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Libya: Who's in charge?

Gavin Hewitt | 11:18 UK time, Tuesday, 22 March 2011

It is rare indeed that the allies in an international military intervention of the scale witnessed in Libya are unsure about who should command the operation.

Initially it was run by the United States and their Africa Command out of Germany. But the Americans have made it clear they don't want the leadership role. President Obama has said they will transfer the command of Operation Odyssey Dawn in a couple of days, but to whom?

Either the operation would be under British/French command or Nato. And there the problems and disputes begin.

The French - certainly initially - were against Nato involvement because Nato's reputation, in their view, was damaged in the Arab world, due to its involvement in Afghanistan. France believed it crucial to draw Arab states into the military operation and in their view Nato didn't help.

Some allies believe France launched the first attacks without fully informing its allies. That has led to tensions.

France and Germany strongly disagree about the operation. Yesterday the German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, said "we calculated the risks and if we see that three days after this intervention began, the Arab League has already criticised this intervention, I think we had good reasons."

The Italians, who are offering seven of their bases to the operation, want Nato to take command. Several other European countries are demanding that the operation be run out of Nato.

Norway says its fighter jets will not participate until a clear command structure is in place.


French Mirage 2000 jets at Corsica base prepared for Libya mission, 21 Mar 11

But there is another problem. Turkey is a member of Nato. It has its own reasons for opposing transferring command and control to Nato. Prime Minister Erdogan said "we do not want Libya to become a second Iraq".

Turkey, with its substantial business interests in Libya, sees itself as a potential negotiator to end the crisis. There is also clearly tension with France. Ankara is wary of France's leadership in the air strikes.Turkish objections are stalling the alliance's participation in the campaign.

Paris believes Turkey has its own agenda in the Middle East, while Ankara is frustrated that France opposes its bid for full EU membership.

Some diplomats believe that France wanted to avoid early involvement of Nato for two reasons. It wanted the freedom of action to "save" Benghazi and it wanted to enlist Arab support without the Nato brand, whilst accepting that Nato would have to become involved later.

Meanwhile a significant number of countries are criticising the scale of the operation. China wants an immediate ceasefire. Russia is critical. African countries like Uganda are firmly against. India is very doubtful.

On the ground it has become more difficult for coalition planes to find Gaddafi's forces as they are in urban areas. So far the opposition forces have not been able to seize the initiative. There are clearly divisions as to whether the Libyan leader is a target. The military in the UK and the US clearly don't think he is. So the question remains as to what the goals of the operation are. Clearly saving civilian lives, but there are limits to how that can be achieved from the air.

The French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppe, probably came closest yesterday to revealing what the strategy is. He said he hopes that Gaddafi's government will break up under pressure.

But the lesson of the first few days of Operation Odyssey Dawn is that time is probably short; that the international community will quickly lose patience with a long campaign.

It doesn't help that there are so many divisions over running the campaign.

UPDATE at 1545 gmt: Nato did agree on Tuesday to begin enforcing a UN arms embargo on Libya, using aircraft and ships in the Mediterranean to "conduct operations to monitor, report and, if needed, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries".

Nato also pledged to help enforce the no-fly zone - "to bring our contribution, if needed, in a clearly defined manner" to the effort. But it was clear that Nato would not yet be co-ordinating the Libya mission.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Good Morning Gavin and everbody

    The United States are going to find it very hard indeed to pass this particular hot potato. You can hear it already. "We never exspected bombs to be dropped and missiles to be fired." "This not protecting the Lybian people." "Its playing into the hands of the fundermentalists." "You (the USA and Britain) made the mess - You clear it up!"

    This is now a war not an insurrection and no war has ever been won without boots on the ground. Somebodies boots, but whos? The French? the British? the Americans? If these three wont, nobody will.

    What ever the military case for heavy handedness, eventually there will have to be a political settlement. That is when the fur will really start to fly.

  • Comment number 2.

    Gavin Hewitt.

    any person with a modicum of sense knows there's no justification for the 'intervention' in Libya; not one of the participating nations can claim the 'moral highground' since they're all equally corrupt.

    not a single person will benefit from this war, only corporations will.

  • Comment number 3.

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

  • Comment number 4.

    Libya: Who's in charge?
    Now this is "THE" QUESTION, isn't it?
    I got another one:
    What is the mission?
    As time goes by Libya begins to resemble Iraq:
    Let's go in, bomb the Hell out of the infrastructure, never mind the collateral damage, and oh yes, we must get rid of Saddam Hussein...
    I think that the United States chose itself for leadership because no one else really wanted to be in charge. What the Americans make clear, is not always clarity - most of the time it's just smoke, mirrors and spin. It makes you sick trying to figure out the truth...until it happens.
    I do believe that lot hangs in the balance on whether President Obama is able to transfer responsibility for Operation Odyssey Dawn soon. What does it tell the international community if he can not. (And where did the Americans get this stupid name: Odyssey Dawn?)
    I can't imagine British or French command, and Nato is out because not all the Nato nations have agreed to participate or agree that this action should have been taken - e.g. Turkey and Germany.
    Also, the French were against Nato involvement because Nato's reputation, in their view, was damaged in the Arab world, but I have to ask: More damageed than the reputation of the United States - after Iraq, after Afghanustan? The French believe it crucial to draw Arab states into the military operation, but at the big Arab meeting only 11 or the 22 Arab nations even bothered to show up, and out of these 11, two abstained. That means the so-called Arab enthusiasm (which is a BIG STRETCH OF THE WORD) only 9 sort of wanted to participate. This is the total willingness of the Arab League to the attack on Libya.
    The German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, was outspoken about the risks and quick to point out that after only 3 days, the Arab League has already criticised the extent of the intervention, AND HE ADDED: that the criticism was well-founded.
    Norway says its fighter jets will not participate until a clear command structure is in place...Well, I guess that rules out Norway.
    Prime Minister Erdogan delineated the situation to utter perfection: "We do not want Libya to become a second Iraq." and this is exactly what the Libya Operation is turning into - no plan, no leadership, no mission, just a bunch of destruction, and of course huge collateral damage. What a shamble, what a gamble with the lives of real flesh and blood!
    China wants an immediate ceasefire.
    Russia is critical.
    African countries like Uganda are firmly against.
    India is very doubtful.
    BRIC is very doubtful, especially Venezuela.
    The military in the UK and the US keep saying Gaddafi is not being targetted, but I can't say that I trust this assertion. If this was true, how come Tripoli has become such a focal point of tragetting. Doesn't it seem that The Coalition of the Willing us hoping for Gaddafi collateral damage?

  • Comment number 5.

    Germany's position is not as clear as Guido would have us believe.

    "Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere chimed in with that view. "Although the heart says yes [to a military mission], the cool head says: leave it alone," he said on German public television."

    The heart says yes....

    The head of the Social Democrats, Sigmar Gabriel, said the decision to abstain was a sign of weakness and a cop-out, giving the impression that Germany has no clear stance on the situation in Libya.

    "Even worse - it looks as if Germany is knuckling under the power of this oil Mafioso [Gadhafi]," he told the daily Tagesspiegel.

    Weakness, Cop out, knuckling under, no clear stance.

    The chairman of the parliamentary human rights committee, Green politician Tom Koenigs, accused the government of not being committed to human rights in Libya, calling it "not worthy of Germany" to deny solidarity in this situation, he told German public radio.

    Not worthy of Germany, not committed to human rights...

    "You can show solidarity with the alliance without being right up at the front line," the chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, Ruprecht Polenz, from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Party, told German public radio."

    And to top it all off:

    "According to a poll by the Emnid Institute, commissioned by mass circulation daily Bild, 62 percent of Germany are in favor of military intervention, but 65 percent are opposed to German involvement."

    We're in favour but you lot take the flak for it!





  • Comment number 6.

    Putin is critical, Medvedev told him to shut it.

    Putin is not Russia.

  • Comment number 7.

    GH: "President Obama has said they will transfer the command of Operation Odyssey Dawn in a couple of days"





    Odyssey is good term: it may take more than a few days.

  • Comment number 8.

    GH: Norway says its fighter jets will not participate until a clear command structure is in place.







    How about them Greek and Portuguese fighter jets?


    [btw.. Gavin, what's Ireland's and Cyprus' position re all this?]

  • Comment number 9.

    GH: "On the ground it has become more difficult for coalition planes to find Gaddafi's forces as they are in urban areas. So far the opposition forces have not been able to seize the initiative. There are clearly divisions as to whether the Libyan leader is a target. "




    With Secretary Clinton and the Chairman of US JCS making completely opposite statements regarding that matter.


    Perhaps Mark Mardell could call someone in El Salvador for a clarification?

  • Comment number 10.

    GH: Paris believes Turkey has its own agenda in the Middle East, while Ankara is frustrated that France opposes its bid for full EU membership.






    Well, France didn't want Turkey in, now Turkey doesn't want France in.

    [two can play this game]

  • Comment number 11.

    Benefactor wrote:
    Putin is critical, Medvedev told him to shut it.

    Putin is not Russia.






    But Putin has KGB/FSB/GRU/Spetznaz behind him.


    "How many divisions" does Medved have? :-)

  • Comment number 12.

    #8

    powermeerkat;

    "[btw.. Gavin, what's Ireland's and Cyprus' position re all this?]"

