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Turning a Libyan rabble into an army

Mark Mardell | 17:05 UK time, Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Libyan rebels wait at a checkpoint in Brega

Will President Barack Obama arm the Libyan rebels? He says: "I'm not ruling it out, but I'm also not ruling it in."

Beneath that bland obfuscation, the momentum is all in one direction. The speed of decision making is seriously slowed by the friction of several concerns.

Some are worried about the legality of an apparent breach of an arms embargo. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton isn't one of them. She says a transfer of arms would be legal.

With "flickers" of intelligence that the rebels may contain al-Qaeda supporters come deep concerns that Nato would be arming the enemy.

You don't have to be the CIA or SIS to know this is likely to be true. Libyan al-Qaeda fighters were active in Iraq, and the closely linked Islamic Fighting Group has been active in the past.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates may have some doubts about this path.

After all, he was one of the CIA officers involved in arming the mujahideen in the 1980s. That's right: the guys who became the Taliban, whom the Americans are fighting to this day.

But most of the discussion is missing a much bigger point.

"Arming the rebels" is a convenient shorthand, but anyone who thinks it is that simple is living in an exciting Boy's Own world of adventure that bears little relationship to real military conflict.

Former CIA officer Bruce Riedel, who chaired Mr Obama's review of Afghanistan and Pakistan policy, told me: "This is more complex than flying planes over and throwing AK-47s on the ground."

The sort of heavy weapons that would make the difference require months of intense training. But Mr Riedel thinks the path is set.

We are past the Rubicon. Barring a miracle, the situation looks like a stalemate. If we don't want to live with that, it means boots on the ground.

He says that as America boots are politically out of the question, that means the rebel forces will have to defeat Col Gaddafi. My BBC colleagues on the front line say while the rebels lack serious weaponry, what they lack even more is a coherent plan.

Mr Riedel says as well as training in specific weapons they need "organisation and discipline".

"It is about turning a rabble into an army," he says.

It seems to me that this is a slippery slope. You provide weapons, so you provide trainers. The trainers need protecting. The protectors needs supply lines. The supply lines need protecting. Before you know it there are more than just a few foreign boots on the ground.

Mr Riedel again:

Mission creep is inevitable. That is why you saw such an anguished debate. Those most reluctant, like the defence secretary, know that and will want a clarity of mission and more troops. The uniformed military have understood from the beginning once you start these things they snowball.

America does have experience in this field. There was another conflict where it sent a few people to oversee the supply of military equipment to local fighters and the French. That expanded to a few hundred advisers, to supply a little guidance and little training at a distance. Before long some more troops were sent. That's when it became known as the Vietnam War.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    ""It is about turning a rabble into an army," he says."

    Like herding cats.

    The thing that seems to be missing is serious will amongst the Libyans themselves.
    It isn't that they lack for courage. They've shown that.

    Putting a cohesive useful force together takes the will and discipline to engage in a lot of pretty dull training, followed by the hard slog of mastering logistics.


  • Comment number 2.

    Mardell: With "flickers" of intelligence that the rebels may contain al-Qaeda supporters come deep concerns that Nato would be arming the enemy. You don't have to be the CIA or SIS to know this is likely to be true. Libyan al-Qaeda fighters were active in Iraq, and the closely linked Islamic Fighting Group has been active in the past.
    -------

    If they potentially are al Qaeda supporters, why are we helping them and why has American media not told us this?

    After all, isn't al Qaeda a worse threat to America than Gaddafi?
    -------
    Truthfully, the more this war drags on toward stalemate, the worse it looks for Obama being re-elected...

    Perhaps he was just trying to be humanitarian, but how is it 'humanitarian' to help al Qaeda supporters?

  • Comment number 3.

    Yes - this is exactly what happened at the beginning in Viet Nam: we started with advisors and high idealistic hopes and the best intentions. And we ended up exhausted and drained in a quagmire that caused enormous suffering, while the Europeans who had once been colonial rulers sat back and whined and moaned and gave lectures and complained about Evil Americans.

    No one knows what the plans and strategies are on the part of the rebels in Libya. They do not form a military power. They are rebels. This is a revolution. There is no order. It is chaotic because it is a revolution.

    Obama is a left-wing idealist and pedagogue in the tradition of Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter. They are not pragmatic or realistic. They live in an academic fantasy bubble. They have ideals, but they do not acknowledge hard reality. They make foolish mistakes - and others pay the price.

  • Comment number 4.

    Clinton's position seems like a stretch to me. That Obama is being more circumspect suggests to me that this is a trial balloon. I doubt if Clinton would take such a position without the President approving it.

    Here is a link on the subject with a statement by British Foreign Secretary Hague, who is a bit more reserved: [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 5.

    Washington had the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge to turn his band into an army (with the help of Von Steuben). Unfortunately, in the desert terrain, there is no place to hide and train.

  • Comment number 6.

    To compare Libya today to Afghanistan -- or even Vietnam -- is quite a stretch.

    Back when Robert Gates was a mujahedin trainer in Charlie Wilson's War, the mission was entirely different: the purpose of arming the mujaheds (a bad idea if there ever was one) was to fight a proxy war with the USSR. At the time, there was no real need of a defining or decisive win, either: the longer such a war went on, the more damage would be done to the USSR, in terms of costs, discontent and military prestige.

    No one was really thinking about what would happen next. No one was considering the Afghan point of view.

    Here, by contrast, all we are doing is considering the point of view of the affected population. Nor are we looking for any kind of proxy war, nor to inflict any kind of moral humiliation or psychological torture on some rival "superpower."

    Today, we have an actual ITNC for Libya, with a programme and a commitment, and backing from 40 nations, and probably more than that. When was that ever even an objective worked on for the benefit of a free Vietnam, or a free Afghanistan -- or for that matter a free Iraq?

    Why was it that there was considerably less squeamishness embracing the anti-Baathist Shi'ites in Iraq (even though few of them were friends of the West), even though the risks and costs were much greater, than there is today about taking the word of people who have interacted with them -- Henri-Levy, Sarkozy, Mrs Clinton, Mr Cameron, Mr Haguem for starters -- that they'll do?

    "Mission creep" is another one of those lovely, punchy phrases that sounds dreadful and clouds the issue (like "regime change").

