BBC BLOGS - Mark Mardell's America
« Previous | Main | Next »

The eloquence of action

Mark Mardell | 14:08 UK time, Sunday, 20 March 2011

Every time President Obama talks about Libya, he repeats that America is not acting alone, that the Arab League is behind the action and that this is not about imposing change from outside. But as American cruise missiles explode in Libya his statements will compete with the noise of war, which threatens to drown out his insistent message. Actions do indeed speak louder than words.

Obama's message may be in part intended to sooth supporters at home, who saw their man as an anti-war president and are now having second thoughts. But they are much more for the world beyond the West. A reassurance that Libya is not Iraq, this is not imperialism, this is not the America that decides world winners and losers. It is not the Western crusade for oil that Gaddafi describes.

The president jumped off the fence at the last moment for a number of reasons. The rapidly crumbling of the rebel forces, the realization Gaddafi was about to win. The support of the Arab League. But unavoidably, choice was forced upon him by the vigorous lead given by Britain and France. Crucial allies of the US, they were out front, loud in their demands and the moment was approaching when Obama would either have to oppose them or back them.

Not joining in was too risky, a declaration of independence too far for a president who stress the need for the world to work together.

They had their own, internal political reasons. Sarkozy after an embarrassing Egyptian crisis, wanted to put himself on the front foot. Cameron sees this as a big foreign policy moment, and wants to establish his reputation. But it is far too cynical to put their enthusiasm down to these shallow reasons alone.

They felt it was their duty to intervene. We don't focus on this nearly enough. The Chinese didn't feel that way. Neither did the Russians. Nor the Indians. Or Brazilians. And despite the Arab League's much trumpeted backing they wouldn't have made a peep without encouragement and still aren't doing much despite all those planes they buy from the US and UK.

Why does the West feel this way, when no one else does? Is it a legacy of the enlightenment, a sense of responsibility and shared humanity? Or does it follow from colonialism, a feeling that it is their role to rule, that there is still a version of Kipling's "White Man's Burden", - the "savage wars of peace" - even if it is defined by geography, not colour.

Until the history books are printed, or at least Woodward's next book, we won't know what Obama really wanted. Perhaps he desired this outcome all along but felt it best to hang back for tactical reasons. Perhaps it is what he wanted to avoid, but the alternative of a massacre happening partly because of American dithering, was much worse.

Obama in the end has opted to adopt the traditional world view of the West, while insisting he is different. This could be applauded in the Muslim and the Arab world. It could be ignored. Perhaps the lesson is that the President of the United States will be looked to to lead, whether he likes it or not. It's a question of direction.

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    I think you mean that cruise missiles are exploding in Libya, not Iraq. To my knowledge America is not launching missiles there.

  • Comment number 2.

    So once again we set out to save innocent civilians from death at the hands of "evil doers" -- by killing them ourselves.

    What a splendidly agile approach.

    It goes hand-in-glove with what I'm sure will be our eagerness to re-arm the Libyan people once we've finished destroying their current stock of
    weapons -- which, it bears noting, were also supplied by us.

    All in the name of Democracy, you understand.

  • Comment number 3.

    It would be ironic, don't you think, if this R 1973 ended up giving birth to Gaddafi's dream of a United States of Africa.
    No doubt the AU is angry.
    The African Union is more than criticizing the launching of military operations by US and European countries on the soverign nation of Libya; it is fist-pimping. This current western action is seen as nothing more than another Iraq - eight years to the day after US-led forces headed across the Iraqi border in 2003 - only the goal this time is get rid of Gaddafi vs Hussein.
    US and British ships and submarines launching more than 115 cruise missiles supposedly against air defenses, which makes one wonder how 50 civilians died and another 150 got wounded.
    In Canada, CBS news reported that 3 B-2 stealth bombers dropped 40 bombs on a major Libyan airfield. I guess this is within the mandate on R-1973 - attacks were designed to cripple Libyan air defenses.
    But the real intention is to force the Libyan leader Muammar from power; this is known as a coup. A coup was most certainly NOT authorized under R1973.
    The African Union (AU) issued a statement stupulating that "any foreign military intervention, whatever its form was a contravenation of soverignty & national security".
    An AU panel is demanding a peaceful end to the crisis; An AU panel is calling for an "immediate stop" to air strikes stressing that it rejects "any kind of foreign military intervention" in the north African country.
    Mauritanian President, Ould Abdel Aziz (a panel member): The situation in Libya "demands urgent action so an AFRICAN SOLUTION solution (can be found) to the very serious crisis which its sister nation is going through."
    A solution must take into account "our desire that Libya's unity and territorial integrity be respected". I doubt that the west will see much importance in this AU statement, or even hear it - too mucxh noise from the cruise missiles.
    The AU committee on Libya is composed of five African heads of state, but the meeting in the Mauritanian capital was only attended by the presidents of Mauritania, Mali and Congo, though South Africa and Uganda were represented by ministers. The panel was scheduled to travel to Libya, but of course circumstances are now unsafe. Gaddafi had asked for the presence of AU monitoring. If that had been able to occur, I wonder what the panel would have reported. What would President Jacob Zuma say?
    Western countries and NATO initially stated that they would not intervene militarily in Libya without the approval of regional organizations such as the Arab League and the AU. I guess they forgot about the AU, even forgot that there are 22 members to the Arab League (and they had obtained only 11 attendees and ultimately 9 approvals).
    In a related issue, the government of Equatorial Guinea said that Libyan reporters had misreported re telephone call between the country's president Teodoro Obiang Nguema and Gaddafi. Nguema who is the rotating AU chairman this year, called Gaddafi to gain guarantees for the security of the AU Observation Committee that was planning to travel there. The South African President was under fire last week because he called Gaddafi. Zuma told Gaddafi that that the AU should investigate the "conspiracy" against him and the world should not believe what foreign media were saying about Libya.
    The Ugandan government on Thursday said it opposes "foreign interference" in Libya and declared it will not freeze Libyan-owned assets in the country.
    I wonder why the west would place such emphasis on 9 members of the Arab League and no apparent emphasis on the entire AU.

  • Comment number 4.

    With all (very considerable) respect to Mark Mardell, who is an excellent reporter: does not the rapidity and apparent efficiency with which co-ordinated assaults have been made against Libyan military 'assets', by American as well as French and British forces, show that behind the scenes there was considerable planning, for days at least, if not weeks? For both domestic and internationally diplomatic reasons Mr Obama had to be seen to be pacific, but surely neither he nor the CIA was going to be bounced by Messrs. Cameron and Sarkozy into action for which the USA was not already well prepared.
    Yours sincerely,
    Lindsay G. H. Hall

  • Comment number 5.

    We should have never joined this military action. This serves British interests, not ours. They're the ones who sold weapons to Gaddafy, who sucked up to him, who released a mass murderer and then lied about the reasons. I really can't believe Obama got suckered into this. I thought he understood the British lie machine better than this.

    The British media coverage of this "crisis" so far has been laughable, as every story is about some poor Brit who's trapped and can't get home. Well boo hoo hoo for them. Maybe they should have picked another dictator to work for and prop up.

    At the very least, we should seize BP property in Libya as payback since it was they, working hand in glove with the British government, who gave so much aid and succor to this thug over the years.

  • Comment number 6.

    Motives are less important than consquences.The hope must be that Mr.Quaddifi`s regime crumbles quickly,but this is not guarunteed.He has strong support in Western Libya,adequate resources to buy soldiers and weapons.

    Why does he fight when the tide of history is running against him? For the same reason he accepted responsibility for Lockerbie.The culture surrounding the president is tribal and nostalgic.He sleeps in a tent counts his wealth in goats and receives tribute like an Arab potentate.You either control your kingdom down to choosing spouses for your children or you`re nothing.In his terms he had no choice but to fight.

    Will the military campaign succeed when previous bombing campaigns have had limited succeess? The first two weeks will be filled with stories of Libyan assets destroyed. Soon we will reach a stage where there are no targets left to bomb,what then if the battle continues on the ground?

    Exit strategies are difficult if enemies refuse to go.Mission creep is the likely consequences,boots on the ground,first small numbers then more and then more..By that time the political landscape will have again changed,more players,more searching questions.

    I wrote earlier that Mr.Quaddafi is surrogate for all those reactionary Arab regimes we support like Saudi Arabia.A story is now circulating that support of the Arab League was dependent on Obama lite in relation to the Gulf States.We are never likely to know,but if repression worsens across the Gulf,will the Arab Street be repeating this story?


