iraq under Saddam Hussein, nor are the host of world disasters (both natural and manmade) to which you, I, and the United States military-diplomatic apparatus currently turns a blind eye. The ease and fervor with which people adopt the Hitler-of-the-moment as the enemy of all mankind is something I think we should be very suspicious of; it's an emotive appeal to a fantasy of do-gooding that makes analysis impossible and obscures the terrible human costs that are necessarily involved in taking this sort of action.
posted by gerryblog at 7:58 PM on March 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


empath, thank you for your answer.

Do I understand correctly then that you would support some kind of military intervention? And that you would consider a 30-ish strong fleet of Qatar/UAE fighters to be sufficient to neutralize Gaddafi's ability to harm civilian Libyans?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:00 PM on March 19, 2011


Again, the rebels say he offered to leave and they refused. I don't know if it's true or not. I do know Saddam apparently offered to leave. And that the Taliban wanted to make a deal. There's almost no amount of money that Gaddafi could have asked for that wouldn't have been cheaper in both lives and money than the course of action that is being taken now. Any bribe would have been worth it.
posted by gerryblog at 8:01 PM on March 19, 2011


And, you know, WWII wasn't exactly sunshine and roses. It was a 'good war', I'll grant that. As justified as wars get.

And yet, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Dresden, and the firebombing of Tokyo. We killed millions of innocent people. Even when you're fighting the greatest evil in the history of mankind, the decision to go to war should not be taken lightly. The only possible argument that makes Dresden and Hiroshima and Nagasaki justifiable is that we had no choice. The only way you can ask a soldier to kill or die is to tell them that there is no other way. It had to be. I don't think you can tell an American soldier right now that there were no other options.
posted by empath at 8:03 PM on March 19, 2011


Do I understand correctly then that you would support some kind of military intervention? And that you would consider a 30-ish strong fleet of Qatar/UAE fighters to be sufficient to neutralize Gaddafi's ability to harm civilian Libyans?

Ultimately, I'm not willing to order soldiers into battle to intervene in a civil war.
posted by empath at 8:11 PM on March 19, 2011


I believe more people opposed the Kosovo intervention than the Iraq War. If not, it was very close. Hardly outside the mainstream or radical. People keep bringing up WWII as an optional war or a humanitarian intervention. We were attacked directly by Japan and Germany was actively invading our allies. As far as I know, Libya wasn't threatening to attack it's neighbors. In fact, they had given up their WMD and renounced terrorism.

The way that mainstream opinion gets worked out is talking about them. 65% of americans opposed this intervention as of yesterday. If anyone is outside the mainstream, it's the people supporting it.


Just to respond to this point*, I'm talking about the fundamental belief in non-intervention. Many of those who objected to Kosovo would have been frankly uninformed. To get a meaningful survey response to what I'm talking about you would firstly need to tell them how many had died at Srebrenica, so that they could clearly face up to the implications of their response. Similarly public opinion now is fixated on the deficit, which is not particularly relevant, and still reflexively responding to Iraq, which is an utterly different situation.

*(if it too much of a derail feel free to remove)
posted by Marlinspike at 8:14 PM on March 19, 2011


Opposition to intervention doesn't preclude self-defense. We entered WW2 because we were attacked.

Why did we attack Germany since our attackers were the Empire of Japan. What about that whole Lend-Lease thing with the UK and our oil embargo on Japan? You are on shaky ground claiming self defense. On the other hand are you ready to argue WWII was an avoidable conflict for the United States and that we shouldn't have gone to war against Germany to save the Soviet Union (the Battle of Britian being over at this point).
posted by humanfont at 8:15 PM on March 19, 2011


Germany declared war on the U.S. three days after Pearl Harbor.
posted by gerryblog at 8:16 PM on March 19, 2011


It's interesting how often the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo get mixed up when in fact there were major differences between the two. It's a bit of a tangent for this thread but it might make an interest history-lesson FPP.
posted by moorooka at 8:17 PM on March 19, 2011


Why did we attack Germany since our attackers were the Empire of Japan.

They declared war on us.

To get a meaningful survey response to what I'm talking about you would firstly need to tell them how many had died at Srebrenica

Or if we want to get a whole picture of where humanitarian effort should be put, we could ask if we should spend the money on mosquito nets and food for the hungry instead...and provide the full numbers of what that can do of course.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:17 PM on March 19, 2011


Just to respond to this point*, I'm talking about the fundamental belief in non-intervention..

I'm sure there has been polling on this, but I can't find it. Can you back this up? I suspect that a general policy of non-intervention when national interest isn't at stake is going to be darn near close to the majority opinion.
posted by empath at 8:18 PM on March 19, 2011


Somebody should make a post about Libya. The ongoing developments there would be interesting to discuss.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:19 PM on March 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


But regardless of the historical counterfactuals we imagine a civil war in Libya is not the Holocaust, nor was Iraq under Saddam Hussein, nor are the host of world disasters (both natural and manmade) to which you, I, and the United States military-diplomatic apparatus currently turns a blind eye. The ease and fervor with which people adopt the Hitler-of-the-moment as the enemy of all mankind is something I think we should be very suspicious of; it's an emotive appeal to a fantasy of do-gooding that makes analysis impossible and obscures the terrible human costs that are necessarily involved in taking this sort of action.

I drew no such comparison. My point was that non-intervention for all 'domestic issues' is a not a mainstream opinion when you draw out the consequences. And seeing as the thread is now thoroughly derailed, I'm going to bed.
posted by Marlinspike at 8:19 PM on March 19, 2011


The WWII thing is a complete derail. When sovereign nations, whether they are our allies or not, are actively being invaded, that is a different situation to an internal conflict.
posted by empath at 8:20 PM on March 19, 2011


empath: "And yet, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Dresden, and the firebombing of Tokyo. We killed millions of innocent people. Even when you're fighting the greatest evil in the history of mankind, the decision to go to war should not be taken lightly. The only possible argument that makes Dresden and Hiroshima and Nagasaki justifiable is that we had no choice."

Do I understand correctly you believe the U.S. had no choice but to drop nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

empath: "Ultimately, I'm not willing to order soldiers into battle to intervene in a civil war."

The only soldiers being sent into Libya as of now are thousands of feet above the ground in modern-day war planes. I will concede some of them may well be killed. None of them are American. Do you believe the killing of thousands of Libyan rebels would be preferable?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:22 PM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do I understand correctly you believe the U.S. had no choice but to drop nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

I said that the only possible justification for it would be that it was unavoidable. I didn't say whether it was unavoidable.

The only soldiers being sent into Libya as of now are thousands of feet above the ground in modern-day war planes. I will concede some of them may well be killed. None of them are American. Do you believe the killing of thousands of Libyan rebels would be preferable?

I think the question here is who is responsible for the killing? If Qadaffi kills them, then it's Qadaffi who is guilty of killing them and no one else. We are not and cannot be responsible for everyone who is killed in every civil war on earth.
posted by empath at 8:26 PM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is true: the U.S., if that's what you mean by "we", cannot be responsible for every death in every war everywhere.

But the U.S., as a member state of the UN, has a responsibility to protect. To wit, Member States have a responsibility "to take timely and decisive action to prevent and halt mass atrocities when a State is manifestly failing to protect its populations" (PDF WARNING).

Does Gadaffi's culpability for the protesters' deaths then absolve a UN member state of its responsibility to to protect the Libyan people?

That is to say, would you rather stand and watch and do nothing?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:41 PM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


That is to say, would you rather stand and watch and do nothing?

It's not so bad, we do it every day for other countries.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:49 PM on March 19, 2011


I'm not going to do the interrogation thing. We're just repeating ourselves at this point.
posted by empath at 8:49 PM on March 19, 2011


That is to say, would you rather stand and watch and do nothing?

Which of the other several States that are "manifestly failing to protect their populations" should we also intervene in? What criteria should we use for distinguishing those we should intervene in from those we don't?
posted by scalefree at 8:50 PM on March 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


That is to say, would you rather stand and watch and do nothing?

This is a juvenile rhetorical trick that should be beneath you. Why not go the full den Beste and say he's "objectively pro-Gaddafi"? People who object would rather stand and watch and do nothing to exactly the same extent that I assume you want to stand and watch and do nothing as the North Korean regime starves its own people to death over the course of years.
posted by Justinian at 8:52 PM on March 19, 2011


goodnewsfortheinsane, does that responsibility also require UN member states to intervene to help the protect the people of Bahrain?
(Or is that different, since the Saudis are already intervening to help the government kill them?)
posted by finite at 8:56 PM on March 19, 2011


goodnewsfortheinsane, does that responsibility also require UN member states to intervene to help the protect the people of Bahrain?

Yes, it does. If the international community fails to intervene in Bahrain then it is a grave failing on their part. But this fact alone does not invalidate the efforts to intervene in the Libyan conflict.

I fail to understand how listing comparable cases would somehow invalidate the effort to intervene in Libya.

Sadly, it is far past my bedtime, but i look forward to engaging you all in healthy debate tomorrow.

Good night.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:06 PM on March 19, 2011


Has anyone seen any polls or articles on French public opinion of the NFZ/war/etc? (apologies if it's already been linked somewhere in the thread.)
posted by lullaby at 9:08 PM on March 19, 2011


Run mercs, run. Gunning down lightly armed civillians is easy. Fighting NATO airpower is hard! RUN MERCS!
posted by vrakatar at 9:16 PM on March 19, 2011


BREAKING: Metafilter invades itself out of ideological confusion and, of course, objects forthwith. Out of principle. Or something.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:18 PM on March 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


Lockheed EC-130H Compass Call tail nr 73-1587 as SHEEN 53 overhead Mediterranean.

so, he's finally deploying his ordnance to the ground...
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:20 PM on March 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


I am sure that there are back-room meetings occurring the likes of which we will never know, but if the U.S. can restrain itself during these mid-east revolutions to simply aiding the revolutionaries and then stepping back as much as possible as those rebels elect their own leaders, it would be the best possible course of action for America, at least, in that region.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:40 PM on March 19, 2011


The Littlest Invasions | No-fly zones and covert ops are just as bad as large-scale interventions. | By Gary Brecher
posted by telstar at 1:26 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Libyans form human shield at Gaddafi's compound

Gaddafi Threatens To Attack Mediterranean

posted by telstar at 1:53 AM on March 20, 2011


CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez condemned military strikes against Libya on Saturday, accusing the United States and its European allies of attacking the country to seize its oil.
posted by telstar at 2:13 AM on March 20, 2011


Gaddafi Threatens To Attack Mediterranean

Damn him! That would be the biggest attack on a body of water since North Korea launched those long range missiles into the Pacific!
posted by msalt at 4:44 AM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some commentary from The Guardian.

Abdel al-Bari Atwan:

Who would not want to stop a bully intent on "wiping out" those who oppose him? But any relief should be tempered by serious misgivings.

Andrew Rawnsley:

... military intervention is always freighted with risks, international coalitions are hard to sustain beyond the initial euphoria when they are first assembled, and a military plan almost never survives unaltered after first contact with the enemy. Declaring an intervention is only the first step along a highly hazardous road ...
posted by nangar at 5:09 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The BBC is reporting heavy shelling by Qaddhafi forces on Misrata. No word of any NFZ intervention.
posted by nangar at 5:14 AM on March 20, 2011


Anybody else surprised that we haven't heard from bin Laden yet?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:35 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damn him! That would be the biggest attack on a body of water since North Korea launched those long range missiles into the Pacific!

Hahaha!! ... oh, wait... I'm in the Mediterranean. *frownyface*
posted by taz at 6:08 AM on March 20, 2011


empath, I've asked you what your preferred alternative to this intervention would be. Is it the status quo?
My preferred alternative would have been for the Arab League to resolve it without getting us involved.
Do I understand correctly then that you would support some kind of military intervention? And that you would consider a 30-ish strong fleet of Qatar/UAE fighters to be sufficient to neutralize Gaddafi's ability to harm civilian Libyans?
Ultimately, I'm not willing to order soldiers into battle to intervene in a civil war.
I'm not sure that I understand what you're saying.

Are you saying "If I were in charge of my nation's military, I would not be willing to order soldiers into battle to intervene in a civil war, but I would hope that the people in charge of the militaries of the Arab League would send their nations' militaries into battle to intervene in that civil war"?

Or are you saying "I am not willing to order soldiers into battle to intervene in a civil war, and I hope the Arab League takes care of it in a non-military manner"?

If the latter, could you please be more specific about how you hope that that the Arab League takes care of it?

Or are you saying something else entirely? If so, what?

Thanks.
posted by Flunkie at 6:11 AM on March 20, 2011


Revels regain lost ground after allied air strikes.(Reuters)

14 tanks and 20 APC. 6 people per tank figure 22-24 in an APC. That's probably 300+ people. Grim. And that's just what one reporter spotted.
posted by humanfont at 6:36 AM on March 20, 2011


It was stressed, at least in the beginning, that this was not a US, but a European initiative. Now this some scary shit. I would not trust David Cameron or the 'Rat Man' to babysit my hamster, let alone lead a bombing campaign.
posted by klue at 6:41 AM on March 20, 2011


14 tanks and 20 APC. 6 people per tank figure 22-24 in an APC. That's probably 300+ people. Grim. And that's just what one reporter spotted.