    Well, seeing as Ireland and Cyprus have the sum total of ZERO fighter or bomber aircraft between them , I think the question is moot.

  • Comment number 13.

    This is a ridiculous we discuss which body will be in charge of the war in Libya it is not a important question what is important are the 17 people kill by Israel in Gaza today for once let the world do the right thing let do a no fly zone over ISRAEL from 1966 they control land which do not belong to them.
    John

  • Comment number 14.

    Obama, came into office as a result of the efforts of pacifists to counter the war image of the United States. However, events in Libya have decimated the image of Obama and as a nobel peace laureate, his action should be divorced from war.

    I am not able to understand the action of western powers in Libya. many a time, nations around the world have condemned rebels who took arms to overthrow a constitutionally elected government. But in the case of Libya, the picture is different.

    Now, we have witnessed the action of the west to recognise a rebel government without giving due consideration to democratic values. Nobody will say that Ghaddafi is a Saint. But what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. The military intervention in Libya is absurd. The west has failed to protect civilians in Ivory Coast, Bahrain and Yemen and yet they are using military force to get rid of a leader who has been voted by his people.

    It's morally acceptable to protect innocent people, but it needs to be done in a fair way. What we are now seeing in Libya is totally unfair and unjust. The west should realise that behind the facade of these protests, there are undemocratic groups hiding behind it. A group of French journalists have already identified core militants who do not ascribe to the norms of democracy.
    The west should be wary!

  • Comment number 15.

    There shouldn’t be any confusion about what the goal is. It is deny Gaddafi use of his air force to attack the civilian uprising against his rule. It is not to kill Gadaffi or to overthrow him. If he is to be replaced it will have to be Libyans who do it. Democracy requires the people want it, and the time for Libyans to demonstrate they want to replace their despot and step up to a democratic nation-state is at hand.

    Likewise there should not be any problem organising a no-fly zone even for a considerable period of time. The Iraq no-fly zone operated from 1991 to 2003 with no NATO command and no disputes about ‘who was in charge’. This isn’t D-Day requiring a major planning exercise. Once the initial degradation of Libyan air defence is complete we are only talking about routine patrols by AWACS and occasional fighter intercepts to ensure Gadaffi’s airforce stays on the ground. There should be no major organisational effort required to achieve that. If there is any talk now about ‘who is in charge’ it is because one country with a vanity complex wants to be in charge.

    All that is required is to divide the day into shifts, e.g. France to patrol the Libyan airspace between the hours of e.g. midnight to 8am, the UK between 8am and 4pm and the Americans between 4pm and midnight. And have a similar schedule for fighters from various nations to be on standby to intercept should Gadaffi send anything up. The French should be reminded that the objective is stop Gadaffi using his airforce to kill his own people. If some French glory helps to secure consensus for the primary mission then fine; but if satisfying the French conceit that they rule the world starts to get in the way of protecting the Libyan people, then the French should depart as they did in 1998 from the no-fly zone that protected Iraqi Kurds leaving the job of protecting Libyans to more responsible / less vainglorious nations.

  • Comment number 16.

    Dele Chu #14.

    "The west has failed to protect civilians in Ivory Coast, Bahrain and Yemen and yet they are using military force to get rid of a leader who has been voted by his people."

    yes, what is it about Mr Gaddafi and Hamas that so upsets 'our shared values'?

    "The west should be wary!"

    more like the world needs to be wary of 'the West'.

  • Comment number 17.

    #13

    john;

    NO Palestinians were killed in the airstrikes, which were carried out in response to Hamas firing mortars and rockets at Israel. The media coverage is available to all, changing the facts and ignoring key points to suit your agenda is pointless.

  • Comment number 18.

    re #14 "I am not able to understand the action of western powers in Libya. many a time, nations around the world have condemned rebels who took arms to overthrow a constitutionally elected government. But in the case of Libya, the picture is different.






    Indeed, quite a few "useful idiots", "pool-side pinkos" and "fellow travellers" in Western Europe condemned Chechens, Cubans, Dagestanis, Tibetans, Uighurs, etc., rebelling against their "legal" governments".


    Just as much earlier they have not supported Czechs, Hungarians, Poles, Slovaks, etc., rebelling against their 'legal' governments.

  • Comment number 19.

    Who's in charge, need you ask?

    America's fingerprints are all over the action now.

    From this obsession with neutralizing Libya's command and control and demonizing Gaddafi, to the exclusion of following through on our commitment to UN resolution 1973 and protecting civilians from artillery and tank bombardment.

    We know the US public need a bad guy like Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden, and the action isn't particularly popular there, but this should not prevent us from doing what needs to be done.

    The longer we delay in neutralizing his desert armour, the further they will allow his troops to infiltrate towns and the more difficult the war (and following peace) will become, oh, and in case we'd forgotten, the more civilians will die.

  • Comment number 20.

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

  • Comment number 21.

    ThisWorld #20.

    "..news from same sources as you, mien Fuhrer.."

    you can mouth Hitler all you will, it won't distract from the fact John points to (#13 "..for once let the world do the right thing let do a no fly zone over ISRAEL.."): the rank hypocrisy of the 'allies' of never enforcing an UN resolution passed against Israel whilst falling over themselves to wreak havoc for commercial gain elsewhere.

  • Comment number 22.

    It is clear why the likes of Russia and China don't like the idea of intervention in Libya, but countries such as Turkey and Germany whom one ordinarily regards as responsible democracies with a genuine care for humanity should be ashamed.

    The warnings from these countries over the dangers posed by intervention risk becoming a self-fulfiling prophecy if they refuse to see the long-term benefits for the Libyan people of showing a united democratic front in the face of tyranny. Appeasement does not work.

  • Comment number 23.

    MichaelLondon #22.

    "It is clear why the likes of Russia and China don't like the idea of intervention in Libya, but countries such as Turkey and Germany whom one ordinarily regards as responsible democracies with a genuine care for humanity should be ashamed."

    you imply that no one in the German and Turkish governments has a clue, unlike, again by implication, the UK, France and the US of A. risible. ever thought you could be wrong?

  • Comment number 24.

    France has "proud" traditions in fighting wars against countries and people in North-Africa. During their war in Algeria, they killed 1 million, forced another million (or 2) to move from their homes, placed 900 000 landmines which killed and hurt civilians. Indeed an eccellent guide to humanity and democracy in the world today.

  • Comment number 25.

    Well it would appear the Americans thought up the name for the operation, at any rate...

    Perhaps I do a disservice, though.

  • Comment number 26.

    The U.S. is currently running this operation because of the "unique capabilities" we possess. The most visible of these are the array of platforms that can destroy Libya's air defense network (e.g. Tomahawk missiles from surface ships and submarines) or simply ignore it (e.g. B-2 bombers). However the real reason we are stuck running the show is that the U.S. military can do everything that is required under a single unified military command with (sadly) considerable experience. As was pointed out elsewhere, the real strength of the EU and indeed the UN is that they can't do anything, including holding a meeting, in a timely manner. While NATO may be a possible alternate command structure, the conflicted views of member states and national pride seem to rule it out. Putting together an ad hoc command structure, while possible, will take months and cost countless lives as the brass work to define the roles required.

    My prediction is that the U.S. will be running the military operations until either Gadhafi is gone or the world community writes Libya off as another Somalia and moves on to the next crisis.

  • Comment number 27.

    Is Gaddafi being targeted?

    I wonder.

    Today, on BBC News at lunchtime, I distinctly heard and saw, a guest state to the effect that he (Gadaffi) was difficult to find ... 'even though there are 'special forces' on the ground in Tripoli !!!

    Did anyone else pick that up ?

  • Comment number 28.

    18 powermeer writes:
    "Just as much earlier they have not supported Czechs, Hungarians, Poles, Slovaks, etc., rebelling against their 'legal' governments."

    And what happened to those countries in the long run? Yes, that's right, they are all free democracies now without thousands more people being sacrificed by hotheads
    who tried to force the issue. The Velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia, the Polish Solidarity movement and collapse of the Hungarian communists in 1989 all came about because the people finally decided they had enough of their rulers. It was not imposed on them by alien outside forces but by their own quiet determination to rid themselves of oppresive regimes.
    Democracy will not take hold in Iraq, Afghanistan or now Libya until the people have spoken, and not because Uncle Sam and his 'allies' try to force it upon them.

  • Comment number 29.

    15 freeborn writes:
    "There shouldn’t be any confusion about what the goal is. It is deny Gaddafi use of his air force to attack the civilian uprising against his rule. It is not to kill Gadaffi or to overthrow him."

    And you really believe that? I can't remember whether Bush and his 'allies' said they wanted to kill Saddam Hussein or just depose him when they originally invaded Iraq, but they not only killed him but also his two sons and 14 year old grandson. Seeing the western world didn't protest too much, they will expect to get away with it again this time regardless of what they said. I don't think I will be proved wrong.

  • Comment number 30.

    Oh, for heaven's sake - good article, wrong question.

    Europe, who is in charge?

    Answer? - Nobody. Obama, despite the rhetoric, has clearly decided on a back seat yet his military seem to be taking the lead because nobody else is willing to do so. Of course, Sarkozy wants all the credit and is prepared to take the lead role politically. I am sure Britain would have taken up the role if it was able to do so. An aircraft carrier and few Harriers would have come in handy but - hey ho - they can still nuke Leningrad - sorry, St. Petersburg - if the need arises.

