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Libya: fear of stalemate

Gavin Hewitt | 10:45 UK time, Thursday, 14 April 2011

PARIS In military operations politicians fear stalemate. They favour short, decisive campaigns. The words they don't like hearing are "deadlock" and "bogged down".

The intervention in Libya is 27 days and counting. The first doubts and tensions are emerging. There are signs of frustration. The British and French in particular are turning the heat up on Nato.

It surfaces as a cliche, but General Moltke's dictum holds true: "no battle plan survives contact with the enemy".

The German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, has questioned the whole basis of the campaign by saying there can be "no military solution" to the Libyan crisis.


In the UK the poll numbers supporting the intervention have edged down, but only slightly. In France support at 63% remains healthy. Jean-Francois Cope, leader of President Sarkozy's ruling UMP, said the arguments in favour of action appealed to how France sees itself and what it stands for. "(It's) what we call the values of the republic - the capacity for us to refuse... what is unacceptable," he told me.

But even in France, which unusually finds itself playing the lead role, there is a fear of stalemate. In America the cry would go up "where is the exit strategy?" In the cafes of Paris, where the new interventionist republic is much discussed, the talk is of deadlock on the ground leading to weariness and acceptance of a messy compromise.

Dominique Moisi, of the French Institute for International Relations, told me that "the French are very worried that another country like Turkey could come in and say 'I have a solution - there is a stalemate, I have a solution that will bring a permanent ceasefire on the ground'." And such a ceasefire could leave Libya's Muammar Gaddafi in place.

For the allies that outcome would be a failure. They have said too often that there is no future for him in Libya. So even if he were to withdraw his armour, pull back from disputed towns, restore basic facilities, it would not be enough. Yes, almost certainly lives would have been saved in Benghazi and elsewhere, but it would be mission not accomplished.

The French and British leaders dining at the Elysee last night know this. Time is not their friend. Alliances tend to fracture. Voters grow weary, even without casualties.

The central problem of the campaign, as Gen Moltke knew, is that the enemy adjusts. The Libyans have torn a page out of the Slobodan Milosevic book of defence. Gaddafi's armour is now camouflaged and hidden in the side streets of cities. His forces play cat-and-mouse with the eyes in the sky. Nato sorties are flown, but often return with the munitions still attached to the wings.

And this is where the role of the Americans comes in. President Obama was a reluctant interventionist. He genuinely wanted the Pentagon, on this occasion, to take a back seat. He was also sending a message to the Europeans: it's your patch, you lead.

So after the initial strikes - designed to destroy Libya's air defence system - command was passed to Nato and, in reality, the big two - France and Britain. The Americans have continued to fly missions, but against radar sites. It's what the Americans call defensive missions. What they haven't been doing is going after Gaddafi's tanks and armoured personnel carriers. That is left mainly to the Europeans. The rebels don't like this. They say Nato is too slow to react. They also want the much-feared American close-support planes, the A10 tankbuster and Spectre gunships, that can be so devastating against ground forces.


Canadian F18 jets landing in Sicily, 25 Mar 11

Some in Paris and London would favour the Americans re-engaging but, for the moment, that won't happen. If there is a strategy for success it is this: to intensify the air campaign.

The plan goes like this: there must be no easing back, no perception of running out of options. For this has become a battle for Gaddafi's mind. He has to see that defeat is inevitable. Pressure has to mount of him day by day. The coalition has to send a message: "we will outlast you". Momentum has to be seen to be with Nato and the rebels. I'm hearing from colleagues in Tripoli that that point has not been reached. The regime still believes Nato will tire.

So the cry is for more planes, more intensity from the Europeans. That is on the agenda at a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Berlin today.

But if the turning of the screw fails then there are the first signs of mission creep. The Italians and Qataris want to arm the rebels. Belgium is not alone in expressing doubts about whether this is covered by the existing UN resolution.

The UK is not sending weapons but it is digging out 1,000 suits of body armour from the stores. Non-lethal aid, communications equipment, trainers on the ground. In the past - and in other theatres - it was a well-worn path that led to boots on the ground.

For the moment the coalition has time. President Sarkozy is under no pressure. The public approves of Sarko the interventionist. French planes over Libya. French special forces tipping the balance in Ivory Coast.

But operations abroad may not translate into popularity at home. As Dominic Moisi said to me yesterday, foreign operations rarely win elections. Bill Clinton was surely right when he said "it's the economy, stupid". President Bush senior was shown the door after victory in Gulf War One. Winston Churchill famously received no gratitude from voters determined to build a different post-war world.

But a stalemate? That could be damaging. The charge would surely surface that the president had rushed into an unwinnable war.

So for the moment the only plan is to intensify, to step up, to keep piling on the pressure and to hope the "mad dog", as the Americans called him, accepts the inevitable.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    The only way to win this war is by putting UN troops on the ground as peacekeepers.

    It should stop Gaddify from killing his people - it should bring about an end to all the violence there and it should lead a clear path to change in this country

  • Comment number 2.

    Can we not attack him using CDSs?

  • Comment number 3.

    Even Mr. Hewitt says it clearly. This not a UN mission to saves lives anymore. It is a straight forward regime change.

    Under the guise of a UN resolution, NATO are illegally changing a country's leader to a favoured one.

    I for one, do not like Gaddafi, but he is a state leader, it is not up to us to change that. We did not like it when France backed the Americans when the wanted independence from GB.

    If it was not for France, then the US would not have existed. The same is happening in Libya, through the manipulation of western governements.

    NATO bomb Gaddafi's forces even if the planes are parked on a runway, but escort the rebel planes back to their base. NATO bomb Gaddafi's tanks, but let the rebels advance with theirs. NATO bombs Gaddafi's artilerry pieces, but let the rebels muliple rocket launchers advance.

    Muliple rocket launchers have a guidance system of point-and-shoot. Very basic. Seeing that most of the fighting is in and around the towns, then it would mean that they are firing onto civilians. No NATO bombing of these items though.

    If the rebels did win, would we back the Gaddafi supporters who do not want the rebels in? After all, they are civilians who may take up arms just like the rebels. Some how, I don't think so.

  • Comment number 4.

    We must stop this warmongering - Killing people to stop people killing people, is the logic of fools. Gaddafi obviously has support, these individuals will never accept the rebel government. What happens then? A great big mess that we're responsible for. Will we clean it up? - unlikely, we haven't managed to in Iraq and Afgan, after 10 yrs, why is this any different? It is time to stop meddling in affairs we don't understand and which frankly, are none of our business.

  • Comment number 5.

  • Comment number 6.

    Erdogan’s Gumption




    Turkey seems to be the only NATO country, with the slightly coy exception of pre-election Germany, with the guts to criticise the latest ‘coalition’ bombing spree against the Moslem world, whatever its contrived diplomatic dancing with NATO, and its fear of being seen to be mistreating its Kurds. Erdogan has even accused France of seeing Libya as a source of oil, gold mines and underground treasures, and of lacking a conscience in its conduct. Even the usually robust Russians abstained on the UN Security Council vote, perhaps because Russia will benefit from the increase in the oil price, and because it has ordered top French naval technology, including aircraft carriers and other hardware. And Greece, with its ECB-IMF-controlled neo-Ottoman cleptocratic regime, has of course already offered one frigate, one radar aircraft, a Super Puma helicopter and use of various bases from which to bomb Libya, and this from a country that not so long ago was training Libyan fighter pilots!

    It is a shame that the Greek government has not co-ordinated its policy with that of Germany, Russia, China, Cyprus and Turkey (notwithstanding potential complications with the latter over its own air-and sea-space), all of whom are critical of the bombardment of Libya. But it does not appear to have the gumption of Erdogan. Instead, Greece is frightened not to upset Sarkozy’s pre-electoral vain glory-seeking. The Sarkozy stance is an opportunistic U-turn, given France’s stance on the Iraq war, when Dominique de Villepin and President Chirac showed guts, and openly opposed the illegal war; the gung-ho adventure suggests a US-UK-France attempt to control the Mediterranean, through what is clearly a curiously selective and suspicious attack on a sovereign state. Russia is watching carefully, and will act when necessary, to secure its own legitimate interests. As for Greece, its diplomacy could learn a thing or two from the Turks, whatever the latter’s mistaken and illegal policy on Cyprus and the Aegean.

    While Britain and France compete with each other in the military macho stakes, as they did in Yugoslavia, and the US fires its tomahawks, while claiming that it is not playing a central role, the Saudi police-state does not even allow demonstrations, while the Yemeni and Bahraini totalitarians shoot scores of their own demonstrators dead. But then Libya does not house the US navy, as Bahrain does, and does not pay billions for Br

  • Comment number 7.

    It not about Money it about the control of oil it all way was. Again some people in a different part of the world is being abuse by Capitalise states for resource they need to prop up there failing economy.

    Greed not need for humanity aid is the driving force here!

  • Comment number 8.

    #2 Another Engineer

    I should ask Matt_us , he seems to be the expert on CDS .

  • Comment number 9.

    I think western countries should never have interfered . I cannot see that it makes any difference whose in power in Libya as long as the oil comes out . It is my guess that a regime of the rebel side may be no different or better than that of Gadaffi .

  • Comment number 10.

