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Am I the only one here feeling uneasy at the triumphalist touting of military solutions to the Libyan issue as the the only and best solution?

Don't get me wrong, I am not a complete pacifist and support the UN resolution and applaud them for passing it just in time to save at least Benghazi if not the other towns under attack.

And I have no difficulty with military action designed to prevent further attacks by Gaddafi forces in contravention of the ceasefire.

But the process of establishing a viable and just future Governance structure for Libya is a good deal more complex than getting rid of Gaddafi and his henchmen and replacing one regime with another of unknown intentions and capabilities.

We don't know enough about who is, and is not, crossing over from Gaddafi to opposition forces, about how tribal allegiances are shifting, and how the transitional Governing council will act if it achieves the upper hand.

A lot of the army seem to be crossing over to the "revolutionary" side together with increasing amounts of heavy weaponry, so regime change may already be happening.  The situation is so unstable, fluid and fast changing, it is difficult to predict tomorrow's events, never mind next week.  There is no long term solution which includes Gaddafi, but there are any number of ways by which that may come about - and a direct ground assault on Tripoli by outside forces as suggested by Booman should be the very last resort.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 18th, 2011 at 01:05:43 PM EST
Step by step? First step stop the insane violence? Then covet the oil.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Mar 18th, 2011 at 01:13:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
second step - agree a process of transition to democratic rule with the Transitional Governing Council.  Why put lives at risk to replace one despot with another?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 18th, 2011 at 01:25:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
process of transition to democratic rule with the Transitional Governing Council.  

i watched a fascinating Doha Debate on BBC yesterday, filmed in Cairo, in which they discussed exactly this.

the rub is who will be on this Transitional Governing Council? elected or appointed? who will choose the choosers?

the pro's wanted to wait for elections until political parties could build platforms and engage with the electorate in campaigns etc. their second point was that the muslim brotherhood is best positioned with early elections, which would be less fair.

the con's want elections right away, because they felt the longer the military is left in power, the less likely it will be to relax its grip.

both sides argue convincingly, the end vote was to wait for elections, and trust that the security forces/army will stay on the side of the people that long to permit a total re-write of the constitution
(both sides want this, no amendments, just trash it and restart from scratch).

considering the military refusing hosni's orders was pivotal in the revolution, they have some justification for this. the best argument con was that elections with tanks in the streets were less democratic, and that elections done sooner would get the military back to its real work, defending the country, not policing its own people.

the pro's want to wait longer till democratic institutions can be constructed, parties given time to offer mature policy ideas, clearer ideologies etc.

they point to Tunisia as an example of a successful Transitional Governing Council, so it can be done...

kudos to a terrific debate, all in english!!

the unifying power of english-as-global-lingua-franca was spectacularly obvious, the speakers and questions from the audience were astonishingly articulate and profound. it was a privilege to have a good look into the nascent sociopolitics at such a poignantly pivotal history plot point.

60 years of dictatorship, and now the freedom to redesign their society from the inside out. they know how important -and how hard- it is to get it right, and they care so passionately. one of the most riveting hours of television i have ever seen.

it also hit home how we need a global constitution, a blueprint that will template for any country, and all these brave people ripping off their shackles will probably author some new factors that can learn from the best the west have evolved, and re-volve them to greater affirmations of decency and wise global governance.

free libya! free the world!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 20th, 2011 at 05:44:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you misread Boo a little bit.  He wasn't advocating for getting rid of Gaddafi or letting him stay.  If anything, he seems to be on the side of not getting involved.  He simply meant that it was dangerous to make a policy of regime change with reliance on the rebel forces -- who aren't trained in the strategy and equipment the way soldiers from Britain, France and the US are -- to get the job done instead of simply doing it ourselves.

He's worried that we're committing to something without really committing to it fully, and that the consequence could be to make it needlessly bloody or even a failure.