  • Comment number 7.

    'The Arab League has criticised the military strikes on Libya, a week after urging the United Nations to slap a no-fly zone on Libya', says Sky News.

    Didn't take long, did it?

    African Union is now criticising the campaign.

    China and Russia unhappy.

    The chaos that is the politics of Islamic societies has sucked us in again.

    But that was inevitable.

    This is going to be for the long hawl.

    It'll be half a century before we emerge from the chaos and war.

  • Comment number 8.

    Mardell: choice was forced upon him by the vigorous lead given by Britain and France.
    ------
    Why did u guys want to go so bad?

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2060412,00.html?xid=rss-world-yahoo
    An excerpt:
    Second, it would not surprise me if both governments — and that of the U.S. — came to a conclusion that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair elaborated in an article in The Times of London and Wall Street Journal. When faced with a crisis like that of Libya, Blair argued, "Inaction is a decision, a policy with consequences. The wish to keep out of it all is entirely understandable; but it is every bit as much of a decision as acting."
    --------
    SO we decided to go b/c we thought action was better than inaction?

  • Comment number 9.

    Bry: Exit strategies are difficult if enemies refuse to go.
    -------------
    And just who is going to take down Gadafi and sons?

  • Comment number 10.

    Qatar has deployed its airforce today to participate in the military operation "Aube de l'Odyssée". Le Figaro

    This in an unheard of commitment from an Arab State, and seems to herald the possibility of greater co-operation and understanding between Middle Eastern and Euro-American cultures, isolating more the bellicose elements who are beginning to look as though they belong to another age, which of course they do.

    Often one hears European and Americans, well as Gaddafians and Madsidsjeans of course, accuse the West and Europe 'for going in after the oil'. For years one has heard this nonsense, as if we aren't paying enough already to prove that it's hardly the case. It's fine to own petrol resources, but one still has to have clients to sell it. It's probable that an alternative energy will be perfected, if it isn't already the case, long before the fossil fuel resources run dry in any case. Then all the nations who have been sitting on their wealth, including all those getting so wealthy, (in spite of Islam that in principle prohibits speculation) will have to find alternative means of perpetuating their extravagant standard of living.

    I agree with you Mr Mardell. And would put such feelings of moral obligation first.
    Sarkozy has had a rough time compared to Cameron. If he has come through the unanticipated International economical crisis smiling less, he has at least come through it stoically. He is in no way a populist who would put on a show to please the crowd or prepare for the next elections. I don't think Cameron is either. Sarkozy would be criticised whatever he does in any case. From the start both he and Cameron knew that one can't stand idly by whilst Gaddafi murders his own people. They were both very frustrated by the unjustified delays.

    There's no doubt that Obama's hanging back, has it's positive aspects, but it's highly probable that his delay in reacting incurred a serious and irresponsible risk.

  • Comment number 11.

    Before anything else, I would sorely appreciate the BBC to at least spell Muammar Gaddafi's name correctly.

    On a more subject oriented note, question the purpose of the military action by all means but it doesn't change the fact that it is UN sanctioned military intervention. It may of been a handy subject to write about in prior invasions but maybe an analysis of the broader subject (stopping a countries own army killing civilians) and the U.S.A's view of that would be more suiting?

  • Comment number 12.

    4. At 3:04pm on 20 Mar 2011, Lindsay

    Quite so.

  • Comment number 13.

    Why are you using one of the American spellings of Gadaffi??

  • Comment number 14.

    5. ScottNYC

    Your opinion would seem to be an absolute minority one here, all political tendencies combined.

    How does it serve British interests, in any case? Surely it would have 'served British
    interests' by doing business as usual, by refusing to rock the boat. The Brits in fact could have used their veto to allow Gaddafi to regain his regal throne and consequently obain extra generous petroleum advantages with promises of lucrative contracts for the future. And what's the British lie machine? Could you elaborate on that too please?

    'At the very least, we should seize BP property in Libya as a payback... etc. Payback for what? Working hand in glove with the British government, who gave so much aid an succor (?) to this thug over the years? This is all astonishingly new to me. If there's a grain of truth in all this rubbish, all more reason why the British should have used their veto to continue to 'work hand in glove with Libya, to continue to 'serve their interests'. You obviously have a tender spot for the Brits, or maybe you feel a wee bit left out of things.

    12. James

    You mean of course 'stopping a country's own army killing civilians'..

  • Comment number 15.


    If they really have no wish to deploy troops on the ground, we'd better hope and pray that none of our pilots and navigators are forced to eject behind enemy lines.

  • Comment number 16.

    #13

    James,

    Arabic names and words are, in English, written phonetically. Variant spellings are common.

  • Comment number 17.


    Mark is right to say Obama is not as war-mongering as G W Bush or Tony Blair were in their approach to the invasion of Iraq. Obama would rather we all live in peace with other races the world over. Being of mixed-race himself, this is understandable and he can more easily identify himself with people of colour than would be the case with Bush and Blair.
    Its getting more and more obvious that the conflicts now raging in the Middle East and N Africa is conducted in racial basis, both the US and UK favouring to side with the European state of Israel at the expense of doing little or nothing at all help the Arabs when ever they're attacked or their land settled on by the Jews of Israel. If we want peace, then we must get rid of our prejudices.

  • Comment number 18.

    First off, Arabs are as heterogeneous as the Anglo sphere. There is no monolithic “Arab Stret.”

    2. If any Arab country participates in the Libyan operation, that is a bonus. That fact that at least 2 are actively trying to get their assets in position is huge. The political reality is most people who hav3e a brain know that Q has to go. However, the US can’t take him out. The best possible outcome would be for Q to die in an airstrike by an Arab owned fighter aircraft.

  • Comment number 19.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12798568


    "The head of the Arab League has criticised the bombardments.

    His comments are significant because the Arab League's support for the no-fly zone was a key factor in getting UN Security Council backing for the resolution authorising the move"

    ___________________________________


    China and Russia have already expressed buyer's remorse. This ill-conceived debacle, IMO is a lose-lose:


    1) Failure, if Qaddafi somehow holds on

    2) Failure, if Obama & Co impose some kind of rule through marionettes/separatists, or if Islamists/AQ gradually take over



    Any "collateral damage", in the meantime, may provoke some very interesting reactions in the Arab souks, and among the significant Muslim communities in Western Europe.

  • Comment number 20.

    If you could stage a pan African ballot on 'whom, which one in power would you go to for 'in trusting' that person with your socio-political future', who would that person be? 

    If you could stage a pan Islamic ballot, Shia and Sunni alike, with a likewise interrogation, who would that person in power be?

    ...and on and on until you run out of real estate and are confronted with a bunch of surreal head of States in whose fiefdom this fundamental question need never be asked...

    Has then Obama failed in his sacred task, or has he not delivered the message that  an empowered conscience needs openly dither before answering the question he stealthily prayed we'd never ask...?

  • Comment number 21.

    Gaddafi is correct in English, or there's معمر القذافي‎ Muʿammar al-Qaddafi with odd Arabic accents, or, as the French call him- 'Kadhafi', or the Italians- Gheddafi, etc.. For as long as he lasts one should feel free to call him what they wish. There would be several other names that could also spring to mind.

    On the same suject, I wouldn't be surprised if someone bumps him off. He and his sons can hardly have endeared themselves to their entourage, and as the stakes get higher, it would be the most expedient, economical and less complicated solution.

  • Comment number 22.

    Least we forget this was the last chance for the UN Security Council to act to defend the UN Charter. The one Gaddafi made great show of tearing up a few years ago. Now comes the hard part, the Arab League are concerned about the bombing, which is a necessary part of the no-fly zone establishment, but nonetheless looks bad and is a useful propaganda tool for the regime. Now the AU, after a period of deafening silence, is voicing concerns. This is the body which counts Mugabe and Bashir as members and, in the shape of Niger and Chad, provide Gaddafi with mercenaries. I think that rather tarnishes their stance. As for eventual exit strategy, I don't see one. Whatever it turns out to be it's going to be ugly.

  • Comment number 23.

