March 18, 2011
Sullivan bis: Delerium & Fantasy re Libya & impact "Arab 48"
ETA: The LibGov has declared a ceasefire (via the ForMin), but I rather suspect this is a delaying action and not real on the ground (reports seem to indicate that indeed combat continues). Probable intention is to have a pause (likely needed in the East to bring up logistics), use rebels ongoing pushback as excuse to resume.
Really should combine, but off to meeting, so Andrew Sullivan
That seems to me to be a minimal requirement for such a drastic and risky action. The Congress must have a debate and vote on this. It's hard to express how disappointed I am not just by the administration's decision but by the president's refusal even to explain a third war to the American people. And he's now off to Brazil ...? Is he kidding?
This from a fellow who full-throatedly backed the Iraq war. Insofar as I can tell the US has merely voted support for the UN resolution (and never mind how comical it would be to bring the Congress to debate in the closing hours of Benghazi over the theatre of the No Fly). Really, Sullivan is over compensating for his idiocy over the Iraq war, with deeper stupidity about the No Fly.
The most important part of the UN vote last night was no the actual No Fly (although France resuming its old war with Qadhdhafi has an interesting side to it), but the effect of stiffening the spines of the Rebellion. Morale effect. And worth an effort.
Unless of course Sullivan and the others can advance a scenario where Libya reconquered by Qadhdhafi, but awash in weapons 'liberated' from Government depots and filled with embittered rebels does not turn into a Chechnya or an Algeria c. 1993 (except next to Tunisia and Egypt, themselves struggling to establish stability) with the rebels turning to the hard-core Takfiri Jihad wing as their point of reference....
I certainly do not see any scenario where Libya goes back to its slumber under Qadhdhafi (never mind the behaviour one can expect from him vis-a-vis Egypt and Tunisia, and the oil money to spend on that - yes Sullivan seems to see this in isolation, but as Shaheen has pointed out, pre-Rebellion in Libya, there were already signs of Qadhdhafi mucking round to support the anciens de Ben Ali, for negative effects to stability in Tunisia).
Putting Western 'boots on the ground' in Libya is madness. Providing logistical support and the morale boosting of giving at least Eastern Libya air cover is worth a shot. Sullivan on his blog rightly asks about Afghanistan - I'd say that Afghanistan is not worth American, British, French, German, other Nato soldiers lives. Wind it up.
Libya with vast petrol reserves, the potential to destabilize - by direct and indirect action - both Tunisia and Egypt, and also become a Somalia on the Med, well that is rather more of interest to both EU (well, US, France, UK, after the recent EU performance it's silly to talk of EU as an interest entity...). Were Libya say located where The Sudan is, I'd shrug and say "ah fuck it." However, it is not. It is smack dab between the two more-or-less successful regime change countries (Tun, Egp [I maintain my Egypt-skepticism, but comparatively), with enormous direct economic impact on each (literally millions of expat workers, for Tunisia substantial business/trade ties). In the real world, outside blogging and hand-waving, this has real impacts on those economies that have real impacts on their stability and ability to have a real shot at democracy.
There are various commentators also wringing their hands about the real character of the Rebels in the East. Not without a basis worrying of Al Qaeda ties and whether the 'real goals' of the Rebellion is democracy. I say, "Fine but rather bloody theoretical and precious at this stage." Again the choice is not between supporting a Rebellion and say a Stable Regime. No, it is between bloody chaos, à la Chechnya, only this time on the Med and not safely tucked away in the remote Caucuses, and... a chance at not so much chaos. So again: the vote needs to be placed not in contrast with some theoretical situation of stable Guide rule, but between likely end-result of The Guide winning (i.e. various levels of insurgency possible and Guide lashing out via support to radicals in neighbouring countries) and the potential to stop that.
I do hope the Western policy makers and the Egyptians now reported to be passing arms to the Rebels in the West (I hope that is true), are making realistic plans about giving logistical and practical support as touched on in earlier posts.
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As noted elsewhere, I do think the resolution is being wrongly called No Fly. It clearly permits and is implicitly directed towars full out aerial assault (if not some ground operations) to block a Qadhdhafi move on Benghazi. At minimum.
For internal US constitutional reasons (unrelated to MENA concerns), I do think it is preferable to get Congressional authorization for a long-term military policy. But such is not necessary for short term action or UN vote.
I dont know the military hardware but it may be conceivable that coordinated Euro action can be enough.
I do think, that if not already happening behind the lines, a final Qadhdhafi victory will be followed by a mass slaughter of any suspected or real current opponents if only for the reason that a victorious Qadhdhafi will not have the $$ to maintain a full-on security and prison state (expensive mercenaries to maintain indefinitely), and a much heightened fear that there will be a second attempt unless the first attemptors are eliminated.
Not to mention destabilizing efforts to neighbors.
Posted by: matthew h at March 18, 2011 08:06 AM
Above I mean that there will also be destabilizing efforts to neighbors.
Posted by: matthew h at March 18, 2011 08:08 AM