    The sight of Merkel hanging on to Clinton's coat tails and nodding her head on cue is sickening considering her country is busy keeping it's nose in both camps. Here endeth any reliance on our E U allies.

  • Comment number 11.

    NATO does not read Pushkin.

    eh will try to translate.

    A lonely sower of freedom,
    I went out of home early, before the first star;

    By hand, pure and virgin, ( well, doesn't exactly fit here. nevermind :o))))
    Into the enslaved borrows,
    I was tossing envigorating seed -
    But the effect was I only lost time,
    Good intentions, and my work...

    Pasture, peaceful peoples!
    A call of honour won't wake you up.
    What for, to herds, are gifts of freedom?
    They ought to be cut or sheared.
    Their heritage, from stock to stock (from kin to next kin)
    A yoke with rattles and a whip.

  • Comment number 12.

    Ah, I know. NATO read Lermontov. Same 1830-s, but more energetic.
    Russian poets are treasurefor general orientation. will translate

    So, will you ever wake, the Prophet who was mocked.
    Or never, from the thirst for vengeance,
    Off golden scabbard you will tear out your blade
    All covered by the rust of indignation.

  • Comment number 13.

    If all else fails, cut of the head of the snake, a priori Gaddafi is left in no doubt that that is a distinct possibility.

    It is a trite comment often favoured by politicians, but the lessons are clearly there to be learned.

    1. Nothing effective can happen militarily unless the USA is heavily involved.

    2. The near criminal incompetence of the MoD is exposed e.g. why was the RAF never equipped with a squadron of A10 Warthogs?

    3. The military pressure must increase unrelentingly in tempo until the enemy capitulates, and during that {short} process the politics is secondary.

    4. The EU is still a very immature institution in the context of geo-politics and urgently needs a powerful nexus.

  • Comment number 14.

    13 John Constable

    On the military procurement side perhaps NATO should have a bigger say in which kind of equipment each country buys. Leaving the USA aside the rest of NATO air fleets are very similar. Lots of Typhoons, Tornados and FA/18s which are great from bombing at height but not so good for ground support. The Typhoon does not even have a gun!

  • Comment number 15.

    excellentcatblogger @ 14

    It has come to something when we read that an aircraft that was never designed for ground attack, namely the Eurofighter Typhoon, is having air-to-ground armaments shoe-horned onto it down there in Italy.

    The MoD has been out-of-order for decades, I should know, I worked alongside them for two-and-half decades until I finally gave up and resigned in the early 1990's.

    It has been grim watching from the sidelines ever since, they are even just now coming around to the view that the Chinook pilots at Mull might not be guilty after all, which was something insiders thought was highly likely, given the bug-ridden FADEC of that time, plus other issues with the craft.

    Anyway, that is all gory history and the EU/NATO should now be working closing together on weapons procurement progammes and on unifying the national forces into a single coherent entity, that interfaces well with the US military.

    Personally, I'd want to go a step further and bring the Russians in but politically that is probably a step too far at present for some of the {eastern} EU member countries.

  • Comment number 16.

    There are daily reports of men aged 16-60 being round up if they're so much as suspected of being anti Gaddafi. Those that aren't summarily shot are disappeared.

    All those above and yet to post who argue against intervention ...will you still feel so disposed when the mass graves are found?

    I suspect the US is making sure of the regime's anti aircraft capabilities before introducing the A-10's and AC-130's ("The Americans have continued to fly missions, but against radar sites. It's what the Americans call defensive missions") ...both are somewhat slow and lacking in manuverability when compared to the fast jets currently deployed by NATO.

  • Comment number 17.

    We are fed a stream of skilful, inaccurate and unverifiable propaganda because the West [US, France and British] want to get rid of a thorn in their side, who sits on rich oil fields. We are told that Gadhafi is 'killing civilians,' yet there is no proof of mass killings when his troops repeatedly rout the motley band of insurrectionists lauded as 'pro-democracy fighters.' Whose democracy are these clowns fighting for and what is their agenda? There have been none of the oft-predicted uprisings in Gadhafi's ranks and aside from a few defections, the army is still behind him. The Western media ignores the fact that a substantial portion of the population still backs the green flag. This is a civil war. The eastern tribalists in Benghazi have never accepted the writ of Tripoli and by calling for foreign intervention in their civil war have demonstrated how much they love their country. These eastern tribalists are the same ones who conducted racist pogroms against black Africans the Libyan government invited to work in the petroleum industry, killing hundreds in 2000. The majority were granted Libyan citizenship. They are the same black Libyans who had been massacred at the beginning of the uprising and conveniently labelled as 'mercenaries.' The African Union from the start called for mediation and non-intervention which might have saved countless lives but the British and the French, pursuing their own sinister agenda, shuffled the AU to the sidelines while crowing that the 'international community' [read France, Britain and the US ] spoke with 'one voice.' Skilful 21st century propaganda hides a 19th century neo-colonialist war and for very much the same motives- natural resources. Are we fooled? It would seem from the deafening silence of those who should know better that we are.

  • Comment number 18.

    There are always two sides to a fairytale - the only reason that the US together with its EU/NATO stooges started bombing Libya was OIL based
    on the pretext that Ghaddafi must go.

    What a pity that Russia,China,Brazil and India did not use their veto powers which would have stopped this current mess - now the Qataris are sending arms to the rebels no doubt with the help of France and Britain.

    So much for the shameful hypocrisy and the double morals of the UN and their "Libyan"resolution.

    Gormsen

  • Comment number 19.

    >>16. At 16:20pm 14th Apr 2011, fingerbob69 wrote:
    >>There are daily reports of men aged 16-60 being round up if they're so much as >>suspected of being anti Gaddafi. Those that aren't summarily shot are >>disappeared.

    Where do these reports come from? Who says they are anti-Gaddafi? Only men you say of military age: Are they disappearing or merely being conscripted and trained to repel invasion? Are the rebels respecting civilians in their attacks? There are some reports that the rebels have links with Al Queda? In war truth is the first casulty and the truth probably lies somewhere between both sides versions. If the reports are true then the air attacks are doing nothing to prevent it so they should stop and peacekeepers be sent in to divide the forces and they will probably have to come from non-Nato countries now because they have pinned their allegiance to one side.

    >>All those above and yet to post who argue against intervention ...will you still >>feel so disposed when the mass graves are found?

    How will you feel if those "mass graves" are full of victims of NATO airstrikes? How will you feel if the rebels massacre Pro-Gaddaffi supporters? Will it have been worth it? Civilians will die in wars so the idea you have to go to war with one side to protect them is frankly naive. If the conflict was genuinely to protect civilians then peacekeepers are the most effective way, not bombs and missiles, and a ceasefire should be the primary purpose, not regime change.

    >>I suspect the US is making sure of the regime's anti aircraft capabilities before >>introducing the A-10's and AC-130's ("The Americans have continued to fly >>missions, but against radar sites. It's what the Americans call defensive >>missions") ...both are somewhat slow and lacking in manuverability when >>compared to the fast jets currently deployed by NATO.

    I think you could be right there, but as the Kosovo airstrikes showed an army hiding in a city is virtually undetectable from the air and since they are undoubtedly in civilian areas any attacks on them will endanger civilians. What this incident has shown is how poorly equipped we are to go it alone without US support and now "Alea iacta est" we have a situation where the UN resolution doesn't support regime change but we have decided it is needed anyway.

  • Comment number 20.

    Whilst this is happening events are moving apace in another subject you have covered in the past Gavin namely the peripheral Euro zone nations. Government bond yields are rising fast again particularly in Greece and the subject today appears to be something I wrote about yesterday on my blog.

    "One of the themes of this blog has been that the situation in Greece is very unlikely to improve unless there is some form of debt restucturing as otherwise the burden is simply more than her economic output can support. The Greek government keeps denying this and after a meeting with the financier George Soros last week denied any talk of the subject. Unfortunately for them he then gave an interview to the Kathimerini news organisation where he said that Greece should try to negotiate a longer-term and a lower interest-rate on its government debt. This is known as a type of “soft default” as it avoids a headline default but leaves investors poorer as they get less annual interest and have to wait longer for their principal to be returned."

    Fears of a restructuring seem to be building..



  • Comment number 21.

    #16 At 16:20pm 14th Apr 2011, fingerbob69 wrote:

    "There are daily reports of men aged 16-60 being round up if they're so much as suspected of being anti Gaddafi. Those that aren't summarily shot are disappeared.All these reports by reporters, who get their stories from other peoples reports."


    All these reports by reporters, who get their stories from other peoples reports.

    Just like the WMD debacle. The anti-saddam iraqis admitted that they lied, so that the Allies would go in and do their dirty work for them.

  • Comment number 22.

    What is causing the problem is the artillery that Gaddafi is using. Surely there is a way to pinpoint this from the air and take it out? Especially if is firing. If this could be done it would drastically reduce Gaddafi's forces advantage in Misrata because his ground forces do not seem to be making great headway any longer. Otherwise attacks on munitions and ammunition trucks would seem to be best option. The roads in Libya are relatively few and visibility is usually good so this must have an effect over time on his ability to resupply. But the most important thing is to get close contact with reliable forces on the ground who can indentify targets quickly.

  • Comment number 23.

