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Is it time for intervention in Libya?

Matt Frei | 21:21 UK time, Thursday, 10 March 2011

The hand-wringing in Western capitals about whether or not to impose a no-fly zone over Libya is in sharp contrast to the resolve in Gulf capitals that this is the right thing to do and the very least the outside world can come up with to prevent Col Muammar Gaddafi from using aerial bombardment to cling to power.

I know that the Libyan air force is not inflicting most of the damage. Col Gaddafi has plenty of tanks at his disposal to roll across the desert. A no-fly zone may have a limited impact. But it would send the right message to the people of the region hoping their gains won't be forgotten, and to any rulers weighing up the Gaddafi approach to crowd control. It would weaken the resolve of those parts of the Libyan military that are still loyal to the colonel and it would ensure that Washington is - at the very least - practising what it preaches.

If Col Gaddafi's forces continue to hammer the rebels and prevail while Washington stands by and watches, this president will never be able to deliver another Cairo speech without becoming a laughing stock. Some revolutions are homegrown, domestic affairs. Others need a little help from outside. Nicholas Kristof, an opponent of the Iraq War, has an interesting article in the New York Times calling for greater intervention.

The casualties in Libya may still be relatively small compared to Rwanda or Bosnia. But I covered the Yugoslav wars and watched as Western dithering, justified by lessons from the boggy history of the Balkans, led to 200,000 or more unnecessary deaths. Let's hope that history does not repeat itself.


  • Comment number 1.

    --The same as when Daddy Bush called on the Shia to rise against Saddam --and then forgot what he said ?

    --The Arabs themselves must do more to help their brothers --the governments have the weapons and probably enough volunteers --in the interest of Pan-Arabism.

  • Comment number 2.

    Welcome aboard, Matt.

  • Comment number 3.

    Matt, while you covering the conflict in the Balkans did you see military forces from any Muslim nations there?

    If Muslim nations are so worried about overthrowing Gadaffi let them volunteer to contribute planes and pilots for a no-fly zone, most of them have air forces of modern fighter jets and expensively trained pilots to fly them. Bon appetite.

    I can see one thing that would induce the U.S. to "volunteer" it's services to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya: a threat by those Gulf states to curtail oil supplies. The specter of the resultant worldwide economic chaos would be enough to get even President Obama off his comfy chair and order that carrier group in the Med to get busy; it might even be enough to persuade the Russians and Chinese to back, or at least not oppose, a UN resolution to create a no fly zone.

  • Comment number 4.

    By the way Matt, if the U.S. is coerced into helping impose a no-fly zone over Libya we would expect to see the RAF or RN on our wingtip, how's the mood in Britain for another military adventure? Is the public support there to commit to such an effort or is Mr. Cameron rattling an empty scabbard?

  • Comment number 5.

    I didn't vote for Obama but once again I like what he's actually doing. As far as I'm concerned I wouldn't twitch my little finger to help Libya, or Europe for that matter. Have fun with that intervention, just don't look for any help from America. We are just peace loving folks here.

  • Comment number 6.

    The US should sit this out entirely. Let the Europeans handle it. Let's give the world a reality check; that the international community, including Europe, is truly powerless without America.

    The US is the only country with the military capability to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya. This is pretty much indisputable. European countries do not have the air power to do it, they don't have the satellite communications and guidance, they don't have a single functioning stealth aircraft or long-range bomber. They'd fail miserably, they'd be fodder for the Russian AA systems Libya has. And yet... European countries are involved in the decision making though, why? If there's a no-fly zone as a NATO project, the US will do 99% of the work. Just like in Kosovo and Iraq. If the operation is depicted positively, Europeans will take credit for it despite their infinitesimally small, token contribution. If/when it's depicted negatively, the US will get all of the blame. That's how things work.

    I'm sick of the US being used and abused by the world, and our supposed allies. I'm sick of the US being called on to save the world by the very people who constantly remind us how supposedly disastrous our role in the world is. It's time people be reminded of how dependent they are on the US.

    I'd like Europe to stop scheming and scapegoating the US like cowards and take responsibility for an international response that is in your own backyard. Stop relying on America for everything while simultaneously pretending you're superior to us. Watch as you fail miserably without America to hold your hand. Be reminded that your position of relative power in the world is based entirely on America's benevolence. Be awakened to the fact that the world would be a horrible, unstable place without the US to keep people in line.

  • Comment number 7.

    My heart goes out to the Libyan rebels who have had to live under the very crazy and cruel government of Gaddafi, and I really hate to see them start to lose the battle! In whatever ways the world can unite to support them, I want the countries to agree and do it right away, while there is this opportunity, and before more people lose their lives.

  • Comment number 8.

    A UN resolution in regards to a No-Fly zone over Libya is a far off dream, without Russian and Chinese consent. Both those nations have systematically disenfranchised and brutalized their own peoples, why would they agree to a resolution that could possibly legitimatize a pro-democratic movement? France and Germany should unilaterally impose a No-Fly zone, its the least they could do, both have significant military forces and both have local support for military action. The UK and US shouldn't get involved, it would give the Libyan regime a propaganda field day. Instead tacit support should be given to a Franco-German intervention from NATO and US/UK.

  • Comment number 9.

    6. At 01:57am on 11 Mar 2011, Kent wrote:
    "Be reminded that your position of relative power in the world is based entirely on America's benevolence."

    You may be overestimating a little bit here, but I definitely agree with you on European hypocrisy. While not all Europeans exhibit this trait (along with a healthy dose of arrogance), there are enough to be annoying.
    I have mixed feelings about any intervention. I'd like for us to help evacuate people in trouble, but as for actually getting involved with even a no-fly zone... I'm not so sure that I like the idea of that.

  • Comment number 10.

    We are dammed if we do and dammed if we don't. We sit back and do nothing we get accused of leaving them high and dry we do something we are only doing it for the oil.

    We need to sit this one out. We neither have the military resources or finacial resources to mount such an opperation.

  • Comment number 11.

    It seems that the entire Democratic Party was "calling for greater intervention" in Iraq until after the fact. Just saying....
    If Britain and Europe want to "take care" of "Gaddafi" I say go for it yourselves. The US gets none of its oil from Libya and I think most Americans are sick and tired of wars in the Middle East to bring about "Regime Change".

  • Comment number 12.

    I think Europe responded hopelessly late in the Balkans conflict despite its history - surely the European political leadership must understand to take the lead here NOW - sanctions will never stop a slaughter in time against this revolt - military action by Europe really is demanded if they are at all moved. It is right on their doorstep. What was the bombing of the Pan Am Lockerbie flight all about - conveniently passed over by the British. Perhaps thy will charge the US a 20% sales tax on US military operations if we are so short sighted as to get involved.

  • Comment number 13.

    I sympathize with the Libyan rebels.

    However, I completely agree with the current stance of the Obama administration. No UN authorization, no military intervention. Plain and simple. That is how things should be done. By doing this, the Obama administration has exposed the true villains.

    The blood of the Libyan people is on the hands of Russia, China, and certain governments in Europe.

    The other day I was reading comments in the Guardian, people already blaming America for the military intervention that has no even happened yet. Anti-Americanism has become so rabid. A new generation of Americans will grow up resenting Europe for this. I'm glad Obama has chosen the stance of non-intervesion without UN approval, thus, not feeding these people's conspiracies by not playing into their hands.

  • Comment number 14.

    I don't think the U.S. should intervene in the Libyan conflict in a big way; but would it be so terrible if we were to use one of our armed drone aircraft to hover over Tripoli, wait for Ghadafi to emerge from his bunker, and then blast him to bits?

    Of course the usual people would accuse us of empirialism, but it would save lives and get rid of a dictator.

  • Comment number 15.

    It's easy for a UK writer to advocate for a no-fly zone, because the UK has retired its carriers, so the Royal Navy will not be able to contribute. It's unlikely the small carriers could do the job, anyway. The new, larger carriers probably could, but they will not be available for a few years. That leaves France's Charles de Gaulle in Europe. I would like to see France and the UK impose a no-fly zone, with France using the C de G and Rafale fighters, and the RAF operating from Malta. It would be interesting to see how well our allies' equipment works.