Further, from Chris McGreal:

standing in front of wrecked #Libya government tanks near Benghazi hit by 4am air strike. #Gaddafi soldiers appear have died as they slept

force of assault on tanks so great that turrets blown off. Lorries still burning nearby. Wreckage of air attacks strewn for miles along road
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:51 AM on March 20, 2011


There have been some comments up-thread about the rebels and their agenda. The Transitional National Council seems pretty ad hoc. It doesn't seem to have an ideology or an agenda other than overthrowing Qaddhafi, then establishing some sort of government yet to be determined. (Individuals may have or may develop agendas of course.)

I haven't seen much to indicate any serious interest in restoring the monarchy. This seems to be mostly just speculation in the media. I wouldn't read to much into the adoption of the old flag. The official all-green flag is specifically a symbol of the ideology of Qaddhafi's Green Book. The three colors of the old represent the union of the three regions of the country (Fezzan, Cyrenaica and Tripolitania).

About all I can say about it based on what I've read is:

• The council is very insistent that it represents the whole country (or almost the whole country) not just the east, and it's very insistent that it's not actually a government. A real government can't be formed until the country is reunified.

• The Council does seem to have the support of the Amazigh (ethnic minority in the Fezzan), which is interesting.

• The was an interesting spat at the Council's formation when Abdel Jalil, the former justice minister, identified himself the leader of an interim government, and the Council's spokesman said the following day that this was Abdel Jalil's "personal opinion." Currently Abdel Jalil is list the chairman, and there's a three-person executive committee that doesn't include him.

• Interim governments have a tendency to become permanent. This is especially likely if the country settles into partition and long-term civil war.
posted by nangar at 7:23 AM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


And now the Arab League is criticizing the air strikes. I guess the Arab League was only endorsing a NFZ if no military force was used.
posted by lullaby at 7:53 AM on March 20, 2011


Pew Research Center on American support for the no fly zone.

44% in favor, 45% against. (no break-down by party affiliation).

Little support for bombing - 16% (We're kind of like the Arab League, huh?)

More important to have stability or democracy in the middle east?
Democrats - 47% - 43%
Independents 52% - 38%
Republicans - 58% - 33%
All leaning to "stability."
posted by nangar at 8:09 AM on March 20, 2011


And now the Arab League is criticizing the air strikes. I guess the Arab League was only endorsing a NFZ if no military force was used.

From the link, seems like their specific criticism was civilian deaths. Any confirmation on this from sources other than official Libyan news sources?
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:14 AM on March 20, 2011


I should have pointed out this poll was published March 14. Public reaction could change as things play out.

It's also worth pointing out that Obama was also facing the prospect of people watching the bombing of Benghazi live on AlJazeera and being criticized for inaction.
posted by nangar at 8:19 AM on March 20, 2011


empath only seems to have empathy for the devil
posted by metaplectic at 8:26 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Consider rereading the thread, metaplectic.
posted by klue at 8:37 AM on March 20, 2011


The whole bit about France,UK taking the lead was apparently incorrect. 3 stealth bombers, a US sub firing cruise missiles and US UAVs apparently provided most of the munitions.
posted by humanfont at 8:54 AM on March 20, 2011


Man, I'm wondering what Q thinks is the endgame at this point. I'm guessing that he doesn't have visions of himself with a rife in the mouth in some bunker, given how fucking crazy he is.
posted by angrycat at 9:19 AM on March 20, 2011


From the link, seems like their specific criticism was civilian deaths.

Yeah, those kind of happen in war.
posted by empath at 9:29 AM on March 20, 2011


Man, I'm wondering what Q thinks is the endgame at this point. I'm guessing that he doesn't have visions of himself with a rife in the mouth in some bunker, given how fucking crazy he is.

I'm imagining he thinks he can wait it out, because the US and allies don't have the stomach for a long term military action and the rebels don't have the military strength to take him out.
posted by empath at 9:35 AM on March 20, 2011


Bahrain hospitals under siege as soldiers maintain Manama crackdown: Doctors arrested or prevented from working as martial law in tiny Gulf state approaches second week
posted by homunculus at 9:42 AM on March 20, 2011


The whole bit about France,UK taking the lead was apparently incorrect. 3 stealth bombers, a US sub firing cruise missiles and US UAVs apparently provided most of the munitions.
posted by humanfont

wait until the invisible solders (dont) show up!
posted by clavdivs at 9:42 AM on March 20, 2011


I'm imagining he thinks he can wait it out, because the US and allies don't have the stomach for a long term military action and the rebels don't have the military strength to take him out.

Rather then imagine empath, I called out that scenrio last night and proved it. For instance, when AJE broadcast that little flak show from tripoli, pure theatre. Then quiet. It is called a defensive posture. asking questions is great empath but you should read more of what others have written and i exclude my comments. At this point, a lot of good info in this thread, utilize it.
posted by clavdivs at 9:49 AM on March 20, 2011


So you are taking exception to me agreeing with you? You're a confusing persion, clavdivs.
posted by empath at 9:54 AM on March 20, 2011


Lockheed EC-130H Compass Call tail nr 73-1587 as SHEEN 53 overhead Mediterranean.

i hear they carry these.
posted by clavdivs at 9:56 AM on March 20, 2011


no empath, you ask alot of good questions and it appears to be bothersome, i don't think so but you ask a few i believe you could answer, that is an observation, not criticism. You comment alot and i understand this. I do not think it right to quell someones questions.
you are consistent in your views, others are too. I too, do not agree with the attacks but once our troops are committed in one form or another, that support supercedes my wishes which is ok with me.
posted by clavdivs at 10:05 AM on March 20, 2011


I wasn't asking a question, I was stating an opinion.
posted by empath at 10:15 AM on March 20, 2011


The US has shown that is it perfectly capable of sticking around given our recent track record in Iraq and Afghanistan. This myth of the US has not stomach is a great propaganda tool for keeping the US in position.

It is unclear what the US' ongoing involvement will be now that most of the easy targets have been hit. We've cleared the tanks, apcs, command and control and air defense network. There isn't much left to bomb that can't be managed by the close air support capabilities of the French and UK forces. The Toyota trucks and the light weapons of the rebels, combined with NATO air support should pretty much end Gaddafi in the next 2-3 weeks.

We could end up with another somalia where Libya goes through an extended period of statelessness.
posted by humanfont at 10:30 AM on March 20, 2011


standing in front of wrecked #Libya government tanks near Benghazi hit by 4am air strike. #Gaddafi soldiers appear have died as they slept

Do soldiers sleep in their tanks? Seems impractical.
posted by msalt at 10:31 AM on March 20, 2011


Nat'l Journal: Who's in Charge of the Libyan Offensive?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:33 AM on March 20, 2011


Never mind, 140 characters isn't much room to explain. Another story said the remnants of bedrolls and clothing were found alongside 200M of a road. Didn't mention bodies in with them so, so not clear they were killed in their sleep.
posted by msalt at 10:36 AM on March 20, 2011


Politico: What is the Libya endgame?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:38 AM on March 20, 2011


msalt, there is also this to consider:

Abdel, a doctor in the town of Misrata, Libya, about 200km east of Tripoli, tells BBC World television that Gaddafi loyalists have been moving the bodies of people killed in clashes between rebels and government forces to sites that have been bombed by the coalition to make it appear they have died in the strikes. (BBC via http://www.libyafeb17.com/)
posted by davey_darling at 10:40 AM on March 20, 2011


Yemeni president sacks cabinet - AJE
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:54 AM on March 20, 2011


Yemeni president sacks cabinet - AJE

I think that's like the 3rd time he's done that in the last few months. I don't get why these dictators think that's going to make any difference.
posted by empath at 10:56 AM on March 20, 2011


Yeah I agree, empath. Seems like they're just going to stay on as caretaker govt.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:00 AM on March 20, 2011


[leave the personal attacks out of this thread please, thank you]
posted by jessamyn at 11:00 AM on March 20, 2011


Peggy Noonan: The biggest takeaway, the biggest foreign-policy fact, of the past decade is this: America has to be very careful where it goes in the world, because the minute it’s there—the minute there are boots on the ground, the minute we leave a footprint—there will spring up, immediately, 15 reasons America cannot leave. The next day there will be 30 reasons, and the day after that 45. They are often serious and legitimate reasons.

So we wind up in long, drawn-out struggles when we didn’t mean to, when it wasn’t the plan, or the hope, or the expectation.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:13 AM on March 20, 2011


Egyptians approve constitutional amendments: Package of nine changes endorsed by overwhelming vote, paving the way for parliamentary elections later this year.
posted by homunculus at 11:15 AM on March 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Does anyone know why El Baradei was against the referendums in Egypt?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:20 AM on March 20, 2011


The Littlest Invasions: No-fly zones and covert ops are just as bad as large-scale interventions.
The newest fad in foreign intervention is the slim-line approach. I swear, it really is like fashion news. A few years ago, the neocons were pushing a full-figured style of intervention, which ended up with us wasting hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of American lives in Iraq. Since that went so badly, the fashion has swung the other way, and the same idiots who brought you Iraq are pushing for a smaller, smarter style of intervention that leans on small groups of special-forces troops and covert operations.

Watch this play out with Libya: it starts with Sen. John McCain saying we should just impose a no-fly zone. Before you know it, there’s talk about a few airstrikes, providing logistical help to the rebels, maybe sending some troops with NATO or the UN—you know, to keep the “peace.”

The notion of not intervening, period, never enters the neocons’ heads. I got the shock of my life going through the Weekly Standard a couple of years ago when I saw the headline, “The Case Against Intervention.” But it turned out to be about the American economy. I should’ve realized, the only place these people don’t want us to pour money into is the USA.
posted by scalefree at 11:20 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know why El Baradei was against the referendums in Egypt?

Most of the opposition opposed it, I think largely because they thought the electoral rules favored more established parties like the NDP and MB.
posted by empath at 11:35 AM on March 20, 2011


Peggy Noonan: The biggest takeaway, the biggest foreign-policy fact, of the past decade is this: America has to be very careful where it goes in the world, because the minute it’s there—the minute there are boots on the ground, the minute we leave a footprint—there will spring up, immediately, 15 reasons America cannot leave....
Okay... Seems like republicans suddenly turn anti-war as soon as a democrat becomes president.
posted by delmoi at 11:38 AM on March 20, 2011


the minute there are boots on the ground, the minute we leave a footprint—there will spring up, immediately, 15 reasons America cannot leave.

Easily overridden by casting: THIS TIMUS NO QUAGMIRIUS..works every time.

Or, you just get a medalled up guy with 8% body fat and a two hundred dollar crew cut to say it ain't so. That one's worked for forty years.
posted by Trochanter at 11:40 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


From Blake Hounshell of Foreign Policy magazine, on Twitter:
Just got an update from 2 spokesmen for the Libyan transitional council. The following tweets will be from them. The revolutionaries reject Amr Moussa's statement today criticizing Western airstrikes; they say he's running his presidential campaign. Majdi al-Henaid, of the Tobruk opposition council, says, "The Libyan people appreciate the intervention by the West. If we lose this war we're going to end, there's nothing. The Libyan people are standing up for Western values. We appreciate this bombardment; there is no way we can win without it. No civilians were killed, and even if [the West] killed some civilians by mistake, we can accept it, because Qaddafi kills thousands." The world will soon see, al-Henaid said, "In Ajdabiya it is disaster." They expect to liberate the city tonight or tomorrow. The revolutionaries are also seeking to understand the U.S. position; they are confused by Mullen's statements today. What is the goal? The Libyan reps also say Qaddafi is forcing people from Gargaresh, Busleem, Salahadeen, and Bengasheer areas to demonstrate in Green Square. The Libyan reps also reiterated their claims that Qaddafi's men are bringing corpses from the hospitals to parade as civilian casualties. According to them, several of Qaddafi's ministers are hold up in Bab al-Azizia. The ministers are there along with their families, they said. They gave me three names: Baghdadi, the PM, Abdul Kabir education minister, Mohamed Hijazi, health minister. One thing the rebels are very clear on is that they want the airstrikes to continue; say that if Qaddafi's power is halved they will advance.
posted by lullaby at 11:41 AM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay... Seems like republicans suddenly turn anti-war as soon as a democrat becomes president

Peggy Noonan on the Iraq War, for reference.
posted by empath at 11:43 AM on March 20, 2011


Reuters: Western forces pounded Libya's air defenses and patrolled its skies on Sunday, but their day-old intervention hit a serious diplomatic setback as the Arab League chief condemned the "bombardment of civilians."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:46 AM on March 20, 2011


The rule of thumb could also be that if it has international backing it must be bad.
posted by Artw at 11:46 AM on March 20, 2011


Western forces pounded Libya's air defenses and patrolled its skies on Sunday, but their day-old intervention hit a serious diplomatic setback as the Arab League chief condemned the "bombardment of civilians."