    16. At 16:20pm 14th Apr 2011, fingerbob69 wrote:

    There are daily reports of men aged 16-60 being round up if they're so much as suspected of being anti Gaddafi. Those that aren't summarily shot are disappeared.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    And who has independently verified this assertion, may i ask??(a question commonly asked by BBC journalists in Libya when desperately trying to refute claims of civilian deaths caused by NATO bombs)

    I am very encouraged by the majority of mails on this forum who show that we in this country can see over the wool Mr Cameron & his cohorts try to cover our eyes with, ...am really heartened.
    What shames me is the British press in all this, every journalist, paper etc all hail the bombing.."Get rid of the mad dog kHADAFFI , they write & present daily, he is shelling & he has killed tens of thousands of people,...yet the towns where the said attrocities were said to have been commited, Benghazi, Misrata, Brega, aJDABIYA,Ras Nafu, et al are all under Rebel control now.
    WHY HAVE THE BBC JOURNALISTS NOT GONE TO VALIDATE THESE DEATHS????
    The BBC grants full coverage to the Rebels to spread their propaganda,CLEARLY TAKING SIDES, IS THIS WHAT THE BBC REPRESENTS NOW??
    Confirmed Reports clearly talk of massacre of innocent black people by the Rebels in various towns at the beginning of the uprising, yet only the Russian news agency broadcast this events. The BBC SHAMEFULLY ignored the atrocities of these rebels. Many black people(innocent civilians) fled for their lives to neighboring countries, why has the BBC not investigated these deaths???
    Shame on you BBC, I've followed the BBC ever since my father who has been an avid listener introduced me to Network Africa where i enjoyed unbiased broadcasting. That UNBIAS SADLY is LONG GONE.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    Hague is a joke - how do you square "we are not out for regime change" with "Gadaffi must go"?

    Our country has once again embarked on a reckless foreign adventure without thinking through the consequences.

  • Comment number 26.

    "What a pity that Russia,China,Brazil and India did not use their veto powers which would have stopped this current mess"

    Aha?! ;o))))))

    Yes I also think we could have saved everyone heaps of trouble if out-vetoed it plain.

    "What's the news from there, Libya or whenever
    Are we still engaged in all that desert fighting?"

    :o))))) another Russian poet. 1970-s.


    must be Putin, giving Medvedev the wheel to rule and boss around :o)))), is putting up pearls of wisdom, decisions' collection of Medvedev, by the next election time ;o)))
    Joking.

    If you look at the list of veto history (I will quote the link in the next post, you will see Russia simply behaves traditionally, we normally veto covering up someone of "ours") - Abhasia, SO, same faith folk - Cyprus, Serbia.
    Libya is not a "relative", to protect them.

    That's far from being objective :o))))))), but look - it's the same all veto countries do - USA vetoes steps proposed by others against Israel, Britain takes care of Southern Africa, etc.

    (by the way India and Brasil can't veto - only the ones who won the 2ndWW, official "winners" club. Three plus France and China were taken on-board.)

  • Comment number 27.

    parov1 @ 23

    You say that ... talk of a of massacre of innocent black people by the Rebels ...

    These people may or may not be innocent but they are certainly black, which was probably enough to sign their death warrant, given that Gaddafi was recruiting an unspecified number of black mercenaries from Sudan.

    Sometimes all it takes is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Could happen to any of us, on the Tube, driving home, sailing on the seas.

    There is a random element to life that people sometimes find disconcerting.

    Although we hope that bad things must {ultimately} happen to bad people, sometimes the blameless come unstuck too.

    However, we can always try to minimise the chances of things going wrong.

    So, for example, Libya is definitely off my list at present.

  • Comment number 28.

    Wasn't it Churchill who said "before you start something, yo'd better be d.....n sure you're prepared it finish it", and therein lies the problem, the West has always had and the reason is simple. The west's modern generation simply can't face the fact that there is no such thing as a 'nice war', so they continually try to run campaigns as if they can fight one without any of the 'nasties' they can't stand.
    There is only one way to ensure minimum casualties in any war. Use overpowering force and to finish the campaign as fast as possible. Pulling a tooth out fraction by fraction is always worse then getting it out with one quick pull

  • Comment number 29.

  • Comment number 30.

    Modern jets of the types currently employed by NATO are indeed highly maneuverable when flying fast and at high altitudes. They are also very fragile. To have any hope of being effective against ground targets, especially those that move, it is necessary to either have very accurate guided weapons that can be launched from stand-off ranges or to fly low and slow close to the targets. The A-10, although very unpopular with senior U.S. military leaders prior to the 1991 Gulf War, has proved to be a near-perfect Close Air Support (CAS) platform. It carries a very heavy load of weapons, can loiter above the battlefield for hours waiting for targets to appear, and can survive ground fire that will destroy a fast jet.

    The AC-130 is a completely different beast. It is the current incarnation of a line of gunships developed during the Vietnam war to provide overwhelming firepower in an environment where the enemy lacks significant air defense capability. Against ground troops armed with basic infantry weapons, it can rain down 105mm artillery and high volumes of 20 and 40mm fire. Because the weapons are fired at right angles to the flight path, the aircraft must fly in a tight left-hand turn to deliver concentrated accurate fire at a point target. This highly predictable flight path makes it an easy target for radar controlled AAA or simple surface to air missiles. It is best employed at night where it's targeting systems can see the ground but the enemy can't see the aircraft. If hit, the AC-130 isn't highly survivable as the large crew (up to 14) have no ejection seats and are at relatively low altitudes. Even if the crew were to all parachute successfully, the prospects of successful rescue of such a large number of airmen are grime.

    While one might wonder why the RAF lacks such aircraft, the need for a dedicated tank-killer like the A-10 would seem reduced by the lack of any adjacent land mass from which a massive armored assault might be launched. A better question in my mind is why Germany and France, who have first-hand experience with tanks rolling across their borders, never saw the need. The cynic in me suggests that the French preferred it this way, so as to insure that the U.S. would be forced into any fight while the French could focus on sexy toys like the Rafale and Eurofighter.

  • Comment number 31.

    The only ethical option is to require complete disarmament of all people in Libya, independently-conducted voter registration and then an election to allow the citizens of Libya to decide for themselves who they want to administer the country on their behalf. It's, er, called democracy.

    The current interference has nothing to do with saving lives and a lot to do with foisting other people's opinions as to who should be in charge on the citizens of Libya.

  • Comment number 32.

    If NATO is short of aircraft why is Saudi Arabia not being asked to provide some from its vast trophy airforce of the very latest types, acquired at huge expense from the West? Is it not time members of the Arab League pulled their weight in this operation?

  • Comment number 33.

    It is interesting to note that 'for neutrality and balance purposes' approximately equal airtime is given to both Gaddafi and the pro-democracy freedom fighters on media outlets such as the BBC.

    This tends to form up in the mind of the viewer that both sides have an equal amount of support, and thus indirectly bolsters claims of a civil war.

    On rare occasions, one really does feel like shooting the messenger because inadvertently, the messenger is actually giving out a distorted view, not the reality, which only becomes crystal clear after-the-event.

    For example, in scenes of wild celebrations in downtown Tripoli following the departure of the Gaddafi clan.

  • Comment number 34.

    Re Russia joining NATO - NATO can't. Because if we will - no one will go anymore anywhere!
    :o))) All will sit at home, honest. We can't ourselves, not used to far away expeditions, only where one can walk to :o))), at our border. So ourselves un-fit - and won't let others ! :o))))) Will be a brake.
    NATO planes will get rusty.
    That's why all are scared of us :o)))))))

  • Comment number 35.

    wirplit wrote:

    What is causing the problem is the artillery that Gaddafi is using. Surely there is a way to pinpoint this from the air and take it out? Especially if is firing.

    Counter-battery fire has long been in the skill set of major militaries world-wide. If you know your own exact position, you can either determine the exact position of the enemy by prior survey of the battlefield (classic approach) or more modern approaches (GPS, laser range-finders, radar shot spotting) and compute a return path for your shells. Assuming the enemy doesn't move between the time they are located and the time your return fire arrives, this works fairly well. Modern weapons are designed to "shoot and scoot" to avoid counter-battery fire. In Libya this means that the only casualties would be civilians who didn't bug out when the Gadhafi forces fired.

    The rebels clearly lack the skill to employ counter-battery techniques, even if they had the necessary weapons and technology. NATO refuses to apply the weapons and techniques because the political calculus says that civilian casualties due to NATO are unacceptable, while civilian casualties due to Gadhafi are acceptable and may over time justify boots on the ground. All of this is classic asymmetric warfare as seen in dozens of conflicts since WW2 and should have been obvious to Britain and France before they embarked on this course of action.

  • Comment number 36.

    JMB72 @ 30

    In a previous post on this blog, I mentioned the near criminal culpability of the MoD but that might have been a tad harsh because lurking behind the MoD, and indeed most foul-ups in the UK is HM Treasury, whose mistakes have nearly been fatal for this country on occasions.

    Anyway, in my opinion, the AV8B would have been just the ticket, a proper version of the original 'flying bedstead' design, especially hardened so that even the Yanks could'nt break it.

    Of course, it would require a carrier to be launched from ...

  • Comment number 37.

    JMB72 @ 30

    You say that the cynic in you suggests that the French preferred it this way {no A-10's} , so as to insure that the U.S. would be forced into any fight while the French could focus on sexy toys like the Rafale and Eurofighter.