  • Comment number 16.

    The day that western countries impose a no-fly zone over Palestine is the day that I might consider a no-fly zone over Libya - with of course, the apporval of the United Nations.
    Have you ever stopped to think why some regimes are okay with the west while others are for the most part sacrificial goats?

  • Comment number 17.

    Is it time for intervention in Lybia?
    I say NO.
    Libya says NO.
    In fact Colonel Moammar Gaddafi has cautioned that the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya will be met with the utmost resistance. Also it will be taken as evidence that western powers are intervening, but only to steal Libya's oil fields. Gaddafi is adamantly defiant.
    Meanwhile the so-called Opposition Leadership (whoever they may be) is pleading for the international community to shut down Libyan Airspace.
    Gaddafi has said that should the western powers make such a decision, it will help Libya because the Libyan people will see the truth: It's all about oil - just like in Iraq and Afghanistan. He went on to say that this is what America, this is what France, this is what these want-to-be colonialists have done in the past and will continue to do.
    Obama and Cameron have agreed to press forward with planning, including NATO, on a full spectrum of responses which seem to include humanitarian assistance, enforcement of the arms embargo, and a no-fly zone.
    The US seems gun-shy. Secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, has made it perfectly clear that Washington believes any decision to impose a no-fly zone is a matter for the UN and will not, cannot be, a US initiative.
    (It would have been nice if the US had taken this position before invading Iraq.)
    Apparently, a Libyan plane carrying the Head of the Libyan Authority for Supply and Logistics also carried a message to Cairo. Major-General Abdel Rahman Ben Ali Al-Sayyid Al-Zawy, was on board the Tripoli plane. Gaddafi's message to Egypt is unknown to me. I wish I knew.
    The facts on the ground: Gaddafi’s aircraft and tanks are pounding opposition fighters in Zawiyah, the closest rebel-held city to the Libyan stronghold of Tripoli.
    What will the west do when Gaddafi wins? What will this victory mean? Will it mean a United States of Africa that will protect all African states from western exploitation and usury?

  • Comment number 18.

    Wel, looks like it is time for the EU to step out of its Short Pants. Will it put on a dress instead?

  • Comment number 19.

    Kent, nice to read your comments on the day that more UK casualties in Afghanistan are announced.
    They are not the only non US forces shedding blood there either.

    However, if there is one important lesson from Iraq it's that a limited group of nations acting against much of the world's opinion is not a good idea.
    I know some just cannot resist sneering at 'Europe' (a rather more diverse group of nations than many seem to think), but what about Egypt?
    They have a large, competent, well equipped Air Force (due in large part to a lot of US tax $ over the past 30 years), they are in the right place, have more reason than most to want the regime in Libya gone (a potentially huge refugee crisis, a long hatred of Gaddafi (even including a short conflict with them in the 70's).

    The UK, France, could impose a no fly zone over at least the contested areas of Libya, from land based aircraft with tanker support, both - especially the UK - are committed in Afghanistan, the desire for a UN agreement runs into partial Chinese and strong Russian objections - as you'd expect, remember their indiscriminate carpet bombing of the city of Grozny.
    The UK RAF with the US spent years policing NFZ's over Iraq, aside from the lashing out of the 1986 US bombing of Libya - killing Gaddafi's 2 year old daughter, France spent much of the 1980's engaging Libyan forces in Chad - blunting Gaddafi's attempts to get the Uranium mined there.

    NATO includes Italy, whose awful Prime Minister is a real friend of Gaddafi, also Italy was the former colonial power there so that alone is sensitive, meaning the best placed airfields, not to mention their own forces, are unlikely to play ball. (This would also affect any US action, which would not be confined to Carriers).

  • Comment number 20.

    We Americans are overextended and tapped out, and we get little or no oil from Libya. We need to stay out of this conflict. If the British, French and Italians are keen to protect their oil interests, or if they have a suddden fit of conscience after catering to Gadaffi's every whim for years, they can spring into action with a no-fly zone. Let them be the ones accused of Lust for Oil for a change.

  • Comment number 21.

    The ball is definitely in the European court, the question is what is Europe going to do? America will be here to back up YOUR decisions IF you make one, we wont even second guess you, vote against your actions in the UN, make secret deals with the dictator and stab you in the back. Most of us wont even call your soldiers murderers or constantly criticize you for every action real or imagined. WHEN you accidentally kill some civilian cause your soldiers were being fired by people using civilians as human shields we would even accuse you of war crimes.

    To bad our "allies" in Europe wouldn't do for us what we would do for them.

  • Comment number 22.

    20, so are the British 'overextended and tapped out.'

    And let's end this nonsense about how Europe was so supportive of Gaddafi, after 2004 so was the US, think Blair went to meet him after he ended his WMD effort and supporting terrorists without the support of Bush?
    Rather a lot of US citizens were evacuated from Libya as this crisis developed - including by UK and other forces of nations you seem to despise- are you telling us they were there on holiday?

    No, the US was into doing business with Libya this past 7 years, just as much as anyone else.
    Cut out the self righteousness, it's fooling no-one except yourselves.
    (What is it? No history education beyond 5th grade or is it provided by Disney?)

  • Comment number 23.

    To enlarge on a previous point;

    (If link unapproved by mods, go to - libya - in - chad -198087 - a3728)

  • Comment number 24.

    Well, looks like the EU leaders like their Short Pants.

  • Comment number 25.

    Leave Libya alone!
    Once the box has been opened, Pandora will creat Pandemonium.
    Are we not seriously concerned that unterference in the Arab World, the Muslim world, may destabilise far more than Libya? The Arab revolts have strated as spontaneous protests, but the West is moving (covertly) to take control.
    The US is using some of the same techniques that it has always used for its “colourful revolutions” e.g. in Georgia, the Ukraine and Iran.
    The "Freedom House" and the "National Endowment for Democracy (NED)" are CIA-based, involved in suporting activists, Twittering and Facebooking "spontaneous" revolutionary activity in Egypt, Tunisia, and wherever else destabilization supposedly helping the United States of America.
    The US has always wanted a "Greater Central Asia". The ongoing revolts in West Asia and North Africa, while having grassroots, are beginning to show green shoots that are not Arabian, not Muslim. This is why Russia has warned about foreign interference.
    President Dmitry Medvedev has suggested that the revolts in the Arab world were instigated by OUTSIDE FORCES and that these outside forces are schemeing to undercut Russia and China as well.
    As for PM Vladimir Putin, he has also urged western nations to refrain from interfering in the rebellions in the Arab world. He said (very wisely) “People should have the chance to choose their own fates and their own futures without any kind of outside interference.”
    The Arab revolt may have begun as spontaneous protests, but the West has taken advantage, moving to control the end result. The US is using the same techniques in the Arab East it earlier used in staging “colourful revolutions” in the former Soviet Union — e.g. Georgia, Ukraine and Iran. The CIA-linked foundations such as the Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), supports and trains civil activists, Twittering and Facebooking organisers.
    At the height of the Arab crisis, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared a "network" war on all “repressive governments.”, though why she didn't begin with her own United States of America us beyond my understanding.
    Clinton announced the launching of Twitter feeds in Arabic and Farsi; also the US us planning to start similar Twitter feeds in China, Russia, and India. The United States of America is attempting to intervene and exploit the the popular rebellions in the Arab east. We are witnessing American attempts to reform the Greater Middle East according to a plan devised by the US neoconservatives.
    The Americans may get a few unexpected surprises.
    Remember the democratic elections in Palestine. Those elections were won by Hamas. The US declared it a terrorist organisation shortly thereafter.
    What's on the horizon?
    The US could now push ahead with its plan of creating a "Greater Central Asia", but what will the Americans do when the people, in a democratic process elect parties like Hamas, or the Muslim Brotherhood?
    The CSTO unites Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Belarus and Armenia. The CSTO is concerned about renewed attempts of extremist groups to set up bases for expanding their subversive activities in Central Asian states. Don't forgt that Tajikistan borders Afghanistan...
    On March 4, the CSTO announced plans to hold the first drills of its peacekeeping forces later this year.