Apparently, the Arab League has rebuffed Moussa's statements and have reiterated their support for Operation Odyssey Dawn. This has popped up on twitter as being attributed to CNN but I haven't found a link yet. Will keep looking.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:53 AM on March 20, 2011


But after this spectacular first stage of air war, what happens then? If the airstrikes persuade Qaddafi and his forces just to quit, great! But what if they don't? What happens when a bomb lands in the "wrong" place? As one inevitably will. When Arab League supporters of the effort see emerging "flaws" and "abuses" in its execution? As they will. When the fighting goes on and the casualties mount up and a commitment meant to be "days, not weeks" cannot "decently" be abandoned, after mere days, with so many lives newly at stake? When the French, the Brits, and other allies reach the end of their military resources -- or their domestic support -- and more of the work naturally shifts to the country with more weapons than the rest of the world combined?
posted by empath at 12:02 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know why El Baradei was against the referendums in Egypt?

As I understand it, a yes means elections will occur before the constitution is drawn up, and the other way round for a no. That means that the established parties- essentially the Muslim Brotherhood and Mubarak's apparatchiks- get much more influence over how the constitution is drafted.
posted by Marlinspike at 12:03 PM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


A Europe willing to take concrete steps to facilitate the evacuation to its own shores of civilians who wish to leave Libyan territory regardless of nationality would at least have broken with its record of shameful complicity in regime brutality.
posted by empath at 12:10 PM on March 20, 2011


Shame on the Republican critics. Apparently the waters edge rule only apies during Republican administrations.
posted by humanfont at 12:18 PM on March 20, 2011


How about shame on the Demcratic Apologists.
posted by Trochanter at 12:22 PM on March 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Issandr El Amrani's take on the no fly zone, from the Arabist.

UNSC Resolution 1973 isn't really about getting a ceasefire, is it?

But what if Qadhafi hangs in there, and there's a stalemate?

...

We don't know what the insurgents want aside from a Qadhafi-free Libya. We don't know what Western powers (if they are united on this) want to see. We don't know what the Arabs want to see .... Ideally, a new government emerge that is generally seen as legitimate by Libyans and works to prevent further splits, paving the way for the creation of a new political system (a constitution, parliament, etc.) I really hope this happens, but we can't realistically expect it to be easy. We just don't know what the political forces are on the ground.
posted by nangar at 12:46 PM on March 20, 2011


In a Field of Flowers, the Wreckage of War in Libya, and the associated photos, showing the result of the Bengazi bombing raids.
posted by Marlinspike at 12:52 PM on March 20, 2011


Shorter Republicans: I'm against it (Marxian version)
posted by warbaby at 12:59 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Senator Obama: The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

Oh, you.
posted by Justinian at 1:42 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seen on zunguzungu's Twitter: Noam Chomsky, Jean Bricmont, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o on the "responsibility to protect." From 2009.
posted by gerryblog at 1:58 PM on March 20, 2011


WSJ on the make-up of the rebels
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:06 PM on March 20, 2011


Cool now the Republicans can impeach Obama and Biden over unauthorized military agression and put Boehner in charge. It is an orange revolution.
posted by humanfont at 2:39 PM on March 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


I too, do not agree with the attacks but once our troops are committed in one form or another, that support supercedes my wishes which is ok with me.

Me too. First, not a "no fly." We are actively supporting the rebels. Second, I understand the whole "no easy options" thing, but I do not support this operation. Now that we are involved, I want success. Obviously Qadaffi winning is the worst-case now. But I consider this operation unwise. We would be better served by a policy of non-intervention. But a hard call that has now been made.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:55 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


He handed them off to Ali Yussuf, who sported Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses and slim-fit Levis. Mr. Yussuf's inspirations in life, he said: reggae legend Bob Marley and the professional wrestler Randy Orton

"Qadaffi, you don't understaeend. When the Macho Man comes into that riiing with you, ohhhh yeaah, I'm going to make sure you leave on your back."
posted by Ironmouth at 5:14 PM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm going to make sure you leave on your back.

Now, get up. Stand up.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:26 PM on March 20, 2011


Josh Marshall, TPM: Just a Bad, Bad Idea
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:58 PM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


US plans transition to NATo or UK/French Command. Now that the initial takedown of air defenses in a libya is competed the US is going to ride off and let the Europeans handle it.
posted by humanfont at 7:01 PM on March 20, 2011


It boils down to this: Obama is more worried about being the president who dithered while another Rwanda went down than he is about being the president who started Vietnam IV.
posted by EarBucket at 8:10 PM on March 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


This was not remotely like Rwanda.
posted by empath at 8:16 PM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, I agree. But I think he's worried that it has the potential to be, and he'd rather be viewed as too strong and warlike than too weak and timid. Not saying his calculus is right, but I believe that's what he was thinking.
posted by EarBucket at 8:17 PM on March 20, 2011


I also think you'd have to be incredibly naive to think that next year's election isn't a factor here. Obama's put all of his chips on red here. This is a serious make-or-break moment for his presidency.
posted by EarBucket at 8:23 PM on March 20, 2011


From the link, seems like their specific criticism was civilian deaths.

Yeah, those kind of happen in war.


Boy, it's just as well there weren't any civilian deaths before the NFZ.
posted by rodgerd at 8:46 PM on March 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Folly of Protection by Michael W. Doyle.
posted by ageispolis at 9:43 PM on March 20, 2011


How about shame on the Demcratic Apologists.

Human Rights Watch supported intervention. Are you calling shame on them, too? Is there any amount of civilian deaths that would justify intervention for you?

Earbucket: Obama is more worried about being the president who dithered while another Rwanda went down than he is about being the president who started Vietnam IV.
empath:This was not remotely like Rwanda.

It's much closer to Rwanda than it is to Vietnam.
posted by msalt at 11:53 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Complicated situation is complicated.
posted by memebake at 4:20 AM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


BBC -- 1454: The Arab League's Secretary General Amr Moussa - who had criticised the coalition bombarding Libya - has made the following statement after a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron: "We are commmitted to UN Security Council Resolution 1973, we have no objection to this decision, particularly as it does not call for an invasion of Libyan territory," reports AFP.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:56 AM on March 21, 2011


It's much closer to Rwanda than it is to Vietnam.

Well, its more like Vietnam except we are on the side of the VC this time.

Still very concerned by this move.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:45 AM on March 21, 2011


AJE Yemen Live Blog - March 21 5:12pm Hakim Al Masmari, editor in chief of the Yemen Post to Al Jazeera: We expect the fall of the regime in the next 24 hours at max.
posted by scalefree at 8:46 AM on March 21, 2011


particularly as it does not call for an invasion of Libyan territory

"We are not invading Libya."
"But you are flying planes and dropping bombs and missiles on it."
"Yeah, but no ones foot actually touched the ground."

I'm still not clear on something. Obama says we're not there to kill Khaddafi/Qadafi/Quiddich/Whatever, so how do we know when the mission is over and we can leave?
posted by dirigibleman at 8:46 AM on March 21, 2011


> so how do we know when the mission is over and we can leave?

When Gaddafi is confirmed dead, of course!
posted by Burhanistan at 8:47 AM on March 21, 2011


LIBYA: WEBSITE, GADDAFI'S SON KILLED BY A SUICIDE-BOMBER
10:39 21 MAR 2011 (AGI) Tripoli - Khamis, Gaddafi's sixth son, was reportedly killed by the injuries suffered in a suicide bombing on Saturday. A Libyan pilot deliberately crashed his jet against the Bab al-Azizia barracks. Hospitalized in the intensive care unit of a Tripoli hospital, he reportedly died a few hours later. The news was disclosed by the Algerian newspaper Shuruk, which echoes the Al-Manara Libyan opposition's Website.
However, the news has not been confirmed by the regime's media.
posted by scalefree at 8:56 AM on March 21, 2011


scalefree, that is rumor that has been popping up on twitter for a couple of days but has still not yet been confirmed by a reputable news agency. Also, I had heard that he was injured in the kamikaze attack that occurred on the 15th (I've not heard of a similar attack on Saturday) and died on Saturday. It may be true but at this point it still seems to be speculation.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:00 AM on March 21, 2011


LIBYA: WEBSITE, GADDAFI'S SON KILLED BY A SUICIDE-BOMBER

I'm not sure how I feel about the optics of that.
posted by empath at 9:01 AM on March 21, 2011


I'm still not clear on something. Obama says we're not there to kill Khaddafi/Qadafi/Quiddich/Whatever, so how do we know when the mission is over and we can leave?

Our ongoing commitment is very narrow and our objectives are mostly met. To review our objectives:
1- Destroy the command and control and Libyian airforce (mission completed)
2- Destroy a significant amount of heavy weaponry such as tanks, artillery, APC's being used by Gaddafi's forces to bombard civilian population centers (mission nearing completion -- We are rapidly running out of things to blow up)
3. Enforce ongoing No Fly Zone (ongoing but narrow mission, a few planes flying patrols for the foreseeable future, since we've blown up most of the planes and helicopters and runways in the LAF, and AA defenses, there isn't much left to do here).

Thus what's the actual concern here.
posted by humanfont at 9:05 AM on March 21, 2011


Obama says we're not there to kill Khaddafi/Qadafi/Quiddich/Whatever, so how do we know when the mission is over and we can leave?

What do you mean by leave? Maintaining a NFZ is trivial, and nothing like a continued ground occupation in Iraq or Afghanistan. We, assuming you mean the international coalition (you assume that everyone here is American), can stop that when the rebels have either taken over, or been beaten, or the country has been partitioned.
posted by Marlinspike at 9:05 AM on March 21, 2011


AJE Yemen Live Blog - March 21 5:12pm Hakim Al Masmari, editor in chief of the Yemen Post to Al Jazeera: We expect the fall of the regime in the next 24 hours at max.

Yemen appears to be following a very similar trajectory to Libya. Many defections in the inner circle and among ambassadors, many tribes uniting against the leadership, but the higher-ranking military officials standing beside the President and even going to the airwaves (a la Saif) to threaten those attempting a "coup." Either he falls within the next day or two or he digs in and retaliates like Gaddafi. A sticky wicket to be sure.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:25 AM on March 21, 2011


Maintaining a NFZ is trivial

Not to the people of Libya it's not.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 9:38 AM on March 21, 2011


Michael Lind, Salon: The Libyan war: Unconstitutional and illegitimate
In the case of the Libyan war, the presidential power grab is even more blatant, because weak, poor countries on the Security Council have acted as ventriloquists’ puppets for the U.S., Britain and France.
Ross Douthat, NYT: A Very Liberal Intervention
This is an intervention straight from Bill Clinton’s 1990s playbook, in other words, and a stark departure from the Bush administration’s more unilateralist methods. There are no “coalitions of the willing” here, no dismissive references to “Old Europe,” no “you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” Instead, the Obama White House has shown exquisite deference to the very international institutions and foreign governments that the Bush administration either steamrolled or ignored.
Jackie Ashley, Guardian: To do their job on Libya, scepticism is MPs' best weapon
Gaddafi cannot easily be forced out of Tripoli. Just now he has nowhere to run to. He seems to have many vocal, indeed hysterical, supporters, particularly among his own tribal group and paramilitaries; after 42 years of incessant propaganda, that is hardly surprising. So even if he cannot get into Benghazi, he can unleash horrifying attacks on his enemies in other parts of Libya. Using human shields, hiding his killers in cities, he can wreak terrible damage of a kind that cannot be dealt with by Tomahawk missiles or jets.
Tomas Avenarius, Süddeutsche Zeitung: Trapped in Gadaffi's small world [German]
But the Libyan rebels have asked for help. On their own they stand no chance against the war machine of the Gaddafi regime. Unlike the now deposed presidents of Egypt and Tunisia, the despot of Tripoli uses bombers, artillery and rockets against his own people. Unlike both its neighbours, Libya has no independent institutions. In Libya there is no functioning army that could help put the authorities in their place, as Tunisian and Egyptian officers have.
Isabelle Lasserre, Le Figaro: Libya: the air strake strategy is started to pay off [French]
If the objective, currently only half acknowledged, is to depose Col. Gadaffi, the coalition nations, led by Britain and France and supported by its Arab allies, must then consider a ground intervention to "finish the job". Remember the 2006 Lebanon War, which started with air strikes and ended on the ground.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:48 AM on March 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


@niallpaterson BREAKING Sky Sources: Tornado strike on gaddafi compound last night called off because CNN journalist was broadcasting live from the scene.
posted by scalefree at 10:20 AM on March 21, 2011


Obama to address Libya just after the top of the coming hour.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:40 AM on March 21, 2011


NYT interactive: A new Arab generation finds its voice
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:51 AM on March 21, 2011


Not to the people of Libya it's not.