    15. At 4:33pm on 20 Mar 2011, Scotch Git wrote:

    If they really have no wish to deploy troops on the ground, we'd better hope and pray that none of our pilots and navigators are forced to eject behind enemy lines.
    _________________________________________________________

    You are right! If the pro-Ghadafy forces get lucky and shoot down an aircraft and if the aircrew gets lucky and ejects in time to survive, then a CSAR (combat search and rescue) mission will ensue, unless the aircrews were told up front that they are on their own.

    Bottom line, the probability of boots on the ground increases every day just due to the size of the overwhelming force now being assembled against the guy.


  • Comment number 24.

    19. At 4:53pm on 20 Mar 2011, peterbo wrote:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12798568


    "The head of the Arab League has criticised the bombardments.

    His comments are significant because the Arab League's support for the no-fly zone was a key factor in getting UN Security Council backing for the resolution authorising the move"
    ________________________________________________
    I would be willing to bet a dollar to a dough-nut that the Arab League knew what was going on, they are just playing both sides of the field.


  • Comment number 25.

    "Motives are less important than consequences"

    Motives are critical!

    We in the west cannot keep selling arms to dodgy regimes (Iraq when Saddam was fighting Iran. Did we not know how Saddam came into power) and then feint surprise that they are quick to use it against their own people or opposition.

    So are we going into Bahrain too and then Saudi?

    This will be seen as a crusade against Islam, by Muslim.

    That we are dong it because this bad bad dictator is killing is own people does not stand when you consider that we always arm this dictators in the first place. we will be better off waging war against those that sell them arms.

    And when you take the recent scenario in Egypt where the dust has not settled and we clamouring to sell arms to a military government!

    I thought this was about people rising up for democracy or a better life?

    Why do we keep selling arms who are they going to use it against, who is the military government in Egypt likely to use it against?

    What started this whole issue in Tunisia, the people wanting the west to arm their dictators?

    By the way who are these rebels is Libya? (Remember the US training Bin laden and others to fight the Russian only for them to round and start screaming infidels and all sorts).

    It is about self interest and UK and France have vested interest in Libya which is why the are the ones leading it and US has to go along.

  • Comment number 26.

    A humble question would be, who are these rebel forces the West has taken sides with. I've seen no information about who their leader is, what their beliefs are, what sort of Libya they want to establish.
    And how slim are the chances that in 10 or 20 years we'll be bemoaning the excesses and atrocities of this new leader, the one we paved the way for. And it'll all start again.

    Is the new 'prestige credential' of the modern-day national leader to have won a war? It must be tempting for Sarko, Cameron and Obama to take a quick, clean scalp. But I recall almost 8 years to this day, people were also saying that Iraq would take a week or two...

    So will we see Qaddafi's Quagmire?

  • Comment number 27.

    5. At 3:05pm on 20 Mar 2011, ScottNYC wrote:


    I really can't believe Obama got suckered into this. I thought he understood the British lie machine better than this.
    -----
    What on earth has the, UK Weather Forecasting team, got to do with any of this.
    Personally,I always felt they were more accurate when their office faced west & the window on the top floor actually opened...

  • Comment number 28.

    "But unavoidably, choice was forced upon him by the vigorous lead given by Britain and France."

    Believe that, you'll believe anything. Don't you remember Suez?

  • Comment number 29.

    If I was in charge, I too would have done everything I could to stop this madman Gaddhafi from carrying on with his brutalities. It seems quite simple to me: this dictator was savaging his people who were demanding some very basic rights. It would have been very cynical and callous of other countries to look the other way.
    Yes, there is the risk of getting "sucked in", but one has to do one's duty even if there is a risk of failure. And the Western powers are not applying this principle to other brutal dictatorships perhaps because the outcome of such intervention would be worse than not intervening.
    But I wish they do not cozy up to such tyrants and arm them to the teeth.

  • Comment number 30.

    oldloadr: The best possible outcome would be for Q to die in an airstrike by an Arab owned fighter aircraft.
    ----------------
    Which is more likely to happen than the rebels taking him out as no one can get close to him with all his female bodyguards and loyal tribe members...

    In USA, many rappers call it their 'posse'...
    -------------
    Nos: On the same suject, I wouldn't be surprised if someone bumps him off. He and his sons can hardly have endeared themselves to their entourage, and as the stakes get higher, it would be the most expedient, economical and less complicated solution.
    ---------------
    To me, its pointless to do the bombing if Gadafi remains in power afterwards, as he will only continue what he is doing, unless he is removed...

    If Gafhafi is not removed, it will likely be long and ruthless Libyan Civil war, in which would almost be the worst outcome...if there was no intevention by West, it would likely have been short Civil War...

    So if Arab league really want to turn the tide and prevent long Libyan Civil war, the ace is Gadafi and sons...

  • Comment number 31.

    16. At 4:44pm on 20 Mar 2011, Scotch Git wrote:

    “#13

    James,

    Arabic names and words are, in English, written phonetically. Variant spellings are common.”

    Indeed.

    Or as Wiki put it - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaddafi

    “Because of the lack of standardization of transliterating written and regionally pronounced Arabic, Gaddafi's name has been romanized in many different ways. Even though the Arabic spelling of a word does not change, the pronunciation may vary in different varieties of Arabic, which may cause a different romanization.”

    “An article published in the London Evening Standard in 2004 lists a total of 37 spellings of his name, while a 1986 column by The Straight Dope quotes a list of 32 spellings known at the Library of Congress.[179] ABC made a post on its blog identifying 112 possible spellings.”

    (I won’t bother listing the spelling/grammatical errors in James’ postings. Though I could...)

  • Comment number 32.


    The Arab League consented in regard to Libya, apparently, and that unleashed British, French and US military forces, too. The killing of innocent civilians is unacceptable under any circumstances, of course, and assistance to them seems justifiable.

    Yet, perhaps an insurrection, any domestic insurrection, could be perpetrated by militant civilians against their own nation's military, and that nation's military could in return fight the insurrectionists. In that case, it could appear that a military force is fighting innocent civilians for lack of a simple way to distinguish between innocent civilians and militant civilians, as civilians typically do not wear identifiable uniforms.

    Will the militant civilians hide under the cover of innocent civilians?

    A "No-Fly" zone appears to have finite limits of effectiveness.

  • Comment number 33.

    gidi: So are we going into Bahrain too and then Saudi?
    -------
    Not very likely either...

    But Yemen is looking more and more ominous...
    -------
    gidi: This will be seen as a crusade against Islam, by Muslim.
    --------
    Its an attack on a dictator who is murdering and harming his ppl who peacefully protest against him, regardless of his religion...
    ---------
    Why do we keep selling arms who are they going to use it against, who is the military government in Egypt likely to use it against?
    --------
    It comes down to: does a country trust its military?
    ----------
    gidi: By the way who are these rebels is Libya?
    ----------
    Truthfully, there are so many opinions coming out of Libya that its hard to tell who is who...
    -----------
    gidi: It is about self interest and UK and France have vested interest in Libya which is why the are the ones leading it and US has to go along.
    ----------
    Fair enough...I agree that UK and France and Europe has interest in Libya...but I also think UK and France are doing this to restore honor, to say we are hte good guys and b/c they believe inaction would be worse than action...

    I wonder how much 'support' UK and France are willing to offer to the rebels..


  • Comment number 34.

    This time, it's really about oil.

  • Comment number 35.

    #5

    scottnyc;

    Absolute, complete, and utter rubbish from start to finish. Which, given the plethora of anti-British posts you've written, shouldnt surprise me one iota. Whats your major malfunction - Irish American by any chance? Some other chip on your shoulder you'd like to unburden? I doubt Barack Obama can get suckered into anything by anybody, least of all a foreign country.

  • Comment number 36.

    I'm not sure I see the principle being acted upon here; is the U.N. going to intervene in every prolonged attack by a dictator on his own people when those people are acting out in dissent?

    By that test, had the U.N. existed at the time, it would have approved military action against King George III, and the Royal family of Britain during the American Revolution...to name one of many "revolutions" against royal dictatorship.

    Organizations, including nations such as Libya and it's Colonel, somehow believe it is "right" to perpetuate the existence of the organization, even at the expense of citizens in rebellion; its what organizations (and organisms) do.

    If you believe there is a "God" and, you further believe that He/She/It is facinated by the day-to-day interests and needs of the people on Earth, you may reasonably embrace the myth that certain unalienable rights are granted by "God." At the same time, my guess is that any action can be condoned, whether you are the dictator, or the "rescuer" in a sort of cosmic game of Rock, Paper, Scissors...(let's see, the Trinity breaks Allah, but Allah cuts Yaweh!)