    There is no leadership in the EU, no measure of agreement and absolutely no prospect of a common defense and foreign policy until they can find common ground. I am on record as being an EU enthusiast but, as things stand, there is not a snowball's hope in hell.

    It seems that no one has even thought through the end game of all of this. Regime change? Help the rebels take over? Partition? They simply don't know. It all sounds a bit like Lisbon. Get yourselves a done deal then figure out what to do with it later. Short-termism of the very worst kind.

  • Comment number 31.

    #28

    margarethoward;

    I wonder, would you have been the first to come on here and slag off the UN, America and Britain if the citizens of Benghazi had been slaughtered by Gaddafi ,who threatened to show them "no mercy"? Or would you just have shrugged your shoulders because you couldn't care less about them. I reckon you and your ilk would have been falling over each other to be the first to post hell and damnation against the international community if that happened. Fortunately, the lives of the people of Benghazi are not in your hands.

  • Comment number 32.

    #29 - margaret howard

    WHO killed Saddam Hussein?

    Not the Iraqi court that tried him and sentenced him to death then?

    But you "don't think you will be proved wrong". I am still waiting for you to be proved right and I am not holding my breath.

  • Comment number 33.

    28. At 18:29pm on 22nd Mar 2011, margaret howard wrote:

    18 powermeer writes:
    "Just as much earlier they have not supported Czechs, Hungarians, Poles, Slovaks, etc., rebelling against their 'legal' governments."

    And what happened to those countries in the long run? Yes, that's right, they are all free democracies now without thousands more people being sacrificed by hotheads
    who tried to force the issue. The Velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia, the Polish Solidarity movement and collapse of the Hungarian communists in 1989 all came about because the people finally decided they had enough of their rulers. It was not imposed on them by alien outside forces but by their own quiet determination to rid themselves of oppresive regimes..."


    Margaret, Margaret, what are we to do with You!?


    Complete over-simplification of the factual reality and a slander of thousands upon thousands of Hungarians, Poles, Czechs/Slovaks (to say nothing of East Germans, Bulgarians, Roumanians etc.) who gave their lives in suffering, torment, torture & death throughout the Communist regimes' obsessive internal spying, trumped up charges, kangaroo Courts, Prisons, Forced Labour camps etc. as they were silenced for their opposition to Soviet domination.

    Those Soviet crushed 'uprisings' You refer to were just the more explosive tips-of-the-iceberg of oppression and assault upon millions of ordinary people behind the Iron Curtain.

    The notion the 'Velvet revolution' etc. could ever have occurred were it not for the courage of millions held in servitude just exemplifies how little grasp of these serious subjects You possess.


    All that said, I do agree it is mistake for the UK & for the 'west' to intervene in Libya when it is far from clear that what/who replaces Gadaffi (always assuming he doesn't win) will be any better disposed toward 'democracy' than the present bunch of degenerates.

  • Comment number 34.

    Now the West has started the operation in Libia, if you do not finish it at what ever the cost to the allies, it will bound REBOUND BACK on the allies by way of terrorism from the entire Moslim world.
    SO THE DECISION LIES ON THE ENTIRE WEST WHO SO EVER IS IN CHARGE. TO BE IN CHARGE IT DOES NOT MATTER ANY MORE. THE WEST SHOULD HAVE SORTED IT OUT BEFORE STARTING THE ATTACK, CERTAINLY NOT AFTER STARTING THE ATTACK. DO NOT GO BACK AND RUN AWAY. IT WOULD BE TOO EXPENSIVE TO THE WEST. MAY BE WORST THAN LIBIA.
    Brijinder Singh Bhatia

  • Comment number 35.

    32. At 18:52pm on 22nd Mar 2011, threnodio_II wrote: #29 - margaret howard

    WHO killed Saddam Hussein?

    Not the Iraqi court that tried him and sentenced him to death then?

    But you "don't think you will be proved wrong". I am still waiting for you to be proved right and I am not holding my breath.


    Thren, the fragrant lady is again way out of her depth, but ploughs relentlessly on though inaccurate from first to last word!

    The '2 sons' of Saddam died in a massive shoot-out with Allied Forces when the house they were hiding in was surrounded and after several hours they had refused to surrender.

    Incidentally, those '2' lovely lads were Uday & Qusay Hussein.

    Uday's own body-guard recounted how Uday dealt with a person when he refused an order, "...Latif was locked inside a psycho-torture cell. The walls, floors and lights were bright red. The cell was too small to lie down in or stand up leaving him to squat. There was no toilet or even a bucket for waste and eventually Latif was forced to lie in his own filth.

    After seven days Uday came by. “Latif. How are you? You’ve changed your mind haven’t you? Your sister is waiting for me. I & my dogs will rape your sister if you refuse again.”

    And he went on to describe, "...Uday was a monster. I witnessed horrific crimes... Uday was a brutal rapist with an obsession for beautiful women.”

    Every day Uday Hussein and his bodyguards drove around the university and the girls’ schools until the president's son saw a girl he fancied. He would stop her and
    ask her to spend the night with him. If she refused his bodyguards would grab her and bring her back to the palace.

    There Uday would rape the girl. If she resisted, after he was done, he would give her to the whole team of bodyguards. If she was really a lot of trouble, like one
    architectural student named Nahle Sabet who had the nerve to publicly reject him, Uday would throw her naked to his pack of wild dogs which ripped her to pieces
    while he watched, drinking champagne and laughing.

    Uday even raped a bride infront of her husband on their wedding day. When the husband protested he was tortured and executed for 'insulting the President'."


    Of course, the other 'son' was Qusay, now there are established facts about him that would curl my hair if I still had any, but we'll save those for the next time Margaret pontificates on how inhumane all us in the 'west' are compared to her fine ethical code of conduct!


  • Comment number 36.

    There has been much discussion about whether or not Colonel Gadaffi should be targeted. First and foremost he is a soldier and by definition should be seen as much a legitimate target as any other soldier in declared hostilities between two sides of a conflict. Secondly his death / incapacity would weaken his forces’ ability to strike at their fellow countrymen or even hopefully bring to an end this whole sorry vindictive and pointless slaughter. Without the army’s paymaster at the helm his troops will loose moral and even his sons might throw in the towel rather than brave it out when the inevitable conclusion is that they will not succeed to regain all Libya under their jackboots.

  • Comment number 37.

    #33 - cool_brush_work
    #28 - margaret howard

    Curiously, you are both right. CBW is quite correct to point to the terrible repression that took place in eastern Europe. Equally, much of that repression was due to orthodox party line adherents native to the countries concerned. The idea that it was some ghastly Soviet plot is a simplification.

    Where Margaret is right - and I have said this often before - is that it took enormous courage and patience for eastern Europeans - and especially those who had been subjugated for previous attempts at freedom - to bide their time and wait their moment. All strength to their ultimate success.

    Two points though. It is quite wrong to separate the Czech and Slovak movements. Czechoslovakia was united in its resistance and - while the west may have focused on the romantic imagery of Prague in the Velvet Revolution - many on the key events took place in Bratislava. The separatist issue came to the fore later. The second is to assume that all is sweetness and light in the liberated east. There are growing signs that democracy may not be as long lived as we all hoped.

  • Comment number 38.

    32 threnodio writes:
    "WHO killed Saddam Hussein?
    Not the Iraqi court that tried him and sentenced him to death then?"

    Kangaroo comes to mind. And what about his two sons and 14 year old grandson?

  • Comment number 39.

    The reason for all the disagreements as to who will be in command is because nobody wants to be seen as the leader of the operation if it the stuff hits the fan.

    The Americans are doing the right thing, their reputation is too badly tarnished in the Arab world to take the lead on this, either NATO or the UN should take command or - how about it, an Arab nation with a sophisticated and Western-ised military, such as the UAE?

    For all those who are saying that the West should not intervene in this revolution and that the Libyan rebels should handle this on their own I understand what you're saying but I think you're talking rubbish - The Libyan government would have carried on steamrolling into the east, taking town after town and would have crushed the rebels in Benghazi. Then they would have oppressed their own citizens, curbed their freedoms more than ever, arrested any former rebels, executed its leaders in kangeroo courts and the government would loath and dismiss the needs of eastern Libya more then ever. If we stood by there would be no more Libyan revolution to protect because it would be extinct.

  • Comment number 40.

    #36 - Richard Kemp

    The big problem with that is that we have been here before. Regime change was not the stated object in Iraq until the initially grounds turn out to be exaggerated or possibly false. There is no such issue here. The theory is protect innocent civilians. And what if it is successful, there is some kind of popular measure of opinion and it turns out that Gaddafi receives a mandate? Where are you going to go from there?

    Does anybody actually know whether the revolutionary movement in the east commands widespread support? How many actors does Gaddafi have in his company? Are we seriously expected to believe that all these people turn out on the streets of Tripoli because they are forced to do so? Democracy has consequences - one of which is that, once achieved, you may not always get the result you hoped for.

    Allende and Chile where a democratically elected leader was bombed of office because an administration many thousands of miles to the north decided that his democratic credentials were outweighed by his socialist ones. The result was a military dictatorship. Or Zimbabwe where a democratically elected socialist leader was left to morph into a dictator all on his own. Wanting democracy for all is one thing - living with the consequences is a whole different ballgame.

  • Comment number 41.