Maintaining the NFZ is trivial, even to Libyans. After the anti-aircraft defences have been destroyed ground strikes aren't necessary.
posted by Marlinspike at 10:59 AM on March 21, 2011


Maintaining the NFZ is trivial, even to Libyans. After the anti-aircraft defences have been destroyed ground strikes aren't necessary.

Have you lived in a warzone?
posted by empath at 11:00 AM on March 21, 2011


Maintaining the NFZ is trivial, even to Libyans.

Yeah, we kept one in Iraq for a decade.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:03 AM on March 21, 2011


Italy appears to be playing diplomatic hardball with the coalition, esp. France: apparently Berlusconi fears internal Italian politics (i.e. criticism from the Lega Nord) is threatening the stability of the govt and it seems FM Frattini is basically saying "go through NATO or we will withdraw permission to use bases".

That's what I gather from commentary, here's the AP's take:

"Italy is warning that it will review the use of its bases by coalition forces for strikes against Libya if the mission doesn't pass to NATO's command. Foreign Minister Franco Frattini issued the ultimatum Monday after Turkey blocked NATO from approving a military strategy that would allow NATO's participation in the operation."
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:03 AM on March 21, 2011


Even though Italy has the closest and most convenient bases, the NFZ could still be maintained without them, as demonstrated by the first French strikes conducted from French soil. Additionally the French aircraft carrier will be in the area tomorrow if I have it right, and Greek and Cyriotic bases are still available to the UK. So still possible just more cumbersome and expensive.
posted by Catfry at 11:22 AM on March 21, 2011


*Cypriotic
posted by Catfry at 11:22 AM on March 21, 2011


Maintaining the NFZ is trivial, even to Libyans. After the anti-aircraft defences have been destroyed ground strikes aren't necessary.

From the start this No Fly Zone has been much more than a No Fly Zone; witness the French attacks on armored columns & the aborted British attack on Qaddafi's Tripoli compound. It looks like there's a bit of a diplomatic row brewing between France & Italy over the issue; Malta, whose bases are being used to stage many of the flights, is wavering as well.
posted by scalefree at 11:25 AM on March 21, 2011


Malta is NOT a base! Its government is specifically doing everything to stay out of the military operation, and has only gone as far as allowing military overflights through its airspace. Even this permission is being questioned in Malta.
posted by Catfry at 11:28 AM on March 21, 2011


Maintaining the NFZ is trivial, even to Libyans.

I think this view can in part be answered by this:

From the start this No Fly Zone has been much more than a No Fly Zone

...in other words the NFZ cannot (as of now) be neatly extracted (as a topic of operational triviality) from the situation as a whole: i.e. the combined effects of a potential civil war, political instability, economic sanctions (particularly on oil, though how that plays out remains to be seen), all make this a fluid situation. And already there are whisperings in France of supporting ground troops or military intervention via special forces, etc:

then the Foreign Legion comes in as liberators and it is an awful mess.

So I think this focus on the NFZ aspect is potentially misleading.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 11:44 AM on March 21, 2011


Malta is NOT a base!

Flyover, not base. My bad. My point still stands, that the issue of acceptable targets is rising. Germany's now joining the fray, siding with Italy. In spite of not joining the coalition in the first place.
posted by scalefree at 11:52 AM on March 21, 2011


Is Fox News blaming the discord on Obama yet? Because you know they will.
posted by scalefree at 11:56 AM on March 21, 2011


Ross Douthat: This is an intervention straight from Bill Clinton’s 1990s playbook, in other words, and a stark departure from the Bush administration’s more unilateralist methods. There are no “coalitions of the willing” here, no dismissive references to “Old Europe,” no “you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” Instead, the Obama White House has shown exquisite deference to the very international institutions and foreign governments that the Bush administration either steamrolled or ignored.

He says that like it's a bad thing.
posted by EarBucket at 11:56 AM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


“In the absence of a credible, direct threat to the United States and its allies or to our valuable national interests, what excuse is there for not seeking congressional approval of military action?” asked Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) in a separate interview. “I think it is wrong and a usurpation of power and the fact that prior presidents have done it is not an excuse.” cite

there is no official communication with the rebel forces on the ground and there is no good way to distinguish the rebel fighters engaged against the government forces from civilians fighting to protect themselves, he said. Rules of engagement are murky in Libya air war

Markey (D-Mass.), the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, said he agreed with President Obama's decision to launch, along with allies, attacks against Libya and its leader, Moammar Gadhafi. But Markey said the attacks were primarily motivated by oil. "We are in Libya because of oil," Markey said on MSNBC. "It all goes back to the 5 million barrels of oil we import from OPEC on a daily basis." cite
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 11:58 AM on March 21, 2011


Kucinich: Obama should be impeached for participating in Libya offensive
posted by dirigibleman at 12:01 PM on March 21, 2011


What’s in a Name? ‘Odyssey Dawn’ is Pentagon-Crafted Nonsense
posted by homunculus at 12:03 PM on March 21, 2011


Sort of a big coincidence though, since Libya was the first stop in the Odyssey.

Now I'm thinking the operation was just thiiiiis close to being called "Odynophagia Dawn."
posted by taz at 12:21 PM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Berlusconi has just said that NOT providing bases is impossible
posted by Catfry at 12:23 PM on March 21, 2011


Diplomatic trial balloon, then? Or did the coalition/NATO make concessions to Italy?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:27 PM on March 21, 2011


Have you lived in a warzone?

No, have you? Presumably you can also draw from your experience of living amidst a failing rebellion against a brutal dictator.

I have, however, been to Sarajevo, and witnessed the anger which lingers there, that the outside world did nothing to prevent three years of civilian slaughter. Six weeks after NATO bombed Serbian military targets a ceasefire was signed, and two months after that a peace treaty.

I have also talked to a Kurdish colleague, who remains extremely grateful for Western military intervention in Iraq, even the 2003 invasion.

From the start this No Fly Zone has been much more than a No Fly Zone

There's no reason why the ground strikes need continue. In fact various politicians have been making statements today to make clear that we are not explicitly a)providing air support to the rebels or b)targeting Qaddafi. Even if they do continue, they can be limited to only occur away from population centres.
posted by Marlinspike at 12:37 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's no reason why the ground strikes need continue. In fact various politicians have been making statements today to make clear that we are not explicitly a)providing air support to the rebels or b)targeting Qaddafi. Even if they do continue, they can be limited to only occur away from population centres.

Uh, why the hell are we there then? I mean seriously, isn't the purpose of this to help the rebels? What good is just making sure that Qadaffi has no air force? He was on the edge of whipping them on the ground, no?
posted by Ironmouth at 12:44 PM on March 21, 2011


Does anyone know how many rebels were killed by Kadafi prior to the air raids? The numbers I've seen are between 100 and 800, but I have not done a lot of research on it. Fwiw, I have also read that about 350 protesters were killed in Egypt during the anti-Mubarak protests that resulted in his ouster, and the death tolls in Yemen and Bahrain presumably continue to rise.

Thus the comparisons with Rwanda and Sarajevo, while they may or may not be valid in terms of the ethical arguments for intervention, do not seem to align as comparisons in terms of sheer scale. Again, that may not matter to some here, but I'm sure it's quite easy to find (Congo, Colombia, Sri Lanka, East Timor, etc) parts of the world that are or have relatively recently been embroiled in protracted guerrilla warfare and civil wars: i.e. if intervention were tried in each of these places it is not difficult to see how it would quickly become unmanageable.

Please note I'm not staking out a clear position here on whther or not our actions are justified in Libya, so much as momentarily pointing out the necessarily selective way in which interventionist arguments proceed: there is no shortage of conflict in the world that might be interpreted by some as requiring military action.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 12:54 PM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


See, this is why some of us have been against this campaign. There is no clearly stated objective or endgame. It's just a loosey-goosey "we have to protect the people" kind of thing. I'm frankly pleased & surprised that Italy's taking the limits of the NFZ seriously. Don't be fooled by their looks - tanks can't fly.
posted by scalefree at 12:55 PM on March 21, 2011


@FMCNL: Audio from a US Commando Solo telling #Libya ships to remain in port, or risk retaliation.
posted by scalefree at 1:00 PM on March 21, 2011


Does anyone know how many rebels were killed by Kadafi prior to the air raids?

The TNC threw out the number 8,000 the other day. Obviously can't be confirmed. But those are apparently the numbers they are working with.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:00 PM on March 21, 2011


Very true that tanks can't fly, but the resolution gives authority to bomb them anyways. This isn't just a no-fly zone authorization.
posted by honestcoyote at 1:04 PM on March 21, 2011


And obviously even 8,000 does not compare to Rwanda. It is interesting, though, I have heard more than a few leaders announce today that they prevented a massacre in Benghazi. Who knows if they had something like Hama in mind when they hastily drew up the NFZ. Regardless, it is perhaps a too-easy thing to say that one prevented a massacre; similarly, it is perhaps a too-easy thing to say that one did not. Nobody knows what would have happened without intervention. But the razing of Benghazi and the execution of hundreds and probably thousands of people definitely seemed likely.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:04 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that it was less about preventing a massacre and more about refereeing a civil war to make it more 'fair'.

Now they can fight it out on the ground like civilized people.
posted by empath at 1:09 PM on March 21, 2011


Uh, why the hell are we there then? I mean seriously, isn't the purpose of this to help the rebels? What good is just making sure that Qadaffi has no air force? He was on the edge of whipping them on the ground, no?

A NFZ remains useful. The air force was being used by Qaddafi, and presumably would have been used more thoroughly if a NFZ wasn't on the cards. Preventing civilian casualties presumably means a more defensive role than providing air support. i.e. preventing tanks or artillery being sent to Bengazi but not bombing Qaddafi's defensive positions, especially where civilian could be threatened.

Does anyone know how many rebels were killed by Kadafi prior to the air raids?

The estimates are 1000-10000 (lower end from the UN and the WHO, upper end the Transitional Council, so probably the lower is more accurate), compared to 10000 in Sarajevo. Of course rebels can't really be considered civilians. It was more a question of preventing a massacre occurring in Bengazi.
posted by Marlinspike at 1:09 PM on March 21, 2011


Talk of a "house-to-house" cleansing and all of that...
posted by Artw at 1:12 PM on March 21, 2011


the razing of Benghazi

OK but finding massacres in recent middle eastern history (Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, West Bank, Iraq, Kurdistan) is relatively easy, is it not? Again I'm just playing out the consequence of the argument for following through on every potential interventionist impulse. It's a seemingly infinite list.

Now I want to back up a bit and focus on the fact (mentioned in the thread somewhere above) that the US maintained a NFZ and sanctions against Iraq in the decade between the two Gulf Wars of the two Bushes: as we know, this failed to topple Saddam Hussein, and I have a serious question here about whether beginning a potentially protracted 10 years or so of NFZ and sanctions in Libya, presumably while Kaddafi's forces and the rebels battle it out in a Lebanon-style civil war, is really a good idea?

I mean, if there's no reasonably quick resolution to this situation, what then? I mean if one argues for intervention presumably one should also argue for intervention that does not drag on for years or decades. But then of course it's ground troops or special forces of some kind and the "Pottery Barn" problem all over again.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 1:13 PM on March 21, 2011


Talk of a "house-to-house" cleansing and all of that...

Yeah. The ole colonel didn't mask his intentions. Interesting how Saif almost immediately tried to qualify his father's words. I wonder about Saif. He has obviously sided with his father and his family, but if this had occurred in two years' time, or five, would he have taken a different stance? Probably he's just a sociopath but there are times when he genuinely seems to believe that he was helping the country follow a path to democracy. But it's never that easy, huh. As he knows now.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:15 PM on March 21, 2011


Please note I'm not staking out a clear position here on whther or not our actions are justified in Libya, so much as momentarily pointing out the necessarily selective way in which interventionist arguments proceed: there is no shortage of conflict in the world that might be interpreted by some as requiring military action.

I should be clear that when I talk about Sarajevo I'm not saying the situation is directly comparable, I'm arguing against the complete rejection of intervention. Interventionist arguments are also necessarily selective, because as you say, the scale of the threat must be evaluated, and also balanced against the damage which could be done through military action.
posted by Marlinspike at 1:16 PM on March 21, 2011


Zawiya town centre devastated and almost deserted

They are sweeping through Zawiya, rounding up young men they suspect might have been involved in the rebellion. As we left, we saw one young man inside a speeding jeep, bloodstains on his shirt and a soldier virtually standing on him. Troops are going house to house, according to one resident, rounding up dozens of suspects. We talked to one man who said: "People are being arrested for no reason, people who stayed in their homes for the whole seven days of the fighting. You cannot imagine what is happening here."

I don't think there is any remote possibility Benghazi wouldn't have faced the same or worse.
posted by Artw at 1:17 PM on March 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Now I want to back up a bit and focus on the fact (mentioned in the thread somewhere above) that the US maintained a NFZ and sanctions against Iraq in the decade between the two Gulf Wars of the two Bushes:

Just for the sake of historical accuracy, it should be noted that this wasn't just a No Fly Zone either. There was an ongoing aerial bombing campaign, under both Bush I & Clinton, which the Lamestream Media mostly ignored. I'm thinking that Obama figured he could pull off the same trick & nobody'd notice.
posted by scalefree at 1:21 PM on March 21, 2011


I don't think there is any remote possibility Benghazi wouldn't have faced the same or worse.