    From start to finish this has been, and remains, a very modest mission: to end the criminal sociopathy of one man and his goons -- a small mob, albeit a well-armed one -- who have helped themselves to far too much for far too long.

    Obviously, the way to not have to struggle with concepts such as distributing actual weapons to the liberation forces, who are thus far running more on courage than on actual ammo, is to do a more thorough, ramped-up job bombing the thugs who are threatening the civilians on the ground.

    This Q is making easy for us by insisting on sending his fighters without the least sign of cessation, to maim and terrorise and torture and slay those who have stood up to him.

    We started this campaign to defend the population of Benghazi, and now it seems the same population, from Benghazi & environs, is under threat again. And Misrata has never even enjoyed a day's peace. Why is that? Because the threat was not finished off in the prior round of Coaltion air strikes.

    Obviously, if the threat is still there, the mandate of the UN resolution has not been fulfilled.

    Instead of worrying about "mission creep," the question intelligent liberal-minded Westerners should be asking is how much longer they will allow the creep in Tripoli to make a mess of their mission, mock them with impunity, lie to them like a common provincial card sharp or backwater mountebank, and act as if it is his 'rights' that we need to be worried about, instead of those of some seven million Libyans he has tormented for almost as long as Prime Minister Cameron has been alive?

    How many different ways do crime victims need to beg for your help before the help they need will finally come in the form in which they need it -- the kind that stops the criminal from carrying on with his assault?

    Or shall we stand by an watch a woman be raped over and over again, while we debate whether she or her brothers or children should be given a weapon to defend themselves?

    And speaking of which, where is the poor rape victim that got all the media attention? And her sister? Most likely, both of them are dead after some horrible ordeal too awful to describe.

    When you face up to the fact that this is about real, living human beings who are being tormented in gruesome ways -- and not the prerogatives of 'people' some have been privileged to meet in Davos, or at the LSE, or to entertain in America -- suddenly there's no more moral dilemma, is there?

    Perhaps the real 'mission creep' is the expansion of the brief of those who would stand in the way of the Coalition now speaking outright for some kind of deus ex machina to come and rescue Brand Q from the proper comeuppance it has so richly deserved...

  • Comment number 7.

    Who could have predicted that President Bush would lead us into war against al Qaeda, while President Obama would lead us into war helping some ppl who potentially could be al Qaeda supporters?

    What is wrong with Obama, Camereon and Sarkozy?

    How could they lead us into a war helping potential al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists that may have murdered or harmed innocent Americans, British, French, Canadians and other allies soldiers, ppl who are fighting for us?

    What kind of a twisted war is this?

  • Comment number 8.

    The BBC website reports that Republican Guards from Chad have advanced into Libya to attack the enemies of Q.

    Surely, their movements could not have gone unnoticed from the vantage point of satellites.

    Furthermore, Chad is now obviously in breach of the UN Resolution's arms embargo against Libya, and is acting in defiance of the UN as well as the Coalition/Nato.

    There can only be one response to this affront, and that is a categorical one.

    Chad has almost twice the population of Libya; Q has betrayed Libyans in one more way -- an escalation further contradicting all the silly nonsense about how his side is looking for any kind of "cease fire." All they were doing is playing for time so the Chadian forces could come to their rescue.

    Given the dire prior history in Sudan and Algeria, Q has shown himself willing even to risk a racial war that will only further destabilise the aspirations of decent Africans for peace, justice and prosperity on their continent.

    There is only one inimical foe of peace and justice in this crisis, and that is Q himself. He has crossed all the lines. The time has come to yank him off the stage.

  • Comment number 9.

    I'm glad someone is just patiently setting out the obvious facts. But here are two speculations:
    1. It's a CIA operation gone wrong. Is this 'revolution' already an American operation? How did these 'rebels' appear out of nowhere like that? Is Africa Command in Stuttgart involved?
    2. Is there a hard core of disciplined Al Qaeda jihadis using all the chaotic untrained youth as a kind of smoke screen? Are we missing the point?
    I perxonally wouldn't be surprised if both of these were true.

  • Comment number 10.

    2. At 18:50pm on 30th Mar 2011, LucyJ wrote:

    "If they potentially are al Qaeda supporters, why are we helping them and why has American media not told us this?"

    I am suprised. Even Colonel Gaddafi has been blaming the uprising in the East of his country on Al-Qaeda - to the point of paranoid delusion. Are you really saying the US media has not repeated this ? The US media must be worse than I thought ...

    "After all, isn't al Qaeda a worse threat to America than Gaddafi?"

    And how, exactly, do you measure this threat ?

    "Perhaps he was just trying to be humanitarian, but how is it 'humanitarian' to help al Qaeda supporters?"

    And how humanitarian is it for the US to prop up regimes like Mubarak and the Saudis ?

  • Comment number 11.

    7. At 19:21pm on 30th Mar 2011, LucyJ wrote:

    "Who could have predicted that President Bush would lead us into war against al Qaeda, while President Obama would lead us into war helping some ppl who potentially could be al Qaeda supporters?"

    You seem to be comparing quite different situations. Not even remotely comparable.

    "How could they lead us into a war helping potential al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists that may have murdered or harmed innocent Americans, British, French, Canadians and other allies soldiers, ppl who are fighting for us?"

    You mean like the US arming the mahujadeen in Afghanistan ? You seem to think this conflict is about Islamic extremists. It is not. Not even close. It's a popular uprising against an oppressive dictator.

    And what do you mean - "fighting for us" ? We're allies - but the allied actions are purely to defend civilian lives. If the rebels started killing civilians, then I am sure we'll bomb them too.


  • Comment number 12.

    With reference to the Taliban, even when the Afghanis were fighting them, at the same time as they were still fighting the Soviets, towards the end of the Afghan-Soviet war, the then US secretary of State thought that the Taliban would be a good 'uniting influence' for Afghanistan. She even tried to persuade Massoud of this. It was of course at a time when even Pakistan wasn't then fully aware at what extent it (and the ISI with the complicity of the CIA) had opened Pandora's box.