    War is one of the activities which defines us as "human." Rationalizing the "holy" reasons for war, is another trait which makes us human. We seem to need to look to the skies, and prove to some absent Landlord that we are acting in His stead here on Earth...attempting to keep the Holy peace at the expense of others.

    All of this, no matter who originates the myth, is of course illusion and shadows on the wall of the cave, as we sit with our backs to the Light. Humans have yet to come out of the Cave (apologies to Plato).

  • Comment number 37.

    The Arab League could make a contribution by going into Libya on foot (wearing their Madas Sharqi) and see if they can avoid getting into any scuffles with the the armed Gaddafians. Or are armed civilians no longer 'civilians'?
    Gaddafi is determined to have his war at all costs, even that of his own people, those who so love him.. Or maybe there's one newly armed amongst them, who is less fond of Gaddafi, above the average intelligence level and willing to do the right thing.

  • Comment number 38.

    Thank you for Your Eloquence, Mr Mardell, and BBC. I have been watching virtually round-the-clock for several days now (and will pay up the TV license, rest assured), and your coverage is unequivocally superb.

    Thank you for reminding the world -- Europe -- Nato -- America -- that Duty and Honour still very much matter.

    These are not principles that can simply be abolished or dimissed.

    Ask any person who has ever experienced a terrible personal tragedy, a crime, a life-threatening illness... Ask any Japanese person, of any age, today.

    The sense of Duty, and the innate Honour that underpins every act of courage, heroism, altruism -- and any superb performance -- are the two mighty arms of Humanity without which we would all have ceased to exist ages ago -- wiped out by pestilence, or ignorance, or by some tyrant's lunacy.

    Duty & Honour Matter, and stand right next to Love in the list of Human Virtues that keep us all going.

    Of course, those persons that do not comprehend these concepts, for whom they are not part of their daily vernacular, may well find themselves easily confounded by the lies of Brand Q and its many weaselly apologists.

    I don't care where anyone is from, what their passport says or how they pray (or don't). I do care, and hold as my own flesh and blood, every single being that has the concept of Duty, and Honour, engraved upon its heart. (And by the way, that ought probably include some animal creatures, as well. I know we have all heard about the dogs in Japan looking out for their own wounded after the earthquake...)

    Even animals have more compassion in them than a Q/G/K... And this is the creature that Amr Moussa and Putin and a few others suddenly find themselves worried about?

  • Comment number 39.

    Those who think of Obama as an 'anti-war guy' never listened to what he said and are simply imbuing him with their own wishes over his own statements. He was expliitly an anti-Iraq war guy, while stressing through the entire campaign that we should be in Afghanistan and finishing the job we started there.

    Some in the comments are feigningsurprise at the apparent planned nature of the attack. For at least the last week the Obama government has been loudly stating that the US and NATO were planning the implementation of a NoFly zone, and that it would include attacks on ground targets.

    Why trumpet the support of the arab league? Why does one ever broadcast the supporters of their own view? Because we think that these are the correct actions to take, and a group that is well known for staunchly disagreeing with us actually came out in support of the very same idea. It shows that we are not along in the belief that Qudaffi has overstepped his bounds from an internal police matter to outright crimes against humanity.

    Do we always use our military to put down these kinds of actions? Sadly no. How many hundreds of thousands would still be alive today if we had a similar coalition to protect Sudan? Instead we had a stream of toothless words published by our governments with no potential other then p.r. due to a lack of assigning any consequences for those crimes.

    Libya has been a self-declared enemy of the United States. Only in the last few years have we even been willing to talk to him, albeit at a distance, and mostly to gain business access to his resources, while at the same time ignoring his police state torture tactics.

    We are stopping a slaughter here, one that Qudaffi openly broadcast the intention to commit. He was in the process of 'cleansing house by house' Benghazi and Misrata. We will do all we can (for the skeptical, if only for pr) to avoid civilian deaths. ..it doesnt further our aims, its bad pr, and threatens the coalition we believe to be doing good works. Qudaffi openly, publicly, and vehemently repeated his intention to target civilians. So yes, there is a real difference.

  • Comment number 40.

    James wrote nonsense. The correct spelling is as follows
    معمر القذافي
    This “Muammar Gaddafi” is read from right to left as in the above. So you, apparently would have it ifaddaG rammauM. If you want to play pedant, at least know something about the topic. Otherwise you just reveal your insipid excuse for anti-Americanism.

    *Moderators, this is in response to a criticism of the BBC’s and/or Mark Mardell’s spelling. If the policy of no foreign language can not be flexible in this case, please just remove the Arabic. Thank you.

  • Comment number 41.

    I wonder if British forces will seek out Lockerbie bomber Megrahi, since they're now in Libya anyway. When they find him they can apologize for giving him a faulty medical prognosis and offer him compensation for his emotional distress.

  • Comment number 42.

    19. At 4:53pm on 20 Mar 2011, peterbo wrote more "?"

    What would it be if Col. Q held on to power over the corpses of thousands of his subjects? Would that be failure? Or in your mind is the Victory of Col. Q, achieved in great cost by shedding innocent blood the best kind of victory?

    Do you own stock in Qadaffi, Inc. or other companies that have benefitted by collaboration with this tyrant?

    Your very strange take on this needs to be explained.

    35. At 6:27pm on 20 Mar 2011, champagne_charlie wrote: “Whats your major malfunction - Irish American by any chance?”

    Don’t blame all the Irish [or Irish Americans] for all the crimes committed by a few, unless you want the crimes of the English minority in Ireland and elsewhere blamed on all of you.

    As an Irish [mostly] American, I opposed the IRA and supported the UK in the Falklands War. Kindly be more nuanced.

  • Comment number 43.

    This is not about colonialism or oil or Christian crusades but it is about the founding basis of the UN and of internationally recognised norms of personal freedom.

    Yes, that understanding of the freedom of the individual does have Christian roots, but it is broadly accepted as being also the basis of democracy.

    Responsible nations, under the authority of the United Nations mandate, have a right to protect the freedom of individuals in Libya who are being massacred by a ruthless regime.

    So much for rhetoric, whether it comes from the BBC or anywhere else.

  • Comment number 44.

    The eloquence of ation (taken or not taken) bespeaks a greed for oil.
    France, Britain and the United States have begun a process meant to overthrow Gaddafi!
    Apparently, according to these western nations Moamar Gadaffi is massacring “his-own-people”. Citizens must be protected, and if they can only be prtotected by putting them six-feet under...well, you got to do what you got to do!
    This is spin.
    The truth is the invasion and inevitable occupation of Libya is all about Libyan sweet crude. This is Iraq again. (Remember all those WMDs?)Libya is being invaded; Iraq was invaded. The west has a hunger for oil.
    This is the truth.
    Gaddaffi is anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist, which makes him an enemy of any imperialistic world power, especially when he is sitting on all that sweet crude. The selfish SOB!
    There is arrogant hypocrisy & self-righteousness in the double standards of the western powers, particularly when Yemen's peaceful protesters are going down in the hundreds. These would be Yemen citizens; does the citzenry make the difference?
    The western nations have always been full of themselves - their own greedy-grubby ideas & ideals.
    Why Lybia? Does the choice speak to you?
    Why not Tunisia, Bahrain, Jordan, Syria, or Saudi Arabia. All of these (and more) have citizen-protestors bleeding and dying on the streets.
    Why Libya? The choice speaks to me most eloquently, if bespeaks regime change.
    Why not Somalia?
    Somalia is a disintegrated, a failed nation state which has not had a steady government since 1991. And yet, western nations have not intervened to save the lives of innocent civilians. But then again, Somalia does not have oil; it has only despoiled fish, poluted shorelines and western garbage.
    Libya is being invaded; Gaddaffi is thrown aside like bad meat, probably got stinky from all that sweet crude!
    France has done its utmost to turn the world against Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent President of Ivory Coast. President Gbago petitioned the highest court of that nation, which resolved the petition IN HIS FAVOUR. But the candidate preferred by France and the other western nations, Alsance (IMF) Qoutarra. Who really cares about elections as long as the right, western candiate wins?
    But I digress.
    Why Libya? Why Iraq before Libya? These are supposed to be politically independent, sovereign nations with territorial integrity - inviolate. Was happened to Iraq and what has happened in Libya is an affront to international law.
    The double standard of western governments are so well known that no one blinks an eye; no one even thinks about it.
    Yemen’s political leadership have massacred peaceful protesters and their “own-people” even as recent as this week; Yemeni citizens are murdered. But where is the intervention, the no-fly zone?
    Yemen is a client nation state, a puppet eager to serve interests of western nations, so, no need for the west to intervene.
    In Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Algeria and Tunisia and Egypt there were peaceful public demonstrations, and except for Egypt, these citizens have been put back in their colonial place - citizens prone to mindless violence without logic or reason, and certainly too dumb for democracy.
    Miffle East and North African Citizens are engaged in legitimate demands for economic, political and constitutional reforms.
    So why Libya?
    What was the criteria for selecting Libya?
    Why is there no interest in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Dubai, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, etc? These are nations where single dictators or families have dominated for decades; they do the bidding of the west; they come with or without strings, but always include batteries.
    So, I admit: I am sick of the west, sick of its spinning and lies.
    I am ashamed of the west, ashamed of it double standards and hypocracy.
    Thank God for fair, thinking, democratic countries like those that belong to BRIC; otherwise our world would truly be going to Hell in a western handbasket.