  • Comment number 26.

    Alright how about we do this instead. You tell Gaddafhi you have a 2 day window to accept this offer as follows:

    -Immunity to prosecution for you and your family for anything done prior to the day negotiations start.
    -Flight out of Libya to any country you want.
    -Protection from reprisals from Libyan Government.
    -$5 billion taken from the Libyan treasury.

    You give him those guarantees and then tell him the alternative is every operative from the combined Special Forces of every NATO country makes him and his family enemy number 1 till they're all hunted down.

    Crisis over and you can call me when the next one comes.

  • Comment number 27.

    Those agitating for action don't have the responsibility of committing forces - with potential loss of life - many also rail against government spending - do they think operating a NFZ is free?
    The road to hell really is paved with good intentions, in one sense Western action would 'prove' to many - even those not well disposed to him, which is everyone except his local supporters - that Gaddafi's ravings about 'Imperialism' had a grounding in fact.

    Mission creep would be probably inevitable.
    Even if a pre-emptive attack on AD assets, airfields, was discounted in favour of, as in the Iraq NFZ's after the 1991 war, of only attacking SAM radars once they locked on to NATO aircraft, what happens when the main air power deployed against the rebels is confined to helicopter gunships?
    Sure F-18's, Typhoons, Rafales could use radar guided medium range missiles against them, however it's almost certain that there would be a visual ID requirement before engagement. Meaning short range heat seekers and cannon.
    So now you are lower down and within range of AA cannon/heavy machine gun fire that anti radar weapons and electronic warfare will not counter.
    Meaning the possibility of having to mount combat search and rescue ops, Western boots on the ground by default.

    What if NATO shoots down a chopper now being used by the rebels - after all some Libyan fast jets defected.
    Remember in 1994 when policing the NFZ in Iraq USAF F-15's shot down two US Army UH-60's, these things happen and in a situation less fluid than Libya now.

    So the NFZ works, the rebels though carry on losing, then come calls for a 'No Drive Zone' against Gaddafi's armour/troops using the main highways - which likely would tip the balance back.
    In a short time you've gone from a NFZ operating at several tens of thousands of feet, to close air support. With all the risks of casualties and fratricide that risks.

    Those condemning the US President, European leaders for 'weakness' 'inaction' should consider the above and I'm sure I've missed out plenty of other dangers.

    Might the supply of say infantry Milan and Javelin anti tank missiles and man-portable surface to air missiles perhaps tip the balance back - which could cause a crisis of confidence with Gaddafi's inner military circle, be a more reasonable attempt of support?

  • Comment number 28.

    There are several things that the world should know about Libya and Gaddafi before it decides to intervene or impose a no-fly zone.
    Since thew western media seems reluctant to speak the truth (or maybe just ignorant), please forgive me for my personal attempt.
    Before this so-called revolt, Libya had the lowest infant mortality in all of Africa; Libya also had the highest life expectancy of all of Africa. Less than 5% of Libyans were undernourished. When food prices went up, Gaddafi abolished ALL taxes on food.
    In comparison to the rest of Africa, Libyas were rich. Libya had the highest gross domestic product (GDP). The government took care to ensure that everyone in the country shared in the wealth. Libya had the highest Human Development Index of ANY country in Africa. In Libya, a lower percentage of people lived below the poverty line than in the Scandanavia.
    How could this be?
    Libya was blessed with OIL.
    What's more Gaddafi would not allow foreign corporations to steal Libyan oil - unlike in other countries like Nigeria. In Nigeria the country is basically raun (abused) by Shell.
    Like any country, Libya has some corruption. In response to this, Kadaffi called for the oil revenue to be distributed directly to the people, because in his opinion, the government did not need superfluois beuacracy which could be tempted.
    Kadaffi is not the President of Libya. In fact he holds no official position in the government. This is a big misconception that people make. They claim that Kadaffi rules over Libya when in fact he does not.
    The true leader of Libya is an elected PM. The current PM is Baghdadi Mahmudi. Contrary to what western media say, opinions in Libya vary. Some people support Gadaffi but want Mahmudi out. Others want both out. Most just want to get on with their lives. However, great efforts have been exerted in the west to portray this revolt as a popular revolt, which it is not.
    Are the protesters in Libya comparable to the protesters in Egypt and Tunisia?
    The governments reaction is more violent, and obviously excessive violence is being used. However take an unbiased look at what the protestors have done: The building of the the general people's congress, the Parliament of Libya, was set afire by angry protestors. To compare, this is equivalent to protesters setting alight the United States Capitol. What do you think the Obama Administration would do?
    The riots erupting now are not secular youth, or anything like what we have seen in Egypt and Tunisia.
    A group calling itself "Islamic Emirate of Barka", the former name of the North-Western part of Libya, has taken hostages, has killed two policemen and several Libyans. On Friday, February 18th, the group stole 70 military vehicles, attacked a port and killed 4 soldiers.
    A group recently arrested in Libya consisted of dozens of foreign nationals AND PAID MERCENARIES that were involved in numerous acts of looting and sabotage. The Libyan government leaned towards but could not absolutely prove that the links were to Israel.
    The main opposition group in Libya now is the National Front for the Salvation of Libya. This opposition group is being funded by Saudi Arabia, the CIA, and French Intelligence. I guess this is why France has bene so quick to recognize this illegitimate Council.
    February 17, 2011, this group unified itself with other opposition groups, to become the National Conference for the Libyan Opposition and organized the "Day of Rage" that plunged Libya into chaos. It did this in Benghazi, a conservative city that has always been opposed to Gadaffi's rule.
    Why is the United States so opposed to Gadaffi?
    He is the main threat to US hegemony in Africa. Gaddafi wants to disrupt US hegemony by uniting the continent against the United States. This concept is called the "United States of Africa".
    Gaddafi also firmly believes that the 9/11 hijackers were trained in the US.
    The United States and Israel do not want a trong leader in wither the Middle East or Northern Africa. The plan is to bring Gaddafi to his knees. In late 2010, the United Kingdom was still propping up the Libyan government through lucrative arms sales; after all, nothing is a better guarantee to destroy Libya than a bloody civil war.
    Gadaffi has survived throigh 41 years of espionage and terror; God willing he will survive to a United States of Africa.
    Please remember that the violent Libyan civil war unfolding now is not comparable to the revolutions seen in Tunisia and Egypt. Both of these revolutions involved peaceful protesters with legitimate grievances.
    Gadaffi's ideology is based on unification; he attempted to peacefully merge his country with Egypt and Syria.
    Thank God, the United Nations has decided to send an envoy to analize the situation.
    I dare the western media to tell the truth because what on earth will the world gain from the lies and propaganda?

  • Comment number 29.

    "Is it time for intervention in Libya?"

    Of course. Let us intervene into the internal affairs of all countries, not just those with oil. Should the US declare a no-fly zone over Belfast?

  • Comment number 30.

    29, Why Belfast? The Provo's threw in the towel years ago - they might not call it that but that effectively was what it was.
    Though the IRA was sustained of course by both Gaddafi (early to late 70's then after the mid 80's again) and by US citizens, since the IRA had stood down their murderous campaign by Sept 11th 2001 we did not get to see how that event would have affected the support of those citizens once terrorism stopped being something that happened elsewhere.
    (Note the NY Republican Pete King is trying his own little McCarthyite game with the 'Loyalty' of Muslim Americans - he was once a loud cheerleader for IRA terrorism - he might hope it's been forgotten - it hasn't).

    There are many who wanted Mugabe's murderous destruction of his own country stopped by intervention, however he'd have used that as 'proof' of Western re-colonisation. The only ones who could have stopped him was South Africa and they were not going to topple a fellow African 'brother'.
    China will seriously not allow those thugs in Burma to be stopped.