    There are bound to be radicals amongst the Libyan rebels, but the majority, the patriots, they know what they want. In any country going through a period of transition there will be a radical contingent, Egypt included. If one gives in to this argument one is virtually ceding to the way Gaddafi wants to see things, or al-Assad, when he blames the Israelis for the Syrian uprisings. Its a way of hedging responsibility, but the people aren't so easily duped. The Syrians won't be satisfied by al-Assad's empty speech.

    One would have thought that continual air-strikes on Gaddafi's forces would be enough to dissuade them from continuing. Why does this now seem limited? Why weren't air-strikes implemented to stop the most recent Gaddafi advances? Is it because we are now waiting for NATO to take over? Why are we softening up? Why the new, apparent uncertainty? Is it really as complicated as some now seem to prefer to imagine?

  • Comment number 13.

    This is just one big disaster and arming the rebels is just not a good idea. Of course, most of the reasons why have been mentioned here. The fact is, these rebels need discipline just as much, if not more, than they need weapons. They also need more than AK-47's and FN FAL's to be victorious, but giving them the weapons they need to complete this task is expensive, dangerous and most importantly, they will require "advisers" and time to train the rebels how to use them. You know what that means. It means prolonged involvement, time, money we don't have and soldiers on the ground. This is such a huge gaffe by Obama.

  • Comment number 14.

    T: Are you really saying the US media has not repeated this ? The US media must be worse than I thought ...
    -------
    Well, maybe I heard it once or twice, but much of the media was saying Gaddafi was a dictator harming all these civilians (they did not say some of them may have fought against our soldiers in Iraq/Afghan) and personally, I thought he was making it up...I mean, why would anyone believe Gaddafi?
    -------
    T: And how, exactly, do you measure this threat ?
    -------
    I would measure it by saying who is the lesser of two threats- Gaddafi, a dictator, or Islamic extremist group such as al Qaeda or such, taking control of Libya?

    Neither are good choices, but my guess is Gaddafi...
    --------
    T: And how humanitarian is it for the US to prop up regimes like Mubarak and the Saudis ?
    -------
    As I said, its all about who is the lesser threat- a dictator or a terrorist network?

    To me, a terrorist network is more of a threat to America than a dictator is...
    -------
    T: You seem to be comparing quite different situations. Not even remotely comparable.
    -------
    Of course they are comparable- first off- they both (or all three) happened in the last ten years...

    Second off, the first one, we went to fight against al Qaeda, now this second one, we find out some of the rebels could have fought in the prior wars against us- I say could have, b/c I still don't really know...
    ------
    T: You mean like the US arming the mahujadeen in Afghanistan ? You seem to think this conflict is about Islamic extremists. It is not. Not even close. It's a popular uprising against an oppressive dictator.
    ----
    Yes, it is, but at the same time, in my book, I do not support helping any foreign person who has fought or wants to fight against our military...
    ------
    T: And what do you mean - "fighting for us" ? We're allies - but the allied actions are purely to defend civilian lives. If the rebels started killing civilians, then I am sure we'll bomb them too.
    -------
    The American and all our allies troops that did fight or are fighting in Iraq/Afghan were/are there fighting for us- if they were harmed or killed- it was for us, it was for our countries...

    What's the point of defending civilian lives if you can't oust the person who threatens them after you leave? And how do we know how many of these ppl are actually civilians or not?

  • Comment number 15.

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

  • Comment number 16.

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

  • Comment number 17.

    The White House does not want a "regime change"? Who's kidding who? That's the only answer to effecting change in Libya. And waiting for the UN to make up its mind as to what to do with the mess in Libya is like waiting for the Democrats in Congress to realise that there is no money left to continue to fund their beloved give-away programs.

  • Comment number 18.

    The suggestion the US might overt arm rebels, and all that goes with it, does seem like a contradiction to many administration statements to date.
    Today's hearing, though in closed session, in the House Foreign Relations Committee, and the public hearing scheduled for tomorrow in the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations may provide an opportunity to flush out a more consistent, rational, and understandable approach toward Libya by the US, and provide citizens an opportunity to demand their representatives take their concerns into account. These high profile hearings can often help overcome the non-responsive responses legislators frequently offer constituents otherwise.

  • Comment number 19.

    Obama has our air force flying top cover and close air support for the rebels, it's not a great stretch of ethics or morality to provide them with weapons to fight with. To their credit, the Libyan rebels aren't asking for troops to do their fighting for them, its not unreasonable to give them the tools to do the job themselves. Will some of the arms end up in the hands of people who will misuse them? Quite probably, then again we're talking about small arms, not Stinger missiles. Any terrorist worth his salt can obtain small arms and make a homemade hand grenade or improvised explosive device so not arming the rebels protects you from...what?

  • Comment number 20.


    Arming the rebels presents so few practical difficulties I would be surprised if it hasn`t already happened.That`s what intelligence services are for,intermediaries,men in dark glasses in smart hotels,they may even try and recruit Mark Thatcher.

    What this is actually about is trying to gain legitimacy for taking sides in a civil war where there are two sets of rights,those of Quaddifi supporters and their opponents.

    We`re in too deep now not to try to pre-determine the outcome.But it`s eyes wide shut.Mr.Cameron jumped in believing that despotisms would yield easily to popular revolutions as they did in Egypt and Tunisia.He would be on the right side of history and reap the reward.It`s not that easy.

    The more we do,the more we became mired in other people`s wars.It`s called mission creep,it began with a no fly zone,it changed to a no-fly zone using all means necessary to protect civilians,they are now talking about arming the rebels.Step by step we are "owning" one side in a civil war.Remember Vietnam,and Mr.Quaddafi`s quartermasters south of the Sahara for which he has ample funds.

    It`s a reckless policy by an incompetent government.

  • Comment number 21.

    That there may be al Qaeda elements among the Libyan rebels is no reason not to protect innocent civilians under UNSC Resolution 1973. It is a reason to keep an eye on Libya, and to not be eager to supply arms which could be diverted to terrorist activities. The war against al Qaeda will go on, regardless of events in Libya.

  • Comment number 22.

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

  • Comment number 23.

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

  • Comment number 24.

    The Rubicon was crossed when politicians in London, Paris and Washington decided the rebels would not be allowed to fail and started steps toward a no-fly zone. It's not a question of if the mission will creep but of how much, how soon. Obama would no doubt prefer that the mission expand as little as possible before the 2012 election in the U.S., Cameron and Sarkozy may have different priorities.