    You may well be correct in that assessment and it made me think about why the A-10 Warthog is way up there in my estimation as a bit of kit that gets the job done.

    My own choice of motorcycle reflects the same attitude, a Honda ST1100, which is not glamourous at all, is rugged and reliable, can and has survived being sideswiped by a Volvo, quite unlike those pretty, pretty, sexy toys such as the MV Augusta's or Firebades.

    Function, then form.

  • Comment number 38.

    May be if now another UN resolution is put for Security Council voting, something about intensifying the operations in Libya - Russia can thumb it down with confident No, seeing how the frames of the previous one are freely interpreted, training rebels, arming rebels, paving them road for advance, cleaning the way, in an agreement with them, field-marshal-ling the rebels forward, it seems- and save the rest from future trouble :o))))))
    There is always a way to end it elegantly.

    But I think no one will put the next step about Libya for voting, will simply continue to exploit and creatively develop the existing resolution.

    Re Kaddafi-caused graves and rebel-caused graves and NATO-caused graves - the winner will of course announce all graves as caused by the looser.
    In the very beg., Russian correspondents were in Bengazi, with rebels, before the vote, and the rebel side complained to them that Kaddafi assault resulted in 400 people killed, mass graves calling to the skies for revenge.
    The correspondents asked to see the burial place.
    The rebels sounded like they didn't expect that, like, what, you really want to see, it's bad view, and on the outskirts of the town, dangerous part to walk to, because what if another shelling. The correspondents got stubborn, they want to see.
    In 2 days only were escorted there finally, and they showed them like a small field, said 400 were buried there, with a wide hand wave around. The correspondents walked it all, un-touched ground, 8 graves definitely, how to say, standing out.
    That means nothing but can give a clue regarding further calculations that will inevitably follow one way or another. Whatever any side will tell - I think it will be a reasonably approach to divide it by (400:8) 50.

  • Comment number 39.

    GH: So for the moment the only plan is to intensify, to step up, to keep piling on the pressure and to hope the "mad dog", as the Americans called him, accepts the inevitable.
    ---------
    Gadhafi has repeated time and time again, he will not give up, so I don't think there's any hope there with taht one, Mr Hewitt...

    Britain and France's problem is that the goal in the first place should have been to remove Gaddafi via militarily...

  • Comment number 40.

    "President Obama was a reluctant interventionist." Really ?

    ""Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable. If Gaddafi does not comply, the international community will impose consequences, and the resolution will be enforced through military action.
    "Our goal is focused, our cause is just and our coalition is strong.""

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12791910

    Doesn't sound too reluctant there does he ? Anyone that believes that NATO is somehow separate from US interests and control is naive in the extreme.

    "Command was passed to NATO" is merely Newspeak for "doing our dirty work"

    Oh, and because everyone seems to have forgotten, "Intervention" is a news media substitute for "attack" when it's Western countries seizing the initiative.

  • Comment number 41.

    Let us be quite clear about two things.

    Firstly, the objective that dare not speak it's name is regime change and, however much the British and French may wish to cloud this in diplomatic double talk, this clearly the ambition. It is an ambition that some of their NATO allies clearly do not share although it is far from clear to me how they could back off without being seen to cave in. Surely it is now clear that, unless all the NATO countries can be brought on board, the alliance will have to back away and leave it - again - to a 'coalition of the willing'. Look where that got us in Iraq.

    The second point is that if NATO, which has been around for the best part of 70 years, cannot agree, what the heck chance that an EU position will succeed? Surely this is proof - if any were needed - that Baroness Ashton's department and all the admin that goes with in is a complete waste of public money and should be wound up at the earliest possible moment. When and if the EU is capable of coming up with a common foreign policy, it could be useful. Until it can, it is merely a sideshow.,

  • Comment number 42.

    Why oh why are we involved in this fiasco ? OIL plain and simple. Why didn't we topple Gaddafi when he was at his most troublesome as opposed to now when he was apparently back in the international fold. I accept that he is a nasty piece of work but so are many other world leaders that we hold to our bosom. If he manages to hold on as it looks more and more likely he will short of assasinating him and his entire family then what ? Clearly it was expected that he would fold after a few bombs were launched his way and as this has not happened do we have a plan B other than recognising the rag tag rebels who themselves are of dubious affiliations. This is quickly turning into a foreign policy disaster of large proportions I suspect Cameron and Hague with emerge from this severly chastened and Gaddafi will begin selling his OIL to China.

  • Comment number 43.

    Having re-read my previous post, it is clear to me that I was briefly enamored of the word 'clear' and derived words such as 'clearly'. It is now clear to me that this was an error of English usage which was clearly unacceptable. I wish to make it clear that I am aware of this and will clearly seek to avoid any repetition. I trust I make myself clear. Obviously, there will have to be a substitute and 'obviously' is an obvious alternative. The obvious does not necessarily preclude the use of the word 'clear' in future. Clearly anyone will recoginise this as a statement of the obvious.

  • Comment number 44.

    Also we are assuming quite wrongly I suspect given the propaganda that Gaddafi has no popular support and that the rag bag rebel council has. Our government isn't overwhelmingly popular but that doesn't mean Libya's going to try and topple it. Cameron and Hague made a major mistake in thinking he would fold easily he hasn't been in power for 40 odd years without learning a thing or too.

  • Comment number 45.

    #42 - GlesgaExile

    Back on planet Earth, I am slightly bewildered at why the Libyans, whatever their political position, should not sell oil to China. Firstly and most obviously China is an importer of oil. Secondly, their money is as good as anyone elses. I suspect that your major concern is the political clout that comes with being a major player in the oil market. This is nothing new. China has been buying oil in for at least two decades. It is a legitimate market transaction and we should be unconcerned about it unless and until a political price tag is attached to it - and there is no sign of that happening.

  • Comment number 46.

    @Webaliceinwonderland

    "If you look at the list of veto history (I will quote the link in the next post, you will see Russia simply behaves traditionally, we normally veto covering up someone of "ours")"


    That we do.

  • Comment number 47.

    #46 - TheCommunist

    The logical extension of that argument is that when Russia and other countries, most notably China, are persuaded to abstain they are effectively voting in favour while preferring not to be seen to do so. In the UN SC, the only effective counter vote is the veto. An unwillingness to use it implies consent. Is that your position?

  • Comment number 48.

    #47 - threnodio_II

    That is in fact my position. And you are all too right that "an unwillingness to use it implies consent."

  • Comment number 49.

    The BBC has reported that at least some of the 250 the wounded Libyan rebels transferred to Turkey for medical treatment --are receiving inadequate care.

    The information (at present) pertains only to those at Ataturk hospital in Izmir.

    The reported conditions are shocking !

  • Comment number 50.

    @45 My point is that the forces reigned against Gaddafi would not buy Libya's oil should he survive whereas China has no such qualms.

  • Comment number 51.

    Erdogan’s Gumption




    Turkey seems to be the only NATO country, with the slightly coy exception of pre-election Germany, with the guts to criticise the latest ‘coalition’ bombing spree against the Moslem world, whatever its contrived diplomatic dancing with NATO, and its fear of being seen to be mistreating its Kurds. Erdogan has even accused France of seeing Libya as a source of oil, gold mines and underground treasures, and of lacking a conscience in its conduct. Even the usually robust Russians abstained on the UN Security Council vote, perhaps because Russia will benefit from the increase in the oil price, and because it has ordered top French naval technology, including aircraft carriers and other hardware. And Greece, with its ECB-IMF-controlled neo-Ottoman cleptocratic regime, has of course already offered one frigate, one radar aircraft, a Super Puma helicopter and use of various bases from which to bomb Libya, and this from a country that not so long ago was training Libyan fighter pilots!

    It is a shame that the Greek government has not co-ordinated its policy with that of Germany, Russia, China, Cyprus and Turkey (notwithstanding potential complications with the latter over its own air-and sea-space), all of whom are critical of the bombardment of Libya. But it does not appear to have the gumption of Erdogan. Instead, Greece is frightened not to upset Sarkozy’s pre-electoral vain glory-seeking. The Sarkozy stance is an opportunistic U-turn, given France’s stance on the Iraq war, when Dominique de Villepin and President Chirac showed guts, and openly opposed the illegal war; the gung-ho adventure suggests a US-UK-France attempt to control the Mediterranean, through what is clearly a curiously selective and suspicious attack on a sovereign state. Russia is watching carefully, and will act when necessary, to secure its own legitimate interests. As for Greece, its diplomacy could learn a thing or two from the Turks, whatever the latter’s mistaken and illegal policy on Cyprus and the Aegean.

    While Britain and France compete with each other in the military macho stakes, as they did in Yugoslavia, and the US fires its tomahawks, while claiming that it is not playing a central role, the Saudi police-state does not even allow demonstrations, while the Yemeni and Bahraini totalitarians shoot scores of their own demonstrators dead. But then Libya does not house the US navy, as Bahrain does, and does not pay billions for Bri

  • Comment number 52.