    Same applies to Libya, now the Arab League have called for intervention - at the no fly zone level at least, one wonders what the substantial air arms they been building up for decades are actually for.
    However, their call might well make Western action more politically possible.

  • Comment number 31.

    The whole point of the Arabian Spring is that it is home grown. Its greatest prize would be that it extended its roots into sub Saharan Africa and Gaddafi falling would be a powerful encouragement for that. So those outside Arabia should not intervene and indeed are not being asked to. However, with Gaddafi's billions and ability to buy his mercenaries there is a humanitarian case for giving the revolt a little nudge, maybe to level the playing field in terms of fire power. I fully support the idea of a no fly zone because it also means there is a presence to offer immediate help if things did turn very nasty. Even more I support a sort of 'Charlie's War' type intervention, where the international community collectively supplies the uprising with the tools it needs to do its best (anti tank artillery and a few rocket launchers etc.).

    As for the gutless earlier posts that can only say 'we can't afford it and we have no stomach for another war' I say this is an entirely different situation to that in either Iraq or Afghanistan and needs to be considered independently. People are dying out there in the name of a cause that could be a huge contributor to a more peaceful and orderly world. If all you can think of at such a time is oil price then shame on you. In any case the realities of supply and demand will take care of that and you will wish you had invested more wisely in alternatives.

  • Comment number 32.

    I'm American. We are not the military version of Interpol and are already bogged down in two wars in Muslim countries and the other ones are mad at us for propping up their autocratic governments so we can't for a host of reasons do this. If the Arab League is so much in favor of this, why aren't THEY doing it?

  • Comment number 33.

    #32 sarahpc

    --- because they are the ´autocratic governments´ you mentioned.

  • Comment number 34.


    "29, Why Belfast? The Provo's threw in the towel years ago - they might not call it that but that effectively was what it was."

    Belfast was offered as an analogous hypothetical, with the provision that it became an issue again.

    Fly-zone or no fly-zone then?

  • Comment number 35.

    If Benghazi falls, then Egypt will probably receive 100,000 refugees from there alone.

    -- I just can´t see them not returning and continuing the fight at a later date and this necessity may infuriate other peaceful ´democracy wishers´in the region.

    Fly-zone or no-fly-zone appears to be less of a problem to the Arab League than the Catch-22 --will a no-fly-zone save them from being overthrown if Gadaffi survives or not.

    --and the Western nations worrying about the proverbial ´bottle of religion´-- no matter what happens.

  • Comment number 36.

    Americans are now moving towards a more insular view. Budget cuts and the lack of support from Allies for the removal of brutal genocidal dictators, constant attacks by BIASED media outlets, Anti-American attitudes and may I say it the BBC HYS(leaves a bitter taste in this anti-war liberals mouth thats for sure) have pushed American public opinion. Americans are dammed if we do dammed if we don't so why should we? Currently we have tens of thousands of our troops providing humanitarian aid not related to military action, in 499 different places including
    Lebanon, Pakistan(floods), Yemen, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia,Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Congo, Sudan, Namibia, Mozambique, Cambodia, Thailand, Mongolia, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru.
    Also New Zealand, Haiti and Japan. You would never know it from the abuse we take. Sure we make mistakes but MOST if not all the conflicts we have been involved with are the results of Europe's Colonial past and even President GWB had to convince the public that it was the right and correct MORAL thing to do before declaring war. Dictators Like Guaddaffi just shoot guns in the air and have paid supporters chant "death to Americans" in the street, blaming us for everything from Athletes foot to PMS. I guess it's nice to have someone to blame for your own problems, but you'll soon have to find some other scapegoat to take out your trash.

    If it came to a direct public vote today we probably would close almost every foreign base and operation other than the humanitarian efforts immediately and say "Were done, good luck. You'll have to cut your budgets, raise your taxes and put your lives at risk to defend yourselves you OBVIOUSLY don't want or need us here anyway." This probably sounds as good to you as it does to most Americans, I suggest you be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

    While public support for the PEOPLE of Libya is almost universal in the USA, there is little support for any military action, and I doubt there will be support for any action but complete withdraw for a long long time. We will stay in Afghanistan and train their people until we are reasonably sure the taliban won't come in and start burning down girls school buildings(with the students inside) hospitals and such as they are inclined to do. But after that I foresee a very quick exit from Europe. The UK will still have our support and protection but I think our days of world policeman are over.

  • Comment number 37.

    If we truly need to intervene, our best bet is to pull troops out of countries like Germany.

    But I do wonder how long before that support is thrown back in our faces and we are attacked by those who replace Gaddafi with the very weapons we gave them using the tactics we trained them with use?

  • Comment number 38.

    37. At 03:11am on 14 Mar 2011, Fluidly Unsure wrote:

    If we truly need to intervene, our best bet is to pull troops out of countries like Germany.

    But I do wonder how long before that support is thrown back in our faces and we are attacked by those who replace Gaddafi with the very weapons we gave them using the tactics we trained them with use?"

    I agree, it's long long past time we pulled out, the European public seems to be as opposed to our presence as the American public is. I blame the old fossils still fighting the cold war. We could use all the money we save, including the millions we pay in taxes to Germany each year for the privilege to pay for luxury items like healthcare. The estimated $90 billion we spend in NATO would surely help.

    The actual costs to the USA for NATO, NOT including operations in Afghanistan! are around $90 billion this does not including the normal costs of maintaining troops equipment etc. (it's very hard to get real numbers this is a VERY conservative estimate and the LOWEST number I could find)

    Even the normally hawkish Republicans are looking at very large defense spending cuts, these are the new tea party republicans mostly but they are pushing hard on this.

    As far as US intervention in Libya, or anywhere at this time, I see very little support from the public who are very adverse to getting into any new conflicts esp in this area of the globe.

    We wish the people well, but I would rather spend the money and effort in humanitarian aid to Japan and other good allies than a risk operation in Libya that will just open us to more criticism and hate.

  • Comment number 39.

    32. At 7:18pm on 13 Mar 2011, sarahpc wrote:

    I'm American. We are not the military version of Interpol and are already bogged down in two wars in Muslim countries and the other ones are mad at us for propping up their autocratic governments so we can't for a host of reasons do this. If the Arab League is so much in favor of this, why aren't THEY doing it? "

    We(not really US but the international oil market) went to the powers that be and bought oil from them, yes a lot of them are dictatorships but that unfortunately is where the oil happened to be. They have "held us over a barrel" with it!

    It's a fallacious argument that the US gets most , or even a large part of it's oil from the ME. Currently over half is produced domestically and the majority of that is used for agriculture. The rest mainly comes from Canada, Venezuela and Mexico each of which supplied almost as much as Saudi Arabia! The next biggest would be the UK which has operations in Iraq(so who went to war for oil????) and Norway.

    MOST of US oil does not come from the middle east, that oil mainly goes to Europe and China! It's so interesting to read the comments about Iraq oil when NO AMERICAN COMPANY has a contract in Iraq! The major contracts went to BP and Chinese Oil firms!

    The US doesn't get oil from Libya, which discredits the earlier comments about the US propping up Guadaffi which is absurd as we bombed his house and killed some of his family as I recall.

  • Comment number 40.

    These Americans in here! You really ought to consider that there are other nations who also have active troops serving in various theaters. Other countries are seeing the body bags coming home. Its not just you in America who are making sacrifices. In young lives and in financial resources. This time it's not defense. Its doing the big thing for people who need our help, at this time to defend themselves. Let's just arm them! It doesn't cost much and the CIA do it anyway. Not the troops. But even though that kind of covert operation is not for the United Nations or NATO we can all make a contribution.

  • Comment number 41.


    BBC has reported Bahrain has requested foreign Arab troops to help with protestor ´problems´and agreement has been reached for the autocrats and dictatorships to ´help each other ´

  • Comment number 42.


