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Obama's Libyan mission creep?

Mark Mardell | 17:35 UK time, Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The worries about what the mission is in Libya are growing.

Some of it is mischief-making by media looking for a story or President Barack Obama's opponents looking for an easy hit.

There is, after all, no contradiction in the White House position that the UN-sanctioned military mission is restricted to protecting civilians but that the longer-term, broader political aim is to remove Col Muammar Gaddafi.

What is left unsaid is that presumably the man giving the orders to kill civilians is Col Gaddafi. Getting rid of him would protect civilians. QED.

Unknown but worrying everyone: what happens if there is an uncomfortable stalemate splitting the country, with Col Gaddafi still in charge around Tripoli and the rebels in control in the east?

But the latest concerns are over the read-out of a conversation between the US president and the prime minister of Turkey in which they agreed their shared goal in Libya was "installing a democratic system that respects the people's will".

It is that "installing" that has some worried. But the mission set out by Mr Obama last Friday was pretty tough.

The man in charge of Operation Odyssey Dawn, Adm Samuel Locklear, has just given a briefing saying the no-fly zone is now in place.

He was asked why it seemed air cover was being given to rebels attacking Col Gaddafi's forces.

After all, that has little to do with protecting civilians, if both sides are fighting.

"Great question" he replied.

The answer was the president had demanded that Libyan government forces retreat from Ajdabiya, Misrata and Zawiya. They had to restore gas, electricity and water and allow humanitarian aid into those towns.

Mission creep or not, that is a pretty high bar to set.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Obama and the Europeans have no idea what to do about Libya, in the long run. Ostensibly, the Europeans are so concerned about the Libyan "civilians" (At what point does one stop being a civilian and becomes a rebel? Is it as soon as one picks up a gun?) that they rushed to deploy their armed forces with little to no forethought of the big picture. You know something was wrong about the whole scheme, if the French were eager for a fight and first into the fray...


    Now it's time to re-parse the words of the UN resolution. Let us see, how can we get a mandate for regime change out of it...Wouldn't a regime change accomplish "protecting the civilians"? Abracadabra! Of course it would... Then let us make it so and damn the precedent it sets.

  • Comment number 2.

    My worries about what the mission are also growing.
    President Barack Obama's is firing a ton of missiles at or near Tripoli. Does he think the rest of the world is so stupid, non-attentive, geographically-challenged that we do not realise the target is Muammar Gaddafi?
    There is no contradiction in the White House that the UN-sanctioned military mission is restricted to protecting civilians but if protecting civilians included taking down leadership, I don't think that the world would be a very safe place for leadership. How does this sound: "I killed my Head of State because he threatened the civilians of my country."
    Insane?
    Yes, it's ludicrous to the common person; so how come the big shots (with the little brains?) cannot get the picture. The fact is: They do get the picture; they just don't give a damn, and don't think that we do either. We have become so immune to droning, killing, murder...
    I love this entry:
    What is left unsaid is that presumably the man giving the orders to kill civilians is Col Gaddafi.
    Getting rid of him would protect civilians.
    Good point!
    I'm not going to say anymore about this lest I end up in Guantanamo.
    Col Gaddafi will not tolerate the splitting of Libya; this will not happen. This is generally called Balkanization; it is done to weaken a country while all the worthwhile resources get stolen from the entire country.
    The US president and the PM of Turkey agreed on the shared goal: "installing a democratic system that respects the people's will".
    How about I just respond, I believe one of these men implicitly; the other lies faster than a snake in the hot sun.
    There is no need to install a Libyan leader. Libya has a leader. It was the few rebels that called for external intervention - not the majority of the Libyan People. In fact, the majority of the citizenry kept saying: "Americans stay out. Americans stay out!" Do you think the Libyans are blind? They did not see Iraq.
    Do you think the Libyans are deaf? They have not heard the wailing of Afghanistan?
    The man in charge of Operation Odyssey Dawn, Adm Samuel Locklear, has just given a briefing saying the no-fly zone is now in place.
    So what does this mean?
    He was asked why it seemed air cover was being given to rebels attacking Col Gaddafi's forces. Oh come on!
    That's a rhetorical question, right?
    The Americans want the rebels to win, including their infiltrated CIA, M16 and MOSSAD.
    Civilians? What are Libyan civilians? Do you mean the hundreds and hundreds that have surrounded Gaddafi's compound so that he might not be blown to Kingdom Come.
    How dare the president demand that the Libyan government retreat from rebel Ajdabiya, rebel Misrata and rebel Zawiya. They had to restore gas, electricity and water, allow humanitarian aim into those towns and GET THE REBELS OUT before their true citizenry could be established, causing the President even more embarrassement.

  • Comment number 3.

    Considering our Navy was off the Libyan coast, surely with NSA assets, when Gaddafi announced an imminent attack "without mercy" as his forces repositioned toward Benghazi, I suspect hard evidence kept Russia and China from using their veto over the current engagement. The more closely we contain our actions to the prevention of large scale massacre, while otherwise leaving the Libyans to determine their own future, the better we will serve the human interests of Libya, the region, and ourselves.

  • Comment number 4.

    Mark inexplicably stated: "There is, after all, no contradiction in the White House position that the UN-sanctioned military mission is restricted to protecting civilians but that the longer-term, broader political aim is to remove Col Muammar Gaddafi."

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    So, Mark, WHERE in the UN resolution does it say that the long term aim is to "remove Col Muammar Gaddafi"?

    Show us all or admit you are making this all up as you go.

  • Comment number 5.

    Personally, I think this is a rather ill-thought out piece of journalism.

  • Comment number 6.

    @Illogicbuster: I think what Mark is saying is that removing Gadaffi is a longer-term US aim, rather than a UN aim.

  • Comment number 7.

    The bombardments and Coalition operations will go on until such time as everyone on the ground finally decides to stop fighting.

    I believe the side of the Libyan Transitional National Council; so does President Sarkozy. Others are inclined to believe them, but skeptical to different degrees.

    The point is that the side making official pronouncements out of Tripoli, with some kind of production values (as opposed to the bare-bones efforts from Benghazi), has hopped up and down and sworn cease-fires not once, but twice since the UN Security Council resolution was adopted. And yet those cease-fires have been nothing but cheap tricks.

    The massacres, torture (depriving people of water & power & the possibility of urgent medical attention for grievous wounds) and mayhem continue.

    As soon as those stop -- if Q/G/K is even capable of issuing a credible order anymore -- the Benghazi side will be able to stop fighting as well.

    This is pretty straightforward stuff, Mr Mardell.

    "Installing" may be a poor choice of words, unless one is actually referring to desks and chairs for a conference -- but basically, under the auspices of the UN, regional players, and the Coalition command which basically has to remain on duty (perhaps rather light duty) until there is security on a par with what today exists in Tunis or Egypt, next door -- the people of Libya who are older than 20 or 21, male and female, and whose record does not include engaging in atrocities, will vote in an election that needs to be 100% open and transparent. And that will be a start.

    They will vote for representatives who will then lay out some plans for a Constitution, a judiciary, an executive branch, a legislature.

    There has been plenty of precedent and experience with such efforts.

    Might I remind you of Germany's own recent experience creating institutions and an integration process for East Germany, after the reunification?

    There are many precedents, there are similarities with well known cases. This is not by any means terra incognita.

    Libyans need to take the lead and responsibility for their own destiny. They need to define citizenship. They need to accept that after all this effort, the Coalition powers will expect them to create a Constitution that is consistent with the UN's International Declaration of Human Rights -- the one Q/G/K gleefully ripped to shreds during one of his last appearances before the General Assembly.

    In other words, full equality for women, protections for law-abiding dissenters, protections for minorities and the vulnerable (children, the disabled) and due process to the standard of the typical European state.

    None of this is as hard as it sounds. It is work -- a job creator -- it takes time and effort, but it is not any kind of tall order.

  • Comment number 8.

    Is anyone else nervous about our involvement in this escapade? I’m yet to be persuaded that any successors to the present government are likely to be any less corrupt. Who are the leaders of these rebels? Are they really in favour of democracy? It seems to me that installing democracy in Libya will require our troops to be on the ground long term. Has our government really thought this through?

  • Comment number 9.

    wishy washy 6,

    I believe President Obama's aim is to get the rebels themselves to oust Gaddafi...

    But as Mardell and others have pointed out, if the rebels do not oust Gaddafi, it will likely end in stalemale and ppl are saved, but for how long before Gaddafi pulls the same stunts again?

    Mardell: What is left unsaid is that presumably the man giving the orders to kill civilians is Col Gaddafi. Getting rid of him would protect civilians.

    Exactly...so why don't we do the humanitarian act of ousting Gaddafi ourselves?

  • Comment number 10.

    Can we ask BBC journalists to ask our leaders why there was no action to protect civilians in Bahrain, Yemen, Gaza etc etc?

    Such glaringly selective approaches to defending innocent civilians need to be exposed, especially since the argument for all these interventions always swings round to 'installing' democracy.

    Let's face it, the concept of democracy in our own country is not exactly clear cut - i.e. minority parties take power and then do the exact opposite of the signed pledges they made in advance of the election.

    One other thing - can anyone tell us the cost of all this military action, so we can assess it against the cuts we're being asked to accept at home?

    And finally - how about some more searching examinations of the position of 'opposition' leaders. If everyone in Parliament is in favour of this action, then surely we need some capable journalism to ask the right questions?

  • Comment number 11.

    Mardell: The answer was the president had demanded that Libyan government forces retreat from Ajdabiya, Misrata and Zawiya. They had to restore gas, electricity and water and allow humanitarian aim into those towns.
    ---------------
    So why not divide Libya into East Libya, which could be ruled by rebels who could install a democracy, and West Libya, which could be ruled by Gaddafi who could stay in power and rule over his followers?