    Its another lesson of the futlility of the theory of "limited war" expounded by many theorists today and practiced by the likes of Patreus et al. Libya is no exception. The theory is characterized by the false belief that the "hearts and minds" of neutrals and/or potential enemies can be won over by a light touch on the military front and lost of psychological manipulation. It can't never has and and never can be. The greatest example exists in the US itself 150 years ago this week, where it was believed that a determined demonstration of force from the Federal Government would rapidly bring the rebellious Southern States to their senses.
    How wrong they were. For "victory" is determined when the defeated declare themselves so, not when the victors decide that there has been enough fighting. Only by the use of implacable, extreme violence that the enemy believe you will continue until they lay down their arms can victory be attained. The limitation of that aim always makes the best strategyy for the likes of Gaddafi or the Taliban to hang on until the side practising "limited war" decides that it has lost its appetite for the fight.

  • Comment number 53.

    1) How many contributors to this blog have ever been to Libya? How many have ever even met a Libyan?

    2) The problem with the UN Security Council veto system is that whenever anyone brings a resolution that criticises one of the 5 veto-wielding members - guess what - that member can wield its veto. e.g. If there was a resolution denouncing the Chinese occupation of Tibet and oppression of Tibetans, Uighurs and even ethnic Chinese, wouldn't the Chinese representative immediately use the veto? Similarly with Russia if there had been a resolution about their military assault on Georgia supposedly in defence of Abkhasia and South Osetia.

  • Comment number 54.

    3) Some on this blog complain that the BBC is supporting one side or sending reports only from 'rebel'-held areas (incidentally, it would appear that not all the areas listed in post 23 are still 'rebel'-held, or in the case of Misrata they are under siege from the regime). How much would the regime allow journalists to travel and report freely? How free are most Libyans in that country to express views that disagree with the views of those in power? Would a blog like this be allowed by the regime in Libya - or in a string of other countries? e.g. China, Burma, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Syria, Eritrea.

  • Comment number 55.

    4) There seems to be an underlying assumption in much foreign policy that national sovereignty of a country is sacrosanct and overrides the wellbeing of those who live there, and that national sovereignty is identical to the government of the country, however brutal the governing regime is. Hence the accusations by authoritarian regimes that those from other countries who criticise their regimes are 'meddling' in their 'internal affairs' - even when that regime has invaded another country like the Chinese invasion of Tibet, which is clearly a violation of Tibet's internal affairs, one that cost maybe a million lives.

  • Comment number 56.

    5) How do the psychopathic leaders and thuggish regimes come to power in the first place? By force, in most cases. How do they maintain their power? By force. Who sells them the weapons? Other countries, including Western countries. Who pays the price? Citizens who disagree with the regime (even if they protest peacefully); the hungry and the sick, because the ruling elites pay for weapons and their own lavish lifestyles instead of spending national income on healthcare, education, infrastructure and ensuring avaiilability of food. Those regimes stay in power through violence and the threat of violence for political purposes - according to my dictionary that's a definition of terrorism. In other words, they are as much terrorists as any paramilitary organisations. What legitimacy do those regimes have? None. Yet they claim to represent the countries that they rule over, and they are largely recognised as such internationally, even the case with Libya now.

  • Comment number 57.

    You only printed part of my comment. Here it is, in its entirety!

    Erdogan’s Gumption




    Turkey seems to be the only NATO country, with the slightly coy exception of pre-election Germany, with the guts to criticise the latest ‘coalition’ bombing spree against the Moslem world, whatever its contrived diplomatic dancing with NATO, and its fear of being seen to be mistreating its Kurds. Erdogan has even accused France of seeing Libya as a source of oil, gold mines and underground treasures, and of lacking a conscience in its conduct. Even the usually robust Russians abstained on the UN Security Council vote, perhaps because Russia will benefit from the increase in the oil price, and because it has ordered top French naval technology, including aircraft carriers and other hardware. And Greece, with its ECB-IMF-controlled neo-Ottoman cleptocratic regime, has of course already offered one frigate, one radar aircraft, a Super Puma helicopter and use of various bases from which to bomb Libya, and this from a country that not so long ago was training Libyan fighter pilots!

    It is a shame that the Greek government has not co-ordinated its policy with that of Germany, Russia, China, Cyprus and Turkey (notwithstanding potential complications with the latter over its own air-and sea-space), all of whom are critical of the bombardment of Libya. But it does not appear to have the gumption of Erdogan. Instead, Greece is frightened not to upset Sarkozy’s pre-electoral vain glory-seeking. The Sarkozy stance is an opportunistic U-turn, given France’s stance on the Iraq war, when Dominique de Villepin and President Chirac showed guts, and openly opposed the illegal war; the gung-ho adventure suggests a US-UK-France attempt to control the Mediterranean, through what is clearly a curiously selective and suspicious attack on a sovereign state. Russia is watching carefully, and will act when necessary, to secure its own legitimate interests. As for Greece, its diplomacy could learn a thing or two from the Turks, whatever the latter’s mistaken and illegal policy on Cyprus and the Aegean.

    While Britain and France compete with each other in the military macho stakes, as they did in Yugoslavia, and the US fires its tomahawks, while claiming that it is not playing a central role, the Saudi police-state does not even allow demonstrations, while the Yemeni and Bahraini totalitarians shoot scores of their own demonstrators dead. But then Libya does not%

  • Comment number 58.

    You accidentally omitted the final - and vital - two and a half paragraphs of my comment.Here it is again.

    Erdogan’s Gumption




    Turkey seems to be the only NATO country, with the slightly coy exception of pre-election Germany, with the guts to criticise the latest ‘coalition’ bombing spree against the Moslem world, whatever its contrived diplomatic dancing with NATO, and its fear of being seen to be mistreating its Kurds. Erdogan has even accused France of seeing Libya as a source of oil, gold mines and underground treasures, and of lacking a conscience in its conduct. Even the usually robust Russians abstained on the UN Security Council vote, perhaps because Russia will benefit from the increase in the oil price, and because it has ordered top French naval technology, including aircraft carriers and other hardware. And Greece, with its ECB-IMF-controlled neo-Ottoman cleptocratic regime, has of course already offered one frigate, one radar aircraft, a Super Puma helicopter and use of various bases from which to bomb Libya, and this from a country that not so long ago was training Libyan fighter pilots!

    It is a shame that the Greek government has not co-ordinated its policy with that of Germany, Russia, China, Cyprus and Turkey (notwithstanding potential complications with the latter over its own air-and sea-space), all of whom are critical of the bombardment of Libya. But it does not appear to have the gumption of Erdogan. Instead, Greece is frightened not to upset Sarkozy’s pre-electoral vain glory-seeking. The Sarkozy stance is an opportunistic U-turn, given France’s stance on the Iraq war, when Dominique de Villepin and President Chirac showed guts, and openly opposed the illegal war; the gung-ho adventure suggests a US-UK-France attempt to control the Mediterranean, through what is clearly a curiously selective and suspicious attack on a sovereign state. Russia is watching carefully, and will act when necessary, to secure its own legitimate interests. As for Greece, its diplomacy could learn a thing or two from the Turks, whatever the latter’s mistaken and illegal policy on Cyprus and the Aegean.

    While Britain and France compete with each other in the military macho stakes, as they did in Yugoslavia, and the US fires its tomahawks, while claiming that it is not playing a central role, the Saudi police-state does not even allow demonstrations, while the Yemeni and Bahraini totalitarians shoot scores of their own demon

  • Comment number 59.

    NATO is making things that are simply difficult by engaging in war with Khadafy. All they need to do is find a Psychiatrist, who specializes bipolar disorder schedule an appoint with the leader and prescribe the right medication. I can guarantee that within one month this guy will get back to his senses, shock the world by volunteering to step down without yelling or firing a bullet.

  • Comment number 60.

    If Libya is all about oil, then the simple solution is continue doing a dirty little deal with Gaddafi. He is quite happy to give oil in return for power and wealth. We don't need the "rebels" for this. We don't need a war, We don't need do anything. Oh yes, and let him slaughter Libyans who disagree with him. Come on, its not a USA or Western thing to want Gadadfi to stop doing what he does.
    Of course the Africa Union will back Gaddafi - their peace plan is nothing more than giving all possible advantages to Gaddafi. It does not even attempt to place a limit on what he is and will do. It's only purpose seems to be to stop NATO airstrikes, and weaken the rebel position. Gaddafi surely will benefit when the moment arrives to break yet another ceasefire. Remember South Africa's ANC has a relationship going back some way with Gaddafi, and with Thabo Mbeki at the helm, were content to support Robert Mugabe. But like, Germany which of all countries, should know better, it's a pity these countries continue to support crazed and murderous dictators. It is time they thought a bit what they themselves have suffered. Can any ANC member in South Africa really think what it means to be on the receiving end of oppression - seems like they have already forgotten Apartheid. Gaddafi is a problem because of what he keeps on doing, not because anyone has any great desire to remove him, or get their hands on the oil. Just remember, one day it may be you who needs help from a murderous regime, and who will you turn to?

  • Comment number 61.

    41. threnodio_II

    "When and if the EU is capable of coming up with a common foreign policy, it could be useful. Until it can, it is merely a sideshow."

    Harry Truman, was the President of the United States who approved the use of atomic weapons against Japan. He was also the President who fired the WWII hero General McArthur because he wanted to do the same against China during the Korean War.

    Truman had a plaque on his desk that read "The buck stops here". The problem with the EU, as I see it, is that no one in the EU has a plaque like that on their desk. Don't know if anybody would want it but I'm pretty sure no EU countries would agree to that unless it was one of their countrymen sitting behind that desk.