    Yet whenever I get on the BBC HYS on ANY subject I see really vicious comments directed at US soldiers. I don't see these nasty comments directed at French troops in Africa on American sites. I repeatedly find myself on the defensive even defending policies or politicians (GWB comes to mind) that I'm opposed to because of the Hypocrisy, hatred and ignorance that I constantly find plastered on every subject. When US troops protect civilians their actions are ignored, When US troops are fired on from the roofs of hospitals, schools and mosques they put their lives at risk because they are unwilling to fire back but it's not reported on. When accidental civilian deaths are caused by this type of action by the enemies of humanity and the "fog of war" they are labeled "murderers" and it's front page news. When Our allies accidentally caused the deaths of many of our soldiers due again to the "fog of war" in Iraq(the most American casualties in the first Iraq conflict were caused by the accidental bombing of an American Base) I did not see Americans making the kind of nasty accusations that I routinely see here on the BBC.

    When I first started reading the BBC 11 years ago, I had no Idea that so many believe such nonsense, exaggerations, falsehoods and deliberate lies about the people, government and military of the US. It's hard to have a debate with those who will only believe the bad things(even if proved false) will ignore the good and spread falsehoods to further alienate the very people who would risk their lives to protect them.

    Years ago someone said to me "There is only a north south thing in the south." Referring to old southerners still holding resentment from the civil war.

    There is only a "European vs Yank thing in the UK" We give your soldiers the benefit of the doubt, We understand that a soldiers job can be brutal and difficult to understand without directly witnessing the events. The most I have ever seen is a brotherly chiding of the French that contained no malice, even while the French leadership to every opportunity to thwart American diplomacy even when they had no real interests in the event.
    In April 1986, after Libya set off a bomb in a West German discotheque killing 2 US soldiers and injuring 79, the US decided to retaliate by attacking military targets in Libya. But the French closed their airspace to U.S. F-111 aircraft en route from Britain - U.S. aircraft had to fly around France, adding 2,600 miles to their aerial assault on Libya. One of those Soldiers was a childhood friend of mine.

    Dispite this I and the vast majority of Americans still have a very positive view of the French people and would not consider calling their troops on humanitarian missions meurtrier, assassin, or criminel.

    Josef Joffe suggests five classic aspects of Anti Americanism: reducing Americans to stereotypes, believing the United States to have an irremediably evil nature, ascribing to the U.S. establishment a vast conspiratorial power aimed at utterly dominating the globe, holding the United States responsible for all the evils in the world, and seeking to limit the influence of the United States by destroying it or by cutting oneself and one's society off from its polluting products and practices.

  • Comment number 43.

    42. At 10:12pm on 14 Mar 2011, Trollicus wrote his post.

    "making the kind of nasty accusations that I routinely see here on the BBC."

    Trollicus,please,can you provide any links to support your post,thanks.

  • Comment number 44.

    RHammond, I refer you to my post 27!

    While I can see why some in the US get a bit upset at unfair anti US comments here, it's an international site, frankly be grown up about it.
    They are however, as nothing compared to some of what spurts from the mouths of some of your politicians, a certain laughing stock of a 'news channel' (Hi Glenn and friends). Though it seems it's popularity means at least a portion of it's viewers take it seriously.
    Or just maybe cut out the wounded pride, rise above the BS, be bigger than it.
    There is not knee-jerk anti US sentiment where it really matters, though frankly after Iraq, after the 'rendition', the outsourced and closer to home torture (surely unbecoming of the US and it's stated values), are you surprised the US image in the world took a sharp knock between 2001-2008?

    As for this 'pull out of Germany' stuff, wise up and change the record - since the end of the Cold War you largely have. (Do try and keep up).
    What remains is for the use of US forces deployed worldwide - that large US military hospital in Germany is rather closer to Afghanistan for a badly injured soldier than the USA.
    Then there are ports, staging facilities, airfields, some US military deployments since the end of the Cold War would have been harder, more expensive and slower to do without them.

    (The UK, for some reason, still has some 20,000 troops in Germany - half the Cold War level true, but since the end of operations in the former Yugoslavia hard to justify - at last it's to be scaled right back. I should think so at £1.23 Billion a year in a very over-extended budget).

    Go further and pull out entirely, well then say goodbye to NSA intel facilities in the UK, on UK facilities such as Cyprus - handy for listening in on the Mid East, Diego Garcia - ditto, Ascension Island, use of a French base in the Horn of Africa - another Al Queda hot spot/source of terror plots.
    Result - your NSA would be half deaf and partially sighted - be careful what you wish for.
    It's not the total one way street some seem to imagine.
    And not just in cost and returning body bags either.

  • Comment number 45.

    #42 Trollicus

    --I believe the main problem is unabashed nationalism, of which on the BBC blogs some Brits and some Americans are equally guilty.

    --on American blogs this nationalism is not only ´taken for granted´but required. While most Britons or French will not criticize their serving troops, Youtube and other media question their national silence.

    If the reason for participating on the BBC blogs is only to wave your own flag, one can stay on local blogs instead --where ´birds of a feather flock together´ --and you will not be disappointed.

    --- If Americans or Britons cannot accept international criticism on an international blog --they should make a logical decision --withdraw !

  • Comment number 46.

    It doesn't take $100 billion a year to have a hospital in Germany.(again this is a gross UNDERESTIMATE of the costs)

    I stated that the UK would still have our support and protection, I don't see the US sitting idly by if a major threat to the European populous took place, but we don't need to spend more defending Europe than the Europeans do. I was also stating my interpretations of current American Public opinion, not that it's necessarily the best course of action.

    The NSA doesn't require multi billion dollar a year basses to do intelligence gathering. We could pull 99% out and not affect their operations significantly.

    @43 & @ 44
    If you haven't been reading the BBC HYS for the past 5 years or so I can understand this, the current format has alleviated a lot of the vitriol that turned my stomach in the past. As for a link your already there, you just need to find cached copies of the HYS from years back and start reading. The Anti US comments permeated topics completely unrelated to the US, some I believe should have been removed as they obviously violated HYS rules. Again My comments are a REACTION. When I first started reading BBC I didn't expect such raw hatred and prejudiced statements. I tried to ignore it but after a while as I stated I found myself defending positions I did not necessarily agree with because of the nature of the comments I was reading. Oddly I also found myself defending Israel, which is strange because my initial posts were very critical of the Israeli governments actions. After a while I learned to avoid any mention of I or P on the BBC(I cringe a little as I type this) So it's not just the US I see as being tied to the whipping post. During the wonderful era of in my opinion, the worst president in US history one George W. Bush the comments began to be the ONLY side that seemed to be expressed. Although I was quite vigorously opposed to bushes wars I found myself defending them. I still see comments like "The deceleration of war was illegal" When as an american I regularly saw the leader of Iraq declare war with "Death to America" rallies held on a regular basis. I'm not sure what could be a more clear declaration than that. I also have watched televised (in the US)interviews with Dr. Germ (Rihab Rashid Taha al-Azawi is an Iraqi microbiologist, dubbed Dr. Germ by United Nations weapons inspectors, who worked in Saddam Hussein) Where she proudly states that she was working on Biological weapons. As a biological weapons program can be broken down into a thumb drive and a sample container it's doubtful any material would ever be found. I also understand that it was the Iraqis policy to "pretend" they had more than they did, a big miscalculation on there part, but hardly one to blame on US intelligence. I also understand SH USED chemical weapons on civilian opposition. These FACTS seem to be lost or at least not widely reported or understood by the comments being made. However bad the US administration was I doubt GWB ever personally boiled someone in oil. Torture IS illegal under US law and it was stupid and foolish of the VERY FEW US soldier who committed these acts and the officers who allowed it to happen. It harmed our interests and put the lives of our people in greater danger. Keep in mind these soldiers(and american humanitarian aid workers) were being beheaded in public at this time. The Officers and soldiers involved were court marshaled and received very harsh long prison sentences for their crimes.

    To break this down into a small statement. I believe WHATEVER actions the US takes will be used against us. If we don't go we will be accused of supporting Gaddafi which is Absurd(we tried to kill the man). If we do go it will be "American Imperialism" and an attack on Islam. If we stay in Europe we will upset the people who want us out
    It costs us a fortune and as I stated earlier I see no reason to be anywhere but defending the actual territory of the United states. The cold war is over We don't need to be in Europe. I didn't want to be in Iraq or Afganistan and will be happy when we are out. I just suggested that the people of the US would be quite happy to pull almost everything out of everywhere.