    Then, it would be a peaceful stalemate in which the Western allies, such as UK and France, could build up East Libya, where the rebels could have a democratic election and live happily ever after...

  • Comment number 12.

    Maria: In other words, full equality for women, protections for law-abiding dissenters, protections for minorities and the vulnerable (children, the disabled) and due process to the standard of the typical European state.
    -------
    How do you do something like that in an Islamic country whose values may not be the same as ours?

  • Comment number 13.

    No-fly-zone- is that why the airforces of the coalition are targeting the Libyan Navy and command and control (and maybe Gaddafi himself).

    I thought the no fly zone was to give the heavily armed 'rebels' a fighting chance.

    Put simply- this is about oil.

    Libya has it, the west wants it- hence the get Gaddafi at all costs 'no fly zone'.

    The White House and Downing street think we are all stupid.

    I'm going to buy an electric car...i've had enough of wars for petrol.

  • Comment number 14.

    Just a quick one to add, the 'storm shadow' stand off cruise missiles that we have fired at ground targets (which funnily enough is not in the no fly zone) are a good hefty price to replace but we'll be alright once they put pertol up again to pay for the war and the very expensive weapons they have fired at Libya.

    It's just a shame that people pay packets haven't gone up at the same rate that the government takes it away and spends it protecting petrol.

    You might say i'm bitter about Petrol/Diesel - i am especially when i know that my company gets it's fuel for £1.07 a litre wholesale.

  • Comment number 15.

    Sitting in Pyongjang dear old Kim Il Jong must be congratulating himself on pursuing an aggressive nuclear arms program as he watches " the coalition" club together to beat up on Gaddafi. Cant see a Nato alliance telling Mr Kim to restore gas and water in his suburbs..the action in Libya sends a strong lesson to leaders the world over- arm yourself or be at the wrong end of a UN resolution.

    Meanwhile.. read up Kent State for a quick lesson how a government can kill its citizens using military force and got away with it.

  • Comment number 16.

    Mission creep didn't take long. The U.S. lost an F-15E over Libya today. The F-15E is a version of the Air Force's F-15 air superiority fighter heavily modified for ground attack missions: still softening up Gaddafi's air defenses or are we now providing close air support for the rebels?

    Perhaps more worrisome was the explanation that the plane went down due to "mechanical defect". No doubt the ground crew paid extra attention to preparing that plane for a combat mission so the idea that it suffered a mechanical failure over the target zone has very serious implications for the air worthiness of our combat aircraft. If the "mechanical defect" turns out to have been caused by ground fire I'll be relieved, that at least is something our pilots can plan for and take countermeasures against.

    Is there any further word on the alleged attack by the rescue helicpter sent to retrieve the air crew on Libyan locals at the scene? Boy, talk about how not to win freinds and influence people. Someone needs to review the rules of engagement quick. We're supposed to be helping these people, not attacking them ourselves.

  • Comment number 17.

    This is a battle of will. President Obama has clearly stated that Gaddafi has to go. Colonel Gaddafi and Sons will never let go. He has staked his whole uncommiserating life and that of his siblings into a tribal hold on Lybia, and perpetual dependance for its People. This is an all too familiar story line in these parts of the world.

    There is going to be a lot of political capital expended on this UN resolution. But at the end of the day, Lybia unlike Irak will turn out to be the real test case for either the forceful or the willful shifting of political power from despotic, illegitimate regimes to 'work-in-progress' People democracies.

    Africa and the Middle-East are pregnant of democratic ideals. They could never have implicitly mandated a more deliberate, more complicit, more compassionate, more righteous and more resourceful midwife than this US President. He will not let Africa and the Middle-East down, whatever the cost to his present and prospective Presidencies.

    Barrack Obama is the embodiment of Liberation dialectic. He planted the seed of Freedom and empowerment in Cairo some two years back. Lo and behold, as he sowed nuclear disarmament in Prague and harvested henceforth a fence mending treaty, we're beginning to hear the chorus of voices shouting out of Africa and the Middle-East: here... here..., from age-old sectarian bondage let's finally, unrepentantly, unconditionally break free.

  • Comment number 18.

    re. #13. At 20:51pm on 22nd Mar 2011, Fax off 606 wrote:
    No-fly-zone- is that why the airforces of the coalition are targeting the Libyan Navy and command and control (and maybe Gaddafi himself).

    simply- this is about oil.

    Libya has it, the west wants it- hence the get Gaddafi at all costs 'no fly zone'.

    The White House and Downing street think we are all stupid.

    I'm going to buy an electric car...i've had enough of wars for petrol.


    ------------------

    Libya's naval forces pose a potential threat to coallition aircraft and the ships supporting the no fly zone and are therefor legitimate targets. Command and control facilities are by their very nature also legitimate targets. Its considered bad form to target heads of state but as commander in chief of the opposing forces Gaddafi would certainly be a legitimate target if he happened to be in one of those command and control centers when it was attacked.

    By the way, where are you going to get the electricity to charge that electric car if substantial numbers of people convert to electric cars? The infrastructure to support a wide scale conversion doesn't exist yet. And if people cut back on oil consumption what will governments tax to make up for the lost tax revenue they've become addicted to?

  • Comment number 19.

    It is interesting to discuss all possibillities to end the problems in Libya, especially when we are not responsible for the important decisions and are no Libyans living in Benghazi and Misrata. By all subjective critics of 'important' figures to find in the media, the freedomfighters in Libya can learn to know their furuture 'friends' now. But, meanwhile, lets not forget to think about this strange phenomenon in our world that fellow humans, like Adolf Hitler, Stalin, Ceauşescu, Mao Zedong, Kim Yung-il, Kim Yung-un, Pol Pot, Robespierre, Than Shwe, and many others were and are able to rule a country as their private farm where they can decide about life and death as long as they do not cause too much problems across their borders but preferably contribute in maintaining our standard ignorant lifes.

  • Comment number 20.

    "Is there any further word on the alleged attack by the rescue helicpter sent to retrieve the air crew on Libyan locals at the scene?"

    This "attack" is being reported in the Daily Telegraph which alleges that a child lost both legs as a result of it. If this did really happen why is there no mention of it by other broadcasters or newspapers?

  • Comment number 21.

    How about the following end-game?

    We continue to degrade Gadaffi's military hardware. If we cannot make air-strikes in urban areas we can cut off the supply lines until they have no ammunition left in the towns where they are engaged. We then go home. Mission accomplished at a minimum cost.

    Anything else would be bad news for everyone concerned.

    -To do more would be to outstay our welcome and make us look like imperialists when we are only there for humanitarian reasons and these will be achieved shortly.

    -To do more would lead to imbalance and we don't know whether the rebels will be our friends tomorrow. We were there to remove an imbalance of arms and might. We don't wish to create an imbalance in favour of the rebels that may see them take revenge on Gadaffi supporters.

    -If we could demonstarte that such humanitarian operations can be conducted quickly and cost effectively we can send the right message to other dictatorial regimes around the world such that they understand what they can and cannot get away with.

    The longer we remain the higher the cost and the less the appetite the international community will have for similar engagements in the future.

    If either the Gadaffi supporters or the rebels request further outside help to defend themselves there is a very simple medicine to prevent civil war or vengence attacks. They should meet the cost upfront. If you don't like the Policing costs then don't commit crimes.

    This is easy for me to say. I have not lost anything or anyone in the conflict.

    But it should also be easy for a citizen of Bengazzi to say thank you for saving our skins and in return we will not use your help as a starting point for a civil war such that you may regret helping us and decline to help others in a similar situation in future.

  • Comment number 22.

    #5. William Johnson-Smith:

    "Personally, I think this is a rather ill-thought out piece of journalism."

    I had pretty much the same reaction. Talking heads doing what they do best...

  • Comment number 23.

    Bush must be laughing his head off.

  • Comment number 24.

    For this conflict to end it surely needs one side to defeat the other; yet if either tries a decisive knock-out blow, presumably the UN mandate kicks in. There is surely no peaceful way to end a bloody civil war.

    I think there is little hope of installing a western style democratic system in a civil war torn Muslim country which has had no such tradition or values. These “troubles” could go on for years.

    Partition, perhaps?

  • Comment number 25.

    As it seems to be clear to everyone now that the aim is to effect the removal of Gaddafi by `all means necessary' and pundits and some politicians are talking `mission creep', why not just get it over with and go for it. Don't give the wobblers the time to weaken resolve amongst the allies. Democracy is what we all want but the way some countries dithered about ways to protect people from being murdered reminded me of Ents discussing going to war in the Lord of the Rings

  • Comment number 26.

    As a retired fighter pilot who has taken part in no fly zone operations, it frustrates me that the general public and press do not understand the need to remove the adversary's air defence structure. Our air crews risk their lives on every mission, we have to give them a decent chance of survival by removing the missiles, radars and the command structure which could destroy them. Without this precursor, they cannot safely enforce a no fly zone without overwhelming risk.

  • Comment number 27.