    I'm not at all sure how to define democracy but having an opportunity to change where the buck stops every 4 years is a good start.

  • Comment number 62.

    The BBC is now reporting that "US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy" have published a joint letter stating "it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Gaddafi in power". If this isn't a call for regime change, what is? At the same time "France's Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe, said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had resisted his plea for American warplanes to resume air strikes." I'm off to reread "Alice in Wonderland".

  • Comment number 63.

    i don't understand the point of a limited military engagement. Regardless of whether you agree on why NATO has intervened, NATO is there nonetheless. Obviously, the best option is to intensify air strikes to force Qaddafi into a corner. Why ask a date to the prom if you don't plan on dancing?

  • Comment number 64.

    As Cozyjoker wrote: "This not a UN mission to saves lives anymore. It is a straight forward regime change".

    Why then does Mr Hague keep pretending that its about protecting civilians? Either he is stupid or he thinks we are stupid.

  • Comment number 65.

    it saddens me that so many people do not see the virtue in helping people in need. Benghazi was going to be massacred, Misrarta has been repeeatedly shelled and who knows how many people have been arrested or disappeared due to their opposition to the dictator Gaddafi.
    People ask, who are these 'rebels' we are helping...well from every indication i have seen, they are just everyday people from all walks of life who have got to together to try and change their lives for the better...yet we call them 'the rebels' which makes them sound like some militia terror group who we should fear if they had too much power.
    the term, 'regime change' seems to carry a lot of perjorative connotations in the post Iraq war era. Why are we so scared of intervening in another country... If Gaddafi was running the show in Britain, what would you support? the idea of nations themselves are artifiicial social constructs and to say that it is someone else's problem is backward thinking. You do not choose what country you are born into so if people from any nation are suffering in the world, it is the responsibility of those with power to be able to do something about it.
    it is pathetic to suggest any of this intervention was about oil either...there is no proof for it.

  • Comment number 66.

    THE INTENDED CONSEQUENCE

    There's no inconsistency between protecting Libyan civilians and wishing for régime change in Libya.

    The hope, originally, was that the heavy NATO firepower would so demoralise the Libyan leadership that Gadaffi and family would pack their bags and leave town. This didn't happen - partly because the allied action started too late when the rebel retreat was in full swing, and Benghazi had to be saved.

    My reading of the situation now is that with stalemate in the war on the ground and the impossibility of Allied troops rolling over the desert towards Tripoli, the air support for the rebels must intensify if any progress is to happen. Hence the appeal to Hilary Clinton for more USA involvement.

  • Comment number 67.

    THE INTENDED CONSEQUENCE PART 2!

    My apologies for pressing the 'Post Comment' button before I'd finished my #66.

    I agree 100% with pezzerman's words #65.

    The consequence of continued, active, unrelenting support for Libyan civilians fighting Gadaffi, plus diplomatic and commercial pressures on him and his family, could well end in régime change: the intended consequence if you like.

    'It's all about oil' is an old cry. I have said before elsewhere that we will buy Libyan oil from anyone, no matter who's in charge. Libya will sell it to whomever it wants, no matter who's in charge. The oil is an irrelevance.

    True, we'd have missed it if Gadaffi turned off the taps. And oh boy, would he have missed his oil revenues. Money which he used to inflict untold misery across the world by financing terrorism (including of course the IRA), but that's another story.

    I hope for the intended consequence of aiding the freedom fighters.

  • Comment number 68.

    Very shortly, the ICC at The Hague should issue the indictment against Gaddafi for crimes against humanity.

    That action should change the political dynamic somewhat.

  • Comment number 69.

    It is interesting to observe the American position on Libya, which is highly nuanced.

    A very delicate political balancing act which attempts to achieve the objectives from the shadows.

    So far, it is more-or-less working, in that we have not seen any anti-American rhetoric/flag burning etc. from across the Arab world.

    Simultaneously, the US are trying to ensure that the EU pulls its military weight in this matter, to limited effect.

    The fundamental problem in dealing with a Gaddafi type is that they only really understand brutal, raw, crushing power, which so far, has not really been forthcoming because the UN resolutions do not mandate that aggressive type of action in defense of civilians, hence the regime survives for the time being.

  • Comment number 70.

    Ad wrote "There's no inconsistency between protecting Libyan civilians and wishing for régime change in Libya."

    Well, apart from the fact that outside interference in regime change is a breach of international law...

    However, just how are civilians being protected by more shooting?

    If you are genuine about wanting to protect the citizens of Libya from those who choose violence rather than debate as a means of 'discussing' who they want in charge, you'd be requiring EVERYBODY to lay down their arms, by force if necessary, not just one side.

    Once the shooting stops, conduct voter registration and an election, so that the will of the majority of Libyans can be heard. If THEY want regime change, then it's appropriate for the rest of the world to support it.

    Until then, the only legal intervention is one to stop the brawling. Completely.

  • Comment number 71.

    To be a citizen of the west world it is more difficult every day.
    We are allegedly a Cristian and democratic society bat the fact in the last 10 - 15 years we do not practised our Cristian or democratic value we lost the power of word and we believe only in the power of the gun .
    The west confine our value and believe to distant universe and keep with as the will to kill - kill......................................................................
    John

  • Comment number 72.

    @pavrov1, Cozyjoker and RoyalintheChampionship

    While there have been many, the one that stuck in the mind yesterday or he day before was on the Guardian's Live Libya Blog.

    An man in is 80's had been wounded while out (it was a town west of Tripoli, Zintan?). He was taken across the boarder to Tunisia and patched up. When he returned home three days later his son and nephew had been taken by Gaddafi's men. There has been no word of them since.

    Now granted this report was not delivered to camera by John Simpson, swearing on that he holds holy, that he witnessed this all with his own eyes but I think that and the others stories coming out of Libya of the random shootings and disappearances have a certain credibility. (On a so far much lesser scale similar witness accounts of government thuggery emerged from Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen etc).

    ""Alea iacta est" we have a situation where the UN resolution doesn't support regime change but we have decided it is needed anyway."


    If the regime is the threat to civilian life by it's actions, is it not simply logical to remove it?

  • Comment number 73.

    70 Megan
    Agree wholeheartedly. When will we ever learn? The way things are going it won't be long before we see yet again 'boots marching on the ground'.

  • Comment number 74.

    "53. At 22:28pm 14th Apr 2011, BrightGraham wrote:
    1) How many contributors to this blog have ever been to Libya? How many have ever even met a Libyan?"

    Well BrightGraham, as someone who has lived and worked in Libya for >20 years, i can assure you that many people living in the west of the country (certainly more than half) actually support Gadaffi; its people living in east (who only comprise 20% of total population) who are against him. But the problem with our 'unbiased' press is that the truth won't sell papers or attract more viewers so they have to paint it as if the WHOLE country is rebelling against Gadaffi when its just a small percentage.

  • Comment number 75.

    John (post 71)... what words do you have for Gadaffi to make him stop.. after the UN resolution was passed...Gadaffi announced a ceasefire whilst Libyan citizens were still being bombed and shelled and continued to do so.
    The aim of intervention is not to commit the act of murder but to defeat and disarm those who are perpetrating acts of murder themselves.
    I am not Christian myself but am jewish and in the Torah(bible/old testament), you can engage in war if you are certain that it is pre-emptive (obviously as a last resort) Destroying tanks etc that are about to drive in to Libyan cities is not exactly a murderous campaign that should be condemned but a necessary measure to stop those committing greater acts of evil..
    also, our society in Britain is not officially Christian anymore is it? Lots of our values stem from monotheistic religious ideas but the structure of our decision making process and laws are secular and stem from the post enlightenment era that came as a result of the abuse of religion by the religious establishment in this country. (in my humble opinion)

  • Comment number 76.

    Megan #70 asked "Just how are civilians being protected by more shooting?"

    If they are shooting at each other, then there are obviously going to be more casualties. The air force actions are mainly intended to destroy Gadaffi's tanks and heavy artillery. These reduce the volume (if that's the word) of high explosives being delivered against civilians and will ipso facto reduce civilian casualties. The allies' military action is aimed against Gadaffi's military units; no problem there.

    Megan also said "Outside interference in regime change is a breach of international law... "

    My point was that régime change is clearly wished for by Obama, Cameron & Sarkozy - and many others doubtless. Wishing for régime change is not illegal.

    Their actions however are in support of a United Nations Resolution and are therefore legal actions in international law.

    But régime change could come about as a 'by-product' of those actions! Hence my phrase 'The intended consequence'.

  • Comment number 77.

    #61 - MaudDib

    I am not a physicist but I am sure there is a scientific reason why European bucks can be deflected with relative ease but seem to accelerate every time it is. By now, the buck is traveling so fast that only a suicidal nut case would attempt to stop it.

  • Comment number 78.

    To clarify things a bit about oil.
    There are countries who buy Libyan oil - and will continue buying it from Libya -whoever ends up as Libyan government.
    There are countries who transport out of Libya OWN oil, alright? For example, there is British Petroleum there, there is Gazprom there, and there are French companies working there. It is all very complex imagine those oil things, whenoil ina tanker is partly yours partly pre-bought, we will never understand it from the outside. But the fact remains Kaddafi from 2006 on began re-working contracts with oil companies working in Libya, cutting down the share a company working in Libya leaves to itself as own, after the extraction. His cap maximum as he sees it is 20%. He managed it with Gazprom (11% own only), managed it with many others, didn't manage with BP, though, it's about 52% as I heard.