    "There are clearly divisions as to whether the Libyan leader is a target. The military in the UK and the US clearly don't think he is."
    ---------------------------------------------

    Really? Then why was his residence bombed? Come on! Man up and quit writing out right lies.

  • Comment number 42.

    37. At 19:24pm on 22nd Mar 2011, threnodio_II wrote:
    #33 - cool_brush_work
    #28 - margaret howard

    "..Curiously, you are both right. CBW is quite correct to point to the terrible repression that took place in eastern Europe. Equally, much of that repression was due to orthodox party line adherents native to the countries concerned. The idea that it was some ghastly Soviet plot is a simplification."


    Sorry, but that is completely missing the point!

    It was the USSR & the Soviet 'communist' ideology that was enoforced in each East European country following its 'liberation' the Red Armed Forces.
    That some within each country faithfully adopted the Soviet model and ruthlessly implemented it is correct, however they could only do so vis-a-vis backing from the Soviet Union. Hence the 'uprisings' were all put down with Red Armed Forces in a prominent role and when those forces eventually withdrew circa 1989-92 the whole pile of ideological 'Party' control fell to pieces.

    To state it was not a "..ghastly soviet plot.." is to in part deny the courage of the ordinary people over decades that I alluded to in #33 as the reason that MH had yet again got hold of the over-simplified version of History.

  • Comment number 43.

    Hi ThrenodioII #30

    "It seems that no one has even thought through the end game of all of this. Regime change? Help the rebels take over? Partition? They simply don't know."

    This isn't necessarily so. The rebellion began and everyone with a grudge against Gaddafi rushed to stick a knife in him; freezing bank accounts etc. Gaddafi has rallied and looked like winning; what's the end game here? I would prophesy Gaddafi committing widespread slaughter of the rebels and then orchestrating a terrorist campaign against the nations that lined up against him. What would your scenario be?

    To avoid the slaughter of innocents/take another stab at Gaddafi/try and prevent a campaign of state funded terrorism/make a grab for oil, (Take your pick; the world has room for many different reasons and while those of more admirable moral character will be involved out of genuine concern for civilian life I am enough of a realist to accept that the other three reasons stated may also have played a part.) UN resolution 1973 was hammered out. This has been used to halt Gaddafi's advance on the rebel stronghold. The end game scenario of Gaddafi back in charge of Libya slaughtering civilians/funding terrorism/ denying the West access to his oil, has been if not averted then at least postponed for the near future.

    It is clear that the UN resolution is being used to prevent Gaddafi crushing the rebels. This means that the end result will be either a partioned country or regime change. Either of these situations is better than the scenario likely if there had been no intervention.

  • Comment number 44.

    Just came home to read that Germany is calling back her navy from the Mediterranean Sea.

    I cannot say that I am not content with this decision.


    It seems to become quite fashionable amongst western military powers to selectively use morals or freedom as justifications to use military force.
    And I am glad that my country is not playing an active part in this.

  • Comment number 45.

    38. At 19:26pm on 22nd Mar 2011, margaret howard wrote:
    32 threnodio writes:
    "WHO killed Saddam Hussein?
    Not the Iraqi court that tried him and sentenced him to death then?"

    Kangaroo comes to mind. And what about his two sons and 14 year old grandson?"


    Well, apart from referring You to my # I would also point out that the term 'kangaroo' Court in this case is grossly insulting & inaccurate, but then that is Your speciality.

    For the record:

    Iraq had held a UN approved 'democratic' Election; several Political Parties were successful at that Poll; those Parties wrote and approved 'Constitution' that provided properly organised Courts of Law.

    Hopefully, You may recall the concern expressed in the EU when the new Iraq Constitition included Capital Punishment in its Statute of Laws that a Cpurt may apply for certain category of crimes.
    Among the 'crimes' punishable by the Death Penalty were Treason & Murder.

    Both those Capital Offences were among many charges brought against Saddam Hussein at his Public Trial before a properly constituted Court of Law. Following the due process of Iraq's Legal system he was found guilty and in due course was executed.

    As for the 'grandson' of Saddam: The unlucky lad was in the same house as the 2 sons and died in the shootout - - I've not seen anything to suggest it was some calculated episode - - he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and may have been held against his will or have chosen to die with his family.

  • Comment number 46.

    cool_brush_work #42.

    "Sorry, but that is completely missing the point!
    It was the USSR & the Soviet 'communist' ideology that was enoforced in each East European country following its 'liberation' the Red Armed Forces. "

    so very different from the 'liberation' of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya who can now look forward to 'enjoying' capitalist ideology. talk about missing the point.

  • Comment number 47.

    #38 - margaret howard

    "Kangaroo comes to mind".

    Well it would, wouldn't it? Even the world's largest marsupial is properly equipped to look after it's young. Or should I be less cynical and take it that you are talking about a kangaroo court? Do remind me - these were proceedings which took place behind closed doors with no rules of evidence, in a matter of hours following which there was summary sentence and immediate execution. All those hours of proceedings broadcast to the world, the legal deliberations and the appeals were a figments of everyone's fevered imaginations, were they?

    Saddam was convicted on well documented and multiply verified evidence of crimes against humanity including but not exclusively of gassing many innocent civilians at Halabja and elsewhere - an event about which you have posted quite recently. He was, moreover, convicted by an Iraqi court in full view of the world in what appeared to be a transparent and balanced procedure. Now, unless it is your case that Saddam was 'framed' and someone totally different was responsible for all that carnage, you should in all decency, withdraw the outrageous 'kangaroo' comment and apologise to the victims of the crimes of which he was found guilty.

    I would remind you that he was not charged with or convicted of possession of WMDs with intent.

    As to the sons and grandson, CBW has dealt with that in detail. Sadly, the grandson would appear to be a casualty of war. The sons possibly preferred to go down fighting rather than be dragged out of a hole in the ground months later offering to do a deal. I can only assume that dignity - like justice - is a matter of personal perception.

  • Comment number 48.

    #38

    margarethoward;

    "Kangaroo comes to mind..."

    How would you know if it was a kangaroo court or not - you thought he was killed by the Americans lol! Laughable.

    "And what about his two sons and 14 year old grandson?""


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._list_of_most-wanted_Iraqis

    The mass murderers Uday and Qusay were the only Iraqi leaders killed by the Americans in a firefight, because they refused to surrender. Mustapha was in the house with them , and he was sacrificed because the brothers wanted to go out with a bang. Look at the list - all others surrendered or were captured, it was clearly American policy to try and capture not kill the former leadership.

    Quit trolling, feeling sorry for the multiple mass murderers of the Baath party regime is just not funny. Coupled with your Halabja denial from an earlier blog, I just wonder if there are any depths to which you wouldnt plunge to get a rise out of people?

  • Comment number 49.

    cool_brush_work.

    fwiw, you do have my sympathy and understanding; now that there aren't any communists left to fight, we'll just have to make do with the next best thing: muslims.

  • Comment number 50.

    @43 Ulkomaalainen

    "It is clear that the UN resolution is being used to prevent Gaddafi crushing the rebels. This means that the end result will be either a partioned country or regime change. Either of these situations is better than the scenario likely if there had been no intervention."

    There is no doubt that the western forces are using the civil war in Libya as a justification for intervention.

    For decades the western world payed court to Gaddafi, even after it was clear that he supported and/or financed terrorist attacks.
    He abdicated from terrorism and everything was fine.

    Basically, the "free world" had no problems with him being a dictator and stuff as long as he stopped refugees from coming to Europe and traded his oil.
    Libya was accepted as a sovereign nation and equipped him with state-of-the-art military equipment.


    Therefore, I kinda fail to see what legitimacy the UN has to attack the military forces of this sovereign country.


    Personally, I don`t have a problem with Gaddafi being removed.
    The problem I have with this intervention is the arbitrary manner western military powers are acting around the globe under the guise of moral.

  • Comment number 51.

    46. At 20:00pm on 22nd Mar 2011, jr4412 wrote:

    No idea what Your point is actually!

    I supported the campaign to oust the Taliban & counter Al Queda influence in Afghanistan and I also supported, in the belief WMD were present, the invasion of Iraq.

    I oppose the UK & 'west' intervention in Libya because I just cannot see what useful purpose it will serve: IMO there is nothing to suggest the replacement of Gadaffi will be an improvement.

  • Comment number 52.

    jr4412 wrote: "fwiw, you do have my sympathy and understanding; now that there aren't any communists left to fight, we'll just have to make do with the next best thing: muslims."

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Well, they have been attacking us MUCH longer than communists have around...

  • Comment number 53.

    #42 - cool_brush_work

    I am not missing the point.

    Is Finland in denial? Of course not. Now trying seeing it from a central European perspective. There is a very elderly group who remember Jews being shot on the banks of the Duna or shipped out en masse to Achwitz - "but it was not us, it was those nasty Germans". Then '56 and the Soviet repression - "it was not us, it was those nasty Russians". There is an entire political movement in this country who shout foul because of Trianon - "it was not us, it was those nasty Austrians". The entire nation is in denial and it is about time somebody made them stand up and take responsibility.

    To blame Soviet communism for what occurred here is equivalent to excusing wartime collaboration in western Europe on the grounds that they were 'not German' so it did not really count. Entire new political movements are being built on the basis of a lie, a refusal to learn from history and - worse yet - where necessary, rewriting it.