    I hate war, no reasonable person wants it, but what I've come to realize is that the military is more like an ax than a scalpel, better at toppling a dictator than bring him to reason – and when that happens who will be the next Gaddafi in Libya crowned by the west? Does it make a difference? Remember that Col Gaddafis’ supporters will freely sacrifice themselves as human shields for a person we see as evil, but why is that? Why does Gaddafi have that level of support from seemingly normal people (al-be-they bad dancers)? Next question should also be why so many former colonial powers have such similar dictators/bad government that seems to just impoverish and enslave the majority of people they govern? We see it in the middle-east but that is just the tip of the rest of Africa. The power and money always seems to be controlled by a minority group who supports an oppressive dictator, but, why is that so? People claim “big oil” and all other such business opportunities but most of these countries don’t have oil? Most of former colonial countries borders follow no natural boundary and most were first drawn at the end of WW1 with the Treaty of Versailes – same treaty that led to rise of Hitler and root of most evils ever since – including Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and those are just a few of the nations where American soldiers have died. Look at the map of the US, original 13 colonies followed natural lines such as rivers & mountains while the rest of the US, further out west, has straight lines and were created in a board room with no regard to local populations, geography etc. Look at Europe; hundreds of years of wars created those borders. Colonial countries were drawn up regardless of geography, local populations, or representation by colonial powers in Versailles. Every one of these countries suffer from ethnic groups struggling for control of one nation, one central power, and all the wealth and ability to control their own destiny and the futures of their children. Who would not support a charismatic leader if that makes you part of the “in crowd”, not being “in crowd” means loss of control and hope for the future. I love democracy and America. The original American model might just work in these former colonial countries. Get rid of Gaddafi, exile, or bullet and make Libya a federation of regions, defined by ethnic groups and natural borders, along with a “weak” national structure similar to pre civil war US and a young democracy. Then allow Libyans to find their own destiny as a unified country or regions united by similarities rather than the mistakes made at Versailles and the dictators that one central power government creates.

  • Comment number 28.



    Apparently there could be a limit as to US participation in the Libya mission. Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution provides that only US Congress could have an authority to declare war. Yet for the past 60 years, since the Korean War, several US presidents have gone around that constitutional provision, in one way or another, but the War Powers Resolution of 1973 further clarifies the limits of presidential authority. Yet despite such clarification, apparently US presidents have continued to engage US military forces, as President Obama has now done, but there also has been and now is some controversy.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/world/africa/22powers.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

  • Comment number 29.

    The main driver of the "No fly zone" was not Obama or Sarkozy but Cameron, who has not the slightest idea what it involved and what the implications of it were. It was done to make him appear an international statesman with the added benefit of diverting attention from what he is doing to destroy the fabric of society in the UK.
    He, like Blair before him, will live to regret it albeit he will never admit to it, again like Blair.The sooner there is regime change here in the UK the better we will all be.

  • Comment number 30.

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

  • Comment number 31.

    #11 LucyJ
    "So why not divide Libya into East Libya, which could be ruled by rebels who could install a democracy, and West Libya, which could be ruled by Gaddafi who could stay in power and rule over his followers?"

    --- Yep ! --- our civil war could have been prevented if you were in charge ?

  • Comment number 32.

    Ref 26 supersonicpenguin1-

    "As a retired fighter pilot who has taken part in no fly zone operations, it frustrates me that the general public and press do not understand the need to remove the adversary's air defence structure. Our air crews risk their lives on every mission, we have to give them a decent chance of survival by removing the missiles, radars and the command structure which could destroy them. Without this precursor, they cannot safely enforce a no fly zone without overwhelming risk."

    One does get the impression there are people who think a 'NO-fly Zone' is established by using stern words stating to the affected party, "Don't fly your planes and helicopters anymore. Okay? It's not nice."

    They may just be parrots tethered to a stand, echoing the noise passing swiftly between their ears.

  • Comment number 33.

    It so sad that we suffer very good reporters but rubbish editors and commentators in the west. The latter are watching the UN mission like hawks, waiting for one little slip when an innocent civilian is accidentally killed by a NATO bomb, and will then conveniently forget to balance it, and the care taken by NATO to prevent such deaths against all the deaths caused by Gadaffi. The freedom won for the press is not always matched by their responsible use of it

  • Comment number 34.

    'Mission Creep' must be an American title. Otherwise it has amusing, and fitting English connotations.
    It could well work out to be a creep's mission, not only for having crept too much in the first place, but for having to contend with the increasingly complicated consequences.
    "Great question", sounds like a line from "Hot Shots". Maybe the sooner the Pentagon takes a back seat, the better.

    The coalition can't just go back and forth bombing from the air hoping vainly that the 'opposition forces' will manage somehow, without medical aid, food, if not water. If they've got new guns how come the coalition can't air drop them what they need?

    Unless it gets to the point where so much damage is done that the Gaddafian gang will be persuaded to go. As this is hardly likely, surely there has to come a time when ground forces should go in? Better still, as someone has already suggested, Saudi Arabia and Turkey could go in. Erdogan will gain some much needed credit from Europe if ever he dared make this commitment. Turkey has no problems going into Iraq on ignoble Kurd hunting expeditions. A Libyan engagement on Turkey's part would be a far more precious and far more appreciated contribution towards world stability. As a result, assuming it's successful, Europe might even be persuaded to allow Turkey, up until Istanbul that this, to be part of the EU.

  • Comment number 35.

    15. At 21:11pm on 22nd Mar 2011, rogershk wrote:

    "Meanwhile.. read up Kent State for a quick lesson how a government can kill its citizens using military force and got away with it."

    I was a university student on a US campus when the Kent State incident happened. I was appalled then, and it was a dark stain on the US. It is obvious that you do not know enough about it, however.

    The government did not order regular troops to fire on the students. Poorly trained national guardsmen fired on protesters throwing rocks and insults at them. Your interpretation is propagandistic nonsense.

    And no, I did not and do not like or approve of the actions of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. I was in agreement with some of the aims and philosophy of the protesters, but did not and do not support their resort to violent words and actions.

  • Comment number 36.

    How did we get ourselves into this? A week ago we were focused on the tragedy in Japan - where we should be. Now within a few days we find ourselves in yet another war.

    Obama is simply doing exactly the same thing that Bush did, and we are yet again planning on getting rid of a dictator and 'installing' a government in its place. Once again we are waging a war we cannot afford in a part of the world where we are hated.

    Obama is getting away this because he is a left-wing Democrat and beloved in the media. No one dares to ask the hard questions and demand answers. While they grovel before him telling him he is wonderful, we have to watch while money and equipment and eventually manpower are poured into a conflict that may last for months - or years. We don't know. No one knows. The congress was not even consulted.

    We are supposed to be thrilled and honored that the British and the Canadians and the French (!) and the Spanish (!!) have decided that terrible Americans are not the world's greatest threat to peace anymore (at least today) - as we were told a very short time ago - and the UN has given its 'blessing' on this escapade. This is supposed to make it acceptable, while the US public is ignored and Obama wages war without asking anyone here.

    We know that this will only lead to a return to the usual, trendy anti-American hysterics and whining and moaning and carrying on, while we try to find some way to extricate ourselves from this mess.

    It is incredible. It is simply a replay of Iraq, with Gaddafi instead of Hussein - one horrible dictator instead of another. And we are dragged in again.

  • Comment number 37.

    26, supersonicpenguin1

    Are you for real? I thought the nation pays its patriot-soldiers to take all risks under orders. The enactment of a NFZ is not total war; it is more like a live-firing exercise. Where only destruction of defined targets is the priority, destroying anything else is not part of the mission. In the setting up of the Libyan NFZ; abort the mission if you cannot destroy the anti-aircraft defences without incurring civilian casualties. If your orders permit civilian deaths, accept the orders gladly for their inherent latitude. And let the big-headed politicos sort out the interpretation of UN resolution 1973.
    But don’t ask for less risk to your person, or else I consider with much askance your military professionalism and personal courage.

  • Comment number 38.

    How come West is protecting Civilians of Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia and in the process has killed thousands of innocent civilians? Where is the logic? Why the Western World is silent about the massive killings in Kashmir, Palestine, Indian state of Gujarat, Chechnya? Is it because in the later case is the Hindu's and Jews are killing Muslims and they have the right to do so? I see duplicity and colonialism in the latest offensive against a Muslim Country. Since 09/11 terror attack, West has destroyed 5 Muslim Countries. Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Somalia, and Libya. By very conservative estimates Western forces have killed over 1/2 million people in these countries. If this is not Christian Crusade then what is it?

  • Comment number 39.

    The BBC has just reported on the continuing torture and oppression of protestors and Human Rights activists in Bahrain.

    --- our double standards will be our undoing --unless it is stopped !

  • Comment number 40.

    Very sharp Mark ! Your insight overshadows most of your fellow journalists. Just as Obama was several chess moves ahead of his political enemies - inside and outside the States - when he demanded that Libyan government soldiers evacuate key towns such as Misrata 'for humanitarian reasons'. Very clever because it is fully in accord with UN Resolution 1973 to protect civilians but will undoubtedly wrest control of East and west Libya from Ghaddafi.

    With a few helicipters (note : not occupying ground troops) and special forces training rebels Ghaddafi will be detroyed and no-one will be able to accuse Obama of going too far !

    A just war won. The Libyan people freed from oppression and the Obama and not the Bush doctrine triumphant !

  • Comment number 41.

    #34 Nostrano

    "As a result, assuming it's successful, Europe might even be persuaded to allow Turkey, up until Istanbul that this, to be part of the EU."

    --- Have you been to Turkey ?

    --- it is at present only another American dream !

  • Comment number 42.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 43.

    7. At 20:07pm on 22nd Mar 2011, Maria Ashot wrote:
    Libyans need to take the lead and responsibility for their own destiny. They need to define citizenship. They need to accept that after all this effort, the Coalition powers will expect them to create a Constitution that is consistent with the UN's International Declaration of Human Rights -- the one Q/G/K gleefully ripped to shreds during one of his last appearances before the General Assembly.

    In other words, full equality for women, protections for law-abiding dissenters, protections for minorities and the vulnerable (children, the disabled) and due process to the standard of the typical European state.

    None of this is as hard as it sounds. It is work -- a job creator -- it takes time and effort, but it is not any kind of tall order.
    ------------------------------------------------------
    Not as hard as it sounds?? How long did it take the Allies to do this in Iraq? And where are they now - they don't even have a functional government!

    And exactly how are you going to get all these Libyans to sit down and agree to all this - equal rights for women, equal rights for all tribes, the right to free protest etc.?