  • Comment number 25.

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

  • Comment number 26.

    You could turn a Libyan rabble into an army if you had lots of {political} time and money, neither of which are in good supply.

    Alternatively, you could short-circuit the whole process and simply cut the head off the snake.

    Previously that option might have been considered totally out-of-bounds, but as Gaddafi will use anything, including Chadian mercenaries, rather than leave the stage, he himself has upped the ante and must be made to suffer the consequences.

  • Comment number 27.

    re: 5 oldloadr

    Washington had the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge to turn his band into an army (with the help of Von Steuben). Unfortunately, in the desert terrain, there is no place to hide and train.

    True enough. But then George didn't have air cover.

  • Comment number 28.

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

  • Comment number 29.

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

  • Comment number 30.

    Unfortunately, there are only two outcomes possible. One is that the rebels fail in their rush to victory, the country is divided into two for an indefinite period of time, and the rebels need continued western support for years so as not to be crushed. The other is that they win, fight among themselves, a new dictator takes power with lots of beguiling words, to become as corrupted by power as his predecessor though with a different twist, probably much more islamist. Which do you prefer?

  • Comment number 31.

    “In the era of awakenings, upheavals and revolutions: watch Turkey”

    Just witnessed on Al Jazeera “People & Power” programme: a feature on Uzbekistan repression and plight of its exiled dissidents. Seems like Turkey is going to be very busy again soon if this former USSR’s Turkic republic erupt into civil disobedience.

  • Comment number 32.

    The Cool Ruler Rides Again @ 28

    Isn't America one land mass and one people of many tribes despite the borders drawn up by the divide and rule exploitative colonialists who are still battling for its resources.

  • Comment number 33.

    ref #31
    sayasay wrote:
    “In the era of awakenings, upheavals and revolutions: watch Turkey”

    Just witnessed on Al Jazeera “People & Power” programme: a feature on Uzbekistan repression and plight of its exiled dissidents. Seems like Turkey is going to be very busy again soon if this former USSR’s Turkic republic erupt into civil disobedience.


    _____________

    We can only hope the Turkish people rebel against the islamic intolerant leader Erdoganh. Attaturk was right islamic governence and modern progressive thought are incomptaible.

  • Comment number 34.

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

  • Comment number 35.

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

  • Comment number 36.

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

  • Comment number 37.

    re: 35 dread man

    Could you explain why using African mercenaries is not acceptable to repel European Coalition mercenaries who have no right to be invading there again, in your mind

    Er, um, ... European Coalition mercenaries? Who would they be?

    Do you really believe the Libyan rebels are imperialist stooges? And that Gadhafi is some sort of pan-africanist hero?

  • Comment number 38.


    First, let me refer to a concurrent BBC News article:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12915401

    This is a secret, a covert action, and that is why it is front page news?

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Returning to the article at hand, Mr. Bruce Riedel wrote:

    "We are past the Rubicon. Barring a miracle, the situation looks like a stalemate. If we don't want to live with that, it means boots on the ground."

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    We are not past any Rubicon, and such talk is pure nonsense. The mission justifiably is to protect civilians, and if the outcome of a civil war could be a stalemate, then let it be so. An ability to alter the outcome, here, could be a mistaken ability.

    For instance, we know that there is an armed rebel faction at work, and we know what their objective is, yet we are not informed as to who and what such a faction could be, and that leaves us to guess as to their allegiance(s) and future goals.

  • Comment number 39.

    Well...so long as the "boots on the ground" are only advisors, what could be the harm?
    It worked with Kennedy...why not with Obama who features himself to be a latter-day Kennedy of sorts. Kennedy was released from culpability by Lee Harvey Oswald in November 1963.

    I was part of the pre-1964 non-combatant "advisor" group which Kennedy grudgingly approved, in South Viet Nam (Obama is not the first "reluctant" warrior)...we weren't fighting but we got shot at, and we shot back...and then about a year later, I was an off-shore combatant after "we" officially arrived. America wasn't alone in that war either. Does anyone remember SEATO (South East Asian Treaty Organization)? Many countries were there, but you'd think America had been the only one.

    If the U.S. puts complex weapons into this fight, there will be no way to avoid putting the "advisors" and trainers there as well...no matter who the "advisors" are, CIA, merc's, contractors, or if the Pentagon comes up with a whole new euphymism for combatant, they'll be our "troops"...the youth of America...but, as long as the battles are fought in the name of Hope and Change, it should work out OK.

  • Comment number 40.

    Arming the rebels is half-measure.
    Why not to start running Executive Mojaheed BA :o))))))) at top Western universities' branches, some Express School, Beginner's course - you name it.

  • Comment number 41.

    re: the parallels with Vietnam

    Oi. One week into a no fly zone and we are talking quagmire? Seems a bit hasty.

    Sure, things could go that way. But recall, my friends, that we are actually backing the equivalent of the Viet Cong in this case (alas, minus the martial skills and organizational acumen -- but hey, Gadhafi is no great shakes neither!). They won. With no significant Soviet troop commitment.

    The lessons of history cut both ways.

  • Comment number 42.

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

  • Comment number 43.

    re: 39 BK

    If the U.S. puts complex weapons into this fight, there will be no way to avoid putting the "advisors" and trainers there as well

    Why on earth would anyone put complex weapons into a situation like this?

    What those kids need is an organizational structure -- some basic logistics and discipline. Not coincidentally, what Libya needs is the development of some kind of coherent, organized polity to run it post Gadhafi.

    Now, we can let that vacuum fill with whatever floats on in, or we can try and bring our civilian skills in logistics and politics to bear.

    Do it through the UN. Make the damn thing work.

  • Comment number 44.

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

  • Comment number 45.

    It seems premature to start the Vietnam comparison. It also is not really the same situation, politically nor geographically. Vietnam already was in world of turmoil with the First Indochina war starting in 1946. But Mark makes a very good point. The lack of clarity and goals is going to create lots of problems if Gadhafi does not go or the "rebels" are not able to succeed even with weapons. The problem i see is that this thing will stall leaving Kadhafi in place and either someone will have to get involved in Lybia or a civl war will develop or a partition of the country will occur, in short long term instability with a potential for radicalization of the Lybian people against European interventionists.