  • Comment number 45.

    30. LuciJ

    The best possible outcome would be for (ohw wonk uoy) معمر القذافي to be dived bombed by members of the Arab League on flying Persian carpets. It would be poetic justice all round (involving Iran) and seal greater understanding between people who live in New Jersey, for example, and those of Al Jawf of Al Mamlaka al ʻArabiyya as Suʻūdiyya). The West might also have access to this timeless Saudi technology.

  • Comment number 46.

    44. BluesBerry

    Do you sometimes take time out to read some of the other comments? It would appear that you don't, otherwise you might be less inclined to write so much rubbish.
    Rather than repeat my own- for example- why not have a browse and see what you think. If you can counter anything, and come up with something a shade better than this, it might even be more interesting.

  • Comment number 47.

    There you go again, with that charge of "dithering." US policy from the beginning was not to intervene unilaterally. Waiting for the coalition to come together isn't dithering, it's just a policy choice other than the immediate action that some wanted.

  • Comment number 48.

    #41

    scottnyc;

    You need to appraise yourself of who it was that released Megrahi. There is no doubt about it, those that released him are quite proud about it!

  • Comment number 49.

    38. At 6:42pm on 20 Mar 2011, Maria Ashot wrote:
    A treacly bit of self-aggrandizement.

    One wonders if it has ever crossed Ms. Ashot's mind that the average suicide bomber is probably well saturated with feelings of "honor" and "duty" when he -- or she -- detonates himself (herself) in a crowd.

    And then, of course, some of us are left to wonder why WE didn't get the memo appointing her the arbiter of such things.

    Do please go and read some Wilfred Owen Ms. Ashot. Better poetry, and an admirable short course in the things you claim to hold dear.

  • Comment number 50.

    Mark asked “Is it a legacy of the enlightenment, a sense of responsibility and shared humanity ?”

    I am afraid the coalition performance so far says nil on this matter. In the 1st phase of the NFZ, if the coalition is sincere, why are they not showing videos of its bombing offensive? Instead their reticence to make early and extensive disclosures allowed the Gaddafi propagandists to claim the civilian causalities as intended consequences of the French, British and US American bombardment. Even the Arab League is beginning to doubt the efficacy of the NFZ as the more humanitarian response.

    It is as if the coalition is aware that that Gaddafi had placed its anti-aircraft defences near or among the civilian population. This leads to the inevitability of civilian casualties, hence, the reluctance of the coalition to show what it is bombing.

    The question now arises how many more Gaddafi’s civilians have to die before the NFZ is determined to be effective?

  • Comment number 51.

    #44

    bluesberry;

    "Thank God for fair, thinking, democratic countries like those that belong to BRIC; otherwise our world would truly be going to Hell in a western handbasket."

    O.O ...Russia? China? fair thinking democratic?...or didnt you realise thats what BRIC meant?

  • Comment number 52.

    30. LucyJ:

    "To me, its pointless to do the bombing if Gadafi remains in power afterwards, as he will only continue what he is doing, unless he is removed..."

    ***********
    There are the newly voiced demands for rights across the Middle East that have to be considered. We are trying to help that movement along. Thus, the "protection of citizens" emphasis. I suspect that's the investment we're making here.

  • Comment number 53.

    OK, so we’ve had to go in. But what’s the long-term plan? Someone has got one haven’t they? Please tell me “yes”!

    Assuming the coalition keeps up the ‘no fly’ zone but stays out of Libya; where does that leave us? Are we to have a ten year civil war on the ground between the Gaddafi government and the freedom fighters? Should we expect mounting dead and dying and hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers and referees? I hope someone with a clever brain has put some thought into this, including long-term planning.

  • Comment number 54.

    Mardell writes: Why does the West feel this way, when no one else does ? Is it a legacy of the enlightenment, a sense of responsibility and shared humanity ?

    You're joking right?

    I certainly give Sarkozy and Cameron more credit for realpolitik than -that-! Good heavens!

    Look closely at those French aircraft, and you'll notice that they're all decorated with a "Powered by Total/Elf" decal.

    And by the way: as far as I know, the mad colonel and his supporters, like it or not, all belong to the "humanity" class -- unless you know something you're not telling us?

  • Comment number 55.

    42. At 7:23pm on 20 Mar 2011, JMM wrote:
    19. At 4:53pm on 20 Mar 2011, peterbo wrote more "?"

    What would it be if Col. Q held on to power over the corpses of thousands of his subjects? Would that be failure? Or in your mind is the Victory of Col. Q, achieved in great cost by shedding innocent blood the best kind of victory?

    Do you own stock in Qadaffi, Inc. or other companies that have benefitted by collaboration with this tyrant?

    Your very strange take on this needs to be explained."


    ___________________________________________________-


    Please see my previous posts under the previous thread re IMPOSING of democracy.

    The constitutionality of the Lybia debacle issue is looming large, raised both by left and right (see my posts under previous thread) as well as the lack of any startegic thinking:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8390035/Libya-Live.html

    Speaker John Boehner:

    The president is the commander-in-chief. But the administration has a responsibility to define for the American people, the Congress and our troops, what the mission in Libya is.

    Republican Representative Howard McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, added:

    "I am concerned that the use of military force in the absence of clear political objectives for our country risks entrenching the United States in a humanitarian mission whose scope and duration are not known at this point and cannot be controlled by us. "







  • Comment number 56.

    49. Curt Carpenter

    I don't think I would be alone in believing that the comments of Maria Ashot are amongst the best on this 'web log'. Those who try to find fault with what she writes, only reveal their own limitations in the process.

    How can you possibly compare sentiments of honour and duty, when it comes to stopping a tyrant that during his paltry life has always done far more harm than good, and is now goading and threatening his own people to defend his worthless being; with that of what you label 'duty and honour', of indoctrinated, poor, feeble-minded women who have been led to believe that by committing suicide and killing as many innocent civilians as possible in the process, they might even go to Heaven?
    'Saturated with feelings of honour'. No, they are totally indoctrinated, programmed like machines. More often than not they are poor, uneducated Muslim women. Sometimes their families are threatened, or paid, but there's no duty or honour, and even less Paradise.

    Maria Ashot is the last person who needs lessons from you. But it's certain that you could do with a few from her.

  • Comment number 57.

    I'm not sure who Carpenter (2) means by "our" and "us," but if he is claiming (without documentation, note) that Libyan arms are predominately from US sources, he is merely grinding his anti-American axe. A significant share of Libyan armaments are French and Russian.

  • Comment number 58.

    25. At 5:23pm on 20 Mar 2011, gidiboy wrote:
    "Motives are less important than consequences"

    Motives are critical!

    Motives but they are always subjective.How do we ever know what goes on in people`s heads?

    There are hundred of blogs with a different perspective on why Mr.Obama,Mr.Sarkozy and Mr.Cameron acted as they did, from the purest humanity to the grubbiest quest to appropriate Libya`s oil.

    But no one contests the fact Libya is being attackewd by sea and air.

    In politics it`s not what people think but what they do.

  • Comment number 59.