    Yes - in Czechoslovakia, Hungary and elsewhere, the Soviet bloc monstrously suppressed the legitimate aspirations of nations and peoples by intervening but this suppression was perpetuated for decades by home grown administrations using equally horrific methods. Try living for a while somewhere where each successive generation has something different of which to be in denial and you will begin to understand the collective paranoia. The one thing that cannot be denied - as long as it is available - is the truth. Perverting it with simplification is no better than denying it.

  • Comment number 54.

    49. At 20:11pm on 22nd Mar 2011, jr4412 wrote:
    cool_brush_work.

    fwiw, you do have my sympathy and understanding; now that there aren't any communists left to fight, we'll just have to make do with the next best thing: muslims."



    To repeat: I have no idea what You are actually on about!

    To repeat: I do not agree with the aggression against Libya!

    I think You need to pause for thought or reduce the dosage of whatever it is!

  • Comment number 55.

    cool_brush_work #51.

    "No idea what Your point is actually!"

    your #51 illustrates it beautifully -- you support one 'campaign', oppose another, but not out of principle. oh no, you choose (like our governments) on the basis of what is convenient to you, for whatever reasons, at the time. I've no stomach for that.

  • Comment number 56.

    #44
    durstigermann;

    POSITION A:

    "Just came home to read that Germany is calling back her navy from the Mediterranean Sea.
    And I am glad that my country is not playing an active part in this."

    POSITION B:
    "Personally, I don`t have a problem with Gaddafi being removed.
    Germany plans to increase its military commitment to Afghanistan by sending 500 extra troops, Chancellor Angela Merkel says.
    Germany currently has 4,300 soldiers in the country - the third-largest foreign contingent after the US and UK"

    #50

    "The problem I have with this intervention is the arbitrary manner western military powers are acting around the globe under the guise of moral. "

    LOL




  • Comment number 57.

    The goal of intervention needs to be stated more clearly. The end goal should be for UN supervised democratic elections, in which the will of the people of Lybia on who should lead their nation is made clear. Gaddafi claims to have the right to rule by virtue of majority support. Well, let's prove this to be a lie. The coalition nations should offer a cease fire and an amnesty for Gaddafi on the basis that the UN will supervise elections in which Gaddafi or a member of his "family" may stand. What does the coalition lose by making this offer? Nothing. What happens if Gaddafi rejects this offer? Quite possibly the Arab League members will actively join the coalition against Gaddafi. Hopefully one of Gaddafi's neighbours who are hosting Lybian refugees might step up to the mark of leading the coalition. My point is that the biggest problem today is disunity among the coalition. By making this offer right now, even though Gaddafi will probably refuse it, his refusal would unite the coalition and gain stronger support from Arab nations neighbouring Lybia. And like I said, what does the coalition have to lose by making an offer to Gaddafi of a peaceful way out of the conflict?

  • Comment number 58.

    Illogicbuster #52.

    "..MUCH longer.."

    I appreciate and agree with your point, but I don't think that the corporates select on religious grounds (though it will sound rather good when used as a justification ;-)).

  • Comment number 59.

    In charge?? Obama is certainly not in charge of this mess, he is just a puppet. The heat on his decision is growing and I hope it blows up in his face. He should not be taking this intervention in Libya so casually. There is no certainty that it will be a short conflict. We will likely be in Libya in some way or another for years and years, just expanding our empire even further. I love these cartoons that poke fun at Obama's lack of any leadership and poor decision-making skills!

    http://precisiontradingsolutions.blogspot.com/2011/03/obama-cartoons.html

  • Comment number 60.

    @56 champagne_charlie

    "POSITION A:

    "Just came home to read that Germany is calling back her navy from the Mediterranean Sea.
    And I am glad that my country is not playing an active part in this."

    POSITION B:
    "Personally, I don`t have a problem with Gaddafi being removed.
    Germany plans to increase its military commitment to Afghanistan by sending 500 extra troops, Chancellor Angela Merkel says.
    Germany currently has 4,300 soldiers in the country - the third-largest foreign contingent after the US and UK""


    Last time I checked, the Taliban were being host to Al Qaida.


    Position C: champagne_charlie doesn`t make sense ;(

  • Comment number 61.

    #56 - champagne_charlie

    Hello All,

    Mediterranean Sea? - navigation error. Could have sworn it was the Baltic. Terribly sorry. It's OK, we are going.

    Look, we would really love to be good Europeans and NATO members but Libya is a bit close to home isn't it? Tell you what, we will send a few extra guys to Afghanistan (wherever that is) and you can send some back to the Med for a bit of R and R.

    Oh, and this is not an arbitrary decision. We have been thinking about it ever since we noticed how things are going in Baden-Wuerttemberg and we reckon that the nuclear thing is a better bet than all this north African rubbish so we are going to play the Japan card.

    Again, sorry about the Med thing but it looks a lot like the North Sea in the dark.

    Cheers,

    Angie.

  • Comment number 62.

    55. At 20:41pm on 22nd Mar 2011, jr4412 wrote:
    cool_brush_work #51.

    "No idea what Your point is actually!"

    your #51 illustrates it beautifully -- you support one 'campaign', oppose another, but not out of principle. oh no, you choose (like our governments) on the basis of what is convenient to you, for whatever reasons, at the time. I've no stomach for that."



    Are You for real!?

    Erm, I don't know if You've just returned from a very long, slow, orbit of the galaxy, but "..you support one 'campaign', oppose another, but not out of principle. oh no, you choose (like our governments) on the basis of what is convenient to you,.." is how the World actually turns!

    Please point me in the direction of this fantasy World of Yours where 'right' & 'wrong', 'good' & 'bad' all have their perfect little scenarios!?

    What a crock of cop-out morality with no basis in factual reality!

    You're can't even claim to be 'holier-than-thou' cos You haven't even got that far in Your intellectualising about why people behave the way they do!

    HELLO!

    Tyrannical dictators don't get to where they are without being unpleasant people.
    Rules & regulations exist all around them but they still get there.
    Men & women of honour do the decent things and they still get pushed aside.
    Sometimes the 'good' prevails.

    Read this and give us all the benefit of Your 'principled' choice in the matter:

    In August 1945 the Enola Gay aircrew flew to Japan and dropped a bomb the equivalent of the 8.9 Richter earthquake - - hundred thousand+ dead & twice that maimed & damaged - - on the principle that they were saving lives of millions the Captain of the bomber declared he felt no guilt about his part in the deadly mission.

    In August 1975 a lone man walked into a Belfast bar and left a bomb device in a bag under a seat: The explosion killed 10 & injured twice that number - - the bomber was caught but to this day claims though he regrets the loss of life he was right on the principle he was serving a cause greater than the lives of those he had ruined.


    So come on jr4412... What's it to be? Got some 'principle' up Your sleeve that trumps everyone else's views of 'right' & 'wrong'?

  • Comment number 63.

    53. At 20:27pm on 22nd Mar 2011, threnodio_II wrote:
    #42 - cool_brush_work

    I am not missing the point...

    ...Try living for a while somewhere where each successive generation has something different of which to be in denial and you will begin to understand the collective paranoia..."


    Thren, You forget I was a Para... 'Paranoia' was our staple training motivation.
    We knew everyone was out to get us so we got them first... Decidedly unhealthy (for us & whoever 'them')!

    Seriously, I take Your point, but believe You are overstating/overqualifying it: Surely the whole World of places has something in their past with each generation. Admittedly it must have been far worse behind the Iron Curtain for most generations however whilst the few slavishly adapted to/adopted the requirements to be good little 'communists' (It's reported 1 in 11 East Germans spied in one form or another for the Stasi) the impositon of such mass social-control was at the behest of and reinforced by the very heavy political, military, judicial presence of the comrades from the Soviet Union.

    Some may be in denial that a 'quizling'/'vichy'/'fellow-traveller' mentality prevailed during the Cold War nevertheless it was IMO a minority in each case and they only lasted for so long as their Kremlin masters were in a position to back them up.

  • Comment number 64.

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

  • Comment number 65.

    #62 - cool_brush_work

    Enola Gay was wearing a uniform.

    Enola Gay had a name. Did your lone man?

    Enola Gay was acting under orders enacted under articles of war and rules of engagement. Was your lone man?

    Neither was particularly edifying as a monument to human endeavour go but, legally they are different as chalk and cheese.

  • Comment number 66.

    17. At 13:35pm on 22nd Mar 2011, champagne_charlie wrote:

    "NO Palestinians were killed in the airstrikes, which were carried out in response to Hamas firing mortars and rockets at Israel. The media coverage is available to all, changing the facts and ignoring key points to suit your agenda is pointless."

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12822493

    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/03/2011322162920193682.html


    --Charlie --wrong again ?

  • Comment number 67.

    #63 - cool_brush_work

    And the silent majority who kept their heads down and their mouths shut? Is that heroic or simply a question of discretion being the better part of valour?

  • Comment number 68.

    #66

    quietoaktree;

    Nope not wrong at all. As I said, no Palestinians were killed in the AIRSTRIKES of the 21st. That article refers to the TANK attack and subsequent airstrikes on the 22nd, which were unknown at the time.

    If you go to the end of the BBC link you provide "The latest deaths came a day after Palestinian doctors said at least 17 people were injured in Israeli air strikes in Gaza."

    That was the incident the three of us posted about, the rest was unknown to us at the time.