Fair enough, but what we saw in Zawiya could still happen in other Libyan towns, could it not? The rebels may be momentarily empowered by the air raids, but have we crippled Kaddafi's military such that it cannot still massacre, imprison and intimidate large segments of the civilian population? I don't know the answer to this, and I'm actually eager to see how this all plays out. But I can also see how we might be paving the road to hell with our intentions.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 1:23 PM on March 21, 2011


Gaddafi's sixth son slain by suicide assault? That's an even worse fate than that of the sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sickness.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:28 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fair enough, but what we saw in Zawiya could still happen in other Libyan towns, could it not? The rebels may be momentarily empowered by the air raids, but have we crippled Kaddafi's military such that it cannot still massacre, imprison and intimidate large segments of the civilian population?

It could indeed still happen, but we are trying to make it less likely.

For one thing, we couldn't be more aggressive even if we would wish to, because the public backlash to civilian casualties would make Qaddafi stronger.
posted by Marlinspike at 1:28 PM on March 21, 2011


Obama obviously knew this would get attention and lots of it. You may disagree with him but he's not stupid.

As for the media, they paid attention to the little (and one big) wars of Bush and Clinton. If you're speaking of the NFZ in Iraq, I remember reading about the rare occasions when some Iraqi radar station was stupid enough to turn on and it would get destroyed. That wasn't ignored by the media even if the public really didn't care.

And there was extensive coverage, including annoying CNN graphics, during the sustained bombing of Desert Fox in 12-98, and in the retaliatory strikes after the assassination attempt on Bush I.
posted by honestcoyote at 1:30 PM on March 21, 2011


It looks like there are some issues with NATO command.

Turkey favors a short intervention, with a clear limitation against any kind of occupation. They are also pissed that the alliance wasn't part of the decision making process.

Italy favors NATO control as well and wants to stop operations if Europe can't find a common voice. They also want a short intervention because of close economic ties (oil supplies, and huge investment of Libyan capital in Italian state industry, personal friendship with Berlusconi and Gaddafi aka the bunga bunga factor).

France really wants an open ended commitment and the ability to escalate. Also since France has a special relationship with NATO and is the big backer of the idea of a pan European Army, they probably would love for the Americans to butt out and let them take charge. Also recall the longstanding French ties to North Africa.
posted by humanfont at 1:35 PM on March 21, 2011


>It seems to me that it was less about preventing a massacre and more about refereeing a civil war to make it more 'fair'.
>Now they can fight it out on the ground like civilized people.


A possibility of bloody and protracted civil war, with an apparent stalemate? Yeah, that's a real possibility. But it's better than the certainty of a swift short slaughter, which is what was about to happen.

The larger picture is this:

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has the US over a barrel.

What we are doing in Libya is about what we can't do in KSE, or Bahrain, or the other places with problematic leaders on whom we are deeply dependent.

Doing missile strikes and bombing runs on Gaddafi's rickety company town is a relatively cheap way of buying Hearts and Minds credits among the Arabic young people. And really, though we're not going to get very many of them, it was really one of the only places such credits were on offer.

In a sense, the intervention is less about the massacre that would be happening today, than some vote or revolt that might happen in the next five months or fifteen years.

If the US really can pull back after a few days, or a week-- and more importantly-- if this operation is successfully branded as Sarkozy's Desperate Re-Election Bid (and better yet, if Sarkozy and Cameron et al. actually keep dropping bombs, and Gaddafi is actually forced out within the month), this will turn out to be quite the bargain.

(Not, obviously, for the many civillians who will be killed. For the US, though, it'll likely be a very good deal.)
posted by darth_tedious at 1:35 PM on March 21, 2011


>>Arabic young people

Arab youth.
Grr.
posted by darth_tedious at 1:38 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


humanfont: Sarkozy also needs a domestic political boost. Which is always a good reason to go to war. I mean never. Well, one or the other.
posted by scalefree at 1:42 PM on March 21, 2011


I have to admit though, letting Gadaffi kill all the rebels/their families/anyone who happened to be around and bulldoze their corpses into the ground would have been a clear endgame with no ambiguity. We've certainly denied ourselves the sense of certainty that would have come from that.
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on March 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


While I've been disappointed with Jonathan Chiat as of recently as a writer -- he's become quite lazy as of late -- I do like this bit of back-and-forth between him and Matthew Yglesias with regards to discussing Libya in more moralistic terms:
Yglesias should really think more carefully about whether his policy of highly-charged moralistic language is helpful to his side of the debate. The situation is that ordinary Libyans grew tired of being governed by a borderline-insane kleptocratic dictator and started peacefully demonstrating against him. Then portions of the military defected. Then the borderline-insane dictator started using his vast store of plundered oil wealth to hire foreign mercenaries to kill his people. Then the people started pleading for foreign governments to help through arms shipments and a no-fly zone, while the borderline-insane dictator broadcast threats to commit mass slaughter.

There are various levels of commitment foreign governments might offer to these rebels -- a no-fly zone, a no-drive zone, arms shipments, or even (though nobody is advocating this) ground troops. Yglesias argues for watching them die, on the grounds that any help for the rebels could lead to a quagmire. I don't agree, though he does have good reasons for his position. But surely he understands that the emotional, moralistic pull of the arguments on my side are at least as strong. My side of the argument would probably lead to the killing of Qaddafi's mercenaries and loyal armed forces. His side would almost certainly lead to the massive slaughter of civilians and the ignoring of their pleas for even minimal support. I think he would do well to keep the argument focused on cold-blooded strategic grounds.
I've been reading Samantha Power's "A Problem From Hell" to see if I could get any insight into some of the thinking behind the U.S. involvement in Libya. It's kind of interesting to see a lot of the political discourse playing out in the same manner she wrote about in the book, which is to say the same ways that prohibited intervention before. But more thoughts about this latter. I've only gotten through the chapter on the Armenian genocide.
posted by Weebot at 1:54 PM on March 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


@FMCNL: Mystery flight lands in Libya during UN vote, then heads to parts unknown via Malta & Italy. Very very strange. Audio.
posted by scalefree at 1:59 PM on March 21, 2011


letting Gadaffi kill all the rebels/their families/anyone who happened to be around and bulldoze their corpses into the ground would have been a clear endgame with no ambiguity.

You would make a great propagandist, since every interventionist war nowadays needs a veneer of "we are doing this to save lives" rhetoric to capture the imaginations of the West. With a crystal ball in 1982 we could have invaded Syria to prevent the Hama massacre, but it would have meant siding with the Muslim Brotherhood and a protracted war against the Syrian government; that same year we could have invaded Beirut prior to Sabra and Shatila, etc.

If you re-read any of my statements on this thread I have avoided arguing for or against the ethical merits of air raids and/or potential intervention in Libya; I've tried instead to be pragmatic about what's at stake long-term, where we're headed, and how we extract ourselves if it all goes tits up.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 1:59 PM on March 21, 2011


scalefree, I've seen (and heard) that and am wondering what the theories are as to what that's about and who is involved.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:01 PM on March 21, 2011


Be pragmatic all you like, just don't kid yourself over what would have happened if we'd done nothing.
posted by Artw at 2:05 PM on March 21, 2011


And speaking of massacres if only someone could have prevented Operation Vigilant Resolve in Fallujah.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 2:05 PM on March 21, 2011


Er, what is that to do with anything?

I'm sorry, but if you're flying the flag of being hyper pragmatic about everything and weighing costs and beneiftcs you can't just point at random bad crap and say "see? see?".
posted by Artw at 2:12 PM on March 21, 2011


And speaking of massacres if only someone could have prevented Operation Vigilant Resolve in Fallujah.

I doubt you'll find many here in favour of the Iraqi invasion. Just to make it absolutely clear, to support intervention in some cases does not mean to support it in all cases.
posted by Marlinspike at 2:13 PM on March 21, 2011


don't kid yourself over what would have happened if we'd done nothing.

And don't kid yourself that you have a crystal ball or that there are no ulterior motives (re: oil reserves) involved; all this back patting about the ethical high ground of military action in Libya, even if it's based in part on reality, begins to feel like empty grandstanding after a while--especially in light of the cumulative effect (re: photos published of U.S. atrocities in Afghanistan) of the protracted, ongoing, extensive American military involvement in the greater middle east.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 2:14 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


random bad crap

I don't see it as random or unrelated; I see it as a cumulative unwillingness on the part of American military power to see through the consequences of its actions.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 2:16 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


And don't kid yourself that you have a crystal ball or that there are no ulterior motives (re: oil reserves) involved;

I thought the US/Europe had a pretty good deal going with Gaddafi. What do we gain through chaos? I really don't get the "this is about oil" card. Obviously that was true in Iraq, but here, eh, not so much. I think darth_tedious nails it: this is about trying to build up our cred among the "Arab youth." Whether or not we can contain ourselves from royally effing it up yet once again remains to be seen.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:17 PM on March 21, 2011


(re: photos published of U.S. atrocities in Afghanistan)

No, it looks like NATO will have to get out of Afghanistan and leave it to its fate. We have destroyed our credibility by failing to prevent those sort of abuses, and it certainly means domestic support for future ground invasions in the Middle-East will be very low.
posted by Marlinspike at 2:18 PM on March 21, 2011


So basically your pragmatic approach seems to be basically one of weighing up action and inaction and finding inaction better because of a bunch of unrelated previous greivances, in a way that would pretty clearly apply to any and all actione ever? Sorry, that is not pragmatism. Find something else to call it.

As for crystal balls, If you'd have asked me last week what would have happened I would have said Gaddafi would have massacred the populations of the rebel towns and the UN would have made a few token squeaks about it and then done nothing. I was actually quite pissed off when Obama made some vague supporting noises for teh rebels without backing it up whatoseover, because ny then it seemed pretty clear where things were going. So yeah, my crystal ball is broken. In this case I'm quite glad of that.
posted by Artw at 2:22 PM on March 21, 2011


Uh, why the hell are we there then? I mean seriously, isn't the purpose of this to help the rebels? What good is just making sure that Qadaffi has no air force? He was on the edge of whipping them on the ground, no?

A NFZ remains useful. The air force was being used by Qaddafi, and presumably would have been used more thoroughly if a NFZ wasn't on the cards. Preventing civilian casualties presumably means a more defensive role than providing air support. i.e. preventing tanks or artillery being sent to Bengazi but not bombing Qaddafi's defensive positions, especially where civilian could be threatened.


He was just going to shoot them all going house-to-house. The only way to prevent civilian casualties is to pound his ground troops with air power. And that's what they are doing.

Make no mistake, we are 100% helping the rebels as best we can within our own political constraints.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:25 PM on March 21, 2011


Uh, why the hell are we there then? I mean seriously, isn't the purpose of this to help the rebels? What good is just making sure that Qadaffi has no air force? He was on the edge of whipping them on the ground, no?

We've blown up the airforce, the heavy weapons (tanks, artillery) and command and control facilities, fuel and ammo dumps. We flew 80 missions today, what's going to be left to bomb after a week. Now the only ones with this equipment will be the rebel groups. You don't need much to stop Gaddafi's remaining technicals and light infantry.

Without heavy weapons the rebels won't be able to advance much, nor will Gadddafi. So this will lead to a stalemate. There are three scenarios: negotiations leading to a transitional gov, rebel consolidation over a period of months, coalition fracturing and long ter statelessness. Only in the third would a ground intervention be required.
posted by humanfont at 2:27 PM on March 21, 2011


> And don't kid yourself that you have a crystal ball or that there are no ulterior motives (re: oil reserves) involved; all this back patting about the ethical high ground of military action in Libya, even if it's based in part on reality, begins to feel like empty grandstanding after a while

Of course US foreign policy is a product of Realpolitik-- that's generally understood, no?

Of course oil is a huge factor (although Gaddafi has been playing nice internationally and keeping the spice flowing for some years).

If anything, those atrocity pics out of Afghanistan were probably one more strong strategic reason to intervene.
posted by darth_tedious at 2:31 PM on March 21, 2011


because of a bunch of unrelated previous greivances

The longer the West compartmentalizes its approach in the middle east the more it can expect outcomes and long term consequences that do not benefit the populations in the region.

Christopher Hitchens thought the Iraq war was a good idea b/c of Kurdish grievances, some think air raids in Libya are a good idea b/c of potential future grievances among Libyans; maybe in some sense both POV are with merit. The problem I am addressing is whether or not our desire for the instant gratification of a "just war" (in part to remedy the feeling that we've not had one in a while) matches up with the reality down the road. You can sniff at that all you want, but I am really weary of the path American policy has taken in the middle east in the past. Maybe this time is different; we shall see:

The first days of foreign intervention mirror the experience of the US and its allies in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, by going extremely well. Air attacks shattered a column of tanks and infantry south of Benghazi. Survivors have fled. The rout may soon resemble the rapid dissolutions of the Taliban and the Iraqi army.