    Well and truly fed up with all the talking heads and so called "human rights activists" complaining
    about the no-fly zone . Where were these people when Qaddafi was supporting terrorists ?
    Where were they when all these years he tortured his people ? Where were they when he launched
    air- and artillery strikes against civilians ? They are worse hypocrites than the people they are
    accusing to be . As for Russia and China , it's quite rich listening to them talk about "intervention
    in the internal affairs of Libya" when the former have Chechenya and the latter Tibet on their
    conscience . As for the African Union ? Most of them are corrupt dictators themselves who are
    afraid that it will be their turn after Qaddafi gets the boot from his people .

  • Comment number 60.

    With respect to this second putative "cease-fire" : I would be inclined to view this announcement with some wariness -- by no means taking the hand off the trigger.

    It may simply be a cheap trick while, for example, some terrorist atrocity is being launched -- anywhere in the world. I would remain on highest alert all the way until the moment when Q/G/K had actually been disarmed and in some kind of dependable custody.

    And the same applies to his outspoken and most active sons and nearest supporters.

    While it is not impossible that this loopy notion of some kind of conciliatory prayer in Benghazi is the sincere caprice of a delusional lunatic, it is far more likely that it is a fleeting fancy, and may well be displaced within even a few hours by an altogether different plan.

    What needs to be seen are the forces of Q/G/K actually laying down their weapons, walking away from them, waving white flags of surrender -- unequivocally, unconditionally, conventionally.

    There is no question whatsoever that the attacks are having their effect and there is at minimum extreme confusion in the main tent of the circus. It may even be a traveling circus by now, I wouldn't know (although I would hope someone does).

    I note the comments made by Turkish PM Erdogan regarding the fact that Libya might have avoided this difficult experience if only the sociopath had agreed to embark upon some reasonable process of democratisation at the time he had been asked politely for one, by the people who had fed him, entertained him and made him one of the richest men on earth for 42 years.

  • Comment number 61.

    55. At 8:04pm on 20 Mar 2011, peterbo wrote re 42:

    The explanation is satisfactory. Since I have, on occasion, not expressed myself in the best possible way, I can understand the situation. I apologize for the inputation that you might have reasons to hope for the survival of Col. Q.

  • Comment number 62.

    What is an "American" spelling (see James, at 3), anyway? Here is an amusing piece on the subject from the Christian Science Monitor: What's the correct spelling?

    I prefer the Associated Press spelling: "Gadhafi."

  • Comment number 63.

    "The head of the Arab League has criticised the bombardments"

    I believe he is likely to be a candidate in the newborn Egyptian democratic process. Hmm!

  • Comment number 64.

    57. At 8:08pm on 20 Mar 2011, GH1618 wrote:
    "A significant share of Libyan armaments are French and Russian."

    The overwhelming majority of Libyan weapons (on both sides) are Russian: tanks, planes, artillery, AAA, AA missiles, AT missiles, heavy machine guns, katyushas, SCUDS, small arms. Russian contributors or observers must be laughing their heads off watching Europeans and Americans argue over who has been selling Gaddafi weapons.

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

  • Comment number 65.

    9. At 3:44pm on 20 Mar 2011, LucyJ wrote:
    Bry: Exit strategies are difficult if enemies refuse to go.
    -------------
    "And just who is going to take down Gadafi and sons?"

    That`s our problem.My guess is they will hunker down in Tripoli and sit it out until their enemies run out of targets.

    Before that happens he will hope the level of violence against Libya and civilian casualties will frighten Arab League members into distancing themselves from the western coalition.There is evidence this is happening.

    Libya is not a strategic interest for us,(USA,France,UK}.The more interesting power play is in the Gulf and Yemen where Shia majorities have risen against the ruling families and been shot down.

    They are boiling with anger.Knowing the coalition will only protect them with pious words, they are turning to co-religionaists in Iran.







  • Comment number 66.

    #5

    scottnyc;

    "At the very least, we should seize BP property in Libya as payback since it was they, working hand in glove with the British government, who gave so much aid and succor to this thug over the years."

    Yeah, like your hands are clean...

    Secretary Clinton said during a public appearance with Mutassim Gaddafi(2009):

    “I am very pleased to welcome Minister Gaddafi to the State Department. We deeply value the relationship between the United States and Libya. We have many opportunities to deepen and broaden our cooperation and I am very much looking forward to building on this relationship.”

    "Some of the biggest oil producers and servicers, including BP, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, Chevron, Conoco and Marathon Oil joined with defense giants like Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, multinationals like Dow Chemical and Fluor and the high-powered law firm White & Case to form the US-Libya Business Association in 2005.
    Libyan opposition leaders have blamed the USLBA and U.S. firms for lobbying on Gaddafi's behalf and enabling him to stay in power."

    "Former Vice President Dick Cheney lobbied the Clinton administration to ease sanctions on Libya when he headed Halliburton. In 1995, Cheney's first year as CEO, Halliburton pleaded guilty to criminal charges for violating a ban on exports to Libya, selling Gaddafi six pulse neutron generators - devices used to detonate nuclear weapons. Baram quotes Cheney as saying:

    "The good Lord didn't see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratic regimes friendly to the United States."


    Spotless!





  • Comment number 67.

    #43

    "This is not about colonialism or oil or Christian crusades but it is about the founding basis of the UN and of internationally recognised norms of personal freedom."

    Which is precisely why the UN is declaring a no-fly zone over China, next week. Right? Right.

  • Comment number 68.

    50. sayasay

    Any one can show selected videos of targets being destroyed. It doesn't mean anything or prove anything. But when military targets have been located and orders have been given to destroy them, that's what happens.

    Are you saying that the coalition is wrong to target Gaddafi's military? If Gaddafi tries to protect his military by surrounding them with civilians it would be clearly a crime. It would be be another to add to the list of charges against him if he's not put down beforehand.
    If Gaddafi, is using those who still claim to be loyal to him in whatever way he thinks fit (true to terrorist tactics of Hamas, Hezbollah, etc.,) just to hang on to the last remnants of his criminal regime, and discredit the coalition in the process, would you think that's acceptable?

    If there's any truth in this, the civilians stupid enough to be used in such a callous way would simply be making themselves part of a military target. The jet-pilots are not going to fly in low and put their glasses on to make sure there's no civilians near the anti-aircraft guns.

    Your last question could be best answered by Gaddafi himself. How long is he going to use and abuse his own people in his vain effort to save nothing worth saving.

  • Comment number 69.

    #65


    "Libya is not a strategic interest for us,(USA,France,UK}..."


    Right. Which explains why these statistics are nothing but filthy lies.


    http://www.libyaonline.com/business/pages.php?cid=311


    Libyan oil exports:


    38% to Italy


    19% to Germany


    7% to US


    6% to France


    "Austria, Ireland and Italy are the European countries most reliant on Libyan crude imports, which make up more than 20 percent of each country’s purchases, the organization said."


    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-16/european-union-not-panicked-about-loss-of-libyan-oil-envoy-says.html


  • Comment number 70.

    No. 44, BluesBerry:

    Above all he was a narcissist -- not anti-anything. There is a clinical diagnosis for his kind of pathology.

    He was a mass murderer, first and foremost: everything else is moot.

    Has any mass murderer ever killed any of your loved ones?

  • Comment number 71.

    Memo to john Boehner: Go soak your head in tears. you are also on the losing side of history.

    "Define the mission" indeed! You mean the way the neocons defined Bush-Cheney-Halliburton's mission?

    That was a fine planning and strategising and mission-defining session, wasn't it, all the way from 2001 to 2003? Remind me, how did that turn out? And what did it cost?

  • Comment number 72.

    #69

    rhammond;

    How bizarre, you disagree with the notion that Libya is not a strategic interest of the US, UK and France...and then produce statistics to show exactly why it isnt!

  • Comment number 73.

    I note the comments made by Turkish PM Erdogan regarding the fact that Libya might have avoided this difficult experience if only the sociopath had agreed to embark upon some reasonable process of democratisation at the time he had been asked politely for one, by the people who had fed him, entertained him and made him one of the richest men on earth for 42 years.

    __________

    Considering Erdogan's recent crackdown on the media, opponents and religions other thamn moslem, we can hope the Turkish people rise up against him next.

  • Comment number 74.

    The problem with this intervention is the same as it is for every other intervention, "If you break it, you own it." Surely we in America are aware of this. (ref. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan) It really doesn't matter if your reasons are just or defensible. If you don't leave a clean house, most people are not going to be happy. But then, should the west feel less guilty about not intervening in Rwanda and Darfur than say intervening in Iraq or Libya?