  • Comment number 69.

    cool_brush_work #63.

    "..is how the World actually turns! ... Tyrannical dictators don't get to where they are without being unpleasant people."

    apathy and connivance, that's why things got as bad as they have. "Tyrannical dictators" don't exist in a vacuum, they have bank accounts and business associates, don't you know. and they have fair-weather friends who hug them in public today and slip a knife between their ribs tomorrow (like Blair hugging the Colonel, or Bush Senior shaking hands with Saddam).

    fair-weather friends == unprincipled == in it for their own convenience. see what I'm saying?

    re August 1945. I disagree, killing 240,000 or so civilians (both Hiroshima & Nagasaki) can not be justified, even if the military personnel in question "felt no guilt" and hypothetical calculations show many lives may have been saved. WWII was good business for many though, and since you appear interested why not read up about Prescott Bush (grandfather of George Walker), or the business interests of the Vanderbilt Foundation at the time (hint: paid $2m for 'research' conducted by one J Mengele).

    "Got some 'principle' up Your sleeve that trumps everyone else's views of 'right' & 'wrong'?"

    all I can say is: I live by my beliefs (as best I can), and I expect other people too to listen to their conscience and gut feeling. that said, I recognise that one cannot expect very much of a people who have apparently not evolved beyond the need for organised religion, nation states, propaganda, and weapons.

    hth

  • Comment number 70.

    #68 CC

    I stand corrected ---sorry for being up-to-date.

  • Comment number 71.

    47 threnodio writes:

    "He was, moreover, convicted by an Iraqi court in full view of the world in what appeared to be a transparent and balanced procedure."
    ------------------------------
    BBC News 5 November 2006
    'Trial flawed'
    Many critics have dismissed the trial as a form of victors' justice, given the close attention the US has paid to it.

    Before the sentencing session began, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark was ejected from the courtroom after handing the judge a note in which he called the trial a "travesty".

    Saddam Hussein's defence team have also accused the government of interfering in the proceedings - a complaint backed by US group Human Rights Watch.

    The first judge assigned to preside over the case, Rizgar Amin, resigned after complaining of government interference and three defence lawyers were assassinated.

    And the former leader's lawyers have attacked the timing of the planned verdict, which comes days before the US votes in mid-term elections.

    Mr Bush's Republican Party is at risk of losing control of Congress, in part because of voter dissatisfaction over its handling of the Iraq conflict."
    ----------------------
    As I said, kangaroo comes to mind. (And its not just Angie in Baden-Wuertemberg)




  • Comment number 72.

    #69 - jr4412

    This is a common mistake - confusing morality with mathematics.

    There is morally absolutely no difference between killing 240,000 civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki or killing a couple of bystanders in a street corner exchange of fire. We live in an age in which we love statistics. The holocaust is monstrous, Szrebrenica is borderline, 9/11 is unfortunate, 7/7 inconvenient.

    For heavens sake, let us get back to basics. It is NEVER acceptable for innocent civilians to suffer the consequences of conflict and it is NEVER acceptable for combatants to masquerade as civilians in order to avoid detection or further their objectives by other means.

  • Comment number 73.

    I have trouble reconciling the reasons for this intervention. Its supposed intent is to protect civilians from Gaddafi, but this is not a peaceful anti-government demonstration; it is rather an armed insurrection that has thrown Libya into a civil war. If the rebels miscalculated and cannot match Gaddafi's army, that's their problem; isn't it? Why should a coalition of countries take sides in an internal armed conflict? Worse yet; side with the armed rebels. Neutralizing Gaddafi will only prolong this situation indefinitely. The stalemate will divide Libya between east and west. The western side will remain stable under Gaddafi, while the rebel factions on the east -- without a government structure -- will start fighting amongst themselves. That's when the real civilian casualties will begin, and this coalition of fools will be the only ones to blame for that outcome. So, who wants to be in charge of this mess in the making?

  • Comment number 74.

    #71 - margaret howard

    So do you say there was a monstrous miscarriage of justice and an innocent man was put to death or do you say that there were procedural issues which would have justified a retrial. Understand that these are different positions - critical questions of innocence or guilt (factual or evidential) - or technical and procedural (pints of law).

    However terrible the offense, the defendant is entitled to a fair hearing, proper representation and a verdict which is 'beyond reasonable doubt'. If any of those elements are missing, then there has been no trial in the proper sense.

  • Comment number 75.

    threnodio_II #72.

    "It is NEVER acceptable for innocent civilians to suffer the consequences of conflict and it is NEVER acceptable for combatants to masquerade as civilians in order to avoid detection or further their objectives by other means."

    very much agree; not sure how you construed my reply as "confusing morality with mathematics", I thought 'killing of civilians can not be justified' was unambiguous.

  • Comment number 76.

    #73

    amdaman;

    "I have trouble reconciling the reasons for this intervention. Its supposed intent is to protect civilians from Gaddafi, but this is not a peaceful anti-government demonstration; it is rather an armed insurrection that has thrown Libya into a civil war. "

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_2011_Libyan_uprising

    Start from the beginning, on the 15th of February. Work your way down and see if you still feel the same way by the time you reach the end.

  • Comment number 77.

    I really hadn't thought Westerwelle had it in him.
    They knew what a quagmire that would become and acted accordingly.
    Not even pressure and bullying could make them to cave in, believing
    in what they said...the right thing!

    Just now I'm proud to be a German! :)

  • Comment number 78.

    champagne_charlie #76.

    "Start from the beginning, on the 15th of February." (2011)

    why not start in 1969 (or even before)? inconvenient?

  • Comment number 79.

    74 threnodio writes:
    "So do you say there was a monstrous miscarriage of justice and an innocent man was put to death or do you say that there were procedural issues which would have justified a retrial."

    No, I'm saying no such things. I reproduced a BBC News report headlined 'Trial flawed' in reply to your earlier assertion at *47 that : "He was, moreover, convicted by an Iraqi court in full view of the world in what appeared to be a transparent and balanced procedure."

    The issues were obviously not as clear cut as you like to make out and I wanted to balance your statement. According to the BBC account there were justified reasons to doubt the fairness you speak about. I take it their reporter was at the trial. Were you? And if not how can you be sure that your opinions about the trial are more reliable than his?

  • Comment number 80.

    Wikipedia article, Feb 18: "Twelve people were killed on the Giuliana Bridge in Benghazi when mercenaries opened fire. 50 mercenaries were killed after protesters captured them, locked them up in a prison, and then burned it down."

    It doesn't seem to me that one side can claim to be any better than the other.

    If one was to believe the accuracy of the events posted in Wikipedia, maybe Gaddafi used a heavy hand to deal with protesters. Nothing different from Bahrain, Ivory Coast, Yemen, and others. But, long before the UN claimed a need to intervene, the protests had already turned into a civil war.

    Libya has a complex array of tribes, ethnic, and religious groups. It takes a special person to rule over that for four decades, and Gaddafi still has a large number of supporters. Take him out of the picture and chaos may ensue. The rebels may currently be united against a common cause, but they are very unlikely to live in harmony after that.

    In time, they will prove to be as ruthless as those who they are trying to overthrow, and Libya will be the worst for it.

  • Comment number 81.

    such-like open to the world media, and lengthy and detailed and documented in volumes of papers' all over court :o))))))
    2 years was it? We have also held recently about Khodorkovsky.

    As if anyone had any doubts re the outcome.
    _________
    I'm not for monsters. But the abstract subject of a fare court if a country is flooded by foreign military ? :))))))))))
    It can not be an independent country by definition.
    Take the army out, give them time to settle in form, then you can refer to their genuine court decisions.

  • Comment number 82.

    Surely it is "acceptable" by combatants to dress up as civillians when a country is invaded. For they are civillians, disturbed in their home. And will not be any "combatants" when the offenders are taken out. No one to combat :o)))0

    I know threnodio you disagree strongly, but if listened to you back then you'll be now speaking German with English your second best ;o))))))))

    (I'm catching up on today's posts :o)

    Somewhat irritated to hear again about the horrors of Stalinism to which Eastern Europe was forcefully submitted to, because for a Russian these things seem relative, I mean those true horrors were before the 2ndWW.
    We had them, while Eastern Europe was its own Eastern Europe and had nothing to do with us.
    Don't mix up year 1937 and "Eastern Europe", for a sec, we didn't grab them in 1917 - but in 1945.
    Then they had horrors of Stalinism - full 7 years.
    Then he kind of died.

    And the horrors that the Eastern Europe went through with us, were horrors of Khruschev thaw and Brezhnev's long era of "developed socialism". 1953-1989.

  • Comment number 83.

    PS

    Russia still can't reach those horrors in the part of simple nutrition per person, food consumed, though one would say emptier than our Soviet shelves there were hard to find :o))))))
    We are also doing about 8 years worse on the life duration parameter, compared to 1989, on self-multiplication ;o))))), GDP per person, industrial output, and what not.

    To put it simply lost 20 million of population in peaceful recent time, which is curious number, comparing, to say, the 2ndWW loss.

    I'm glad if others are doing better.

  • Comment number 84.

    If there is a fight between members of a house, do the neighbours have an unfettered right to barge in that house and start bashing up one side? Gaddafi is no friend of India, but is it principally right for the West to target him so ?

  • Comment number 85.