In Iraq and Afghanistan most people were glad to get rid of their rulers, and most Libyans will be glad to see the back of Gaddafi. His regime may well fall more quickly than is currently expected. Pundits have been wagging their fingers in the last few days, saying Gaddafi may be mad but he is not stupid, but this is to underestimate the opéra bouffe quality of his regime.

It is the next stage in Libya – after the fall of Gaddafi – which has the potential to produce a disaster similar to Afghanistan and Iraq.
cite
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 2:33 PM on March 21, 2011


It is the next stage in Libya – after the fall of Gaddafi – which has the potential to produce a disaster similar to Afghanistan and Iraq.

This.
posted by scalefree at 2:40 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


.Be pragmatic all you like, just don't kid yourself over what would have happened if we'd done nothing.

You actually don't know what would have happened. Maybe Benghazi would have surrendered and there was no massacre. Maybe the hope that we were going to intervene was the only thing prolonging the conflict.
posted by empath at 2:41 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


He was just going to shoot them all going house-to-house. The only way to prevent civilian casualties is to pound his ground troops with air power. And that's what they are doing.

There may well have been a long and bloody fight in Bengazi, in which artillery and jets would have been used. Qaddafi has been indiscriminately using artillery on other cities in recent days. And as I say, the threat of international intervention would have restrained his use of aircraft throughout the entire conflict.
posted by Marlinspike at 2:43 PM on March 21, 2011


We've blown up the airforce, the heavy weapons (tanks, artillery) and command and control facilities, fuel and ammo dumps. We flew 80 missions today, what's going to be left to bomb after a week. Now the only ones with this equipment will be the rebel groups. You don't need much to stop Gaddafi's remaining technicals and light infantry.

And the true believers that will fight to hold Tripoli to the death, house to house, with IEDs or whatever other means are at their disposal? Going to take them out with airpower, too?

Having superior weapons only matters if you're willing to engage in mass slaughter.
posted by empath at 2:44 PM on March 21, 2011


I mean, I don't understand how the rebels taking tripoli will be less bloody than Ghaddafi taking Benghazi -- can someone explain that to me?
posted by empath at 2:45 PM on March 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I mean, I don't understand how the rebels taking tripoli will be less bloody than Ghaddafi taking Benghazi -- can someone explain that to me?

It all depends on whose blood is being spilled.
posted by scalefree at 2:46 PM on March 21, 2011


You actually don't know what would have happened.

Obviously we cannot discount the possibility of magic unicorns saving the day. Or the slightly less likely one of Benghazi surrendering and Gaddafi not killing everyone there as he promised. I concede that we are going with the most likely outcome here rather than bizarre and improbable ones.
posted by Artw at 2:51 PM on March 21, 2011


>It is the next stage in Libya – after the fall of Gaddafi – which has the potential to produce a disaster similar to Afghanistan and Iraq.

The results boil down to this:

If the US is occupying in a month, it'll be a disaster. If the French are occupying in a month, it's not that big a deal.

I don't really expect either, and expect the former much less than the latter.

If the Libyans are running things, in a fairly messy way, and a somewhat corrupt, somewhat despotic regime emerges... from a political standpoint-- given the alternatives-- that's actually not that bad of an outcome, so long as things aren't too bloody.

There was a political groundswell; it had to go somewhere; the US' Mid-East moral credibility was down to nil; but now, so long as the US doesn't put boots on the ground, it can claim it was on the side of the angels.

Which, when it comes to influencing future up-and-comers in oil-rich states, will be a not-insignificant point.
posted by darth_tedious at 2:54 PM on March 21, 2011


the most likely outcome

Speaking of outcomes, perhaps thinking past the next 24 or 48 hours might help?

In his comments on Sunday, Admiral Mullen suggested that objective lay outside the bounds of the military campaign, saying on NBC that Colonel Gaddafi's remaining in power after the United States military accomplished its mission was "potentially one outcome." Mr. Gates, on a flight to Russia, said he was concerned about that possible result. Though he praised the mission's "successful start," he cautioned that a partitioned Libya, with rebels holding the east and Colonel Gaddafi the West, could bring trouble. "I think all countries probably would like to see Libya remain a unified state," Mr. Gates said. cite

Unified in what way and around what is the question, no?
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 2:55 PM on March 21, 2011


Speaking of outcomes, perhaps thinking past the next 24 or 48 hours might help?

As opposed to dwelling on the past 48 hours and sundry grievances of the past 10 years?
posted by Artw at 3:11 PM on March 21, 2011


>Unified in what way and around what is the question, no?

How It'll Be Unified:
With guns, but with somewhat more responsiveness to external political pressure than before, and probably more internal political groups and narratives in viable competition.

What It'll Be Unified Around:
Oil and tribal loyalties.

Gaddafi wasn't actually among the bloodiest of dictators, perhaps because he seems to have bought into his own image as Savior of His People.

Again, though, this intervention is just a cheap way of demonstrating the possibility of political change, absent Islamist revolution... which, again, is going to be important, years from now, as oil tightens truly up, and when KSA starts to crack.
posted by darth_tedious at 3:13 PM on March 21, 2011


>>tightens truly up

Poetry.
posted by darth_tedious at 3:14 PM on March 21, 2011


I mean, I don't understand how the rebels taking tripoli will be less bloody than Ghaddafi taking Benghazi -- can someone explain that to me?

You are essentially equating the rebels with Gaddafi, which seems unjustified. There is an assumption that the general public in Libya has a positive attitude towards anti-regime protesters, as they did in Egypt and Tunisia. The difference in Libya is that the regime didn't give up, and has control over a militia and some elements of the military, and the protesters were forced to launch an armed rebellion. That assumption is backup up by the fact that there have been uprisings across Libya, including near to Tripoli.

I suppose it's possible given the escalation of violence that there will be reprisals against Gaddafi supporters, but the rebels have no grievance against the general population of Tripoli, as Gaddafi has against Benghazi. Your argument could also be used against almost any armed rebellion.
posted by Marlinspike at 3:17 PM on March 21, 2011


*backed up
posted by Marlinspike at 3:17 PM on March 21, 2011


sundry grievances of the past 10 years

This is not sentimental identity politics on my part or looking at this as "grievances." You are after all arguing the world should not have to grieve for more rebels killed by Kaddafi, and thus are yourself appealing to sentiment. And from an ethical perspective you may well be right. But deciding, on behalf of a country already addicted to war, to launch or not launch $100 Million worth of missiles at another country, should take into account many things, and not just one thing, should it not?

Or is it really that black and white for you?
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 3:18 PM on March 21, 2011


Alan Grayson: No Fly: A Tactic in Search of a Strategy.
posted by scalefree at 3:29 PM on March 21, 2011


One of the most common arguments on this thread against action in Libya is 'why aren't we intervening in Bahrain and Yemen, then?'. To which the answer is exactly that we have to take into account many things, and the situation isn't that black and white.
posted by Marlinspike at 3:29 PM on March 21, 2011


heh. Yes, clearly I am the absolutist here who fails to take into account the substantial dollar value of missiles and how it overides all other concerns.
posted by Artw at 3:30 PM on March 21, 2011


You are essentially equating the rebels with Gaddafi, which seems unjustified. There is an assumption that the general public in Libya has a positive attitude towards anti-regime protesters, as they did in Egypt and Tunisia.

In the absence of mass, populist, non-violent protests, I don't think you can be sure of that.

It has every indication of being a tribal civil war, and I think it will continue to be one, even if Gaddafi were killed or stepped down tomorrow.

There was a previous thread on metafilter where I got into an argument with someone over the utility of non-violent protests over violent insurrection, and I think this is a perfect example of why non-violence is vastly preferable -- as you saw in Egypt it requires diverse, opposed groups to compromise and reach consensus on goals, etc, and the only possible way it could succeed is if it's truely a popular movement. When one side grabs guns and starts burning buildings right away, you have no idea how much popular support they have. Only that they have weapons and a willingness to use them.

And yes I do recognize that Gaddaffi started the violence and I could care less whether he lives or dies. He's a brutal dictator that deserves whatever he gets.

I still don't see any path to an end state here that isn't either a protracted stalemate and partition or a bloodbath.
posted by empath at 3:32 PM on March 21, 2011


heh. Yes, clearly I am the absolutist here who fails to take into account the substantial dollar value of missiles and how it overides all other concerns.

You're not engaging honestly with people.
posted by empath at 3:33 PM on March 21, 2011


The longer the West compartmentalizes its approach in the middle east the more it can expect outcomes and long term consequences that do not benefit the populations in the region.

This Middle East where does it begin and end? This region doesn't exist other than on some 19th century imperialist's map. Trying to generalize the region is the cause of much of our sorrow
posted by humanfont at 3:43 PM on March 21, 2011


You're not engaging honestly with people.

Well, whatever. I don’t think glossing over the probable massacre that the NFZ prevented because it contradicts some entrenched view you have about the Always Badness of Intervention is particularly honest. I don’t think vague faff about “being pragmatic” to handwave it away is particularly honest. I think crying over the cost of missiles is maybe honest but frankly a little misplaced right now. I especially don’t think that extoling the virtues of thinking about the future when your main interest is second guessing a decision made several days ago is very honest.
posted by Artw at 3:43 PM on March 21, 2011


arguments on this thread against action in Libya

My own view is that the burden of any argument should fall on those in favor of intervention, and not those who are either against or are uncertain.

This is in part because of the lopsided shock-doctrine equation: i.e. the consequence of American military gambits tends historically to fall most on those who inhabit the countries America becomes engaged with, and not (without conscription) to actually have much felt consequence in everyday American domestic life.

As an aside, in the case of Libya if we don't support the rebels now, and they fail to overthrow the government, they will likely have grievances about being abandoned just like the Kurds did. On the other hand, if they are successful, but whatever coalition is patched together falls apart, America and the Western powers will be seen as having caused the dysfunction.

Seeing how historically prone to intervention America has become, and how it is already embroiled in two ongoing conflicts (Iraq and Afghanistan), I think some extraordinary claims (complete with long-term plans) need to be made for engaging in another one. I'm not sure why that seems like an unrealistic request to some.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 3:46 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


It has every indication of being a tribal civil war, and I think it will continue to be one, even if Gaddafi were killed or stepped down tomorrow.

Do you have any evidence to back that up? I would, sincerely, be interested to read it. I would say in argument to the contrary that uprisings have occurred in all three of the historic regions of Libya- Cyrenaica, Fezzan and Tripolitania. I've also found this article about the tribal set-up in Libya.

"The degree of political allegiance to the ruling regime in Tripoli varies from one tribe to the next, particularly over the forty years that Gaddafi has been in power. The tribe which has the strongest, and longest, ties to the Gaddafi region is the Magariha tribe, who which has yet to announce their position on the bloody demonstrations that have been taking place across the country for the past week ... Gaddafi's own tribe, the Gaddafi tribe, had historically not been an important tribe in Libya prior to Colonel Gaddafi's ascent to power, and the Gaddafi tribe was not known for playing a major role in Libya's right against colonialism over the last 200 years.

The leadership of the Magariha tribe acknowledges a debt of gratitude to Gaddafi and his regime for securing the return of one of the tribe's members, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, from prison in Britain after he was convicted of being behind the Lockerbie bombing. However sources also told Asharq Al-Awsat that this has not prevented a number of youths of the Magariha tribe from participating – with members from other tribes – in the demonstrations and protests against Gaddafi's rule, especially in cities in eastern and southern Libya."


It's also a little silly to say non-violent protests are better. Clearly that's correct, but often they are not possible, particularly in situations when a change of government is most necessary.
posted by Marlinspike at 3:51 PM on March 21, 2011


>America and the Western powers will be seen as having caused the dysfunction

The run-up to the attack has been an orchestration of this message:
We don't own the pottery, we're not keeping the pottery, and we make no guarantees about the pottery. We're not even going to help with the sweeping.

The message may not ultimately hold; I suspect it will.
posted by darth_tedious at 3:55 PM on March 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


My own view is that the burden of any argument should fall on those in favor of intervention, and not those who are either against or are uncertain.

I assume those who are against intervention aren't afforded the luxury of making contradictory arguments.

Your point about the West being held responsible for any future train wreck in Libya is a good one. But it seems to me by intervening we have reduced the probability of the wreck occurring. Whether the former or the latter is of greatest importance calls into play fundamental questions about foreign policy.
posted by Marlinspike at 4:01 PM on March 21, 2011


fundamental questions about foreign policy

We're going to have to ask these questions sooner or later, and that's part of my overall concern.

A lot of people are taking a reactive stance, i.e. "a bunch of people were about to be massacred, so we had to drop a lot of bombs."