I think it's a little pessimistic, but his concerns aren't lost on me.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Fri Mar 18th, 2011 at 01:32:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Boo and I have had a few arguments of late - largely because I feel he accepts the militaristic framing of political problems so beloved of the neocons even if he doesn't share their intentions.  He has also taken to bemoaning the responsibilities of being the world's sole superpower whilst not being shy of reaping the benefits.  

On Libya, he basically wanted Europe to do the invading and the regime change.  He argued that basically that was what the UN was sanctioning.  My point is that under international law, the UN can sanction no such thing.  Protect civilians, yes. Prevent human rights abuses, yes.  Ultimately attack Gaddafi forces if they violate the ceasefire, yes.  Overt invasion for the purposes of regime change crosses the line.

Europe isn't here to follow neocon framing and act as the USA has done in Afghanistan or Iraq.  Boo is now arguing that gross human right's violations are not the USA'a problem.  He's wrong on that score as well.  It is the responsibility for all UN members, and particularly Security Council members, to act.  But the solution isn't the invade first and ask questions afterwards.

It used to be US conservatives who were the isolationists.  Now it is US progressives - disillusioned by Iraq and Afghanistan - who take that stance. What we actually need is a more sophisticated model of graduated intervention, not the all or nothing approach Boo seems to be advocating.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 18th, 2011 at 02:11:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I feel uneasy as can be seen from my other comments.

I have severe doubts about bombing for peace. In theory I understand it, but in practice once started it will take a life of its own. After cheerleading it, media will back this no matter how horrible the western actions get. Head of state will act from reasons of prestige, military from institutional interests and governments will always have an eye towards economic benefit of to the state closly related companies.

Also it is an obvious double standard when looking at what happens elsewhere in the region, and I suspect that ties together in war games run by Pentagon strategists. Libya is unimportant in a strategic perspective, Saudi Arabia, the gulf states, Iraq, Iran, Egypt - those are the important ones.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Mar 18th, 2011 at 06:20:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An hour ago, Germany's new defense minister gave reasons for Germany's abstention in an IMHO rather undiplomatic interview. He spoke about the dictator ensuring that there will be civilian dead, that ultimately ground troops would be needed, and that it is hypocritical to want to remove Ghaddafi only and do nothing in a lot of other places (I think he listed Sudan and Ivory Coast among others). (The journalist asked him if that's a prediction of disaster for the allies.) Then there was a quip about allies who previously courted Ghaddafi now rushing to the forefront, clearly aimed at Sarko.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Mar 18th, 2011 at 06:28:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Anoter reason to be glad Googleburg is gone.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Mar 18th, 2011 at 07:08:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Where did he give that interview? Got a link?

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 11:47:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heute Journal on ZDF (18:20-22:25, or use the "Geschpräch mit Verteidigungsminister De Maziere" tab).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 02:42:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 04:11:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I note that if he wants to be consequent, he should withdraw troops from Afghanistan today.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 04:26:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
2 million barrels per day of high quality light sweet oil in the Mediterranean (ie, nobody can grab it if we want it) is rather important for Europe... We can find other sources, but we have to fight for these with Asia and America, whereas Libya can only realistically go to Europe (just like Russian oil)

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 19th, 2011 at 02:52:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For Pentagon :)

But actually, since whoever is in charge will sell to Europe, the ruler(s) does not matter much, do they?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Mar 19th, 2011 at 04:49:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It does matter. Political upheaval always depresses oil output, permanently. Oilquake in the Middle East:

Here, however, is the news that should be on the front pages of newspapers everywhere: That old oil order is dying, and with its demise we will see the end of cheap and readily accessible petroleum -- forever.

... One conclusion isn't hard to draw: Efforts by outsiders to control the political order in the Middle East for the sake of higher oil output will inevitably generate countervailing pressures that result in diminished production. The United States and other powers watching the uprisings, rebellions, and protests blazing through the Middle East should be wary indeed: whatever their political or religious desires, local populations always turn out to harbor a fierce, passionate hostility to foreign domination and, in a crunch, will choose independence and the possibility of freedom over increased oil output.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 11:30:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Robert Fisk in his inimitable way describes the ironies and dilemmas waiting for the coalition:
And let's not be fooled by what the UN resolution really means. Yet again, it's going to be regime-change. And just as in Iraq - to use one of Tom Friedman's only memorable phrases of the time - when the latest dictator goes, who knows what kind of bats will come flying out of the box?