    This is NOT a trivial task, and can never be imposed from outside with the threat of bombing. And getting a group of fighting tribes to do this will be nigh on impossible.

  • Comment number 44.

    "Illogicbuster" shows in (4) his own difficulty with logic. The plain meaning of Mr. Mardell's third paragraph, which he quotes, is that the limited mission sanctioned by the UN does not conflict with broader aim of US policy to see Gadhafi removed from power.

  • Comment number 45.

    Ref 37 sayasay-

    "The enactment of a NFZ is not total war; it is more like a live-firing exercise."

    Would you define total war, and how you see the destruction of anti-aircraft defense systems as an act of total war?

    You would also explain what the rules of engagement are during a live-firing exercise?

    Have you any military experience? Any combat experience?

    UN Resolution 1973 (2011) authorizes in Paragraph 8 under the sub-heading "No-fly Zone":

    "...Member States that have notified the Secretary-General and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary measures to enforce compliance with the ban on flights imposed by paragraph 6 above, as necessary, and requests the States concerned in cooperation with the League of Arab States to coordinate closely with the Secretary General on the measures they are taking to implement this ban, including by establishing an appropriate mechanism for implementing the provisions of paragraphs 6 and 7 above"

    What limitations do you think are imposed by the phrase in Paragraph 8 where the resolution authorizes, "all necessary measures to enforce compliance with the ban on flights"?

  • Comment number 46.

    18. At 21:36pm on 22nd Mar 2011, Scott0962 wrote:

    By the way, where are you going to get the electricity to charge that electric car if substantial numbers of people convert to electric cars? The infrastructure to support a wide scale conversion doesn't exist yet. And if people cut back on oil consumption what will governments tax to make up for the lost tax revenue they've become addicted to?


    The more people that buy electric will force the changes, lets face it.. fuel prices are spiraling out of control and change will have to happen sooner rather than later.

    As for the tax loss, well it appears the west are addicted to war so how about taxing weapons/arms dealers for the lost revenue, smokers are literally a dying breed, alcohol is almost as expensive as petrol per gallon and already taxed to death.

    Tax obesity, tax polluting factories/manufacturing, tax the rich more, the poor less.

    Fossil fuels will run out, will cause a massive war over control (hang on, we've been involved in wars over oil etc for a fair while now) over existing oil supplies, the middle easts economies will collapse, terrorism will increase.

    All for the sake of trying to save a few pence on a litre of fuel in the here and now....

    I am still awaiting a UN resolution that will impose a no-fly-zone and protect civilians in Zimbabwe but they haven't got any oil or commodities that the west want control of have they?

    Put as i stated, this war/resolution is purely about oil.
    Afghanistan is about control of their main export to the world...opium/heroin which is worth £$billions in Europe and the US (there's the tax issue sorted)

    I still think our world leaders (Obama/Cameron etc.) think were all stupid.

  • Comment number 47.

    UNSC 1970 calls for the impositions of sanctions against the government of mad Muammar. It also calls for the criminal prosecution of a list of individuals before the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

    UNSC 1973 authorizes the use of force to protect Libyan Civilians - whether by enforcing a No-Fly Zone or by such other means as might be required, excluding the use of forces of occupation.

    UNSC 1973 also authorizes the steps required fully to carry into effect UNSC 1970.

    The interacting effect of the two resolutions can be summarized as:

    (1) No Fly
    (2) No Drive.
    (3) You're going to the Hague.


    Those are the goals.
    They're clear.
    They're easy to understand.
    The UN has authorized them.

    ----------

    No Fly is mostly in place.

    No Drive seems to be partially in place, but could do with some beefing-up at places like Zintan, where, apparently, there are an awful lot of tanks.

    No Drive should also aid the rebels very significantly.

    The Rebels, on the other hand, need to get a grip.
    Removing 'Daffy's forces from Agedabia is not that difficult a task, but so far the rebel fighters had had lots of enthusiasm, but they need to do quite a bit more thinking before they attack.

    They also need to train a bit, and learn some discipline.
    Where are all the personnel from the military units that switched to the rebel side?
    Can even they not act with calm deliberation and discipline?

    Without it, they aren't going anywhere.
    Without it, they aren't going to be able to arrest 'Daffy & his boys, and send them to the Hague.

    And this conflict is going to go on until that, or a suitable substitute, happens.

    Come on, men of Benghazi and Tobruk.
    Sort yourselves out. Show some self-discipline.
    Your country is depending on you to get this done.

  • Comment number 48.

    Mission Creep.....???............that implies an original mission..........

    ------------------What was the original mission??????-----------------

    Please...for the love of GOD...someone please, please, please tell me what we hope to gain out of this?

    Liberals in control............in full effect.....like what you see?....

    .....the term "EPIC FAIL" comes to mind.....


  • Comment number 49.

    Iwilltellyouthis (20), other news agencies are covering this incident, for example CBS News: Witnesses differ on shooting during US rescue

  • Comment number 50.

    sayasay (37), that's a cheap shot, I think. Military operations are inherently risky, and military fliers do put themselves in harm's way, but it is reasonable to reduce that risk. US Defense Secretary Gates stated the need to remove air defense weapons as part of implementing a no-fly zone at the outset: Gates: no-fly zone would require airstrike

  • Comment number 51.

    The failure of the UN and especially the United States to reinforce the woefully undermanned Rwanda Peacekeeping Mission resulted in a genocide. This tragedy was preventable. Out of these failures emerged operational strategies like "peace enforcement" as well as "R2P" the responsibility to protect.
    Despite these movements the critical questions of intervention have not been answered. These are: why, who, where, how, and when. A final question on "exit" also needs to be asked. Has all these questions been sorted out?
    Intervention is sanctioned in Libya on the need to protect civilians? But who is a civilian and who is a rebel? This author can think of more than a handful of states where regimes are killing civilians. The double standards applied for intervention would make a contortionist cringe.
    The literature on peacekeeping as well as peace-enforcement is voluminous but is easily distilled into a simple means/ends analysis. Concrete ends and sufficient means coupled with a clear mandate equals unqualified success. The Libyan intervention may succeed but from this vantage point it looks like a forward fumble or perhaps even Suez 1956 Redux?

  • Comment number 52.

    maybe just maybe.

    I have been following the sad events in Libya for the last weeks and every day I have more and more question marks, mind boggling really!?

    but isn't all the wars that the US, Britain, Nato have been involved into came with some shocking revelations afterwards?

    It is only fair to say that a regime that kills and shoot it's own people should be stopped by the international community for the sole humanitarian purposes, but the way this version of international intervention is lead rises many question marks.

    The coalition air strike aimed at destroying the Libyans military hardware with the alibi of saving the Libyan civilians from the Gadaffi's regime attacks don't really add up.

    What if Gaddafi's army have been attacking armed rebels who are maybe and just maybe terrorist? this is what I think the coalition are mostly worried about, if the rebels turn out to be al qaeda then the EU, middle east, and north africa will be in a serious trouble. so it's better to destroy the military hardwired and air defence just incase the rebels turn to be al qaeda, in another words the reason the international community reacted little too late is that they lost confidence in Gadaffi's regime to neutralise the armed rebels in which no one knows who they are in the international community.

    Similar events happened in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi, Morocco and Yemen where peaceful unarmed civilians were shot at in front of world press, why did the international community didn't take the same steps like they have done with the case of Libya?

    So is there a hidden agenda with the international intervention this time? what are they afraid of?, maybe just maybe they have another agenda.

  • Comment number 53.

    CuriousAmerican (48), if you were really curious, you would read the UN resolutions 1970 and 1973, available on the UN web site, which state the objectives clearly. Of course there are often unstated objectives as well. Getting rid of a troublemaker seems a rather obvious one, though.

  • Comment number 54.

    45, publiusdetroit
    I see you have no experience in negotiating with an Indonesian like myself. Here: please see my responses.

    "define total war". If UN wanted it, it would have said so. If USA, UK and France wanted it, they would have done so. Till then we stick to the UN version of NFZ. In fact, I concede to let your own imagination ‘run wild’ to figure out what is total war… that is just how it is, almost unlimited in execution. If you need help: read more books to aid yourself.

    "what the rules of engagement are during a live-firing exercise?" There are just too many. My listing them out will make this post sound like a military manual and much, much longer than Mark's original blog article. I see no value in imposing on Mark. But if you are insistent, I humbly suggest you research it yourself.

    "What limitations do you think are imposed by the phrase in Paragraph 8 " I am not an international law legist. I refuse to pretend to be such. If you are very curious, talk to USA State Department, UK's FCO or France's Foreign Ministry. For more contrary view, talk to the BRIC countries plus Germany. If they don’t want to talk to you, don’t blame me, please. It is they who need the good public relations not me

    pub; personal research, diligent research and more research makes a wiser man. Than just trying to inquisition somebody else's knowledge.
    As I had mentioned previously in this blog, my father and uncles were soldiers and, now, so are my cousins. But not me. Does it matter? They really did teach me a lot.

  • Comment number 55.

    This author offers a set of key words: doctrine; humanitarian interventionism; international law; Samantha Power

    An interesting hypothesis:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/262725/president-reticent-stanley-kurtz

  • Comment number 56.

    53. At 01:20am on 23rd Mar 2011, GH1618 wrote:
    CuriousAmerican (48), if you were really curious, you would read the UN resolutions 1970 and 1973, available on the UN web site, which state the objectives clearly. Of course there are often unstated objectives as well. Getting rid of a troublemaker seems a rather obvious one, though.

    --------------------------------------------------

    UN?.....come on be serious.......

    The UN is a US/British/French construct to give diplomatic cover for our political will to be done....but mostly the USA...where are the Head Quarters of the UN again?....

