Monday, March 21, 2011

Something Fishy About Libya


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.


  1. Well, nothing bothers me more than groping in the dark about this kind of thing than *you* groping in the dark about it. I am pretty much in agreement that there is a lot going on we don't know. I've heard that Hillary is involved in the shift in WH official policy from originally echoing Gates on a no fly zone being an act of war, to the present one. If that's the case, who knows what kind of old school military heads are involved...I'm seeing this now as possibly an attempt at a Kosovo-style intervention. But who knows. Certainly not me, the habitually clueless on these matters.

  2. Er, in case it wasn't clear, the "someone" here is clearly the little French fellow with the Napoleon complex, or somebody making use of him. But beyond that, I understand neither the why nor the how. Perhaps I've been watching too much Hercule Poirot, but still...

  3. Order and method is in short supply,for sure, but perhaps more data will make things clearer soon for the little grey cells...could we be seeing war as the ultimate economic/political/PR boost here(punch the bad guy--get a poll bump?) Pretty horrific, if so.

  4. I don't see a happy chapter here. If Ghaddafi is able to hang in there, and the rebels are not in fact up to winning this civil war, we now own a piece of this. We went in, ostensibly, to save lives -- what happens when we don't? What happens when the bloodshed worsens? How do we get out? And is this even the reason we are there?

  5. @hedgewitch: That's obviously a motive for Sarkozy, but somehow I don't think it's the only motive. There's got to be more to it than that. This smells like a high-stakes gamble; higher than just winning an election.

    And @Algernon, yeah, there's the rub. I would really like to know Plan B. I'd even be a bit happier to know that there is a Plan B.

  6. Whooda thunk it would be the Frenchies leading the parade (unless it was a hasty retreat)...

    It's strange to me that Saint Barack has gotten involved so quickly. He's really got his johnson in the vice over it, too. Fiscal conservatives are already grousing about $100mil per day with no real endgame defined. Closet commie Kucinich and some of his fellow far-lefties are complaining about that mean old violence stuff and invoking the Constitution of all things (like he could find that document with a compass and a Smithsonian tourguide) to claim that Obama has overstepped his executive powers. The middle left and middle right are mildly supportive for now, but that will evaporate about 2 seconds after the first American casualty/POW. I don't see how Barack can possible gain anything, but he's busy playing soccer in South America and bragging about his NCAA bracket so maybe he just hasn't thought that far ahead yet. Beats me.

    I'll apologize in advance for a complete off-topic, but there's no real mechanism to initiate a conversation here, so we'll let it rock. Curious what you might think about this:
    While I'm not a big fan of denying documented history, I can somewhat understand why the Lebanese wouldn't be overly excited to commiserate over the Jewish experience when the result was a whole lot of them getting tossed off their land. Kinda an interesting quandry, me thinks.

  7. @dte: Re Hamas and the Holocaust, I think the big issue here is paternalism and humiliation. Yet again, someone is instructing Arabs from on high how to do something, in this case, educate their children. It'd be a bit like the UN imposing a course on the annihilation of the Iroquois Confederacy on American schoolchildren. Even if you thought American schoolkids needed to learn more about that sad chapter, wouldn't you find it a bit offensive to be treated that way?

  8. Excellent point. Hadn't really considered that angle and I'd probably react much the same.

    Yet another example of the UN completely screwing up everything it touches, eh? (sorry, I just can't help myself... lol)

  9. Easy rule of thumb from my perspective... if we're (the US) involved in anything Middle East related it has to do with oil. Plain and simple.