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I always find this strange. Apparently it's fine to blow up property in the millions and minions in their thousands, but killing a single person - which would effectively end the conflict - is somehow against the rules? Because it's unwarranted interference?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 07:25:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
why I have my doubts about Gates' statements. The "decapitation" of Hussein was a clear aim of the US army during the Iraq war - hard to believe it would be so different now.
by Nomad (Bjinse) on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 08:35:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but killing a single person - which would effectively end the conflict

Do you seriously think so? Did taking out Saddam end the Iraq conflict?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 08:51:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a false comparison. Saddam had an entire state+tribal+party apparatus backing him.

Gaddafi is just a mad guy in a silly costume who happens to own an army. The only serious contender as a successor is his son.

There's no significant pro-Gaddafi party in Libya. He can't even count on the inherent loyalty of the army, never mind the rest of the "government."

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 08:58:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gaddafi is just a mad guy in a silly costume who happens to own an army.

am always suspicious about this presentation

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 09:14:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Saddam had an entire state+tribal+party apparatus backing him.

Half of which defected or ran away. The same is true of Ghaddafi, who may have had half his army turning sides, but the other half (with some merc help but it wasn't mercs who manned airplanes and heavy armour) easily rolled up the rebels until the bombers came around and had no problems killing civilians even afterwards. And he also has an awful son. And we'll see how the tribal angle plays out once the Benghazi rebels reach Sirte.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 10:58:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think TBG makes a good point about there being a certain critical mass loyal to Saddam.  The tribal angle seems less worrisome here given the widespread protests before Gaddafi began his clampdown.  That he also needs mercenaries doesn't bode well, as the US can probably attest better than most after Iraq.

These revolutions seem to transcend religious and tribal loyalties.  My hope is that the others wind up more like Egypt than Libya, as far as the incumbents go.  Unlike Gaddafi, Mubarak never seemed willing to go all-out and try to crush the population (not that the army would've gone along with that anyway).  That may just be my impression due to having not gotten the full story.

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

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 06:59:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It appears both in Bahrain and Yemen the government killed civilians indiscriminately in an attempt to stop the protests. However, reportedly the Yemeni military brass is beginning to defect to the protesters.

One interesting thing about this is that consistently it appear the police is much more willing to attack civilians, even with deadly force, than the military. May just be a matter of the police having internalised its role of keeper of internal security while the army focuses on external security. The police are trained to think about citizens as potential criminals while the army only thinks about external threats and isn't trained to consider their countrymen as potential enemies.

So, in what may be my last act of "advising", I'll advise you to cut the jargon. -- My old PhD advisor, to me, 26/2/11

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 07:10:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
could be that the armys culture is more  that they protect the nations civilians. Historically, state representatives prepared to torture seem to come more from the policing side too.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 07:21:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Drew J Jones:
Unlike Gaddafi, Mubarak never seemed willing to go all-out and try to crush the population (not that the army would've gone along with that anyway).  That may just be my impression due to having not gotten the full story.

Fisk claims that Mubarak ordered it, but the troops on the gorund refused:

Robert Fisk: As Mubarak clings on... What now for Egypt? - Robert Fisk, Commentators - The Independent

But the critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters.

Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets - over which they had received the fatal orders - to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.



Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 07:45:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
there being a certain critical mass loyal to Saddam

First, what would that be? The Tikriti clan, or even the entire Sunni population, compares to the population of Sirte and surrounding areas resp. Sirte and Tripoli. Second, why do you make a point based on addam loyalists? The civil war in Iraq wasn't at all propagated by Saddam loyalists only.

The tribal angle seems less worrisome here given the widespread protests before Gaddafi began his clampdown.

Again, the tribal angle can be judged once the fronts move into Ghaddafi-aligned tribal areas. Well, in fact, we don't even know what locals living between Benghazi and Sirte thought of the rebels from Benghazi.

That he also needs mercenaries doesn't bode well

Mercs are more useful than loyalists in terrorising locals. In a way, the Iraq terrorists using foreign suicide bombers knew that, too.

These revolutions seem to transcend religious and tribal loyalties.

Well, there were deadly Copt-Muslim clashes in Egypt, and, even if from the side of the repressors rather than the protesters, the Shi'a-Sunni angle of the Gulf States protests is rather obvious. Which doesn't mean that the equality and unity slogans cannot turn into lasting social reality, but it does mean that such a positive development is not a given.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Mar 22nd, 2011 at 02:10:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo:

That he also needs mercenaries doesn't bode well

Mercs are more useful than loyalists in terrorising locals. In a way, the Iraq terrorists using foreign suicide bombers knew that, too.

I am reminded of the role of the Regulares in the Spanish civil war.

Regulares - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Fuerzas Regulares Indígenas ("Indigenous Regular Forces"), known simply as the Regulares (Regulars), were the volunteer infantry and cavalry units of the Spanish Army recruited in Spanish Morocco. They consisted of Moroccans officered by Spaniards.

...

 The professionalism and brutality[1] of the Army of Africa played a major part in early Nationalist successes.



Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Mar 22nd, 2011 at 04:18:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fewer bombs dropped, and the more clearly military the targets, the less the risk of hitting a couple of weddings and a marketplace. Anti-aircraft batteries are something you pretty much have to knock out. If you can polish off a tank or two here and there then that's pretty obviously military too.

But going after Qaddafi would mean dropping powder on civilian areas where he might be, or where he might have been an hour ago. Sure, if he's dumb enough to present himself as a target of opportunity inspecting a tank column or a SAM site, then he's too dumb to live. But I think it's wise not to commit to killing him from the air. Last time the Americans tried that, they got a couple of hundred dead civilians, no dead Qaddafi and a thousand or so new mortal enemies for their trouble.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 09:19:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed let's recall this:

U.S. Attacked Iraqi Defenses Starting in 2002

Air war commanders were required to obtain the approval of Defense Secretary Donald L. Rumsfeld if any planned airstrike was thought likely to result in deaths of more than 30 civilians. More than 50 such strikes were proposed, and all of them were approved.

IIRC most of those missions were decapitation attempts, and they failed without exception.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 11:05:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that they tried...

It could well be that the Obama administration has decided on a different strategy, ruling out decapitation. But I'm not believing Gates just because he says so.

by Nomad (Bjinse) on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 11:38:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The point is that they tried...

Whose point? I'm lost here.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Mar 21st, 2011 at 02:56:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the track record is pretty poor here. Ronald Reagan tried a decapitation strike against Gaddafi, and that didn't work. The US tried to take out Saddam Hussein, and that didn't work so well either.

Gates is perhaps simply more reality-based than his predecessors.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Tue Mar 22nd, 2011 at 03:47:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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