    I'm glad we have a large base in Japan if only to help with the current situation, but I don't see the need to be anywhere on that side of the globe including defending Taiwan and S. Korea. When Japan is back on it's feet as Europe has been for a long time, our mandate is over. When the people of these countries protest our presence(and they ALL HAVE) we should listen to them and Leave. Maybe then we won't have so much anger directed at us and our people won't be targets for lunatic attacks.

  • Comment number 47.

    Whilst excepting there is Anti Americanism the vast majority in the UK this would not be the case.There are idiots every place.There is anti Welsh in some quarters,saying things like we have deep pockets & short arms.I support a feeding center in Moldova for single parents & elderly who just can`t cope.So far personally raised the sum of £40,000 pounds in & around my home town in just 2.5 years for this work.We are constantly accused of having unnatural relations with sheep witch is blatantly untrue.There may have been an incident in lonely remote North Wales,with farmer Jones,but by all accounts the sheep being female, so there was nothing kinky with old Jones.We all must be more resilient & not so precious. Americas legacy is a thriving Europe & Japan now free from the threat of Communism.
    Don`t walk away from something so many of your country men died for.
    America is a great country with great people,but hell you don`t need me to tell you that.

  • Comment number 48.

    For once I agree with Obama. There is ZERO reason for the US to expend blood and/or money to help people that hate us. And YES, I have spent time in Libya. Most people there like it when Americans are killed by muslim terrorists. So, they can sort out their own internal affairs.

  • Comment number 49.


    I think you may be displaying signs of over-sensitivity here. To avoid any confusion, there is no widespread feeling of anti-Americanism in the UK - if anything the reverse is true. (That isn't necessarily true of every European country of course). Blog sites around the world tend to attract people who like to rant and rave, some may be nothing more than children spouting ideas and views that they don't even understand. Many of them on the BBC site aren't even European, much less British - it is an international site. Taking any of that seriously is to fail in understanding the nature of the internet.

    It is ironic that you should feel intimidated or insulted by what you see as rampant anti-Americanism when you yourself posted this:

    "Josef Joffe suggests five classic aspects of Anti Americanism: reducing Americans to stereotypes, . . . . "

    There are many, many instances of US posters to this site talking about "Europeans" as if they all shared the same nationality, characteristics and political views. Europe, if you have never been (which is true of the majority of Americans of course) is a diverse collection of countries, some of which share very little in common apart from inhabiting the same continent. Rather the reverse is true, their histories over many centuries, far longer than your nation has been in existence, means that some still harbour rivalries and grievances the origins of which are lost in the mists of time. The further east in Europe you travel the more that is true, which is one reason why so many countries split apart after the fall of the USSR. Ancient identities reasserted themselves. The existence of the EU doesn't alter this fact, and it is one reason why Britain, having developed as an island nation, has so much difficulty fitting in it. We have far more in common with the Anglo-Saxon peoples around the world like Australia, New Zealand, Canada etc. (and that would include the USA) than we do with the nations of mainland Europe. To believe otherwise would be like us claiming that everyone from the tip of Chile to the arctic wastes of northern Canada were all alike because they are "American". Stereotyping cuts both ways.

    Incidentally, many of the "anti-European" posters from the USA didn't feel that way on the morning after 9/11 when they were both happy and grateful that Britain and others at once stood shoulder to shoulder with them in their hour of need. That was a decision that means we still see British blood draining into the sand in far off countries. Despite the claims of some Americans here, it is not a all a one-way street.

    Whatever you may read on blogs, the USA and Britain have far more in common than many of us would care to admit.

  • Comment number 50.

    Dear Mr. Frei. I am assuming you are British so I say it is the British that can go and enforce a no fly zone. We Americans are sick of policing the world. We have enough trouble of our own and it is time we Americans look inward and start helping us.

    People want our help and then say get out and kick us in the ass.

    If a no fly zone is to happen it is up too Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and others to enforce it. It is time for the Wwest to stay out and by the way Russia and China are more than capable of doing this.

    Stop saying we should have more of our children killed for a kick in the ass.

  • Comment number 51.

    Why Lybia and not Egypt or Bahrain or Saudi or Kuwait? The so called revolution in Egypt has acheived exactly BIG FAT ZERO. The only difference is that the army dictatorship in Egypt is paid by our tax dollars and Gaddafi is NOT. In fact, "our" oil companies (now there is an oximoron for you, eh!), especially British, are making a lot of money from Lybian oil. No we will steal Lybian money in "our" banks. The only logical response is to nationalize all foreign interests in Lybia. As long as we think that the enemy of our enemy is our friend, we will lose!

  • Comment number 52.

    Matt, are you happy with the outcomes in ex-Yu which created an outpost for mulsim extremists in the middle of EU (Bosnia) and a dysfunctional, criminal protectorate of Kosovo? Lybian regime has every right to fight the terrosits who are trying to take the power. Have we forgotten our allies the mujahadin of Avganistan a.k.a Taliban? Let's blow some more money that we do not have, killing people who have done us no wrong. Stay-out. Go home Mr. Frei, wrapped in newspaper, I hope.

  • Comment number 53.

    I guess that means what you mean about a time for intervention in Libya.
    Gaddafi certainly is welcoming intervention (of a sort). He's busy offering his sweet crude to India, Russia, China
    Muamer Gaddafi actually invited Chinese, Russian and Indian corporations in a bid to replace Western companies that fled the unrest.
    Gaddafi met (on Sunday) with the ambassadors of China, Russia and India, with whom he discussed the progress of bilateral relations and extended invitation to these countries to exploit Libyan oil.
    Most oil companies operating in Libya, including French Total and Chinese CNPC, have partially or completely shut down production since the upheaval began.
    As the rebels gained momentum, Gaddafi warned that oil production in would soon hit an all time low. He threatened to toss out Western oil companies that were failing to do their jobs. Now, Gadddafi is honouring his threat: He is negotiating with Chinese, Russian and Indian companies to replace Western ones.
    The last significant oil shipment left North African on February 19, 2011. But now, the rebels fighting to unseat Gaddafi have lost key oil towns, including Zawiyah, Ras Lanuf and Brega. Libyan oil terminals have become safe. All employees are being asked to return to their jobs. Foreign firms are asked to send their tankers to load and unload.
    Libya was producing 1.7M barrels a day before the unrest. Of this 1.2M was exported - mostly to Europe. Other major customers remain China and (maybe) the United States.

  • Comment number 54.

    @ 50 Bass

    I don't think Matt Frei (currently in Tokyo) is British. He was born in Germany. Germany of course also being one of the three G8 countries, along with Russia and China who are making it so difficult for the international community, especially Britain and France to make any sort of contribution towards leveling the playing field between Gaddafi and his opposition. Who he is currently gunning down at will.

    The obvious is clearly not getting through to people so I guess it needs to be said again if it stands any chance of penetrating the myopic self interest being expressed, especially by some Americans in here. Do not think for one moment that what happens in Libya now won't affect you. For America to retain its standing in the international community, secure its share of middle east and african resources and see advancement in its long term, headline foreign policy (democracy) it needs to show leadership. It needs to take smart actions. It does not need to get involved in a war but it, in concert with the rest of the international community can stop people being murdered by a tyrant. Hollywood still finds it helpful to have heros when it comes to selling films and they know a thing or two about marketing.

    Maybe now is a good time to re-watch that classic from the nineties 'Wag the Dog'. Just replicate a fake war in Albania for a real one in Libya. Then consider the difference between a real civil war and a civil war being played out in the media. Then ask yourself what the right thing to do is? Then ask yourself why President Obama is the first western leader who hasn't relished the opportunity to make him/herself look 'presidential' by presiding over a good and just conflict? Then look at what the American media is saying. Then go to google images and look up a picture of a chicken. You'll see what I mean.