    Lets stick with the reality of the world shall we.....I know its ugly, hard and very messy...but the consequences for pretending.....leads only to defeat, death and destruction on a large scale

    "don't piss on my head...and tell me its raining" is a rough way of saying....

    Give me the ugly truth...its the ONLY way to make the best decisions and make the best corrective action. Pretending stupid things are really smart because "your" guy is making them is dangerous, destructive and closes your mind to really "SEE" what is going on.....and sadly typical....

    But then again...this approach opens people up to have their world view challenged...and 99% of the world can't handle that...

    "TRUTH?.....TRUTH?!!!....You can't handle the truth!"-Jack Nicholson in a Few Good Men.....I couldn't say it better....

  • Comment number 57.

    Life would be easier and lives would be saved if politicians said what they meant. Unless we are led by idiots, our leaders knew that the UN resolution was a declaration of war on Gaddafi, since the eternal stalemate that the resolution would lead to (civilians must be protected, so neither side can attack a city without defying the UN) would not be an acceptable outcome.
    The aim, therefore, has always been to oust Gaddafi and install someone in his place (perhaps the former Interior Minister, who is now officially Mr Nice Guy since he joined the rebels - lets forget what his ministry was responsible for!).
    But maybe our leaders ARE idiots who didn't realise what they were getting into, since we know nothing about the aims, intentions and cohesion of the faction we are fighting for. We do not even seem to know what proportion of Libyans are pro-Gaddafi and what proportion hate him, though one expert on Al Jazeera suggested a 50-50 split, which would set the scene for a long civil war.
    I think the media failed us by neglecting to explain in advance of the UN vote the inevitable consequences of this mission. Our leaders failed us by adopting a resolution that sends us half-heartedly to fight a war that is not our business (unless Sudan, Ivory Coast, Syria, Burma, Yemen etc are also our business) and to do it with one arm tied behind our backs (no boots on the ground) and without a clear, achievable and sensible objective. Gaddafi has one, we don't.

  • Comment number 58.

    People i.e. Libyans and coalition fliers are putting their lives on the line in the cause
    of "democracy".... meanwhile "youze guys" are arguing semantics, hidden meanings
    in UN resolutions or in politicians statements etc.etc. ( ad nauseam)....

    just glad you weren't around in 1939.... as they say we'd all be speaking German now... while you cognoscenti argued the toss ( pun intended)

  • Comment number 59.

    CA (56), the "reality of the world" is, simply, that Gadhafi is someone a lot of people, inside Libya and out, would like to be rid of.

  • Comment number 60.

    quietoaktree, (#39. At 23:53pm on 22nd Mar 2011)

    "...--- our double standards will be our undoing --unless it is stopped !"
    And what do you propose be done?

  • Comment number 61.

    59. At 02:02am on 23rd Mar 2011, GH1618 wrote:
    CA (56), the "reality of the world" is, simply, that Gadhafi is someone a lot of people, inside Libya and out, would like to be rid of.

    ------------------------------------------------
    ...........The question is WHY...........?

    There are revolutions ALL over the ME right now...why single out Libya?....which means Gadhafi...

    Who are the good guys in this fight? Who are the bad guys?...are we helping islamic radicals take over?....are we helping Gadhafi become even more powerfull...Do know who we are shooting at?........Who says LOTS want him out?............the western media?.............they can't even get their own culture right, how are they going to KNOW about the man on street in Libya when they don't even leave their own press corp hotels and travel together only with other western libs...they live in an echo chamber...thats not information...that's propoganda...

    What kind of "on-the-ground" intellegence do we have? do we have any?....I wonder....

    Gadhafi was playing ball with us and gave up his weapons of mass destruction and nuclear programs....The British where developing his oil/gas field for him (second in the world by the way)...American companies where being invited in to help rebuild the country...Gadhafi kids are Oxford and Harvard educated and next in line to westernize the country and lead Africa to a new age prosperity...

    ......now what?.........is all of that work done now gone forever....are we "enemies" again?......how does this help anyone?.........

    This is what you get when you politicians instead of leaders...when you have day dreamers instead of day doers...when you have ZERO experience instead of steady experience...when you have moral confusion instead of moral clarity....

    .............The miltary is a tool to kill people and break things.......period.........

    trying to use the military to send a diplomatic "message" to be NICE in a civil war is beyond naive, it is scary dumb......what other foolishness does this guy believe...??

  • Comment number 62.

    Mardell wrote:

    "There is, after all, no contradiction in the White House position that the UN-sanctioned military mission is restricted to protecting civilians but that the longer-term, broader political aim is to remove Col Muammar Gaddafi."

    So it IS OK to kill civilians in the vicinity of Gaddafi?

    Or is it OK to attack Gaddafi's forces if they are killing civilians in his immediate control? Or are we only to keep him from killing civilians in Benghazi?

    And why is it bad only to kill this certain population of civilians? Do they have some sort of special merit that we have not been told about? Do they have some sort of mysterious force that other civilians, in places like Pakistan and Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe and China and North Korea don't have?

    Let's face it - Kim has killed far more people in his country than Gaddafi has. Yet the UN does not seem interested in stopping THAT set of mass murders. Maybe Obama and his European Pals don't mind a few million North Koreans being butchered. It's not as if the BBC can get in there and broadcast video.

    Heck, just last year, Russia killed lots of Georgians, and not a peep from Obama about caring for those civilians. I guess Georgians (except those in Atlanta) are not worth as much as Libyan civilians.

  • Comment number 63.

    .......I wonder if our western "leaders" are capable of looking at themselves thru the eyes of the people they represent......

    ..........would they be humble enough to see themselves as they truly are, not how they "wish" themselves to be seen or packaged or sold to us

    ........or as I suspect....do they live if abject fear of that fateful day when we will seem them as they truly are....

  • Comment number 64.

    As far as I remember the UN 1973 Resolution starts with a demand for an immediate ceasefire. To me that means that BOTH parties stop their military actions. I do I understand English that bad?

    After the French took out the forces outside Benghazi, the remaining troops fell back, out of range of Benghazi. That was followed by a 100+ Km advance of the rebel forces. Are they also not in violation of the UN resolution?

    I got a very simple logic:

    If the Loyalist forces fires into a city, they end up killing civilians. The same thing happens if the Rebels do the same. (unless the Rebels have been armed with weapons that can distinguish between civilians and soldiers).

  • Comment number 65.

    Chris-TH (64), either you do "understand English that bad" or you are being disingenuous. Resolution 1973 is a demand made upon the Libyan authorities by the United Nations.

  • Comment number 66.

    Yet another astonishing piece of propaganda under the guise of journalism. The BBC's coverage of this war is shocking. I'm just wondering how far down the slippery slope Mark Mardell and Jonathan Marcus will go in trying to justify this ridiculous conflict. My respect for the BBC has been reduced to the size of a wafer-thin mint and someone is nibbling at the corners.

  • Comment number 67.

    64. At 03:11am on 23rd Mar 2011, Chris-TH wrote:
    ......If the Loyalist forces fires into a city, they end up killing civilians. The same thing happens if the Rebels do the same. (unless the Rebels have been armed with weapons that can distinguish between civilians and soldiers).
    ----------------------------------------------
    ....I was wonder the same thing...

    They must have the same technology we have on our bullets and missles that can tell who is breaking the UN resolution and who isn't....but how did guys in flip-flops and living in tents get their hands on our billion dollar research...again??????

    I need to have a little talk with our security people about this =]

    this like trying to be a cop in the middle of a gang war.....at 20,000 feet....not a good plan....It's not a good plan to be at ground level either if you want the truth of it....

    ..........so what is the STRATEGY again?...............

    So far I'm getting:....We are in Libya to enforce an unenforceable UN resolution cobbled together in the middle of night by the "B Team" state department beaucrats over a bottle of Southern Comfort and days old Subway sandwiches...with no input from the military on workability, logistics, time schedules or realistic capabilities.....

    ......Is anyone else buying what they are selling?.........

    "I was born at night....but not LAST night...."

  • Comment number 68.

    65. At 03:32am on 23rd Mar 2011, GH1618 wrote:
    Chris-TH (64), either you do "understand English that bad" or you are being disingenuous. Resolution 1973 is a demand made upon the Libyan authorities by the United Nations.
    ------------------------------------

    Brother...come on....

    Are you saying civilians killed by the "rebels" are ok...but killing by the "loyalist" are not....AND we know the difference........at 20,000 feet no less......We have magic bullets that know the difference?.........

    Come on brother.....a skunk still stinks if you call it a rose....a UN resolution doesn't make anything automatically good, right or just....

    ....You've got to keep your critical thinking cap on at all times...Just because it's "your guy" leading the charge...there is no guarantee his name isn't Pickett....

    ...Just pretend this is Bush's policy...what would your reaction be?......Be honest....would you be as forgiving and non-critical?...would you be bending over backwards to award credit to an obviously non serious short-term political ploy?

    ...remeber...be honest with yourself...You have to look at yourself in the mirror in the morning.....

  • Comment number 69.

    Here's a link to a column I enjoyed from the Ghanaian Times: Would Africa Miss Gaddafi if he Went?

  • Comment number 70.

    65

    Stupid me, I should have looked up the word ceasefire before I asked my question. So that is what I did. I think that Webster is a good source?

    "A state of peace agreed to between opponents so they can discuss peace terms."

    BTW I served the UN Peacekeeping Forces, and lost colleagues during our efforts to keep waring parties apart.
    As far as I know this is the first resolution since the Korean war that is being used to choose side in an internal conflict. I'm not very "fond" of Col. G. (I had a friend executed back in 1984), and would like to see him disappear from the International/National scene, but I'm just as DISGUSTED by the "rape" of the UN charter.

  • Comment number 71.