I'm not even sure the question of whether or not to deal with Libya militarily is that important in the long-term; much more so is the question brought up way up-thread in this comment by humanfont:

We in the USA are punched out. The fight is out of us especially wrt any place with sand. We're bombing just out of habit at this point.

For instance, people who are cavalier about the price of the missiles being dropped are operating on the assumption that America's power is an infinite resource, yet much about our current predicament indicates an empire with profound cracks in its edifices.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 4:11 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do think that maybe NOT being seen as allowing a massacre to take place might have some benefits that are worth the $100 million you are so worried about?
posted by Artw at 4:19 PM on March 21, 2011


I'm trying to think a little further ahead than just preventing another massacre; those will unfortunately not stop now or at Libya's borders; if it's saving lives we're after there's always the possibility of a humanitarian mission to Haiti or Wisconsin.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 4:22 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do think that maybe NOT being seen as allowing a massacre to take place might have some benefits that are worth the $100 million you are so worried about?

It's 800 million, and the costs of this operation are far more than the cost of the tomahawk missiles. Every little war we get in, succeed or fail, is another excuse not to cut the military, another excuse for more bases, another excuse to intervene in one conflict after another. And meanwhile the Senate is about to gut social security because we can't afford it.
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
-- Eisenhower.
posted by empath at 5:03 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, it's the missiles The Emperor of Ice Cream was particularly upset about, but I conceed the point that any military action is a large and regretable expense.

At the same time - as pragmatists, do you not see any likely benefit whatsoever in preventing the massacre that you would overwise be seen as being complit in?
posted by Artw at 5:21 PM on March 21, 2011


What's the benefit? Cost is only one side of the equation. We have a 14 trillion dollar economy based on long supply chains and the global economic system. It rebuilt Europe after WWII and most recently lifted Brazil, China and India out of poverty. Maintaining that isn't free.
posted by humanfont at 5:28 PM on March 21, 2011


over the probable massacre that the NFZ prevented

I think its a bit early to say.<
posted by Ironmouth at 5:48 PM on March 21, 2011


At the same time - as pragmatists, do you not see any likely benefit whatsoever in preventing the massacre that you would overwise be seen as being complit in?

A pragmatic look suggests that if you are worried about being complicit in deaths you should demand military funding be cut for other humanitarian efforts.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:49 PM on March 21, 2011


maybe the UK will take the lead now and the FT -- whose editorial page i respect greatly (along with fareed 'state dept unto himself' zakaria) -- has been cheerleading, but not unconditionally:
...the British, French and Americans, who are leading the attacks, all have strong reasons for seeing an end to Col Gaddafi's rule now that the sword has finally been drawn...

This temptation must, however, be resisted. The coalition's most priceless asset is the sanction it has received not only from the UN, but from the Arab League also. It is both possible and strongly desirable that, as a result of the League's backing, Arab states could become directly involved in the policing of the no-fly zone – something that would surely frustrate any attempt by Col Gaddafi to portray military action as a colonial assault on a Muslim nation. This support would not survive an effort by the western powers to weigh in directly to topple Col Gaddafi. They should not jeopardise it by extending the mandate without explicit UN support.

The job of bringing down Col Gaddafi should be left to the Libyans themselves. It is to be hoped that once his military momentum is decisively punctured, as it surely will be, his hold over his own people will be similarly weakened. His armed forces are not formidable. They have performed poorly in the revolt, taking surprisingly heavy casualties when attacking relatively small rebel-held towns.

True, there is inevitably the possibility that the uprising may now descend into civil or tribal conflict. And Col Gaddafi's best hope is perhaps to play the Libyans off against one another. But there is no certainty that he would be successful. Although resistance has been firmest in the east, there were demonstrations against the regime all across the country in the early days of the uprising.

The coalition can help the rebels by protecting those parts of Libya that are free and by putting pressure on those doing Col Gaddafi's bidding. That means not only attacking his military, but also by making it crystal clear to the regime’s servants that they will be held accountable for their actions when it is finally toppled.

The first few days of the campaign have been dramatic. The progress on to its conclusion will almost certainly be slower and more difficult. Western leaders must show patience. While they cannot do the Libyans’ fighting for them, they can and should contain Col Gaddafi. Once his military capacities are drained, the coalition should pull back to a vigilant posture from which it would be able to intervene were further violence to be threatened by the regime.

It will almost certainly be a messy process, but one that is surely preferable to deeper western military involvement with all its perils and uncertainties. As T.E. Lawrence observed of warfare in Arab lands almost a century ago: "It is better that the Arabs do it tolerably than you do it perfectly."

If they are to put Col Gaddafi's regime firmly behind them, the Libyan people should liberate themselves. The coalition should assist. It must not run the show.
this sounds sensible to me, altho i'm admittedly biased (and willing to be swayed by argument, facts and outcomes of course) but if this lady's attitude is any indication, we were right to assist the rebels in benghazi.

also for more context on what's at stake for the future outlook of the region...
The historic importance of Europeans and Americans being on the same side as those Arabs who have started the long climb out of the deep pit of autocracy that has stunted and disfigured their world cannot be overstated...

If Europe and America, hitherto wedded to a network of strongmen in the interests of stability, cheap oil and the security of Israel, now stay realigned with Arabs intent on reclaiming their destiny, that will open the widest, most sunlit avenues towards democratic change in the region for more than half a century.

Nothing in the Middle East, of course, is ever quite that simple. For a start, Washington's de facto willingness to back rebels in Libya but just rap the knuckles of allied Bahrain – headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet – while it brutalises unarmed protesters is incoherent. By contrast, Saudi Arabia's support for Libyan rebels demanding freedom but its suppression of reformist calls for constitutional monarchy at home and in neighbouring Bahrain is contradictory – but entirely coherent with the interests of the ruling families in both countries.

Which way should the US, with little strategic interest in north Africa but a lot at stake in the Gulf, jump? Indeed, how much democracy do both Europeans and Americans really want in the Arab world?

These are the sort of questions posed by geopolitical "realists", never more unrealistically than now, in their blithe assumption the status quo can be indefinitely prolonged.

Just as the republican dynasties of the Arabs are having to confront revolution and regime change, their absolute monarchies will need to contemplate constitutional monarchy and power-sharing if they are to survive much beyond the short term.

Saudi Arabia, Washington's main ally in the Gulf, is moving decisively the other way. Its intervention in Bahrain guarantees radicalisation when reform is all most Gulf citizens want. King Abdullah is offering his people carrots, in the form of tens of billions of dollars in hand-outs, and sticks, in the persons of tens of thousands more policemen.

He wishes to reinforce the House of Saud's historic alliance with the Wahhabi clerical establishment, the main obstacle to change, as well as the nearly seven-decades-old alliance with the US. The kingdom's rulers will eventually have to choose. With mixed messaging from the west over Libya and Bahrain, that message is not getting through.
posted by kliuless at 6:48 PM on March 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's 800 million
for 112 missles. No. The missles are zero sum gain money wise. Come to think of it, it may already be allocated under resupply which i believe is in the budget. They will be replaced. It is cheaper then a lost plane and pilot along with the possibility of civilian deaths. Right now the navies of America are working hard, from Japan to the Gulf. Imo, if you want someone out, and everyone pretty much agrees, you send in the Amercans, in this case an oddly invisible role.

Oddly, I do not think it will be house to house when the push comes. if alot of varied and mixed unit tactics are deployed, it is best to have the resistence informed, then have them decide on how to proceed. Col. G has the city ringed with simple yet eleborate means of protection. the first is having loyalists in all rings around the city to 'encourage' fighting, thisw ill not work, Tripoli is virtually surrounded. Defectors will have to go into the resistence forces and in this chaos Col G hopes to stir up as much as he can and hold out as long he can.
posted by clavdivs at 6:56 PM on March 21, 2011


What is it about spring that leads to wars being started around my damn birthday...it's starting to be a bit depressing really. I support this one, didn't support Iraq...either way, why can't this happen in the Fall?
posted by schyler523 at 7:48 PM on March 21, 2011


The missles are zero sum gain money wise.

Huh? By that logic it's a zero sum game if I burn my house down since it is already paid for.
posted by Justinian at 8:06 PM on March 21, 2011


I'm a US citizen, but I feel very little sense of ownership about what "my" government does. That would require a the existence of a political party that made more than the shallowest pretense of representing my interests or caring what people like me think about anything.

I don't want to get further into a derail about US politics. Save that for some other thread. But I am wondering why my response to this is so different from other people's in the thread. It's finally sunk in after a couple of days that most of you think that what you think makes a difference. You think, for instance, of the money the US spent on Tomahawk missiles used in this conflict as "your" money, and you think it matters whether you think it was well spent or not.

I am cynical about why the US government decided to get involved in this intervention. I don't think it's because they care about the humanitarian situation in Libya, or because they want to "spread democracy." These aren't things they've ever cared about before.

Never the less, I am interested in what's happening in North Africa and am very sympathetic towards the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt and elsewhere, and the rebellion in Libya (as disorganized as it is). It's interesting to me that these uprisings happened and the equations of geopolitics are changing. The US and European governments have to recognize that there will be new governments in Tunisia and Egypt, at least, and maybe elsewhere. They didn't ask for that or instigate it, and no other power did. Those new governments will be pissed that Western governments supported their former dictators. They will also be very sympathetic to the insurgency in Libya. The West is scrambling to get on the good side of the new governments in North Africa.

Western governments also have to think of the reactions of their own people to some extent because they are democracies. Usually, this isn't an issue in the United States where no one knows anything about or cares about foreign policy. But AlJazeera has had a vast increase in viewership in recent weeks in North America. Our government has to realize we're following this and we care (and care in ways that they don't), and that might have changed their calculus somewhat.
posted by nangar at 8:16 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Costs of Libya Operation Already Piling Up
For now, the United States continues to lead operations, although U.S. military leaders insist that control will soon be transferred to an as-yet unnamed coalition leader.

Army Gen. Carter Ham, the Odyssey Dawn operational commander, told reporters on Monday that allies are stepping up to shoulder much of the mission. There were 60 sorties flown on Sunday, about half by U.S. aircraft. But on Monday, coalition allies were expected to fly more than half of the day’s 70 to 80 sorties.

Complicating matters, however, is the fact that most of the coalition nations’ militaries, which operate on a fraction of the Pentagon’s yearly allowance, are grappling with budget pressures of their own. While the Defense Department hopes to transfer control to coalition partners in the coming days, the longer the operations over Libya continue, the more difficult it will be for allies to take the lead.

“If it goes on more than a month, we’re going to be in the forefront [of operations] or we’re going to let Qaddafi stick around,” predicted former Defense comptroller Zakheim, who served under President George W. Bush. “The choices aren’t very pleasant.”
posted by scalefree at 8:26 PM on March 21, 2011


"I expect lies from the government, I don't expect them from my fellow journalists" Fox News called liars over "human shield" claim.
posted by scalefree at 8:31 PM on March 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hardball March 21, 2011:
Matthews: What is going on in the war? Are we going after Qaddafi? What are we doing in this war, do we know?

Richard Engle: The rebels here think we have given them unconditional military support. Their only strategy seems to be allow the US and other military powers to scorch the earth and destroy Qaddafi's military so that they can make a very slow advance toward Tripoli.

They do see a humanitarian element to this because if Qaddafi's forces had been allowed to enter Benghazi or Tobruk there very likely would have been massacres, but now they think this rebel movement which has been leaderless and disorganized believes it has has been recognized and given the full support of the United States military.

Matthews: Are we giving arms of any kind? Small arms, artillery, armor, what are we giving to the rebels. Anything?

Engle: I have seen no evidence that we are giving the rebels anything. They seem to be holding the weapons that they seized from the units of Qaddafi that were destroyed by the Americans. Sometimes they're armed with just pocket knives...

The rebels are in two groups. There are the volunteers, they seem to be a little bit braver, they're the ones heading out to the front lines. They're not having a lot of success. That's one group. The other are the divisions of the army, formerly Qaddafi's army, that defected. And they are not really doing much of anything.

In Tobruk today, we went to the main army command to talk to one of the top generals here who had supposedly joined the rebellion. He was at home today and had taken the day off.

Matthews: My question is is there a sense that those people believe that we're going for the kill, Qaddafi?

Engle: they hope so and that's what they want. They seem to think there could be a few ways to end this conflict. The US could continue to trailblaze for them and scorch the earth so they can move forward. They think they can reach Tripoli in a short amount of time, perhaps weeks or a few months. Or if there's enough pressure, there could be some sort of coup in Tripoli and someone could come out and assassinate Qaddafi. Or the third option would be that one of these missiles comes and actually kills Qaddafi. If none of those things happen there could be a long stalemate.

Once the US starts this, once the US and other powers begin to provide the rebels with a safe haven and air cover it's very hard to take that away. Because if you're offering your protection and they try to advance, they will advance, and you take that air cover away, the rebels are very likely to start losing again and we're back to the situation where we were and the main cities being threatened with being overrun.
Oh yeah, this is going to go swimmingly. What could possibly go wrong?
posted by scalefree at 10:09 PM on March 21, 2011


What could possibly go wrong?