    The Russians devastated Chechnya, the Chinese Tibet & Uighur. Where were the so called defending western nations then ? People love to take on small opponents (read Iraq, Libya...). Why not pick someone your own size (read China & Russia) ?

  • Comment number 86.

    This web site and my computer have problems with each other...sad or I CANNOT use a touchpad.

    What CBW may be trying to impart is--sorry interpreting--is: there is a philosophy of Pragmatism. One of its proponents was the brother of Henry James...can't remember his name.

    Pragmatism is very unpopular on the continent..but essentially it says that one can achieve betterment but not with ideals, but with incremental steps. We are humans, flawed and therefore our systems are flawed. If flawed steps produce better lives for the majority then, perhaps, one wrong and two rights can produce a better result than trying to use only good means to achieve better results.

    IE, staunch conservatives or idealists believe that only when good means are used can good results be produced. But, there are people that are pragmatic who believe that ...um...for instance, capitalism which is very flawed can produce better end results than socialism which usually produces benevolently meant mediocrity.

    And what people seem more pragmatic than Americans? Well, actually, the Chinese do ..and the Japanese (with their religions of every kind--they celebrate Christmas, there)..but China takes pragmatic--low--road with a capitalist dictatorship and Russia takes the high--idealistic--road with a democratic revolution, first, capitalism, later.

    Not explaining Pragmatism well, but philosophy is not my strong area. But, sometimes, I think that this newish (probably British, but American endorsed) philosophy clashes with continental Idealism philosophy..no evil means allowed!

    So, I, myself think this Libyan intervention was a French idealistic impulse and now "'we Anglo-Saxons' have to take this 'lemon' of an intervention and turn it into 'lemonade' and afterwards be forever criticized (rewarded) for being 'immoral' in our efforts to achieve good results."

    But, this constant whining about "imperfect means" does get on this "pragmatist's" nerves....at times..

    or should this whining going on here be diagnosed as "buyer's remorse?"




  • Comment number 87.

    One thing I've never seen any of the critics of the Libyan intervention say, is what their attitude would have been if right now if we were discussing 10,000 dead in Benghazi? Imagine Gaddafi was given the chance to show "no mercy" to the city of Benghazi.

    Would you just log off and pretend its not happening, do a hypocritical vault face and dish out hell and damnation to the UN and US, or shrug your shoulders and say you just dont care because its "not your problem"?

  • Comment number 88.

    And I think that, America SHOULD back off and try to turn this into a European project with France and Britain resuming their "Entente Cordiale"

    (The Entente should just use Germany for war loans and they, the Germans will be happy)

    "Forget" NATO...that is the same ol' same ol'

    Bye Britain and France and Germany (and Russia)...you guys fix it, you broke it (Italy's mess).

    :)

    PS you care more about Libya's Big Oil and It IS YOUR back yard! And maybe, this choice is inevitable--unconditional surrender to Power and Responsibility.

  • Comment number 89.

    69. At 22:09pm on 22nd Mar 2011, jr4412 wrote:
    cool_brush_work #63.

    "..apathy and connivance, that's why things got as bad as they have..."


    Oh dear!
    Where was the 'principle' behind the policy that let Gaddafi gain power? He's been in the role a very long time and he hasn't given up yet!
    At various stages through his rule there have been 'principled' stands against him: Pres Reagan tried to kill him in the belief that an evil man had to be dealt with. Was that the sort of principle You had in mind, or do You really believe it's so different from PM Blair cosying up to him (despite the murder of PC Fletcher & the Locherbie slaughter) as Blair-Brown believed bringing the evil man in from his support of terror & creating WMD was a correct option?

    Both men acted out of 'principle' and yet in both cases it left a deeply disatisfying aftermath.

    There's the song, 'Shipbuilding': A few lines say,
    "..It's a rumour that was spread around town,
    Someone got filled in
    As a result of saying,
    People get killed in,
    The result of their shipbuilding.."

    In principle I agree all weapons production is wrong: In factual reality where would the Falkland Islanders' (or Gibraltarians, Northern Irish etc.) principled right to choose their Government by democratic means be without those weapons?
    Surely in Libya we have (some) people attempting to apply that same principle of self-determination, but they can be found on both sides: Is there a moral equivalence?
    Well IMO, to apply Your principles we'd never do anything or we'd never stop doing things in other peoples' territory.

    Was PM Thatcher's principle of 'self-determination' the one that mattered in determining all that carnage down in the Falklands, or should the 'principle' of life, all life is precious have been more important in 1982.

    You see, jr4412, the 'lone man' in Belfast was acting he claimed on the principle of self-determination for the society he believed was oppressed by a tyranny.
    Of course, no argument from me Galtieri was running a tyranny and that would have been the fate of the Falkland Islanders (especially if fragrant Margaret, Nik etc. had their ethical way), but Your notion of 'principle' is to my mind a totally moveable feast of what suits at the time.
    In other words, the 'principle' You stand by is exactly the same & has the same value as the approach You accuse me of - - changing with the wind - - well Yes! Guilty as charged, but I'd rather that than Your principled stand on morality's quicksand.

    65. At 21:42pm on 22nd Mar 2011, threnodio_II wrote:
    #62 - cool_brush_work


    Enola Gay & the 'lone man' in Belfast: "..Neither was particularly edifying as a monument to human endeavour go but, legally they are different as chalk and cheese."


    Of course they were: You're almost there (unlike jr4412) - - point being both did/do 'exist' side-by-side in all walks of life - - and, any notion that high or low-minded 'principle' is the ultimate reproof for their actions is nothing but an excuse for a man to claim 'they' were acting with the best of intentions.

    jr4412 can scurry around declaring his 'principles' to all and sundry however that is his view and as is clearly demonstrable from Gandhi & Mandela at one end to the Gaddafi, Mugabe & Bagbo at the other there is 'principle' of one sort or another all over the place!

    'Principle'! Probably the major reason they invented Religion: So Humans wouldn't have to think too hard about their place alongside everybody else.

  • Comment number 90.

    87. At 07:31am on 23rd Mar 2011, champagne_charlie wrote:


    I take Your point. It is a very fair one.

    Personally I'm opposed to British involvement on the grounds Libya isn't really an issue for which any UK Armed Forces should be put in harms way. This is especially so as UK, unlike the lamentably feeble French & our other supposed EU-NATO allies, is already substantially involved elsewhere (Afghanistan).

    It will be a tragic outcome if thousands are killed on either side in Libya: For sure whatever the death toll they will predominantly be as a result of the internecine struggle & not the 'wests' 'intervention'.

    However, I have yet to see any clear evidence at all that those opposing Gaddafi are any better than he is: Sarkozy, Cameron & the rest can bluster all they like about wind of changes (MacMillan) in Africa and the Middle East, personally I'll wait & see as our ideas on 'democracy' are a long way from those of the World of Islam. Perhaps I'd feel different if there seemed to be a genuine groundswell of opposition that included women, but I've yet to see a single spokesperson or anyone with a valid opinion who was not male.

    Afterall, Gaddafi isn't squeamish, if he triumphs then men, women & children will suffer the consequences: And if the insurgents prevail I'm wondering what will be the fate of the men, women & children who were loyal to Gaddafi!?

    No, I wouldn't be criticising the UN, NATO etc. if nothing were done & a slaughter followed: I'd be pointing out that from the Iraq invasion of Iran & Kuweit to the debacle in the Balkans and onward to Afghanistan & Iraq there has been slaughter on all sides and almost all of it at the hands of those the 'west' had thought would bring about progress!

    IMO, Libya: The jury is still out.

  • Comment number 91.

    86. At 07:22am on 23rd Mar 2011, Stevenson wrote:

    "What CBW may be trying to impart is--sorry interpreting--is: there is a philosophy of Pragmatism. One of its proponents was the brother of Henry James...can't remember his name.

    Pragmatism is very unpopular on the continent..but essentially it says that one can achieve betterment but not with ideals, but with incremental steps. We are humans, flawed and therefore our systems are flawed. If flawed steps produce better lives for the majority then, perhaps, one wrong and two rights can produce a better result than trying to use only good means to achieve better results..."



    Thanks very much, Stevenson: Put succinctly (unlike me) and in very large part exactly the points my weary efforts are attempting to make.

    PS. Brother of Henry, is 'William' James; his 'The Meaning of Truth' is at the core for the 'pragmatist' theory.

  • Comment number 92.

    It would appear, from precedent, that we have not intervened because Gaddaffy (I'll spell it how I like) might be brutal- there are plenty of others where we have not- but because he is socialist.

    Let's also remember the US and UK position re Allende v. Pinochet, Sandinistas v. Contras etc. In each case we took the side of the murdering torturing beasts, apparently.

  • Comment number 93.

    85 Ashish writes:
    "People love to take on small opponents (read Iraq, Libya...). Why not pick someone your own size (read China & Russia)..."

    Precisely, that's what playground bullies do. If they took on equal sized or bigger opponents, they might get a good hiding back and that would never do.
    I pity the people of Benghazi. The last time the allies and their then opponents got involved there during WW2 they bombed the city to smithereens.

  • Comment number 94.

    Despite absolutely NIL Consultation with the Tax-Paying EU Citizenry the EU moves on with its wholly Un-Democratic usage of Tax-payer monies to help prop-up the image of a successful 'ever closer union' though it too hasn't received the Citizens' approval more than a decade (except an enforced 2nd irish Referendum).