    What is UN doing about Sudan, Ivory Coast, Syria, Burma, Yemen etc ain't they fighting, are Civilians not be killed, why a they not having NO FLY ZONE?? I wish to witness a No Fly Zone in those Countries if what UN is doing to Libya is right , as no one is above the law if that is the case then the right thing must be done to all those countries ,as we human fight for equal justice ,which I know it ll never work nor happen ...This is because they are not rich of minerals , is because they are going to loose lot of $$$ without gain anything from those countries, all what they say is we are protecting Civilians ..come on we ain't stupid ....what happen when a missiles are shoot .. Does it kills Animals or Civilians ????? A those people being injured and killed not Libyans??? So who are they protecting now ???? we all notice they target there is to get rid of Gaddafi and take Libyans Oil.... In time of history to my experiences i think this is my first time hearing and seeing countries supporting Rebels due to Oil...

  • Comment number 72.

    Mark, Libya, in its internal battle between its hard won and hard to maintain socialist government, and its insurgent challengers, is a big landmine that those who have joined in, in the "UN sanctioned" attack against Libyan government military forces have stepped directly on. Colonel Gaddafi is no fool, despite what some tend to think of him. Cultural differences play a role, but so does his deep love for Libya, and for the political and socialist values that he has always remained attached to, despite the frustrating obstacles to their implementation. Like Fidel Castro in Cuba, Colonel Gaddafi remembers his long ago frustrated dreams, even more frustrated by what he sees as being adverse changes in the world situation and its politics, and has a deep desire to have some effect on the larger situation. We now see a peculiar, occulted, dialogue between Russia's leaders, in their statements on the situation, and Colonel Gaddafi's most recent pronouncements. There is more than a synchronicity, as both sides wait for the next move, watching intently and critically, but from a viewpoint that is largely shared. Depending on what happens next the wedge that Libya is becoming, between east and west, could ultimately plunge the world into a new Cold War, but one where the division of civilizations and its play for support from other parts of the world now stands in a very different balance. A balance created by a feeling of deep betrayals, and failures as to fundamental, non negotiable, principles. We are at the possibility of the most dangerous turning point in world history since WWII.
    Of course it will help to moderate the situation if NATO steps back and stays completely out of this one. At least that would alleviate another potential source of even deeper feelings of betrayal and duplicity. We can only hope.



  • Comment number 73.

    Ref 54 sayasay-

    In my post #45 I asked you for your definition of "total war" since in your post #37 you inferred that the U.S. was using "total war" tactics in enforcing the No-fly Zone over Libya.

    Your response to my request for your definition of "total war" was, "In fact, I concede to let your own imagination ‘run wild’ to figure out what is total war..."

    I do not need to let my imagination "run wild" to define "total war". A "total war" is: " a war in which every available weapon is used and the nation's full financial resources are devoted."

    The U.S. has not crowded it's entire naval force into the Mediterranean. All of our National Guard and armed forces reserve units have not been activated. We certainly have not used every available weapon in our arsenal, or Libya would be a sheet of fused glass. Your inference of our "total war" activities are a gross exaggeration.

    Also in post #37 you expressed that a No-fly Zone was "like a live-firing exercise".

    I asked you what the rules of engagement were in a "live-firing exercise".

    You responded, "There are just too many. My listing them out will make this post sound like a military manual and much, much longer than Mark's original blog article. I see no value in imposing on Mark. But if you are insistent, I humbly suggest you research it yourself."

    There is very significant difference between a "live-firing exercise" and actual combat. The rules of engagement in combat lead to the ultimate, and very real, destruction of the target. A "live-firing exercise" is just that, an exercise. Ideally, there is no loss of life, even the lose of combatant lives. Establishing a No-fly Zone [NFL] is a combat operation, not an exercise. Unauthorized planes attempt to become airborne, they have violated the NFZ and are destroyed, often with the lose of the pilot's life.

    I was curious about whether you personally had military and combat experience as it seemed you were confused why the U.S. and Coalition forces would eliminate anti-aircraft defenses to be able to establish and enforce and NFZ.

    I thank you for, at least, answering that you have had neither military nor combat experience. You stated in post #37 in response to supersonicpenquin1, "But don’t ask for less risk to your person, or else I consider with much askance your military professionalism and personal courage." I was just wondering what your personal qualifications were to make such a discourteous remark to someone who has actually had the courage to go into harm's way.

    You owe supersonicpenquin1 a sincere apology.

  • Comment number 74.

    70. At 04:28am on 23rd Mar 2011, Chris-TH wrote:
    65

    Stupid me, I should have looked up the word ceasefire before I asked my question. So that is what I did. I think that Webster is a good source?

    "A state of peace agreed to between opponents so they can discuss peace terms."

    BTW I served the UN Peacekeeping Forces, and lost colleagues during our efforts to keep waring parties apart.......I'm not very "fond" of Col. G. (I had a friend executed back in 1984), and would like to see him disappear from the International/National scene, but I'm just as DISGUSTED by the "rape" of the UN charter.
    ---------------------------------------------

    "Noth'n like being shot at to clear the senses"....

    You see...to many..this is just a theory to discuss safely behind the key board....It's a LOT different when you and your loved ones are the on the firing line...

    I guaran-damn-tee that if YOUR brother, son, father, uncle, cousin, friend or yourself is put at risk of DEATH to enact this travesty.....you would be the FIRST to jump and ask what the H*ll for?....

    ...to keep people from killing each other in a civil war....?....You better have a better story to tell the widow and orphans than that.....

    ----thanks for the service brother----I owe you a debt I can not pay----
    (Sharp and Crisp Salute)

  • Comment number 75.

    Supersonicpenquin1-

    Would you be comfortable flying a mission with sayasay (considering his personal rules of engagement) watching your six?

  • Comment number 76.

    In the immortal words of one of the modern day greatest poets.....

    "you think you're special...I can see it in eyes"...rage against the machine..

    Once you realize that you aren't...you begin to accept correction...and begin the life-long goal of searching for Wisdom...some days better than others....

    "it is hard to fill a cup that thinks it is already full..."

  • Comment number 77.

    Ref 74

    ...to keep people from killing each other in a civil war....?....You better have a better story to tell the widow and orphans than that.....

    I could live with (die for) that, but not if it meant that I had to kill by myself in order to achieve the goal (of stopping other people from killing each others). Where is the limit and the justification?
    Using "black humor" you could even use "by any means" to justify erasing Benghazi from the face of the Earth. That would for sure prevent the forces of Col. G. from killing their own citizens in that city!!

  • Comment number 78.

    I think all of this conversation is the result of the live media's urgent need to fill every second with compelling noise and eye candy.

    I am of the opinion that there is nothing in the real world that moves fast enough or contains controversy enough to keep the modern TV viewer continually excited and attentive.

    For example, a category 9 earthquake in one of the richest and most populous nations on earth, followed before the news can be spun, with a thirty-foot wall of rushing death and destruction, killing at least 10,000 and leaving half a million to make their lives exposed to the icy rain and snow, only set the talking heads to a faster pace of interpretation, specious speculation, and endless rebroadcast ing of the few most spectacular clips they could find.

    Even with the appearance of not one, or two or three, but four rapidly failing nuclear reactors in the midst of it all, the pace of real events couldn't keep up with their need to fill all available cyperspace with incoherent and often nonsensical babbling.

    Predictions of melt down began before anyone knew what had happened at the power stations, and continue to this hour. Many commentators had no idea what a melt down was, and talked on about it for days without getting out a recognizable description. Today was the first day I heard a responsible explanation of the relative hazard of the levels of radiation that has been released, of what warning levels have been issued, and what they mean. The first time anyone I heard said that there is some appreciable difference between 'detectable', 'above normal', 'potentially dangerous', or 'life threatening'.

    And for Libya - President Obama has done the worst thing he could have done - he kept the people waiting. He must have been dithering. Remember the hand wringing before he announced he would join the no-fly-zone? Remember the crying that he was already too late? There are at present, I believe, no facts to support this claim. Future events may show that he was in fact too late, or, if Gadhaffi falls tonight, next week, or in six months or a year, probably history will show that Obama was not, in fact too late at all - it may actually decide that he achieved an epochal triumph for all mankind. Tonight none of these things are true.

    But all of this is merest speculation - it has not happened, and it is likely (as not) that the outcome has not yet been imagined or described, although the scribes are busy trying.

    Real facts, real wars, real disasters and real heroism isn't done at an unbroken run. Each takes it's time happening - the time required by real things to develop and to have consequences.

    Beware the man or woman who not only holds your buttonhole, but refuses to let go your ear. He most likely hasn't a clue what he is talking about - he just wants, desperately, to keep your attention.

    I will pay more attention to the play by play during the basketball tournament (as long as my teams are playing) than I will to those 'newsmen' or '-women' who have already shown their only job is to fill time.

    Mr. Mardell is not one of them.

    KScurmudgeon

  • Comment number 79.

    I'm guessing that soon Gaddafi's forces will be called 'insurgents'.

  • Comment number 80.

    'Some of it is mischief-making by media looking for a story'

    The. Very. Idea.

    War by 24/7 news cycle. Chilling.

    The media 'thrust' today being 'explored' (on SKY at least, with Kay Burley in Libya for some reason trying to wipe the hair out her eyes as the wind makes her interview from a hotel balcony with folk in London inaudible) is the lack of an exit strategy.

    Which is, I concede, one heck of an issue.

    But by worrying this bone, again without any concern for the big picture, the media seem to have neatly forgotten that if you see a person drowning in the river you don't immediately book a 4pm meeting to discuss H&S first.

    Unless. of course, you come from a mindset that reckons this is exactly what you do.

    Frankly our pols have the media they deserve. Trouble is, we vote for our pols to represent us, yet they dance to the tune of media who don't. And by them having no loyalty to anything save petty ratings or agenda, the result is a short-term, knee-jerk dog's dinner.