If, for some reason, it were to stop.
posted by telstar at 2:13 AM on March 22, 2011


One of our F-15Es is down over Libya. Clearly this is all going according to somebody's cunning plan. As is the great humanitarian bombing of Tripoli in order to protect civilians in Benghazi. Except for the dead people in Tripoli, I mean. It's not so great for them.

But you can't make an omelette without killing a few people!
posted by Justinian at 5:00 AM on March 22, 2011


Gaddafi forces shell Libyan city - Government troops pound western city of Misurata after a third night of air strikes on Tripoli by coalition warplanes.

posted by Artw at 5:37 AM on March 22, 2011


One of our F-15Es is down over Libya.

The Guardian, quoting Reuters, says both members of the crew are fine. The plain went down in a rebel controlled area. Rob Crilly has been tweeting about it.
posted by nangar at 5:53 AM on March 22, 2011


David Cenciotti, a journalist and former Italian air force pilot, discusses the technical details of the aerial military operation (via the AJE live blog).

Some interesting excerpts:
Day 3 of Operation Odyssey Dawn showed how the air campaign in Libya has entered the “mobile SAMs hunt” phase. This is what the increasing number of sorties by SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defence) assets show. Given that the majority of the fixed SAM launchers and radar sites was clearly identified and selected ahead of the start of the operations and (most probably) attacked and destroyed during Day 1, what remains on the ground is a bunch of mobile launchers that can pose a risk to the aircraft that are (and will be) involved in the enforcement of the No-Fly Zone.
[US Navy VAQ-132 EA-18G Growlers] are particularly important since they can both identify the emitters, updating the EOB (Electronic Order of Battle) of the Libyan forces, and jam the operating frequencies of the SAM radar sites, blinding those that although capable of engaging coalition aircraft can’t be attacked because of the strict RoE (Rules of Engagement) placed to prevent collateral damages.
For sure the French intervention (claiming 4 Libyan tanks destroyed) stopped (or at least helped to stop) the loyalists forces’ advance to Benghazi but many saw this action as an attempt by President Sarkozy, that was criticised in the past for being too cautious, to give France a leading role in the North Africa crisis; others saw the warmongering behaviour as also a means to raise the profile of the Rafale by giving it visibility as a combat proven weapon system…
posted by Marlinspike at 6:52 AM on March 22, 2011


Interesting bit from the wiki article on the 1986 bombing of Libya:
Total Libyan casualties are estimated at 60, including casualties at the bombed airbases. However, the regime created a propaganda campaign with varying stories about killed civilians. For example, the regime's media claimed that Gaddafi's "adopted daughter" had been killed. The name "Hanna" was given to the press. Nobody had ever heard of such daughter. Information about her was also conflicting, for example, her age varied from 12 months to 6 years. Despite absurdity and variations of the stories, the campaign was so successful that a large proportion of the Western press reported the regime's stories as facts.
posted by electroboy at 7:19 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Justinian,


There seems to be a lot of people in here implying that somehow the people of Tripoli don't support this revolution.

Tripoli came by the thousands out two days after the people of Benghazi did. This is known.
Here's video from the area my father is in, souq al jumma, right around that time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIOZG9wZ4c4

There are many videos showing the same thing in gergarish, fashloom. Protestors even made it to the "green square", what people in tripoli now secretly call martyrs square.

They were brutally suppressed, just like Benghazi. But Gaddafi went all out in Tripoli to keep people from ever protesting again. Gunmen at every major intersection. Phone lines cut and/or listened to. Everyone suspected of encouraging protesting rounded up. Hundreds if not thousands have been 'disappeared' in the last month. Injured protestors shot and killed in the hospitals.


Can we stop pretending Tripoli is somehow Gaddafi's support center?


Additionally, No one in Tripoli believes the deaths caused by the allied bombing campign claimed by gaddafi. The reports of deaths only come from state TV, which has also reported huge falsehoods like: gaddafi has freed benghazi and misratah, that there have been no peaceful demonstrations at all in libya, that he is fighting alqaeda and pill popping teens, that no civilians have been killed by his army
posted by mulligan at 8:47 AM on March 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


Excellent infographic/timeline of the North Africa and Middle East unrest from Slate
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:51 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


mulligan, I understand that you may be reticent to discuss all that you know, but can you share with us anything else that you know? Are your family members safe?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:51 AM on March 22, 2011


Channel 4 News: "Six villagers in a field on the outskirts of Benghazi were shot and injured when a US helicopter landed to rescue a crew member from the crashed jet"
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:53 AM on March 22, 2011


Huh? By that logic it's a zero sum game if I burn my house down since it is already paid for.

welcome to the army!
posted by clavdivs at 9:32 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kucinich and Nader calling for impeachment.
posted by mkb at 9:36 AM on March 22, 2011


The Netherlands is preparing to contribute F-16 fighters, a tanker aircraft and a minesweeper vessel, Dutch media say.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:49 AM on March 22, 2011


Kucinich and Nader calling for impeachment.

Oh, well that's the end of the Obama era then.

Seriously, can someone enlighten me, why does the WH not call for a vote in Congress? The Brits just voted overwhelmingly in favour, and there is broad international support.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:51 AM on March 22, 2011


Empath: You argue against the assumption that the general population of Libya is sympathetic to the anti-regime protesters: In the absence of mass, populist, non-violent protests, I don't think you can be sure of that.

But (and beyond Mulligan's info re: popular support) weren't there well-reported mass, populist, non-violent protests in Libya, which were then brutally subdued by Gaddafi (and weren't these protests even occurring in Tripoli?)

See, for example, here and here.

I am sympathetic to the position that the outcome of intervention is unpredictable. That (combined with a general distrust of US motives) would seem to be enough to oppose the intervention. However, leaving aside whether it is appropriate for the US/UN to intervene, is it really your good faith position that there is no demonstrated anti-regime sentiment in Libya? Doesn't it say something that there were mass protests in Tripoli, despite the (fulfilled) promise of violent reprisals from loyalist forces?
posted by seventyfour at 9:51 AM on March 22, 2011


goodnewsfortheinsane: "Seriously, can someone enlighten me, why does the WH not call for a vote in Congress? The Brits just voted overwhelmingly in favour, and there is broad international support."

The War Powers Act requires reporting within 48 hours and congressional approval after 60 days. The former requirement has been met.
posted by mkb at 10:00 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The question has hovered over the Libyan uprising from the moment the first tank commander defected to join his cousins protesting in the streets of Benghazi: Is the battle for Libya the clash of a brutal dictator against a democratic opposition, or is it fundamentally a tribal civil war? A Libyan Fight for Democracy, or a Civil War?
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 10:08 AM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Channel 4 News: "Six villagers in a field on the outskirts of Benghazi were shot and injured when a US helicopter landed to rescue a crew member from the crashed jet"

All the more idiotic given the initial reaction on the ground.
One Libyan who came across the crashed jet told Britain's Daily Telegraph that one pilot held his hands in the air and said "OK, OK", but was quickly thanked by locals for his participation in the air strikes.

Younis Amruni told the Telegraph: "I hugged him and said 'don't be scared, we are your friends'."


From the BBC

posted by Marlinspike at 10:12 AM on March 22, 2011


Excellent article, thank you TEOIC.
posted by seventyfour at 10:13 AM on March 22, 2011


is it really your good faith position that there is no demonstrated anti-regime sentiment in Libya?

There's demonstrated anti-regime sentiment against pretty much every regime in the world. Until you have mass demonstrations that unify all segments of society, it's really hard to say how populist it is.

Clearly there are people, right now, willing to die and kill for qadaffi. Now you can say it's because of fear or because they've been lied to or what have you, but it's a fact that there are large numbers of people still loyal to qadaffi.

Contrast with Egypt, where there was almost no one in egypt willing to kill for the regime after the first couple of days. And it didn't take any threats of outside force.
posted by empath at 10:38 AM on March 22, 2011


(They may also be motivated by hatred or fear of the rebels as much as they are by fear and/or loyalty for qadaffi, I don't know what motivates them.)
posted by empath at 10:39 AM on March 22, 2011


Guardian:
A US military spokesman has denied reports that US Marines rescuing a downed pilot in Libya on Monday night shot and injured six civilians.

"It didn't happen, I can deny this 100%," said Captain Richard Ulsh, a spokesman for the US Marines.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:50 AM on March 22, 2011


Additionally, No one in Tripoli believes the deaths caused by the allied bombing campign claimed by gaddafi.

Sure, he has every reason in the world to exaggerate or even make things up. But to believe that one can launch hundreds of cruise missiles and drop an unspecified by large number of bombs and air to ground missiles without what is euphemistically called collateral damage is naive to the extreme. Of course our missiles and bombs have killed innocent people. That's what missiles and bombs do. You want them to kill a lot more of the people you intend to kill than the people you don't, but you can never completely avoid the latter.
posted by Justinian at 11:09 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Six villagers in a field on the outskirts of Benghazi were shot and injured when a US helicopter landed to rescue a crew member from the crashed jet"

Rob Crilly, who wrote the Telegraph article referenced, wrote on his Twitter: "It was a second jet that opened fire, wounding locals, according to the witnesses. Not the rescue helicopter."

Doesn't make a difference to the wounded, I suppose, but I would assume the other F-15 pilot and the Marine TRAP team had different assessments of what was happening on the ground.
posted by lullaby at 12:19 PM on March 22, 2011


(They may also be motivated by hatred or fear of the rebels as much as they are by fear and/or loyalty for qadaffi, I don't know what motivates them.)
posted by empath

They are living minute to minute-hour by hour. Start there for your motivation, if you have more psychological questions concerning warring factions in modern civil war, "I want my children to live" helps. For historical reference look at S.E. Asia, 1970s'. Not a good comparison but when a loyalist regime is encircled, uniforms get shed and rifles get "ditched". Things collapse quickly.
posted by clavdivs at 1:03 PM on March 22, 2011


They are living minute to minute-hour by hour.

I get the feeling the defecting general who took the day off isn't living minute-to-minute. Just a hunch.
posted by scalefree at 1:34 PM on March 22, 2011


My hope is that after this goes all pear shaped people will absorb the lesson and not fall for the whole "but this time is different" thing again. But I honestly thought we'd learned from the last 10 years and clearly we haven't, so we probably won't figure it out after this one either.
posted by Justinian at 3:22 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Justinian, I don't hold out much hope when the recycling of propaganda is so transparent.
posted by indubitable at 3:48 PM on March 22, 2011


My hope is that after this goes all pear shaped people will absorb the lesson and not fall for the whole "but this time is different" thing again.

I'm not smart and spent about 15 seconds trying to figure out why only people with pear body shapes have a lesson to learn.

posted by floam at 3:34 AM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Justinian, I don't hold out much hope when the recycling of propaganda is so transparent.

Yes, how disingenuous and manipulative to suggest that Libya might retaliate with terrorist attacks.
posted by electroboy at 8:48 AM on March 23, 2011


From BBC via libyafeb17:
Misrata was in a desperate state yesterday, we almost lost all hope, but the strikes came at a good time with good intensity and frequency. They even managed to take out some convoys inside the city which was very impressive. Gaddafi’s forces have been hiding in a hospital… I can tell you that there’ve been zero casualties from international strikes… There are snipers on top of buildings; Gaddafi’s forces are still stationed on the main street – Tripoli street – but there’s no random shelling anymore… I’ve been able to go out, I’ve seen bakeries and groceries open for the first time in many days. The strikes made such a difference – Gaddafi’s forces are scared of them. I want to express our gratitude and appreciation for these actions, we will never ever forget!
posted by metaplectic at 3:01 PM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Nick Kristof, NYT: Hugs From Libyans
In 2005, the United Nations approved a new doctrine called the “responsibility to protect,” nicknamed R2P, declaring that world powers have the right and obligation to intervene when a dictator devours his people. The Libyan intervention is putting teeth into that fledgling concept, and here’s one definition of progress: The world took three-and-a-half years to respond forcefully to the slaughter in Bosnia, and about three-and-a-half weeks to respond in Libya.

Granted, intervention will be inconsistent. We’re more likely to intervene where there are also oil or security interests at stake. But just as it’s worthwhile to feed some starving children even if we can’t reach them all, it’s worth preventing some massacres or genocides even if we can’t intervene every time.

[...]

Critics of the intervention make valid arguments. It’s true that there are enormous uncertainties: Can the rebels now topple Colonel Qaddafi? What’s the exit strategy? How much will this cost?

But weighed against those uncertainties are a few certainties: If not for this intervention, Libyan civilians would be dying on a huge scale; Colonel Qaddafi’s family would be locked in place for years; and the message would have gone out to all dictators that ruthlessness works.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:00 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Slaughter In Syria Continues
posted by homunculus at 10:42 AM on March 25, 2011


Golly, Uncle goodnewsfortheinsane, military intervention is just the gosh-darndest greatest thing ever!
posted by telstar at 8:58 PM on March 31, 2011


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