  • Comment number 46.

    Call me stupid if you want? But I can’t help having some human sympathy for those so called "rabble" democracy fighters.
    Putting aside all the conjecture.
    After watching them fly back and forth in a crazy fashion, it prompted a spark of humanity in me.
    Curiously a British trait maybe.
    British people always root for the underdog, why I have no idea.
    I’m a bit old to fight now. But by gosh I saw some old guys fighting there,
    Fighting alongside young hopefuls.
    Against such a tour-de-force.
    It would be funny if it was not for the fact these guys were really dying for a better life.
    I am with you guys any day.

  • Comment number 47.

    re: 42 too cool for skool

    Mr Know-It-All do you really believe the Financially and Morally Bankrupted Western Capitalists are acting out of altruism to invest and help Africans future development and advancement or could they be surreptitiously looking after their own self interests and pockets.


    Well, Libya has oil and gas to sell. Europeans buy lots of it (some might even be in your car, if mum and dad were kind enough to buy you a car?) Maybe your hot water is heated by Libyan gas. Who knows?

    But really, why should baaaad old Europeans care from whom they buy their oil and gas? Gadhafi had become a nice tame dictator. All those nasty white capitalists in their top hats and frock coats liked him. So why would they depose him? Why would they shoot missiles at his tanks? Why would they protect the huddling masses of Benghazi from his army?

    Just asking.

  • Comment number 48.

    6. At 19:09pm on 30th Mar 2011, Maria Ashot wrote:

    It seems that you are too busy writing and criticizing legitimate concerns to see the falacy of your argument. Are we "intellgient liberal-minded" people going to bomb every country that we believe is despotic, Venezuela, Syria, Saudi Arabia, or what about Africa, there are plenty of despots there, Sudan comes to mind ? Your zeal to save the population ignores that this really is not a revolution, but a form of tribal warfare. There are those that support Gadhaffi. What happens when the "rebels" start attacking the civilian population that supported Gadhaffi? Or what happens if the rebels include not just flickers of Alqaida but quite a few hardened terrorists that will turn on us? I think these are serious and important questions to address before one starts bombing the hell out of a country based on our own, i will say, perverted sense of justice?

  • Comment number 49.

    44. At 02:38am on 31st Mar 2011, The Cool Ruler Rides Again wrote:
    I'm sure that the Ancestors of the same people who previously colonized various world territories never admited their ulterior motives to steal others resources either and came out with various excuses to justify the brutal treatment of their victims such as portraying them as sub human monkey's who needed Godly Christianity in the crusades
    _______________________________________________________

    Actually, the Crusades had nothing to do with what came to be known as Colonialism. However, what we did see in the Crusades was a mixture of True Believers out to make the Holy Land safe for pilgrims and 2nd, 3rd, 4th sons of European nobility seeking an opportunity through the only 2 skills they were trained at, warfare and farming. Therefore, in the Libyan situation, we should not be at all surprised to find a mixture in the Rebel alliance:
    1. True Believers in Islam
    2. True Believers in democracy
    3. Rival families and tribes who have been on the outside looking in since Gadhafi took over the place.

  • Comment number 50.

    226. At 23:26pm on 30th Mar 2011, JohnConstable wrote:
    "Alternatively, you could short-circuit the whole process and simply cut the head off the snake."
    You hit the nail on the head, kill the sob and i am sure the rest ot the top echelons will fall apart. This whole thing is not going to turn out well no matter how much lipstick you put on this little pig.
    This kind of reminds me of the investors who seeing a stock go up start buying into only to see it fall again because they jumped in too late. We in the West saw all these uprsisings and thought, gosh we can get in on this action and look good.


  • Comment number 51.

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

  • Comment number 52.

    re: 46 malcy700

    It would be funny if it was not for the fact these guys were really dying for a better life.
    I am with you guys any day.


    Me too.

    For all the unanswered questions, uncertain outcomes, lingering impossibilities, it's hard not to be moved by the sheer guts these guys display.

  • Comment number 53.

    6 Maria Ashot,

    “Today, we have an actual ITNC for Libya, with a programme and a commitment, and backing from 40 nations, and probably more than that.”

    What is ITNC stand for and what programme are you talking about? The only programme I see evidence of is a wing and a prayer.

  • Comment number 54.

    All freedom fighters in the world, whatever the color of your skin, whatever your religion, the blood that flows in your rebel heart shares the same color, red. And, red is the color of alarm. The situation in Lybia is more than alarming tonight. All freedom fighters must unite and join their rebel brothers and sisters in Libya. If you cannot join physically, support the Libyan rebel fighters in any form you can. All this in the name of Freedom. After all, we all share the same connection; we belong to the same family, we are all brothers and sisters who share the same goal; love for humanity living in Freedom, living free from any domination. Let's unite in the name of Freedom!

  • Comment number 55.

    27. At 23:36pm on 30th Mar 2011, chronophobe wrote:

    "True enough. But then George didn't have air cover."

    __________

    He had snow cover.


    In those days armies did not used to campaign in Winter.
    They used to go into "Winter Quarters" and stay there until after the spring floods were over and the land and roads dried out enough to carry wagons.

    ----------

    It's painful to watch, especially when you know that a relatively small number of properly trained western troops could do the job in less than a week.

    Nonetheless, the Libyans have to learn for themselves or their revolution will never amount to anything. They have to do it themselves. It is this process of struggle by which truth is learned and leaders - real leaders, not corrupt power-brokers - emerge.

    The point about von Steuben was right on the mark. He was the one who drilled the Americans, and turned them into an army. That is precisely what the Libyans need.

    ----------

    They've been at it roughly six weeks.
    Let's see where they are after six months.


    Not sure that'll be enough to help the folks in Misrata, though.

    Those people need help in the worst way, and waiting for the Benghazi-based rebels to get their act together doesn't seem to be a realistic option. They need help far more urgently.


  • Comment number 56.

    This thing is getting a bit flaky. They, Team Obama, should make the commitment to oust Gaddafi and do what's necessary or admit things didn’t go as hoped, tell the rebels to go home, split the country up in two, and put the Canadians in the middle. We can then prop up the Eastern half of Libya while putting the screws, or as Hillary calls it, diplomatic pressure, to the Western half.