  • Comment number 81.

    I have a problem with people saying this is just all about oil. A great deal of diplomatic effort has been put in by western countries of late to rehabilitate Gaddaffi and of course that was certainly about oil and trade and the "war on terror".

    Why waste all of that effort on a high risk strategy of, in effect, supporting the rebels when the quickest, cheapest and easier solution would be to leave Gaddaffi to suppress the rebellion as we now know he is quite capable of doing in the absence of western intervention? Western governments are not known for looking to the long term where their vital interests are concerned.

    No, there is something else involved here. There is indeed a humanitarian issue here and a sense that things are changing in the Arab world. There is an undercurrent of the Arab peoples being fed up with totalitarian government and even if an alternative form of governance is not achieved by them in the short or mid term, it is certainly going to happen in the longer term.

    If it was just about oil we would need troops and contractors on the ground as in Iraq, and this time around that is not going to happen.

  • Comment number 82.

    We need to be easy with the west. If no one have taken any action up to now, the conversation would have been different, but just as confusing and potentially damaging. Now that the west has taken the decision to do the right thing, we, media, politicians and ordinarily people, should give them support to help with in their difficutlt task. We are never happy it seems. Does anyone on this planet has a better solution? Defend or let die? The problem of Libia is a libian problem, the west is just trying to limit the damage and provide a level playing field, which is a human thing to do.

    Good luck

  • Comment number 83.

    LucyJ, No. 12:

    Libya has a population of about 6.5 million people. That is a population of about one medium-sized bigger city today. This population controls a very sizable territory that needs more than three million able-bodied, educated adults to administer it and develop it efficiently.

    For 42 years, the wealth of this land has been draining into the pockets, vaults and bank accounts of just one family: The Q clan. The name for such "rule" is looting and it has now officially ended.

    While it is true that in the past Western powers have struggled and blundered by attempting to impose new values on old societies, the biggest reason for the difficulties encountered in those efforts was that they were brought about in misguided fashion. Consider Iraq. A much bigger population, living in a fairly secular Islamic society under a brutal leader is thrown into a prolonger period of bloody war (beginning with the dreadful bloodletting of a decade fighting Iran, in a war that where the US leadership vigorously backed and encouraged the same Saddam Hussein they later promptly demonised, alleging he had something to do with 9/11 and WMD, when he did not); the culmination of all that violence is the US-led invasion which is brutal, poorly planned, haphazardly executed, etc. etc. -- one huge mess from start to finish -- and which brings in the exact opposite of what they had -- a far more intolerant (from the point of view of religious zealotry) government that is to this day struggling to provide basic services, and leading reconstruction.

    But a very significant part of the difficulty in Iraq has to do with the fact that the population of Iraq is 33 or so million (five times bigger than Libya) and that there are stark divisions, and now deep hatred, between the two main branches of Islam. To make it more complicated, the side that went along with the US-led programme is also the side that is closer culturally to Iran -- currently America's greatest sworn enemy. All these factors create dysfunctionality.

    Yet, even so, with all these aspects working against success, there is a slow steady movement forward in Iraq. The natural human reaction to trauma is to rebuild systems and heal, if only out of self-preservation instincts. People get up, look at the children in their lives, and are inspired to carry on and to deliver what every adult wants for the kid they love: a better future.

    But in Libya the challenges are not nearly so daunting. We have a population that is small, and that is very much united in its opposition to a common enemy. Even though much is always made of the effects of "tribalism" in communities that exist on the African continent, anyone with experience in tribes know that every tribe always has two sets of people who chafe under the "system": women and the young.

    Because tribalism is bad for women and limits the aspirations of young people.

    One of the phenomena that has not been discussed alongside the Facebook & YouTube effect, in the description of factors contributing the current tide of unrest and rage across the ME, is something demographers have spoken about amongst themselves for quite a number of decades. As bigger and bigger portions of the populations in these countries consist of under-30s, the pressure for an end to tribalism increases.

    In a way, tribalism + polygamy create that dangerous cocktail, of too many unemployed young people (especially testosterone-rich young men) with not enough opportunities to shine, that finally has exploded in the part of the planet most committed to this untenable proposition of polygamy and huge families.

    I think we are seeing the rapid winding down of tribalism as a form of social organisation for Africa. The technology that all young people crave and so many already possess encourages individuality and the pursuit of personal aspirations -- and that flies in the face of the idea that "I must today obey the elders of my clan, who by the way will tell me whom to have sex with, when and how, and how to bring up my babies, but will not give me a job that pays well, because they don't have one for me."

    Anyone who breathes knows (if they believe in God at all) that God did not give them life to be slaves and to be denied the basic pleasures of freedom and youth and enterpreneurship and self-determination.

    Therefore, given that the population of Libya is united, that they have this shared experience now forging even greater attachments between them, that there are so many young eager to have a decent future, that there are so many people who are capable and have been for 42 years denied the right to exert themselves on their own behalf, under a just system, I do not think it will be very difficult to persuade them that a government modeled on the kinds of systems that worked for the people who came to free them -- at great risk and as they can now see in defiance of considerable objections from those who would prefer to see Libyans and indeed Arabs slaves forever: slaves to tribalism, to ignorance, to the oppressive regimes that allow no equality for girls or women, that deny young people the right to dance, for example, or to travel and educate themselves and embrace the exact same life the children of privileged, wealthy Arab families are allowed to enjoy freely in Paris, London, Berlin, New York, Rome, Los Angeles, Ibiza etc. etc. -- would be a good kind of government to have for themselves.

    Setting one up for a six million population is not hard. I could do it, even by myself, with two score people and a tiny budget. And I am sure the people I trust and admire in the UK, France, the EU, the US even -- the ones who did not botch the job in Iraq, I mean -- have much bigger resources than I do, not to mention expertise and infrastructure.

    This Is Not Hard. Really, Truly, Not Hard.

    Had the Chinese or Indian governments had the foresight to join the Coalition instead of criticising it, they could not be getting ready to showcase their superior organisational skills. Oh, indeed, they are superb administrators (they need to work on some other stuff though).

    And so it will fall to the Europeans, with some Americans besides (who can use the chance for some redemption given the bad rep US skills got thanks to Bush-Cheney arrogant, know-little, neocon-driven sloppiness in Iraq), to help the Libyans -- who do trust them; and are dismayed to see how few Arab leaders actually came to their support, and did not have the courage to stand up the the Q Clan when Libyans were trapped in their darkest hour -- forge for themselves the nation they deserve: a free, democratic, state-of-the-art, moderate, tolerant, model Muslim state for the 21st century.

    That should be the target and I fully believe it is achievable, because of the small population, considerable resources, high motivation and proven unity of all Libyans today.

    And I think they will become an example for the future. With the hope that, of course, in the future bad leaders will simply resign when called upon, instead of waiting for the people with the rockets to come and push them out of the palaces where they are no longer welcome occupants.

    The message to every leader on earth today, Arab as well as any other, is: People on the ground -- ordinary people who work and struggle -- pay your salaries and give you your prerogatives. You are their Employee, not their Boss. And they can fire you At Any Time.

    So do your job well, and don't steal.

    Even billionaires are vulnerable in the end, and can be held to account, both for how they obtained their riches, and how they spend them.

  • Comment number 84.

    One last thing, LucyJ (re: No. 12): all across the Western world, in every advanced society, there are Arabs and Muslims who live in predominantly no-Muslim communities, and do perfectly well accepting Western standards -- even Western standards for women and the young -- and prosper. And are still Arabs, and mostly Muslim (some Arabs are Christian), and proud of their heritage, but not fanatics and not a threat to others and not slaveowners and no interested in denying others' their natural rights. (Rights, I would add, that are God-given, and thereby Sacrosanct; intrinsic to being human, inalienable.)

    Since so many Arabs and Muslims do just fine under Western systems, I find it an unacceptable and indeed silly argument that "something" fundamentally "prevents" an Arab or a Muslim from enjoying a democratic society and a system based on tolerance and self-determination, rather than cant, extremism and enshrined "tradition" (often a very murky "tradition" at that).

    As I have stated, the sheer numbers of unemployed out there pretty much ensures that given the chance, plenty of well-meaning, educated, fluent in Arabic young men and women will turn up if the opportunity arises to come help rebuild & develop Libya, and make it an example to the world of what it means to be young, pro-Western, pro-European, pro-American -- pro-womankind -- pro-youth and pro-freedom -- and at the same time, still Muslim, and still Arab.

    I know, from decades teaching and as the daughter and granddaughter of many generations of teachers, actually, that the difference between the fanatic and the enlightened person is just a single thing: the books you are given to read, and the languages you learn, between the ages of 3 and 30.

    In other words, education. Books, as well as computers; classical music, as well as pop; dance, as well as sports. That's the difference.

    Something a little broader than just religious observance, or for that matter, Marxist doctrine.

    Maybe if Q had received his education in Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro or Sydney, instead of the USSR, he would not not have turned into such a monster, would not have embraced a life of criminality and the subjugation of others to his own narcissism, but would have been, instead, some fun-loving travel agent with a quiet existence in Beirut, for example.

    The world could be a very different place if people attended good schools and studied the humanities more often, and less of the rigid ideologies and doctrines.

    All God ever asked of people was for them to be kind to each other. But when the criminal element gets the upper hand, law enforcement does indeed have to act, and Justice is to be served, the criminal put away, so that decent people can have their normal lives again.

  • Comment number 85.

    ABOUT OIL

    Fax off 606 said: "Put simply- this is about oil.

    Libya has it, the west wants it- hence the get Gaddafi at all costs"

    We have been buying oil from Libya since I don't know when. If there is oil easily obtainable then we'll buy it and the country concerned will sell it. Saddam Hussein swopped it for medical supplies (and there was corruption in all that). We buy oil from every corrupt dictatorship that wants to sell it. It won't stop whether Gadaffi goes or stays. He has oil to sell? We'll buy it. Libyan oil by the way is very good quality, like Brent oil I gather.

