Vice in Libya, on Libya.
May 3, 2011 9:46 PM   Subscribe

Libyan Beauty Pageant.
posted by lemuring at 10:25 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

My most personally important Iraq/Afghanistan casualty was a Burner with either a journo degree or a without one who had pursued it seriously enough that he was a columnist in the college paper. He was a fearless, hilarious bohemian, and his dad was a Marine. I scolded him heatedly one night as he demonstrated his Beretta with live ammo during a party, lying on his pallet and blasting away over the guests. As we all do, he loved Hunter Tompson.

They would not let him enlist after 9/11, so he figured there would be contractor gigs over there and made his way yonder. Undoubtedly, those gigs were there, but not so thick on the ground for a guy with a dotted-line neck tattoo that read 'cut here' and a bicep tat that read 'fuck you.'

Eventually he landed a gig as a bartender at what he described to me as 'the Kabul Hilton.' He would bounce back and forth between Iraq and Afghanistan, looking for a journo gig.

At some point I realized that he knew people from my home state and that a National Guard brigade under the adminstrative direction of a career NCO I knew well from high school would be in Iraq at the same time as my friend. I brokered an intro to a career newspaper guy back home, and my friend turned in careful, thoughtful profiles of many of the Guardsmen both to my hometown paper and to theirs.

When they pulled out, he was still there, and still broke.

Eventually he made it back. But, you know, not the same. Long story short, he used a shotgun to disperse his thinking matter in Nevada.

He would have loved to see, and to cover, the Arab Spring. This story is just the sort of thing he spent his whole life dreaming of doing. I feel terrible every day that I didn;t spend enought time with his needs and ambitions to figure out how to hook him up with Vice or the Exiled.

RIP, you beautiful asshole. I told you never to play with guns, and I was right. I wish, I so wish, you hadn't done what you did.
posted by mwhybark at 11:44 PM on May 3, 2011 [9 favorites]

For new rebel volunteers, going to war can be a blast: big guns, no rules, and endless cookies. But it quickly turned into a nightmare when Gaddafi’s troops started to drop mortars on the opposition. The fighters were mostly groups of friends, and many said they were driven by the need to avenge the deaths of their brothers.

These stories remind me of one thing: the Easter Rising of 1916 in Ireland.

Like the "rebels" in Libya, the Easter Rising was a chaotic affair, pitting untrained, poorly armed, and poorly led "rebels" against the British government in Ireland. After some initial success, which included taking the post office in Dublin, the British sent in regular army troops.

One remark I read stays with me. Having fortified themselves in the central post office, one of the young Irish fighters asked James Connolly if he thought the British would storm the building. Connolly laughed. "Storm us? They'll just shell us." Which, of course, they proceeded to do.

Overall the British authorities responded competently to the Rising. Reinforcements were speedily drafted into the capital and by Friday 28th April, the 1,600 rebels (more had joined during the week) were facing 18-20,000 soldiers. From Thursday the GPO was entirely cut off from other rebel garrisons. Next day it came under a ferocious artillery attack which also devastated much of central Dublin. Having learnt the lessons of Mount Street Bridge, the troops did not attempt a mass infantry attack. Their strategy was effective. It compelled the insurgent leaders, based at the Post Office, first to evacuate the building and later to accept the only terms on offer – unconditional surrender. Their decision was then made known to and accepted sometimes reluctantly, by all the rebel garrisons still fighting both in the capital and in the provinces."

Moral of the story - rifles and courage are no match for artillery.

Which is to say that unless Western powers are ready to declare a "no artillery" zone - which would require an occupation of Libya, the Colonel wins.
posted by three blind mice at 2:46 AM on May 4, 2011

Which is to say that unless Western powers are ready to declare a "no artillery" zone - which would require an occupation of Libya, the Colonel wins.

Nonsense. All the rebels really need is spotters to target close air support from NATO.
posted by metaplectic at 8:26 AM on May 4, 2011

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