    To be honest, the only country who should, theoretically, want Kaddafi out is Russia :o)) - with miserable 11%.
    But we don't :o))))))
    While BP, with 52% - Britain should try to leave Kaddafi in place. Because more it won't get even from the gracious rebels.
    But Britain wants Kaddafi out :o)))))))

    (somebody here planned to re-read Alice in Wonderland o)))

    It is widely expected that the next power let's call it rebels will forget about this 20% cap and allow foreign oil companies take away their usual 40-50% part of oil extracted by them. ("average" - in the region)
    By this a combined oil countries' front against Kaddafi has sense and ground.

    Plus there is one more oil consideration - Kaddafi flat refused to yield to pressure to de-nationalise the State Libyan oil company - in other words there was pressure applied to him that he sells it piece-meal and he left it state and 100% Libyan own and this is a huge business. You can interpret it as both - protecting Libyan sovereignity and income and as him wanting to control it himself in its full beauty :o)

    But the fact remains - very many are eager to have a bite of it and he didn't give up. Watch if there stays a Libyan own state oil company AT ALL if/when Kaddafi expires.
    In this sense a pressure of oil club to oust him is explained as well.

    Personally, I think all this played part but wasn't a decisive factor as the interest with which Western club wants him now dead or alive is surrealistic, intense, and, how to say, un-healthy IMO. Here are by now already ego-s playing and reputations, and renome-s. and men testosterone :o)))))))

    I think whatever were th

  • Comment number 79.

    #70 - Megan
    #74 - steveblake76
    #76 - Ad

    There are two issues here. Firstly, we have absolutely no idea how great the support is for Gadaffi is because he will not submit to a process which might give him a mandate, there is no credible mechanism for him doing so anyway in a one party state and the chances of a verifiable outcome in a free and fair process are virtually non-existent.

    Secondly, the use by his forces of what appears to be indiscriminate violence against civilian as well as military targets suggests that not only is he unwilling to submit to such a process but he is far from confident that he would win the day.

    So those who post that regime change is outside the mandate of EU resolution are absolutely correct but the hard line troika - Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy - in claiming it is necessary are also right because, unless and until he goes, there is quite simply no way of measuring public opinion in Libya. In Egypt, Mubarak, by backing away, gave the chance of a proper measurement of public opinion. By refusing to do so, Gadaffi is willfully obstructing such a process.

  • Comment number 80.

    72. At 10:24am 15th Apr 2011, fingerbob69 wrote:

    "If the regime is the threat to civilian life by it's actions, is it not simply logical to remove it?"

    This government is a very big threat to civilian life.

    With it's actions in Afghanistan (illegal invasion, torture & abuse of civilians), backing of Pinochet and other despots. Killing it's own citizens (Ian Tomlinson - natural death??, Smiley Culture - stabs himself to death??), backing terrorists (David Shayler blew the whistle on this).

    Gonig by what you said, we should remove this governement, but however you would be imprisoned.

  • Comment number 81.

    steveblake76 @ 74

    As you state that you have lived in Libya for a couple of decades, then your assertion that many people living in the west of the country (you say certainly more than half) actually support Gadaffi, may have some validity.

    However, the world community, as expressed through the UN, is gradually moving towards pro-actively upholding human rights rather than just passively hand-wringing, often after the event.

    Which, in the case of Libya, means preventing a leader from slaughtering many of his own people.

    To my mind, that means we are moving towards a better world.

  • Comment number 82.

    As I said right at the outset, Gaddafi could win. And now that is increasingly the most likely outcome. Boots on the ground, as the euphemism goes, will require another UN resolution. I can see a queue already forming to vote against that including the usual suspects determined to thwart the former 'colonial' powers no matter what, and the energy hungry economies who are not too keen on anything which smacks of 'regime change'. Where now? Unless a legitimate way is found to apply more military muscle, nowhere.
    Gaddafi and his clan have outlasted world opprobrium before and emerged apparently smelling of roses, and it's beginning to look like it's going to happen again.

  • Comment number 83.

    Just to add that the UN resolution is very wide and talks of "all possible means". If NATO were to conclude that there was no reasonable expectation that civilian life would not be at risk unless there was regime change, I am not at all sure that it would be illegal.

    #82 - RW49

    I think the same may be true of your "boots on the ground" case. This is more a question of a 'coalition of the unwilling'. Nobody actually wants to put boots on the ground. It does not follow that it would be illegal. This was the argument pre-Iraq when the alliance concluded that it needed no further resolution. There were legal arguments to be sure but they centered around the WMD evidence. This does not apply here. "All possible means" could embrace just about anything the coalition chose to throw at him providing it can be justified on the grounds of preventing civilian casualties.

  • Comment number 84.

    The Gaddafis must be laughing their heads off. After almost a month, they still have enough food, water and fuel, in addition to the ability to generate electricity and broadcast propoganda on state TV. All this with the might of NATO's ultra-modern airforces and submarines bombing them to pieces. I shouldn't worry if I were the Colonel; this fiasco makes the 'west' look naive and incompetent. If the Saudi Arabian airforce flies a single sortie, I shall consider donating a months salary to charity.

  • Comment number 85.

    "With it's actions in Afghanistan (illegal invasion, torture & abuse of civilians), backing of Pinochet and other despots. Killing it's own citizens (Ian Tomlinson - natural death??, Smiley Culture - stabs himself to death??), backing terrorists (David Shayler blew the whistle on this)."

    Afghanistan - Blair
    Pinochet - Thatcher

    Not the same government and both freely elected ...more than once!

    "This government is a very big threat to civilian life."

    If you mean the Libyan government - too right.

    If you mean our own - that's a topic for another thread.



  • Comment number 86.

    Pezzerman as Jewish please read again and again the Ten Commandment and you will see that is no place for war o violence you neighbour are you family same as you ma-pa -brother and ect..
    If the word follow the 10 commandment this word will be a very nice place to live.
    I born christian bat my life is more in tone with Buddhism..
    john

  • Comment number 87.

    Charlemagne's program of mass decapitation of tribes which refused to convert, Catholics and Protestants tying each other to stakes and setting fire to them for being the wrong kind of Christian, the conquistadors destroying entire civilizations just for the gold, the Nazis gassing or shooting 6.5 million people for being Jews, grotesque acts of terrorism in the name of Islamic fundamentalism. Don't you think religion has done enough harm already?

    The sooner we all go quietly away and worship the Gods of our choice in private and stop using them as an excuse for political and military objectives, the better off we will all be. I have no problem with religious faith but am utterly sick of a world in which it is used as an excuse for other motives.

  • Comment number 88.

    85. At 13:42pm 15th Apr 2011, fingerbob69:

    Good to know that you admit that our governments have and continue to do horrible things to other countries and their people. This is total hypocrisy, as we never prosecute these politicians, just throw more money at them.

    As you may know, the debate on our first-past-the post system is ludicorus as the winning party do not get the majority vote of the people. Why more people are proposing AV.

    No, I mean that our government is a very big threat to civilian life. We've killed more people in Iraq/Afghanistan that Gaddafi has his own people.

    Yes, I gather the hypocrisy of our government is another thread. Maybe a thread on how we can get the UN to impose a regime change.

  • Comment number 89.

    This is a far-going logic - if we take away Kaddafi - there will be no one to harm the civillians, because there will stay only one, democratic side.

    By this logic - if we take away Libya altogether :o))) - all the harm will stop as well. Will be peace and quiet, birds chirrup, leaves rustle, as in every cemetery.

    That democratic side - is not a majority, by all looks, to say the minimum.

    Western clans got used to be treated preferentially, by getting a bigger slice of Kaddafi's oil cake. Now Eastern clans will rule, manage the oil income, manage the Kaddafi's-built oil fund (arrested abroad in several countries) (one hopes the money will be returned to Libya? - and it is no brainer they will be returned to the Easterners' hands for management).

    unless the rebels agree that the military expenses on liberating them are to be minused from the fund.
    :o))))))

    Either way, Western clans surely won't like the new lay-out.

    There are no solutions ready for such situations in the UN. Strictly speaking, one has to mind sovereignity and not interfere. But then foreign folks get killed and you can't, like, do nothing. But to do anything legally is impossible.
    So internationally accepted practices and "norms", re sovereignity, get busted and violated. For the lack of better ideas.
    A legal way for dealing with situations like Libya has simply not been figured out yet.

    I think, though, that if the initial resolution was for UN peacekeepers standing between Kaddafi and East was put for voting - Russia could vote yes. We don't believe into all this flying. If to separate fighting sides - then to separate, by live UN force. Next thing - Kaddafi touches one peace-keeper - ha ha. Field gets legally open for counter strike. This course of action Russia understands, there is logic.

    I think others didn't want it because this meant fire stops civillians safe - and Kaddafi stays as well. Russia can live with Kaddafi there, others - can't.

    If you ask what's the point - there is a point. It is not un-heard of that UN peace-keepers live in a country for 10 to 20 years :o))))) In case of Libya - you don't want that much. How old is Kaddafi a simple question. (must check the wiki :o))))
    75-ish?

