Monday, March 21, 2011
The more I think about Libya, the less I like what's going on. Something here just doesn't add up.
This is going way too fast. You can't order precision airstrikes at the drop of a hat. You need to get special recon teams in to identify and designate targets. That means that this has been in the works for at least two weeks at an absolute minimum, which is a good deal longer than the political process on the surface.
The Arab League resolution calling for a no-fly zone. Amr Moussa is now backpedaling on it, shocked that it's actually being implemented. I get the feeling that they were tricked into it somehow. How? By whom? What happened?
The UN resolution 1973. Putin is now backpedaling on it, yet Russia abstained. What did Russia and China get for abstaining? How was that arranged?
What's plan B? Plan A appears to be something like "take out Qaddafi's heavy assets from the air; this will demoralize the officer corps and cause the regime to collapse when the rebels move on it." Fair enough. But suppose the regime doesn't collapse. Then what? The Western powers doing the bombing can't just call it off and go home. I'm pretty sure they don't want a protracted war, what with Iraq and Afghanistan, and they don't even have the resources for a full-on invasion and occupation.
Is there are a backroom deal with the Egyptian military to step in and save the day? That could be a winning plan for everybody involved, but a big, big loser for democratic evolution in the Middle East – the last thing Egypt needs is a wildly popular victorious army with a charismatic general ready to take the reins, although that would suit Western interests just fine, no doubt.
Don't get me wrong, I have zero sympathy for Qaddafi, and if some Special Forces squad had managed to infiltrate Green Square and blow his head off when he was making one of those long-ass speeches of his last week, I would've been all for it. And it would be heartbreaking to see the revolution fail in Libya, with the horrendous bloodbath that would surely result. Nor am I absolutely opposed to use of military force, or even of armed interventions, under any and all circumstances. I'm sadly lacking in moral clarity of that kind.
There are times when military action, even intervention is justified. Most of the time it isn't, though. This one is clearly less unambiguously evil and wrong than the 2003 Iraq invasion for example. However, the more I look at it, the less I like it. This isn't what it seems. None of the usual explanations offered smell right—protecting civilians, toppling an evil dictator, seizing Libya's oil, propping up a beleaguered Sarkozy, making nice with the new democratic Arab order... yeah, no, maybe.
I generally don't buy into conspiracy theories of hidden cabals pulling strings in the background to create major events. It's usually way more obvious than that; the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion was painfully visible; anyone who wanted to look could see the propaganda and political machine grinding away right in the open. Not here. Instead, I get a feeling that somebody pulled a massive strategic surprise on everybody—the Arab League, Russia, China, NATO, perhaps even the US— not just Qaddafi's armored divisions with their pants down in the desert. This is more Great Game than Cold War, let alone the Leroy Jenkins shit the US has been pulling since. But who are the players, what are the rules, and what are they playing for?
I'm not used to groping in the dark about stuff like this, and I don't like it one bit.