  • Comment number 57.

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

  • Comment number 58.

    Brilliant insight. Zzzzz. It's easier to get in than get out. Who knew?

  • Comment number 59.

    57. At 04:38am on 31st Mar 2011, The Cool Ruler Rides Again wrote:
    I guess if the Wild Wild "West" trains the "Rebel" youths in the east how to fight with the weapons they sell them and they all end up getting killed, then it ain't nobody's business but their own and it would be a damn crying shame they could not dispose bad man Gadaffi for them.
    _______________________________________________

    The preferred assault rifle of the ME/North Africa is the AK-47; from the East, not the West. It isn't the most accurate rifle ever built, but it is virtually indestructible. In 2006, I found a working model that was built in 1956. It fires a 7.62mm projectile with plenty of knock-down power (nowadays called kinetic energy). Nope, we didn't sell them. Our special forces know how to use them and a few others of us, but we didn't sell them. Considering the level of sophistication of the rebel band, they are better off with the AK, then anything the West has for 3 reasons:

    1. Ease of maintenance
    2. Simplicity of operation
    3. The other side uses them too, so if the rebels are advancing, they can forage for ammo.

  • Comment number 60.

    Sir-
    You're right on the money in your comparison to Vietnam; though mission creep may or may not be inevitable it is certainly possible here. Many of the early Defense/State/CIA documents are now online in databases like the Declassified Documents Reference System; some of them are absolutely brilliant in explaining just how we ended up so deeply in Vietnam.

  • Comment number 61.

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

  • Comment number 62.

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

  • Comment number 63.

    Will it better if the US and allies instead of arming the rebels, sent military advisers or at least have strategies laid out for them? Arming a force without fully understanding often results in unexpected, even reversed consequences, as seen in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. Unexpected because the force may be really weak to sustain even arm support. Reversed is if they are not of good-intention, they will turn bad some time later.

    The question is then, who from the West are willing to come and support the rebels in person. Or they just hold meetings and send aircrafts or soldiers - who, to be true, often have inadequate political understanding (cf. the bombing of civilians in the F15 fall). Who are willing to understand Libyan's majority need? They don't need a war, obviously.

  • Comment number 64.

    It seems there's too much talk and not enough action. Why talk of arming when it's apparent that they are already receiving small arms? Why not just get on with it? Did Reagan seek official approval before he gave a good swipe at Gaddafi? No. And that was a lot more constuctive then, than all this futile fuss and concern seems to be. One would think it was an engagement with Iran.

    So the CIA are going in to support the rebels. This after France has said they are sending an envoi to discuss things with the delegation who represents the opposition forces. Could there be some sort of conflicting competition developing?

    One also asks if the CIA have been invited? And one wonders, assuming this is the case, if they have learnt something from history? Would this august, secret intelligence service be so easily duped into thinking that 'those who speak English, must be reliable and intelligent'? And example of this is the trust they, with the full approval of Pakistan, put in the ISI, the Taliban movement, and particularly in Hekmatyar, the worst, cruellest radical in Afghanistan in the late nineties. This, certainly in the eyes of those Afghanis who knew much better, showed a profound lack of intelligence very difficult to justify.

  • Comment number 65.

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

  • Comment number 66.

    Maj Gen Suleiman Mahmoud, the second-in-command for the rebels, told the BBC that "allied liaison officers were working with the rebels to organise raids"

    Meanwhile, US media reports say President Barack Obama has authorised covert support for the Libyan rebels. The CIA and White House have both declined to comment on the reports. (BBC)


    As a part of the "humanitarian mission" whose purpose it to "protect innocent civilians from a slaughter"?

  • Comment number 67.

    MM reports: "She [Secretary Clinton] says a transfer of arms would be legal.

    With "flickers" of intelligence that the rebels may contain al-Qaeda supporters come deep concerns that Nato would be arming the enemy.

    You don't have to be the CIA or SIS to know this is likely to be true. Libyan al-Qaeda fighters were active in Iraq, and the closely linked Islamic Fighting Group has been active in the past."




    So whom really the chief of the State Department wants to arm?

    Unlike US Secretary of Defense (and the former long time CIA Director)?

  • Comment number 68.

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

  • Comment number 69.

    5. At 18:55pm on 30th mar 2011, Oldloadr wrote:
    Unfortunately, in the desert terrain, there is no place to hide and train.





    So perhaps we should ship those al-Qaeda, etc, freedom fighters to Waziristan?

    Or at least to Tora-Bora? [both much more suitable for training and R&R]?

  • Comment number 70.

    MA: "There is only one inimical foe of peace and justice in this crisis, and that is Q himself. He has crossed all the lines. The time has come to yank him off the stage."





    Perhaps, but why haven't we started with humanitarian missions in Iran and Syria?

    Since Mesrs. Khamenei, Ahmedinejad and Assad have been even more brutal than K/Q/G and their regimes constitue a much bigger threat to the West and stability in the Middle East?

  • Comment number 71.

    5. Oldloadr

    Because of the desert terrain giving no place to hide, it should be a walk-over for air-strikes to discourage, stop and if necessary completely destroy the remainder of Gadaffi's military. Because of talks, what now seems to be uncertainty, Nato's supposed take over of command today, the coalition have given time and advantage to Gaddafi's forces, otherwise they would never have been able to advance as they have recently done, obviously to the detriment of the opposition forces.

  • Comment number 72.

    Nostrano wrote:
    With reference to the Taliban, even when the Afghanis were fighting them, at the same time as they were still fighting the Soviets, towards the end of the Afghan-Soviet war, the then US secretary of State thought that the Taliban would be a good 'uniting influence' for Afghanistan.






    Taliban (the movement of Talibs, i.e. fanatical Islamic 'students') has been born in Pakistani madrassas (with more than a little help from ISI) in 1994.

    Long after Soviet retreat from Afghanistan.

  • Comment number 73.

    The rebels should concentrating there forces and trying to organise some coherent training and unit structure as at the moment they are nothing more than armed civilians.

    The only times they appear to have fought effectively is when their backs are against the wall (when they've been rapidly advancing there was either few enemy in the area, the enemy had defected or the coalition had bombed the enemy into submission before they arrived), they should even think about giving up some of their recent gains and defending a smaller area. This would free up resourses and give them time to organise themselves.