    All this turmoil would have began in Libya anyway, only later. His sons are not him.
    it is not a monarchy, he can't pass them power. There are no elections - he can't falsify elections to "elect" his any son for future presidents. He is "revolution leader", one o

  • Comment number 90.

    - continued -
    one of the kind position, and has no tools to pass over power peacefully.
    No way. Without both Western and Eastern clans complaining, there would certainly be something. A genuine un-rest :o))))) -pan-Libya. Not those 300 Spartans.
    It seems to me the west has hurried up a bit.

  • Comment number 91.

    78. Alice

    I didn't see in your post where the US had any percentage at all. Therefore I suggest we Americans have the right to be more pissed than anybody. Surely boots on the ground are warrantied!!

  • Comment number 92.

    re: john post 86... yes, thou shalt not kill is one of the 10 commandments, but if you are about to be killed, u are allowed leeway to do something about it.. that is why there is more to the religion than just the 10 commandments and life and religion is a lot more complicated than that..this does not mean the use of force has to result in the death of the opposition. in judaism, there are actually 613 commandments..these consist of positive and negative laws in the same way liberal ideology refers to positive and negative freedoms..to be honest, i cant remember exactly where this is written but it is something i have come across.

  • Comment number 93.

    MaudDib,

    about American % and share in Lybian oil honestly haven't heard nil.
    Those BP and Russian numbers emerge in un-official blogs only as well, of Russians who used to sit comfortably in Tripoli, in various board of directors' of oil companies, and complained about their Gazprom's achievements compared to BP's trading power and skill. (jealous :o)))))
    Of French companies also know only because those chaps complained we competed with them tooth and nail for future oil spots' allocation in Libya, for search and exploration. That there are 28 of them in Libya, and it is tough.

    Of competing with Americans, Russians in Libya did not complain, don't know why, anyway it was before all this began.

  • Comment number 94.

    But on the other hand, MaudDib, you should not despair that there are no news of you.

    "America by now is fighting on three fronts - Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
    Scary to think how many fronts it would be if Obama did NOT receive Nobel prize for Peace."
    :o))))))

    On discovering that in the space there is no oil :o(, Americans lost heart and decided to fire rockets in other directions :o)))))

    Putin, by telephone, to Obama:
    - So, how is it going, did you flush Kaddafi down in the toilet?
    - Yes. But it appeared he's got gills as well.
    :o)

    A general Mikhalych, by TV, is sitting on 12 April, and watches a new Russian democratic media programme about Gagarin.
    TV presenter: "Before, at the old oppressive regime, they were making us all to call this day a Day of Cosmonautics"
    Mikhalych, in no hurry, pours himself the first glass of vodka and raises it: "So, to Soviet cosmonautics!"

    TV presenter: "But, according to the latest historical data, first to the outer space still went out Americans. And our folk - have not been there at all. So, objectively, we shall call this day a Day of Astronautics."

    Mikhalych pours himself a second glass, "So, to the Soviet Astronautics!"
    :o))))))

    TV presenter pulls out of TV and shouts to Mikhalych - "Stop this brown-red propaganda! Your Gagarin was a robot! a robot! a robot!"

    Mikhlaych, in no hurry, pours himself a third glass. "So, to the Soviet Cybernetics!"

    :o)))))))

  • Comment number 95.

    Given that the UK government is currently engaged in enacting severe cuts to British military capability because of our enormous economic deficit, I am at a loss to understand how it even begins to think that we cane afford this apparently open-ended conflict.

    I am also confused as to the purpose of NATO now that the cold war is over. It appears that member nations can shelter under its umbrella whilst at the same time declining to take their fair share, according to military capability, of the load. Even the Americans are now starting to play that game. Has there ever been a NATO operation in which Britain declined to take part? I can't recall one. Perhaps the time has come to wind the organisation up if that is the case.

    Why is Cameron so gung ho on sorting out Libya? Given the number of other rogue states around the world why is he picking on this one? And at a time like this?

    At least this once again demonstrates the utter futility of the EU trying to design its own army - it wouldn't even be able to agree on the uniform.

  • Comment number 96.

    Nothing have changed in the "free democratic press" department since it was remarkably and pointedly described by Orwell in "Homage to Catalonia". Or, perhaps, one thing did - a footnote that there was one honestly reporting newspaper (Manchester Guardian) is no more relevant. War mongering, warmongering and warmongering. I was particularly impressed by Hewitt's assessment of the high level of support for the destruction of Libya among french and british population as "healthy". LOL. Is this a sane person's assessment?

    Couple more things in the media coverage which I find quite appauling.
    1. The use of child soldiers by the "rebels". On numerous occasions Reuters have reported this, but, interestingly, as something good! Where is the Red Cross? The International Child Protection Services? Why does not BBC denounce this?
    2. Absence of any realistic coverage of support for these "rebels" among libyans. Does it extend significantly beyond the lines of the Misuratha tribe which originally seem to have rebelled against the Gaddafi system? While it is indeed the largest of the libyan tribes, it certainly does not make the majority of the population. And it seems clear by now that other tribes have made their choice - they do not want to be ruled by the largest tribe (is not it obvious?).
    3. Finally, a total absence of honest assessment of the results of this bombing campaign, both achieved and expected. (i) It seems clear that a transformation of the government crakdown of a rebellion, similar to that in Bahrain, Syria, and elsewhere, into a full-fledged civil war has been achieved in Libya with the help of NATO strikes (incidentally, this was predicted by Gaddafis, who were clearly better informed of the situation on the ground than Sarkozy and Cameron). (ii) One of the richest African countries is being destroyed. This destruction will bring suffering and misery to present and future generations of Libyan people. And certainly much more deaths. I sincerely hope it would be on a lesser scope than in Iraq. What does Leighton Hewitt think?

  • Comment number 97.

    Are these big, powerful, political persons so dumb that they do not recognize the age of warfare has concluded. When was the last time the world actually saw one country (or coalition) win a war over another country?
    Did the Americans really win in Iraq? It seems to me a worse bloody mess than before the Americans ever set foot in it.
    What about Afghanistan? Who's winning in Afghanistan?
    Wars are all about stalemtates because no one (in his/her right mind) is going to use a nuclear bomb, you know - like the Americans did on Japan.
    So, negotiation, mutual assistance programs, etc. will be the stategy of the future; for this you need trust, and therein lies the downfall of some nations.
    Who will Libya trust when this stalemate becomes apparent?
    And who in his/her right mind would ever trust the United States?

  • Comment number 98.

    71. At 10:19am 15th apr. 2011, john wrote:

    To be a citizen of the west world it is more difficult every day.
    We are allegedly a Cristian and democratic society bat the fact in the last 10 - 15 years we do not practised our Cristian or democratic value we lost the power of word and we believe only in the power of the gun.

    Are you seriously suggesting that the wars are caused by 'lack of religion'? Would seem to me that both today and in the past religion was quite often if not nearly always the cause of war, rather than lack of religion. And of course, overlooking over a millennium of religious wars in Europe and the Middle East doesn't help there, either. The reason Europe is relatively peaceful now is lack of religion, not religion itself. The less religion you have in a country (including state imposed substitute religions like communism or fascism) the more prosperous and peaceful it will be.

    The west confine our value and believe to distant universe and keep with as the will to kill - kill......................................................................

    Read the abrahamic religion's three favorite books, full with exhortations to the religious to go out and kill/maim/subjugate/rob unbelievers. Even today, most conflicts are inheritly religious. Ivory Coast (muslim vs christians), Iraq (shia vs sunni). There exists a religious breachline from west Africa via Arabia and the Levant through India all the way to Indonesia, where nearly every conflict is 'religious group X' vs 'religious group Y'. And interestingly enough, one particular abrahamic religion is actually present in all these conflicts, and nearly always as the agressor.

    So what are these 'values' you mention. The world would be better off without religions or state imposed substitutes thereof. Its all nonsense anyway. And Europes traditions are Greek-Roman, not judea-christian. We are NOT a christian continent, and thank the universe for that. For people like me do not believe in 'believe or else...' such as threatened by the bible.

    Another substitute religion, corporatism and governments desire to bail out banks is also a major threat to our prosperity, as many have been scammed into believing banks needed to be bailed out. The heist of the millennium was perpetrated based on scaremongering propaganda. Newsflash: let the banks collapse, and others will take those places. Bailouts have made it worse in the long run.

  • Comment number 99.

    @pavrov1, Cozyjoker and RoyalintheChampionship

    So how do you feel about the latest reports of Gaddafi's use of cluster bombs against civilian (and rebel) Misrata?

    Yesterday a mass grave of potential enemies.
    Cluster bomb tomorrow's enemies today.
    Tomorrow the world ...hahahahahahaha!

  • Comment number 100.

    WebAlice,

    I do think that Russia is now a neutral nation like Switzerland (in some ways) And in some ways it will benefit from its neutrality.

    Gooooo Russia

    :)) (in good mood) (job woes lifting)

    Why does America need another war, killing must be addictive, But, maybe we want to bankrupt ourselves more quickly. Poor Obama and poor America, I'm afraid this could endanger Obama's election chances.

    This song fits--Marilyn Monroe (according to Russians she is the last great American sex symbol -- has flesh and she actually ...eats)

    http://youtu.be/WMIcXZCnyUk

 

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