  • Comment number 55.

    I was just thinking:
    What if the big panic to get a no-fly zone is an urgent endeavour to cover something up.
    Why is Britain pushing? Why is France pushing? Why us the Arab League supporting, labelling Libya "An Unfriendly Nation".
    What if NATO special forces (like those M16 farce force) are already on the ground, advising, arming the so-called protestors in Eastern Libya? This would be another in a long string of illegal invasions.
    What if the western countries realize that they cannot lose this war; Gaddafi must not be succesful.
    Imagfine, if Gaddafi ever formed a United States of Africa, and he most certainly will not be westward friendly.

  • Comment number 56.

  • Comment number 57.

    #54, Francis power:

    Surely this is something Europe can and should do. But failing that, Britain and France need no one's permission to act, either alone or in consort. Let Europe do this or not, but leave the US out of it if Europe, and France and Germany in particular, aren't willing to make and clear commitment to support whatever action is taken, and not just with words, but with men, money,and material.

    From Mark Mardell's America:

    White House spokesman Jay Carney stressed on Tuesday the US will not go it alone:

    Our position is that action like that should be considered and taken if decided upon in co-ordination with our international partners, because it's very important in the way that we respond to a situation like we see in Libya, that it be international and not unilateral; that it include the support and participation, for example, of the Arab League and other organisations and countries in the region... precisely so that it is not viewed by those who oppose positive democratic reform as the dictate of the West or the United States.

    Mr. Carney's words are clear. The US isn't going to act alone. I hope we stick to that.

  • Comment number 58.

    #57 D_M

    The German constitution forbids such military actions.

    Bush dragged them into Afghanistan only because a NATO country was attacked --the USA !

    -- and I believe NATO is a DEFENSIVE organization ?

  • Comment number 59.

    @ Pickled Pete
    Thank you for your thoughtful comment, If I would have read more comments like this in the past I probably wouldn't have vented so.

    PP "I think you may be displaying signs of over-sensitivity here"

    Possibly, but it's been a long time coming. After a few years of reading some truly awful stuff on the HYS forums, I think it was the suggestion that the US somehow supported Qaddafi that set me off. I think this article is worth a look.
    One of those Soldiers who was killed in the German nightclub bombing was a friend of mine and I will never forget his mothers tears. If I thought The US government was "Propping" up this dictator I would be the first to start flinging mud.

    PP "There are many, many instances of US posters to this site talking about "Europeans" as if they all shared the same nationality, characteristics and political views. Europe, if you have never been (which is true of the majority of Americans of course) is a diverse collection of countries, some of which share very little in common apart from inhabiting the same continent"

    When I typed the comment you refer to I had your reaction in mind as a little deliberate reciprocation, I applaud you for noticing.
    I posted almost the exact same comment several years ago! Only I was referring to the fact that the USA is 50 states composed mainly of immigrants who were kicked out of every decent (and otherwise) nation in the world. As I have stated in past postings "We aren't all Texans". It's unwise to group California or Texas in with Kansas and New York as having much in common besides calling themselves Americans. The city I grew up in is %80 German ancestry, a nearby city is mostly French. The street I live on now consists of people born In the US, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Korea, and the Ukraine! I once traveled 4427.3 miles (7125.04869 kilometers) without leaving the US, (Ohio to Hawaii).

    I wish I could provide you with links to past BBC HYS comments, I'm sure you would find them as offensive as I and be as embarrassed as I am when people here quote Glenn Beck or some other right wing-nut.

    I have been pleasantly surprised by this particular comment section as the comments seem to lack the acid that I have had to swim though in many past HYS comment sections.

    I still think if the US was to act militarily in any way in Libya I would have to wade through even more accusations, hatred, lies, and anger and frankly I tire of it. Right now I think our forced are better spent helping the people of Japan. I can't speak for the troops over there but I'm sure they would rather be risking their lives rescuing Japanese civilians than bombing Libya(and yes a no fly zone would need Bombs that would probably kill some innocent people no matter how hard we try not to). I disagree with the US decision to keep troops out of the area, I have been reading posts from american soldiers in japan(on other sites) and they are without exception stating that they would stay and help even if that meant radiation exposure. Another American Aircraft carrier could be used to provide more electrical power and fresh water to the people of Japan in need of it. Just like the one in Haiti. Even If it took weeks to get there it looks like this isn't a short term event.

  • Comment number 60.

    #58 quietoaktree:

    Yes you are right. Thanks.

  • Comment number 61.

    BBC latest--

    Gaddafi has spoken by radio to Benghazi -´He´will attack tonight and NO mercy will be shown !

  • Comment number 62.

    re. #28. At 7:34pm on 12 Mar 2011, BluesBerry wrote:
    There are several things that the world should know about Libya and Gaddafi before it decides to intervene or impose a no-fly zone.
    Since thew western media seems reluctant to speak the truth (or maybe just ignorant), please forgive me for my personal attempt.
    Before this so-called revolt, Libya had the lowest infant mortality in all of Africa; Libya also had the highest life expectancy of all of Africa. Less than 5% of Libyans were undernourished. When food prices went up, Gaddafi abolished ALL taxes on food.
    In comparison to the rest of Africa, Libyas were rich. Libya had the highest gross domestic product (GDP). The government took care to ensure that everyone in the country shared in the wealth. Libya had the highest Human Development Index of ANY country in Africa. In Libya, a lower percentage of people lived below the poverty line than in the Scandanavia.
    How could this be?
    Libya was blessed with OIL.

    So are Bahrain and Saudi Arabia where the standard of living is also well above the norm. What's your point? All the money in the world can't take the place of the freedom to speak your mind without fear of being arrested and tortured. To the man on the street what is the difference between a dictator like Gadaffi and a king or monarch of a Gulf state? Both promise them more material things, both tell them how things will be instead of asking them how they would like things to be and both use repressive means, including foreign mercenaries, to deal with any challenge to their rule.

    Any government that has to bring in foreign troops to maintain its power over its people has lost any legitimate right to rule.

  • Comment number 63.

    Thank goodness the UN Security Council is seeing some sense at last: No fly zone. Charlie Wilson (rest his soul) inspired ringing and without further military intervention. Why did that agreement of the blindingly obvious take a whole week?

  • Comment number 64.

    It looks like both BBC correspondents are too preoccupied with the real news (hint...Japan) to update their blogs.

    It's OK, the rest of the world is also watching that situation.

  • Comment number 65.

    I have no idea about Mark Mardel. Personally I've always thought him supercilious and prime redundancy material (actually I really resent having to pay my license fee for people like him, John Simpson's another one of many more). But Matt Frei, who also needs to pull his socks up seemed to be in Japan a few days ago, last time I watched a television.

    It's crunch time between which is the biggest news in a shocking week. Japan has experienced a massively sever earthquake, a tsunami and between the two broke the back of a series of nuclear reactors. Japan's resilience to the natural disasters is admirable and commendable. It is as if no one has been asked for any help whatsoever.

    But the nuclear containment situation is not a singularly national responsibility and so, rightly, teams of experts from all over are contributing to the effort. I wish them every success. They will be working through various untried methods, untried because of the normal high level of safety associated with nuclear power. The news has gone slightly quiet in the last 24 hours regarding that. I very much hope, for all of us that tomorrow will bring news of the kind of success that we didn't hear of for months when that oil well head failed in the Gulf of Mexico last year. Before I go on I would like to pause to think of those who have been killed or harmed in these events.

    Meanwhile in the middle east things are looking up, unless you are a despot or a mercenary. I watched the ten minute clip the BBC had of President Obama's address following the UN Security Council decision regarding Libya. It is the first time I have seen him look or sound Presidential since he was inaugurated. And of course the cowards within the Libyan regime or their pay have run for cover before the sun had a chance to set.

    However... five abstentions. Brazil, India, Russia, China and Germany. That's BRICs and what we have been trying not to think of as the Nazis. What is that all about?

  • Comment number 66.