... So here are a few things that could go wrong, a sidelong glance at those bats still nestling in the glistening, dank interior of their box. Suppose Gaddafi clings on in Tripoli and the British and French and Americans shoot down all his aircraft, blow up all his airfields, assault his armour and missile batteries and he simply doesn't fade away. I noticed on Thursday how, just before the UN vote, the Pentagon started briefing journalists on the dangers of the whole affair; that it could take "days" just to set up a no-fly zone.

... We talk now about the need to protect "the Libyan people", no longer registering the Senoussi, the most powerful group of tribal families in Benghazi, whose men have been doing much of the fighting. King Idris, overthrown by Gaddafi in 1969, was a Senoussi. The red, black and green "rebel" flag - the old flag of pre-revolutionary Libya - is in fact the Idris flag, a Senoussi flag. Now let's suppose they get to Tripoli (the point of the whole exercise, is it not?), are they going to be welcomed there? Yes, there were protests in the capital. But many of those brave demonstrators themselves originally came from Benghazi. What will Gaddafi's supporters do? "Melt away"? Suddenly find that they hated Gaddafi after all and join the revolution? Or continue the civil war?

And what if the "rebels" enter Tripoli and decide Gaddafi and his crazed son Saif al-Islam should meet their just rewards, along with their henchmen? Are we going to close our eyes to revenge killings, public hangings, the kind of treatment Gaddafi's criminals have meted out for many a long year? I wonder. Libya is not Egypt.

... It is all wearingly familiar. And now we are back at it again, banging our desks in spiritual unity. We don't have many options, do we, unless we want to see another Srebrenica? But hold on. Didn't that happen long after we had imposed our "no-fly" zone over Bosnia?

geo-magazine reporter Gabriele Riedle visited the country recently and comes away with a completely different assessment of the situation. Basically, she saw a power struggle between factions and tribes.

What do the demonstrators want? The surprising answer of the journalist: "I haven't met a single person who talks of democracy." The reflex of the West to think of the protest as good and bringing democracy is nothing more than "wishful thinking la CNN" says Riedle and believes instead that the protests are more about a redistribution of power.

... What does the power struggle mean for the future of the country and social progress? And does the ouster of Gadaffi solve the problems? Gabriele Riedle's answer is less than optimistic. "What's supposed to get better? The privileges will be gone as well as the benefits and women will be afraid that the country will turn more fundamentalist." The protests have gained their own dynamic that have nothing to do with political intentions. "Someone shoots, then there is grief and then there is more shooting."

... An assessment that is shared by the Northern-Africa expert Thomas Hasel of the Otto-Suhr Institute. Especially the strong rivalries between tribes would make it difficult to "pull something new out of the hat." Additionally, there are no alternative parties (in contrast to Egypt) and no structures of civil society such as associations since they are forbidden.

I fear the Libya crisis has resurrected (at least for a short time) the unholy alliance of liberal do-gooders and trigger-happy right-wingers that achieved so much mischief in Afghanistan and Iraq. And we're already seeing how they are pouring more fodder into the conflict. France is apparently delivering heavy weapons to the rebels - isn't there some arms embargo in place? This could turn into a long-running civil war between East and West with its attendant refugee crisis. I don't want to imagine what kind of new monsters will be born out this.

One lesson to take away from the Iraq and Afghanistan disaster was to learn how to let go. The Middle East is on its own path and a beneficial outcome and history cannot be engineered. Instead, the old cliches of 'impending genocide' and 'bad dictators who will be overthrown by democratically minded people' are dusted off for their final performance.

I hope this goes well. But there is the primary difficulty. What does "well" mean? It's very hard to win a war when you don't define 'victory'. Monsieur Le President Hyperactif probably has no mind for that.

The age of interventions is over.

Zenga, zenga!

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 10:38:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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