    As for weapons, there is an arms embargo, whether we like it or not and what is the point of the UN if you're only going to follow the resolutions which suit you. Also I do not want the UK (counldnt care less about anyone else) to get sucked into this with weapons, and then advisors etc etc.

    One way to facilitate training though would be to have groups of rebels move east into Egypt and receive training there, either from coalition SF or even the Egyptians themselves. These guys dont need to be ninjas they just need to learn to stop panicing, learn how to fight as a unit and stop firing all of their ammunition into the air.

  • Comment number 74.

    No boots on the ground yet?


    Benghazi, Libya (CNN) -- CIA operatives are providing intelligence from Libya, where opposition forces are on the run.

  • Comment number 75.

    having some al-Qaeda in there wouldnt be so bad, at least they would know what they were doing

  • Comment number 76.

    'Amid debate on whether the allies will arm the retreating and undertrained rebels, a U.S. intelligence source told CNN the CIA is in the country to increase the "military and political understanding" of the situation.

    "Yes, we are gathering intel firsthand and we are in contact with some opposition entities," said the source.

    The White House refused to comment on a Reuters report that President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel troops. [...]

    According to the Reuters report, Obama signed the covert aid order, or "finding," within the past few weeks. Such findings are required for the CIA to conduct secret operations, the report said.' (CNN)

  • Comment number 77.

    70. powermeerkat

    Ahmadinejad and Assad already have their scape-goat lined up. Assad's empty speech that was supposed to evoke 'reforms', evoked nothing more than an unveiled accusation that Israel is responsible for the uprisings, as if the people (his 'children') are going to swallow that and be satisfied with unfulfilled promises.

    But if ever Europe and the West interfered actively, it could lead to the full scale war that the Iranian regime is waiting for, to carry out its threats regarding Israel.
    It also goes without saying that humanitarian missions can only be carried out- not only if the people asked for them- but also on the condition that one would have full approval from the authorities.

  • Comment number 78.

    69. At 09:34am on 31st Mar 2011, powermeerkat wrote:
    So perhaps we should ship those al-Qaeda, etc, freedom fighters to Waziristan?

    Or at least to Tora-Bora? [both much more suitable for training and R&R]?
    ________________________________________________________

    At least they would feel right at home there...

  • Comment number 79.

    72. powermeerkat

    The Taliban began to try to take advantage of the situation even before the war against the Soviets was completely over. Massoud and his Moudjahidine were at one time fighting the Taliban at the same time as the Soviets.
    They were formed in Pakistani madrassas with the objective known by the ISI to impose an ultra-rigourous version of Islam as reclaimed by the school of Déoban. They took Kabul in 1996. In 2001 they controlled 90% of Afghanistan and literally imposed a reign of terror. This was also the year when they destroyed the Bouddhas of Bamiyam before being ousted (temporarily) by the US incursion in December the same year (after the 11/9/2001 attack and the assassination of Massoud the 9/9/2001).

  • Comment number 80.

    The rebels have appeared on stage already armed. One would think that was not ordinary condition of people in Libya to carry arms in everyday life, as it was said much later on that "Kaddafi even opened arms' arsenals to anyone willing to help protect Libya from invasion". Like, it took him 2 weeks to morally get ready to hand out rifles to even own Western part ! Means he didn't trust his folk with carrying arms, afraid they would turn against him, or something.
    Only very real threat and likely defeat scare made him become less tight-fisted and hand out rifles to the Western population.
    So where did the Eastern side get them from the very beg.? Robbed some local arms' arsenal? Were there any in the East?

    As to shooting up into the air I don't know how it is there, in Russia's Southern Caucasus republics it's a usual thing at any happiness sign, be that birthday party or I don't know - they start shooting up into the air all around who only is there.
    Rebels are happy. That's all :o)
    were

  • Comment number 81.

    BREAKING THE ARMS EMBARGO

    I've looked at the wording of Un Security Council Resolution 1970 and it's unambiguous: "...all Member States shall immediately take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya... (of arms)"

    The only way round this is to reject the Libyan Arab Jamahirya as the legal Libyan nation, as recognised by the world community. Gadaffi invented the word Jamahirya himself and the offical title reflects his view of Libya. Maybe if we stopped recognising the Jamahirya as the official title, we could get round it that way. France has already recognised the rebel council and that is not the Jamahirya by anyone's definition.

    The upshot of the above ramblings is that I would bet Obama's legal department are looking closely at the 1970 wording and sizing-up the possibility of wriggling round it.

    My view is in harmony with many of the comments on the lack of training of the rebels, the time it would take to get them organised, the lack of will among many of the Allies to go that far, and so on.

  • Comment number 82.

    46. At 03:04am on 31st Mar 2011, malcy700 wrote:
    Call me stupid if you want? But I can’t help having some human sympathy for those so called "rabble" democracy fighters.
    Putting aside all the conjecture.
    After watching them fly back and forth in a crazy fashion, it prompted a spark of humanity in me.
    Curiously a British trait maybe.
    British people always root for the underdog, why I have no idea.
    I’m a bit old to fight now. But by gosh I saw some old guys fighting there,
    Fighting alongside young hopefuls.
    Against such a tour-de-force.
    It would be funny if it was not for the fact these guys were really dying for a better life.
    I am with you guys any day.
    ----------------------
    Call me stupid if you want?

    If you are stupid, then I want to be stupid with you.I am so with them guys as well.

    Yours was a good post.

  • Comment number 83.

    80. At 10:37am on 31st Mar 2011, WebAliceinwonderland wrote:
    As to shooting up into the air I don't know how it is there, in Russia's Southern Caucasus republics it's a usual thing at any happiness sign, be that birthday party or I don't know - they start shooting up into the air all around who only is there.
    Rebels are happy. That's all :o)
    were
    __________________________________________________

    The point is, in this case, the rebels don’t own a logistics process that anyone can see.

    The most useless thing in a gun fight is ammo you used to have…

  • Comment number 84.