    23 March 2011 Last updated at 07:26 GMT

    BBC News headline - - 'Portugal bail-out looms as government nears collapse'

    "Portugal's opposition parties have withdrawn their support for austerity policies that may lead to the Lisbon government's collapse on Wednesday.

    The government's expected defeat in a parliamentary vote is likely to trigger an international financial rescue.

    The vote comes on the eve of a European Union summit where leaders hope to finalise a eurozone debt crisis plan.

    Kevin Dunning, analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, told the BBC that this is "crunch time" for Portugal...

    ....Portugal's financial collapse would likely spark another round of nervousness in financial markets and may revive concerns about the larger Spanish economy.

    Opposition parties say the austerity plan - cuts in welfare, tax rises, and increases in public transport costs - go too far.

    Prime Minister Jose Socrates has said he will no longer be able to run the country if the package is rejected.

    Major international lenders have been wary of Portugal's attempts to avoid tapping eurozone bail-out funds by raising money in the debt markets.

    The yield on Portugal's 10-year bond was at 7.4% Tuesday, close to recent records, an indication of investors' concerns about the country's ability to pay back its debts.

    On Thursday eurozone leaders begin a two-day summit at which they hope to finalise details of a "grand bargain" to deal with the 17-nation group's debt burden."



    Doubtless the time-serving jobsworths at the EU-Brussels entity would love for Libya to go on for a very long time & distract from the very real and very important ongoing FINANCIAL CRISIS within the corrupt, unrepresentative EU.

    Just a thought!

  • Comment number 95.

    UN resolution SC/10200

    "...the Council authorized Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory"


    For the me, the key issues are:

    1) The significant uncertainty regarding whether deliberately targeting Gadaffi on the grounds that it constitutes 'any means necessary to protect civilians' protects such action from chapter VIII of the UN's charter - i.e. forbidding regime change. Doubt is enough to preclude any recourse for what could easily be seen as facilitating regime change.

    2) The resolution is explicit in its demand for a 'cease fire' and is unambiguous in showing no bias to the forces of Gadaffi as regards posing a direct threat to civilian life. Therefore, the rebels should not be directly aided by the intervention and should not be permitted to use military means against Gadaffi forces which endanger civilian life. The resolution is to establish conflict resolution, which extends not just to Gadaffi putting down the revolt but also to rebel military action as well. It will be therefore very interesting to see exactly how this will operate if the rebels regroup and begin a counter-offensive. My view is that this breaches the resolution as it will directly endanger civilians.

    3) The political rhetoric surrounding the UN resolution greatly confuses the intentions behind the Security Council statement - Sarkozy being the main culprit - in that repeatedly stating the aim to remove Gadaffi instantly taints the image of the resolution, and therefore the intervention of allied forces.

    4) There is no specified terms of conclusion included in the resolution other than often repeated 'peaceful resolution'. This leaves a question mark over what is a suitable resolution to the crisis, and therefore conclusion to international intervention.

    5) It is not clear whether the uprising is one inspired by a move towards democracy, or ultimately a majority demonstration of will by the people, and therefore we have absolutely no right to infer democratic sentiment on Libya without a clear mandate from the people to help facilitate transition - i.e. UN monitored elections. However, as demonstrated in Iraq, this is an increadibly difficult task and one that would likely fail without peace-keeping forces on the ground to ensure a free and fair election.

    6) This sets an uneasy precedent for UN intervention in civil uprisings that will raise questions over the utility of the UN and it's responses to many other countries experiencing similar problems in the Middle East, and across the world.


    86. At 07:22am on 23rd Mar 2011, Stevenson

    Interesting point forwarding the philosophical debate - I'd like to add my two cents to this.

    The main philosophical 'bugbear' with pragmatism, or specifically in this case, consequentialism or teleologicalism, is that it deals in unknowns, or unforeseen conclusion. The 'end justifies the means' stand point of consequentialism relies on projections of what the end will be, meaning that only history can vindicate the action. A pragmatic response to both Afghanistan and Iraq argues that upheaval and loss of life caused as a result of military intervention is less than the cost of not acting - we still do not have an end to justify whether our means were right, which leaves the substance of the moral stand point questionable. A deontologist will always argue that regardless of the outcome or the 'end', they held to set principles which weren't dictated by uncertain outcomes as a source of justification.

    I am by no means suggesting one is 'right' at the expense of the other, but suggesting that philosophy, when applied to realpolitik, makes for increadibly hazey interpretation.

  • Comment number 96.

    Ramsay Clark?

    A man more fragrant (if that's possible) in his instincts for fair play than even Margaret.

    So 'principled' was Clark he declared, "... the greatest crime since World War Two is American Foreign policy.."

    And that from a self-proclaimed Humanitarian & upholder of Justice who knew all about the slaughters from the Congo, to Tianamen Square and had full knowledge of the Soviet oppression of the entire Eastern Europe for 40+ years!

    Clark likened the IRA actvities to 'political' motives and therefore their imprisonment by the UK Government on a par with the tyrannical regimes in Argentina, Burma etc.
    His comparison of a Democratic Government in the UK akin to the Generals Junta in the Argentine making Clark a legend for Legal Interrpretation where he only ever saw 'trees, more trees, additional trees' and absolutely no clue it was a Forest!

    Oh yes, a fine Judge of ethical & moral principle: Not a chance of his developing a rational understanding of an Iraq in the midst of a bloody Civil War following decades of brutal slaughter, but HR campaigning Ramsay Clark knew Saddam didn't get a 'Fair Trial'.

    The man is a walking, talking advert for why Judges should NEVER be left to make supremacy decisions on the efficacy of LAWS made by Democratic Government.

  • Comment number 97.

    Hi Durstiger Mann#50

    "For decades the western world payed court to Gaddafi, even after it was clear that he supported and/or financed terrorist attacks.
    He abdicated from terrorism and everything was fine.

    Basically, the "free world" had no problems with him being a dictator and stuff as long as he stopped refugees from coming to Europe and traded his oil.
    Libya was accepted as a sovereign nation and equipped him with state-of-the-art military equipment."

    I don't believe this at all. I am more of the opinion that the UK and US have a long and deeply held hatred of Gaddafi, and not without good cause. This hatred has been put aside for decades because the anticipated negative effects from killing this man would outweigh the benefits from his death. The risk was that his death would make Gaddafi a martyr to radical Islamists and could have set off a wave of terrorist attacks more dangerous than the man's own efforts. In terms of trade; if Gaddafi has trade he can lose then the loss of that trade creates a negative impact. Trading with Gaddafi gave the international community lverage to try and moderate his behaviour.

    While hardly admirable this behaviour is unfailingly rational behaviour.

    Why oust Gaddafi now? Because the risk reward equation has changed with the revolution. It is pure opportunism.

    Hi ThrenodioII #72

    "For heavens sake, let us get back to basics. It is NEVER acceptable for innocent civilians to suffer the consequences of conflict and it is NEVER acceptable for combatants to masquerade as civilians in order to avoid detection or further their objectives by other means."

    In a democracy who is an innocent civilian? The franchise is refined political force, if terror attacks change the voting habits of the electorate to the benefit of the terrorists then this is a legitimate action. Utterly ammoral but legitimate.

    As for masquerading as civilians; of course this is acceptable. If your opponents are better armed and better equiped and hold a numerical advantage then having a battle is a really dumb idea. The cost of defeat for either side in Libya could be death, and the deaths of the immediate families of many of the fighters. It is not unreasonable for the fighters to use any means they can apply to gain an advantage.


  • Comment number 98.

    #93

    "Precisely, that's what playground bullies do. If they took on equal sized or bigger opponents, they might get a good hiding back and that would never do.

    You are referring to Gadaffi and your old mate Saddam I presume? The people of Benghazi who you claim to be sympathetic towards would currently be being massacred by that very playground bully.Have you ever denounced his actions, ever denounced Saddams? Not likely eh, a veritable mass murderers moll.

    "their then opponents" who you cant even bring yourself to name, were Nazi Germany and Mussolini's fascist Italy, savage regimes in their own right, Italy being the brutal former colonial power and no friend to Benghazians, seeing as they killed tens of thousands of them. Ah but who cares eh mags, as long as you get to expunge your daily dose of bile?

    You pick some bizarre causes to support just to be able to criticise the west dont you pet: terrorists ,mass murderers, genocidal maniacs, brutal colonisers, megalomaniacs. East Anglia may be a happy place, but despite you not because of you.

  • Comment number 99.

    It's like some of you want Gadaffi to crush the rebels...

    Because the West doesn't do the right thing most of the time we are somehow barred from doing the right thing now?

    Pathetic.

  • Comment number 100.

    AFRICA, MY AFRICA, MY GRANDMOTHER! I want to sing to the western powers about the love and pride that we, Africans, have for our mother land.I HAVE BEEN SENDING MESSAGES THAT YOU HAVE SAID, "BROKE HOUSE RULES". Am pretty sure this will not break any of those house rules, GOD willing.
    The song goes like this: "Africa is our own mother land. Fashioned and blessed by GOD´s good hands. Let all her people join as one. Brothers under the sun, all one strong and free!" This is a short stanza that I wanted the super powers to sing with me as they continue injuring mother Africa´s son, LIbya, under the pretex of saving the civilians. Thank you and GOD bless you!

 

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