    I just don't get the 'it's all about oil' brigade. It really makes no difference who's in charge of the oil -producing nation. Agreements will be reached. We aren't fighting Gadaffi because we want to grab his oil: we've already got it.

    (Though obviously, supplies are being held up by the fighting and damage in Libya).

  • Comment number 86.

    Muammar G/Q/K: "Long live Islam everywhere. All Islamic armies must take part in the battle, all free [people] must take party in the battle... We will be victorious in the end" .




    Jihad, anyone?

  • Comment number 87.

    As a Zimbabwean, living in Zimbabwe, but well travelled, it is clear to us all, that, this issue is abt removing Gaddaffi and putting a puppet in. In my country, there are abt 13million people, about 1.3million voted in the last Presidential elections, which were hotly disputed. The whole world has shouted at the top of their voices, to get Mugabe out, so that their Puppet Tsvangirayi can come into power.Surprisingly
    -A few whites, less than 20 000 controlled all the prime farming land, and more than 12 million blacks had nothing, and the WEST was happy to have this continue, for as long as it kept the money rolling in.
    -When he[Mugabe] granted the West deals, and they bribed him, putting money into his offshore accounts, he was a good guy
    -at the same time , he killed abt 20 000 of our people[1984-1987], but he got all doctorates from the Universities in the US/UK etc, they turned a blind eye to his atrocities for as long as they were getting the good deals and the money
    -When a few whites were killed in the chaotic land reform programme, all hell broke loose and he was a 'Dictator', to be deposed from power etc
    -Now a brainless opposition leader has been supported by the West, but has not been able to take the presidency from Mugabe,brainless brainless
    -so called Targeted sanctions have been imposed on Mugabe, which have pretty much crippled the economy[over and above his bad policies], so the near 12 million who did not vote, are suffering badly, for leaders' sins, or the West's desire for change/
    -The Libyan Crisis is clearly an issue of resources, how the West can get a leader they can control into the seat, and get the reconstructions contracts, mortgaged on the oil, and so bring Libya to its knees and the West flying again.
    -Cameron's leadership will be tainted by this.
    -Sadly, the world is still full of Hitlers, who have no regard for civilians, for i ask, how many civilians have been killed in Afghanistan, Iraqi and now Libya, and yet the world watches and says, game on, for as long as it does not happen on our doorsteps.

  • Comment number 88.

    #1 For the French read President Sarkozy, just like for the British read David Cameron.

    I didn't vote for Cameron nor for Clegg to coalesce with him.

  • Comment number 89.

    MM: "The man in charge of Operation Odyssey Dawn, Adm Samuel Locklear, has just given a briefing saying the no-fly zone is now in place.

    He was asked why it seemed air cover was being given to rebels attacking Col Gaddafi's forces.

    After all, that has little to do with protecting civilians, if both sides are fighting.

    "Great question" he replied."



    As I have stated earlier Operation "Odyssey Dawn" have been aptly named:


    for that particulare adventure may take more than a few days. Or even weeks.



    [not sure 'bout the 'Dawn' part , though.]

  • Comment number 90.

    I do not believe it is about oil. I believe it is about revenge against the terrorist who ordered the Lockabie massacre of civilians and ALSO to protect the British (and who else?) from further revelations regarding their compilcency with rehabilitating that terrorist for business benefits.

  • Comment number 91.

    MM, re Obama's mission creep:



    The international operation has targeted air defense sites and command centers. But Gadhafi himself has not been targeted, and there are no plans to kill the leader, said Gen. Carter Ham, the head of U.S. forces in Africa.

    "I could see accomplishing the military mission, which has been assigned to me, and the current leader would remain the current leader," he said.

    Ham said no Libyan aircraft have been observed flying since the military operations began Saturday.
    (CNN)


    Well, how does it square with noises from the U.S. State Department and even from El Salvador?

  • Comment number 92.

    Yes, Q is calling for jihad, powermeerkat -- another reason he ought to be tried in an international court.

    I doubt many are listening.

    But it is instructive that in the case of the Belgrade bombing, nothing definitively changed in the mush that passes for the "leader's": brains until the TV and radio installations were taken out.

    More importantly, as the UN resolution obviously precludes the use of ground forces, but makes the freedom & self-determination rights of the Libyan people the paramount motivation here, it would not be wrong for the UN to begin to send some kind of experts in -- not troops -- to help organise the obviously traumatised and stressed opposition groups, who constitute the majority of the Libyan people.

    Some are calling for arming them, and that may indeed be necessary, but let's not forget also that there are plenty of people, with UNESCO, WHO, MSF, the World Bank etc who are skilled in helping turn deeply distressed communities recover and organise themselves. Once there is some organisation on the ground, it makes it much easier to see who is actually a leader, who is a helpful idiot, and who is an infiltrator or mentally unstable anarchist.

    And I am sure the Arab expatriate communities also have qualified people, trained engineers, and experts who could be brought in -- they would not be violating the "no boots on the ground" promise.

  • Comment number 93.

    MM "president [Obama] had demanded that "They had to restore gas, electricity and water and allow humanitarian aid into those towns."




    Well, Mark, Japanese government has been trying hard to do so, but the situation on the ground is tough. [9.0 + tsunami = 9.0 + tsunami]



  • Comment number 94.

    This folly astounds me in so many ways. Small wonder that the Libyan regime brands this a 'Crusader invasion', when we read (#84) that it is about "God given rights". Whose God? Not mine and not one that the majority of Libyans would recognise.

    How can it be acceptable for the coalition to cause civilian casualties in preventing the regime from causing them? Anyone with a penny of sense knows that you cannot create a 'no fly zone', without suppressing the anti-aircraft capability of your opponent. The idea that cruise missiles launched from a submarine are precision munitions, is a fallacy and people, yes women and children will die when those assets are targeted.

    Former Admiral Jack Keane suggests arming the rebel opposition, that worked awfully well when it was tried in the Afghan-Soviet conflict. There is no exit strategy in place, unless you admit that it is regime change, the 'elephant in the room'. Look at the safe and stable environment that regime change created in Iraq 8 years ago. If President Obama meant what he said when he promised no troops on the ground, there is little chance of hitting Gaddafi, so I suspect CIA and Special Forces are present. I hope they don't pick the wrong bunker again (Baghdad 2003).

    It is hard to see how this war can come to an early end, or make a nett saving of lives. Libyas borders are not sealed and to the south east lies Sudan, no friend to the west and a haven for Al-Quaeda. Gaddafi has hit his enemies before by exporting weapons to terrorist groups, how many Lockerbies caused by shoulder launched SAMs would it take, before some of the righteous posters came to regret this war?

    Lastly Mr Cameron, tens of thousands of nurses, policemen and council workers are being made redundant in the UK, because of the burden of public debt. If there were to be a referendum tomorrow on saving those jobs, or pouring money into munitions and their delivery systems for Libya, which would your people vote for. Democracy at home or democracy in a feudal African state? I know which one gets my vote.

  • Comment number 95.

    It seems reasonable to target the prevention of all projectiles flying towards civilians and reinstatement of basic supplies to civilians as a humane endpoint (event driven). I guess that the problem herein is that this passes the choice of when to end (time driven) to those originating flying projectiles or cutting off utility supplies.

    "What is left unsaid is that presumably the man giving the orders to kill civilians is Col Gaddafi. Getting rid of him would protect civilians. QED." Is there a pragmatic carrot that can be offered to the regime?

  • Comment number 96.

    From the BBC:

    #
    0202: Donald Rumsfeld, former US Secretary of Defense, tweets: "There's a reason Gadhafi isn't contemplating using a nuclear/radiological weapon today: He saw what happened to Saddam."

    ___________

    No, the reason he isn't using nuclear weapons or dirty bombs is because he, like the unlamented Mr. Hussein, doesn't have them.

    If you think for an instant that this sociopath wouldn't use those weapons in the blink of an eye to obliterate, let's say, Benghazi, you clearly haven't been paying attention to his behaviour.

    This isn't going to end until the guy is dead or captured. Look at his personality. He wants to be Napoleon, and if he can't, then his Norma Desmond moment is to bring some kind of Wagnerian Gotterdamerung down upon his nation as he himself is destroyed: "I'm ready for my scene now, Mr. DeMille."

    Wake up and smell the coffee. We're not dealing with Marcus Welby, M.D.

  • Comment number 97.

    @96:
    Speaking of Hollywood, to me, Gadhafi looks like Mel Brooks impersonating Gadhafi.

  • Comment number 98.

    Re #97


    Speaking of Hollywood : Elisabeth Taylor has died.

  • Comment number 99.

    96. Interestedforeigner:
    "From the BBC:

    #
    0202: Donald Rumsfeld, former US Secretary of Defense, tweets: "There's a reason Gadhafi isn't contemplating using a nuclear/radiological weapon today: He saw what happened to Saddam."

    ___________

    No, the reason he isn't using nuclear weapons or dirty bombs is because he, like the unlamented Mr. Hussein, doesn't have them.

    If you think for an instant that this sociopath wouldn't use those weapons in the blink of an eye to obliterate, let's say, Benghazi, you clearly haven't been paying attention to his behaviour."


    ***********
    That's quite an assumption you're making. Is it really possible for you to state with such certainty that Q is not contemplating using nuclear weapons?

    I agree with Rumsfeld that threatening nuclear warfare has been shown to be quite deadly.

  • Comment number 100.

    Response to 94. AL-Gebra:

    I don't think we should take too seriously Obama's statements at this point. He's not always knowledgeable about the things he says with complete certainty.

 

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