    #80 alice

    i know that early on the rebels captured a barracks/arsenal in benghazi as well as some surrounding ammo dumps so from what i understand initially at least they had plenty of small arms. there were also army units who switched sides and these brought over some of the heavier weapons you see the rebels using (multi lauch rocket systems on trucks etc).

    and as for all the firing into the air, if you've only got 1 magazine on you at least fire in the general direction of the enemy and not randomly into the air in your home town because what goes up.....

  • Comment number 85.

    to this day, powermeer, don't understand why the USA opposed to Afghanistan becoming 16th USSR Republic :o)))) Especially if you knew we are to collapse shortly ;o)) - it would have become now simply an independent state, the likes of Tadjikistan, Kirgizstan neighbours. Especially that there are Tajiks in it all over there.

    Which would be no great happiness but definitely better than Afghanistan is today.
    Fot two things you could count on USSR influence ;o), forced de-religion-? isation and male-female equality. Plus, many things can be said about our Southern ex, but one thing is for sure - neither Tajiks nor Uzbeks nor Kirghiz run around with belt bombs. They would think the very idea mad.

  • Comment number 86.

    powermeerkat, (#70. At 09:49am on 31st Mar 2011)

    ”... why haven't we started with humanitarian missions in Iran and Syria? ...”
    True, Foreign Policy is often inconsistent.

  • Comment number 87.

    And the rebels in Libya I guess have simply figured out that the Coalition by now wants Gaddafi head more than they do, and that's why the recent retreats, not because they lost the previous fighting spirit and skill. They took nearly the whole of Libya recently themelves after all, were by Tripoli door, as far as I remember when France recognised them as Libya government. Before the first air strike, before the UN voting.

  • Comment number 88.

    ON MY OWN POST #81 I pushed the button a bit prematurely (I'm officially cleaning the computer area under strict orders so am multi-tasking).

    I'd like to conclude by saying that 'stalemate' is the order of the day in the Libyan conflict. The rebels push too far West? Gadaffi's people still have the power to stop them. Gadaffi's people push too far East? Allied air power prevents them from advancing further.

    We've now heard rebels saying that without additional fire-power it's going to be impossible to take Sirte and Tripoli. Frankly, I don't know where we go from here.

    The defection of the Libyan Foreign Secretary is a very encouraging sign however. I have previously said that Allied action may work to demoralise Gadaffi's supporters and this shows that that is happening. The rats are beginning to run.

  • Comment number 89.

    THIS HAS GOT FAILURE WRITTEN ALL OVER IT....

  • Comment number 90.

    This "Phoney" war is costing the UK £50 million a week, for what -NOTHING

    The assumption is Gadiffi is on his own , when all evidence on the front line suggest he has the backing of 50% of the population .

    The rebels won't win , even if we gave them 1000 tanks . Its a Civil war , not a promotion of Western Values.

    Start reading your history books and show me ONE instance where this kind of western meddling has ever worked...

  • Comment number 91.

    90. At 11:42am on 31st Mar 2011, hughesz wrote:
    Start reading your history books and show me ONE instance where this kind of western meddling has ever worked...
    --------------------
    Hmmm,how about when France came to the aid of them troublesome Americans back in 1776.

  • Comment number 92.

    #90 hughesz

    i doubt he has 50% backing as otherwise he wouldnt be hiring mercenaries to do his fighting for him but it is most definately a civil war. of course the west (and its Arab allies as they keep reminding us) have picked a side even if they are going to extreme lengths to deny it, if this had happend pre iraq i think we'd be seriously talking about sending in troops to topple him but as it stands no politician in his right mind will consider fighting another war (air strikes dont count unless they're shooting you down).

    well at least i really really hope no politician in right their mind would consider it.

  • Comment number 93.

    Hughesz writes:

    "This "Phoney" war is costing the UK £50 million a week". A conveniently round number. Where does it come from?

    "The assumption is Gadiffi is on his own" Who assumes that? No-one I've read. It's accepted that Gadaffi's own tribe and close supporters remain loyal tho' a few are beginning to drift away.

    "Start reading your history books and show me ONE instance where this kind of western meddling has ever worked..."

    OK: (1) Kuwait is once again independent. (2) Chad has its territory back from Libya. (2) Kosovan muslims are safe from Serb aggression.

    That's three for a start.

  • Comment number 94.

    92. At 12:18pm on 31st Mar 2011, Daniel_Archer wrote:
    well at least i really really hope no politician in right their mind would consider it.
    _______________________________________________________
    Are there any of those still around?

  • Comment number 95.

    Alice in Wonderland, Maria Ashot

    I'm sure you're both overwhelmed with joy and pride.

    Just like this BBC correspondent and many other Britons.



    And unlike millions of Russians who don't see any reason to celebrate at all.

    [suffering in the yoke of their own K/Q/G and his KGB-based ('siloviki') regime.




    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12914474

  • Comment number 96.

    Freedom fighters who win, become governments and who said this lot are going to be democrats?

    We have gone in spending the Arts Council cuts each day with no notion of what we want to do, how we are going to do it or even who is in charge. The conspiracists' notion that there is strategy seems belied by the lack of even a brain cell.

  • Comment number 97.

    sayasay wrote:
    “In the era of awakenings, upheavals and revolutions: watch Turkey”

    Just witnessed on Al Jazeera “People & Power” programme: a feature on Uzbekistan repression and plight of its exiled dissidents. Seems like Turkey is going to be very busy again soon if this former USSR’s Turkic republic erupt into civil disobedience.






    Turkic Confederation may be next (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, etc. All rich with oil/gas)

    Wiith its hub in Ankara.

  • Comment number 98.

    The rebels don't need guns, they may need ammo but most of all they need training and a capable command structure. The Libyan opposition did the right thing by appointing a political leadership that has promised democracy (this is often lacking in rebel movements around the world), but it's true: we don't know if we can trust them to act on their promises and we don't know how free their form of democracy will be.

  • Comment number 99.

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

  • Comment number 100.

    Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy are walking with their eyes open into another Afghanistan, creating and feeding an insurgency that will over time morph into the Libyan Taliban. Hasn't the coalition learnt anything from history?

    Arming the rebels (already underway if media reports are correct), implementing no-fly zones or bombing Libyan army units is simply wrong. Libyans are quite capable of resolving this impasse without any foreign intervention.

    Cameron should focus on our economic growth (lack of), cuts to public services and increasing youth unemployment. That's why he was elected!

 

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