  • Comment number 75.

    It's a lot easier to break something than it is to own it.

  • Comment number 76.

    to all those who said Obama's actions were brilliant because of the unified stand and the coordination of our allies, you should refer to reports that appearing that Amr Moussa, the leader of the Arab League, DEPLORES THE BOMBING CAMPAIGN IN LIBYA AND WANT THE ARAB LEAGUE TO RECONSIDER ITS APPROVAL OF THE NO-FLY ZONE.

    That's right - The Arabs are now getting mad at what is being done to Gadaffi and the Africans are getting mad at what is being done to Gadaffi, and the clueless, like Mardell, applaud what is being done to Gadaffi, until of course they are told to think otherwise by their liberal overseers.

  • Comment number 77.

    i ask myself, how deep was the impact, that saif al islam called sarkozy a clown and pussycat and that he will prove that they paid him a lot for his election campaign. Maybe this defamation has brought him to his special powerfull and quick engagement, that apparently safed a lot of lives in Bengasi, more, than his normal morally feeling of duty to intervene.

    Never call a man of 165cm a clown :) !!!!!


  • Comment number 78.

    Scotch Git wrote: If they really have no wish to deploy troops on the ground, we'd better hope and pray that none of our pilots and navigators are forced to eject behind enemy lines.
    -------------
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110320/ap_on_bi_ge/eu_italy_libya_ship
    An excerpt:
    Libyan military officials on Sunday boarded an Italian tugboat docked at Tripoli's port and threatened to suspend its communications in an apparent seizure, ship owner said, as U.S. and European airstrikes enforced a no-fly zone over Libya. The tug was involved in servicing oil platforms off the Tripoli coast. Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the situation was fluid and confusing, but that he couldn't exclude that it amounted to a seizure. He said Eni, Italy's oil and gas giant which has significant interests in Libya, had rented the tug for use at oil platforms off the coast. He said Italy had asked Turkey, which is now representing Italian interests in Libya following the closure of Italy's embassy, to intervene with Libyan authorities.
    ---------------
    SO I guess its simply a 'confused' situation...but I find it strange that Italy would have not told thier ppl to come back earlier, since its in a time of war and they have been planning it for some time...
    ------------
    Bry: The more interesting power play is in the Gulf and Yemen where Shia majorities have risen against the ruling families and been shot down.

    They are boiling with anger.Knowing the coalition will only protect them with pious words, they are turning to co-religionaists in Iran.
    ------------
    Do hte Shia majorities ultimately want Islamic domination and is this why we might not want these ppl in power, b/c they are like Iran's leader?

    B/c if they were both our allies, I don't think we would care...so there must be a reason why we are not supporting the Yemenese protesters or Bahrainian protesters the way we are the Libyan protesters...

    It is potential this whole Islamic Revolt could completely change the ME from a country with some pro-Western leaders to a country with hardly any pro-Western leaders if the cards are dealt wrong in our favor...so perhaps this is why we are in Libya, trying to salvage the West's good name in order to promote ourselves in a time when many are protesting pro-Western backed leaders, for whatever reasons...

    So perhaps this a really a version of anti-Western vs. pro-Western for having the edge in the ME...

  • Comment number 79.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/yemenpoliticsunrest
    An excerpt:
    Yemen is the suspected hideout of radical US-Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an alleged Al-Qaeda leader described by a senior US security official as "probably the most significant risk" to the United States.
    -------------
    So if anything, Yemen, should also be in our sights...
    ------------
    We r pulling out some of our best for Libya...
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110320/ts_alt_afp/libyaconflictmilitaryairb2
    An excerpt:
    The world's most expensive warplane rarely leaves its climate-controlled hangar but when it does, the B2 bomber makes a spectacularly effective start to a war -- including during this weekend's attack on Libya's air defenses. Costing 2.1 billion dollars each, the B2 has a contoured, radar absorbing skin that makes it almost impossible to detect. The long-range, heavy bomber capable of penetrating sophisticated and dense air-defense, and with one refueling, is able to fly to any point in the world within hours.
    --------------
    Our technology even amazes me!
    :)

  • Comment number 80.

    "Why does the West feel this way, when no one else does? Is it a legacy of the enlightenment, a sense of responsibility and shared humanity? Or does it follow from colonialism, a feeling that it is their role to rule, that there is still a version of Kipling's "White Man's Burden", - the "savage wars of peace" - even if it is defined by geography, not colour"

    Thats really offensive. Bombing is "enlightened", killing people with tomahawk missiles is expressing "shared humanity"?
    The idea that the west acts out of some philanthropic concern for humanity is an illusion. Libya is under US attack for its oil and to secure western corporate interests. The west does not threaten Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia when they kill protesters because they support those dictatorships. There is no noble cause, no regard for democracy or human rights. The US has seized the opportunity to control Libyas oil and to position itself strategically to co-opt the emerging revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.

  • Comment number 81.

    Wait a minute, wasn't America taking the backseat in this operation? Wasn't Britain and France spear-heading the operation?

    So you mean America STILL has to shoulder the majority of the burden of the blame?

  • Comment number 82.

    #76 escapedfromny

    The Egyptian protestors are also angry and how long we can blame Iran for Shia protestors is also debatable.

    Many Libyans believe their state media as many Americans believe their Fox media and Gadaffi wants to do a peace march to Benghazi.

    The Middle East and North Africa looks to be developing into a nightmare already.

  • Comment number 83.

    Mark States

    "Why does the West feel this way, when no one else does? Is it a legacy of the enlightenment, a sense of responsibility and shared humanity? Or does it follow from colonialism, a feeling that it is their role to rule, that there is still a version of Kipling's "White Man's Burden",

    Why no mention of the O word Mark. The West, or at least its corporate leaders feels it is OK to interfere in another countries sovereignty when they can grab the resources which in this case is OIL. Don't look for any no fly zones over Bahrain or Yemen 'cause US/UK already have pocket dictators in place in these places. Still well done NATO. Killed more civilians in one strike than either the Yemeni or Bahrainian regimes have managed. There is no humanity in the Wests response and Mark, you really know this to be true but I understand you have a mortgage to meet

  • Comment number 84.

    Why are we even going there? Let the AU sort this out.

  • Comment number 85.

    to 80 - stopcensoringme

    that`s the standard argument against every action outgoing from the west, specifically the USA. And since Iraq, its not easier for the USA to weaken these arguments, but i really think, in this case, the main reason is really the combination of "democracy" and "quick information". for countries with a living democracy its not bearable to see pictures and films of thousands of citizens be slaughtered by a cruel aggressor.
    Russia and China don`t know this feeling, even more, fear this development just as the rest of the arabic states, which has no real democratic legacy.

  • Comment number 86.

    At #84 You

    Couldn't agree more.

    ..And why are the US 'handing over' to UK-France? Either keep it (it's their mess) or give it to the AU

  • Comment number 87.

    ref #82
    Many Libyans believe their state media as many Americans believe their Fox media and Gadaffi wants to do a peace march to Benghazi.

    The Middle East and North Africa looks to be developing into a nightmare already.

    ___________

    there is a difference between a goverment controlled media and an independent one like Fox or even the proganda al Jazeera.

    If not for Fox the election fraud of ACORN, the union thuggary in WI would not be exposed.

  • Comment number 88.

    " Is it a legacy of the enlightenment, a sense of responsibility and shared humanity?"

    Seriously, can you not see the hypocrisy even now? Here's a quote from Alan Greenspan, about Iraq, but equally true about Libya:

    "I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil. Thus, projections of world oil supply and demand that do not note the highly precarious environment of the Middle East are avoiding the eight-hundred-pound gorilla that would bring world economic growth to a halt. I do not pretend to know how or whether the turmoil in the Middle East will be resolved. I do know that the future of the Middle East is a most important consideration in any long-term energy forecast. Even though oil-use intensity has been significantly reduced, the role of oil is still such that an oil crisis can wreak heavy damage on the world economy. Until industrial economies disengage themselves from, as President George W. Bush puts it, "our addiction to oil", the stability of the industrial economies and hence the global economy will remain at risk. "

  • Comment number 89.

    If this is for Oil, what oil? The cheap stuff we get from Iraq, or the $116 dollars a barrel stuff which is currently crippling our economy?

  • Comment number 90.

    #87 MagicKirin

    I see little difference between the old Pravda and Fox, both serve the converted what they want.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4042816,00.html


  • Comment number 91.

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

  • Comment number 92.

    65. bryhers:

    "...My guess is they will hunker down in Tripoli and sit it out until their enemies run out of targets."

    **********
    Those would be civilian targets? If the mission is to "protect civilians", arming them certainly muddies the waters, as does killing them during air strikes. Civilians will be both casualty and cause of much of what happens. Thankfully, there are many of them watching through new eyes.

  • Comment number 93.

    Is Mr Mardell confused about Obama's attitude towards Lybia, or is he deliberately trying to make a mystery of it.
    Strange ....Obama's stance seems pretty obvious and transparent to me.
    Why not just take him at his word?

  • Comment number 94.

    56. At 8:08pm on 20 Mar 2011, Nostrano wrote:

    I don't doubt that you actually -believe- that anyone who is willing to die for a cause you DON'T personally endorse is "totally indoctrinated" and "programmed like a machine," while anyone willing to die for a cause that you DO approve of is chock full of "honor," "duty" and every other virtue you choose to support.

    But you see, that attitude makes you a part of the -problem- in my view.

    It's too bad an open mind isn't one of those virtues you're comfortable with. But I guess you don't -need- one of those once you achieve that exaggerated sense of your own infallibility you seem to share with Ms. Ashot.

    You say "Maria Ashot is the last person who needs lessons from you." Sadly, you yourself are an immediate counter-example to that idea.

    Meanwhile, I'd like to think I'm open for instruction, even from people that claim some sort of God-like perfection. So please, have at it.

  • Comment number 95.

    #91 TCRRA wrote -

    "Obama knows that for the kind of politician he is, an ongoing instigated war would be like like the kiss of death to his credibility and conscience and Usa need to drop the dubious cause like a sack of potatoes."

    The cause is the whole region --and those who want and fought democracy are seeing their gains slip away.

    If more pressure is not put on the oppressing regimes --with obvious quick results -- Neither Obama nor anyone else will be able to stop the backlash directed at us.






  • Comment number 96.

    57. At 8:08pm on 20 Mar 2011, GH1618 wrote:
    I'm not sure who Carpenter (2) means by "our" and "us," but if he is claiming (without documentation, note) that Libyan arms are predominately from US sources, he is merely grinding his anti-American axe. A significant share of Libyan armaments are French and Russian.

    For a pretty good clue as to what I mean by "us," please see RHammond's note @69 above.

    And I'm pretty pro-American actually, being one, but staunchly anti-death by high explosive (whoever delivers it), anti-war in general, and anti-interventionist in the current instance. By my lights, the Chinese take on the West's intrusion into the Libyan civil war represents the correct political and ethical path.


    69. At 9:01pm on 20 Mar 2011, RHammond wrote:

  • Comment number 97.

    Post#5 ScottNYC

    OK Scott,old chap, which part of Libya's military inventory, as itemised below, was sold to them by the UK? A little bit of it no doubt got shipped the other way, i.e. to the UK in the 1970s and 80s, when a depressing number of the charming citizens of New York and Boston and the blinkered blarney lovers of LA were sponsoring IRA terrorists who used the cash to buy from Libya most of their hardware to bomb Belfast, London, Manchester and Birmingham :
    ************************************************************************

    The International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated tank numbers in 2009 as 1,929 (not including those proven to have been captured/destroyed in the Libyan uprising as of March 19): 191 T-72; 115 in store; 89 T-62; 70 in store; 495 T-55; 1,040 T-54/T-55 in store. The IISS estimated there were 50 BRDM-2 and 70 EE-9 Cascavel reconnaissance vehicles, 986 BMP-1s, plus BMD-1s.[3] Russian official sources reported in 2010 that T-72s would be modernised with help from Russia.[4] 749 BTR-50 and BTR-60s were also reported by the IISS. Other reported wheeled vehicles in service include 100 EE-11 Urutu, and Czechoslovak OT-64 SKOT.

    The IISS estimated artillery in service in 2009 as totalling 2,421 pieces. 444 SP artillery pieces were reported; 122mm 130 2S1 Carnation; 152mm 140: 60 2S3 Akatsiya; 80 M-77 Dana; 155mm 174: 14 M-109; 160 VCA 155 Palmaria. 647+ towed artillery pieces were reported: 105mm 42+ M-101; 122mm 250: 190 D-30; 60 D-74; 130mm 330 M-46; 152mm 25 M-1937. 830 Multiple rocket launchers were reported: an estimated 300 107mm Type-63; 122mm 530: ε200 BM-11; ε229 BM-21 Grad; ε100 RM-70 Dana (RM-70 multiple rocket launcher?). The IISS also estimated that Libya had 500 mortars: 82mm 428; 120mm ε48 M-43; 160mm ε24 M-160. Surface to Surface Missiles reported in service include FROG-7 and SCUD-B, (416 missiles).

    Anti Tank missiles reported in service include 400 French/German MILAN, and 620+ AT-3, AT-4, and AT-5, all of Soviet manufacture.

    In 2009 the IISS estimated that Libya had Crotale, SA-7 Grail, SA-9/SA-13 surface to air missiles, and AA guns in Army service. A separate Air Defence Command has SA-2, SA-3, SA-5 Gammon, and SA-8b Gecko, plus guns.

    Reported anti aircraft artillery includes Soviet 57 mm S-60, 23 mm self-propelled ZSU-23-4 and ZU-23-2, Czech M53/59 Praga, and Swedish Bofors 40mm guns.

    Small arms reported in service include TT pistol, Beretta M12, FN P90, SKS, AK-47, and AKM assault rifles, the FN F2000, Soviet RPD machine gun, RPK machine gun, PK machine guns, DShK heavy machine gun, KPV heavy machine guns, SG-43 Goryunov, and a number of RPG type and anti-aircraft missile systems: RPG-2, RPG-7, 9K32 Strela-2.

    ************************************************************************
    Well, out of that lot, there is a small presence of Franco-German, Belgian, Italian and Swedish kit, but 99% of it is, as usual, Russian/Czech. As for UK stuff - well in the region of nil really!

    Apart from the fact that you will just possibly have gathered that I'm not very impressed by your outrageous Anglophobe remarks, I do actually agree that Western involvement in the Libyan shambles is a silly venture. Not exactly surpised that the duplictious creeps of the Arab League are rowing back hard from their backing for it and the upstanding gentry of the African Union, that Trades Union for the world's most dysfunctional national leaders, are giving us grief as well. Mr Cameron felt he had to put himself in the lead with the French and, in European geo-political terms was probably right to hammer a little wedge into the Franco-German axis, but in military terms it's a nonsense and a certain loser for the UK in terms of more treasure even if not, we hope, of more blood.

    It might be useful in one sense - after this I think a fairly large chunk of the world's supplicant nations should be crossed off our bloated overseas aid list. Perhaps we can use the cash to actually equip Mr Brown's lunatic aircraft carrier project, that mad Scottish shipyard workers job creation scheme, with some aircraft, so we don't have to send a handful of Tornado GR4s on a 3000 mile round trip to insert a few Stormshadow missiles into a few Libyan orifices.

  • Comment number 98.

    To those of you posting that this is all about oil, colonialism, or whatever, and nothing to do with an attempt to save a population wanting freedom from their own government; you can't have it both ways.

    With the West's intervention, some civilians will sadly die, but we are told that every effort is made to avoid it. Compare that to the Tripoli regime's promises of "no mercy" to the citizens of Benghazi.

    But you say if it's all about oil, and nothing to do with humanitarian motives, which means it's okay for civilians to die horribly at the hands of their own government, yes ? So if it's okay for civilians to die in vast numbers, does it matter who kills them, or is it only okay if it's their own government's torture chambers they disappear into ? If it's all about the oil and colonialism, and human life and freedom don't matter, would you object if the west just cleared Gaddafi out of the way with a large nuclear warhead over Tripoli ? After all, by your logic it would be more honest, and they were all going to die at the hands of their government anyway.....

  • Comment number 99.

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

  • Comment number 100.

    24. At 5:21pm on 20 Mar 2011, Oldloadr wrote:

    "I would be willing to bet a dollar to a dough-nut that the Arab League knew what was going on, they are just playing both sides of the field."

    __________

    Yep. Got that one right.

 

Page 1 of 5

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.