    The Coalition of the Willing is in breach of R1973.
    At least 48 civilians have been killed; 150 wounded in Libya, and this is just the first day of the Western-led airstrikes.
    The Libyan Foreign Ministry has called for an emergency meeting of the Security Council.
    Meanwhile, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi urged Libyans to "fight against aggression," saying he would open the arms depots to equip civilians so as to defend the country's independence, territorial integrity and glory.
    French warplanes started early Saturday afternoon by French fighter jets of Rafale and Mirage 2000.
    Then came the United States, launching Tomahawk missiles against Libyan air defenses from warships deployed in the Mediterranean. Obama said the use of force was not his "first choice" and not a choice he made lightly. "In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition" that is committed to enforcing the UNR 1973 that called for protecting the Libyan people. This was the first civilian casualties had been reported.
    The US strikes targeted air defense sites along the Libyan coast and the sites were around Libyan capital Tripoli and the western region of Misrata. Over 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired earlier in the afternoon from primarily merican ships and British submarines and struck more than 20 integrated air defense systems and other air defense facilities ashore.
    I have never seen Gaddafi mete out such arrogant brutality in such a short space of tiem.
    Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Saturday that Russia regretted the foreign military intervention.
    In a statement, Lukashevich said the military actions against Libya was based on a "hastily passed" UN Security Council Resolution. The statement also called for a cease-fire in the north African country as soon as possible. "We urge again all parties in Libya and military operation participants to do everything to prevent civilians suffering from the actions and call for a cease-fire and an end of violence as soon as possible."
    China's Foreign Ministry on Sunday also expressed regret over the multinational military strike against Libya, saying that it did not agree with resorting to force in international relations.
    China believes that the tenet and principles of the UN Charter and relevant international laws should be adhered to, and Libya's sovereignty, independence, unification and territorial integrity should be respected.
    Meanwhile, reports on late Saturday said a high-level African Union (AU) panel on the Libya crisis opposes any foreign military intervention in Libya.According to earlier reports, Mauritanian President Ould Abdel Aziz said that the panel rejects any kind of foreign military intervention in Libya.The AU panel, formed a week ago, comprises several presidents from African nations, and was set up to engage with all parties in Libya, facilitate in an inclusive dialogue among them, and engage AU parties for the speedy resolution of the crisis in Libya.
    I don't know what action the AU and/or the UN will take, but I hope it is swift and just to stop this utter brutality on the part of the western coalition. At the very least, I would expect observers to monitor exactly what The Coalition of the Willing is doing.

  • Comment number 67.

    China believes, as does Russia, that certain deals they have made with other African despots to secure mineral resources would be compromised if the Arabian Spring were to spread across Africa. The African Union is also bit worried about that, with Gaddafi being their self proclaimed 'Father' figure. They all want the status quo for self interested and commercial reasons. China and Russia's position in all this is a transparent disgrace. Quite what India, Brazil and Germany's motives for supporting them is I cannot fathom (they being the other three of the five abstainers at this weeks Security Council vote).

    Meanwhile, despite a tardy start, a highly professional operation to secure a no fly zone and stop Gaddafi murdering his opposition is now well underway. He has become desperate and would rather have his supporters assist him in destroying Libya than allowing its people to choose how they are governed. But it will very soon become obvious to even his closest supporters that they have found themselves on the wrong side of the debate. As it will become obvious to the mercenaries that have come from other parts of Africa to protect despot rule that they are unlikely to get paid. How long will they put up with that?

    This is no time to confuse pacifism for the right thing to do.

    Hopefully, as I haven't said anything disparaging about Mark Mardel in this post it won't get referred for further consideration! Or perhaps the BBC has become a little like Russia and China these days, unable to take criticism from the people who are obliged to fund it.

  • Comment number 68.

    #54 Francis Power
    The obvious is clearly not getting through to people so I guess it needs to be said again if it stands any chance of penetrating the myopic self interest being expressed, especially by some Americans in here. Do not think for one moment that what happens in Libya now won't affect you....


    Ye gods - now the British are complaining and moaning about Americans because we not enthusiastic enough about intervening in an Arab nation's own war? After years of whining griping and insulting Americans about Iraq? Make up your minds...

    Please let us know when the latest trend of anti-Americanimsm in Britain has become popular. You complain about us in all cases, no matter what we do. But this is a complete turnabout. Please try to keep us posted.

    This is Libya's business - not ours. And why is Britain going after Libya's dictator after releasing the Lockerbie bomber to cheering throngs in a desperate and dishonorable attempt to appease him - and openly insulting Americans? It makes no sense whatever.

  • Comment number 69.

    @ TimR1944

    You didn't notice that the UK went into Iraq with the USA? Well anyway, we did. There are many in the UK who felt that was wrong, as there are many in the USA who think that was wrong. I am not by any means anti American. I am married to one (who is only alive because she missed the Lockerbie flight) and spend a good deal of my time in the States, which I love. But when Americans behave like gutless cowards they need to be told and they need to get over themselves. Same as Brits. So I am not anti American but neither am I pulling any punches over the way Obama dithered for a whole week, which was an embarrassment for your nation.

    America is now doing the right thing, eventually (as Churchill said it could always be relied upon to do). Along with Canada, the UK, France and Italy, to mention a few. Conspicuously missing from the list, despite having said they would participate in preventing Gaddafi from murdering Libyan people are any Arab forces. It was the Egyptian army who oversaw a peaceful removal of their despot but the Libyan army lack a true moral compass. Arab forces are urgently needed if the action now being taken is to enable the Arabian Spring to blossom, which is what it is intended to do. It can't do that if an evil dictator steals the nations wealth and uses it to fund mercenaries from outside to kill its people. That is why we are leveling the playing field. We have no intention of presiding over the subsequent process of setting up a new governance model once the Libyans, and it will be the Libyans, have toppled their tyrant. That's Libya's business.

  • Comment number 70.

    Kent, I wonder about your subjunctive in "this world WOULD be a violent, unstable place." What news are you watching, reading? The US certainly contributed to world instability by helping our "rival" Iran and eliminating their enemy Iraq. We gave the biggest gift to Iran, for nothing--for increased hostility, actually. Why? Because Saddam had targetted Daddy Bush with assassins. This was a Texas shoot-out, plain and simple, with the added incentive of Texas oil from Iraq.
    It has been a disaster for the US budget, and arguably for the military, exposed as essentially at least one half mercenary contractors.
    As a postscript and by hindsight, downhome Texas sense on gunning can impress: you notice W did not go hunting with Birder Cheney.

  • Comment number 71.


    "The US certainly contributed to world instability by helping our "rival" Iran and eliminating their enemy Iraq."

    Helping Iran into the worldwide sanctions they are under and eliminating their enemy, Iraq, by planting a democratic government next door to Iran? Something that Iraq has not had in their entire 5000+ year history?

  • Comment number 72.

    64. At 04:34am on 18 Mar 2011, RHammond wrote:
    It looks like both BBC correspondents are too preoccupied with the real news (hint...Japan) to update their blogs.

    If I understand you here, I couldn't agree more. It strikes me as truly tragic that the military voyeurs, longing for their annual dose of "shock and awe" are being catered to at the expense of coverage of the human disaster in Japan.

    One more proof, if more were needed, of what a magnificent species we are. Made in God's image indeed.

  • Comment number 73.

    #72 Curt Carpenter:

    So everyone is terrible because they don't live up to your expectations of what they should be. How terrible for you. Well, get over it. Your expectations are only relevant for you. And quite frankly, I doubt if even you manage to live up to your expectations. It's not a perfect world.

  • Comment number 74.

    So the world sells these tyrants weapons and then selectively decides which one of them stays in power! Which country is next, Bahrain or Syria? Maybe even Saudi Arabia or pick a half dozen African nations. The hypocrisy of this 'noble' action is so apparent. Not one of these regimes could survive without the military aid and materials provided by one of the members of the UN.

    Top Ten ARMS Exporters

    1. USA
    2. Russia
    3. Germany
    4. France
    5. UK
    6. Spain
    7. China
    8. Israel
    9. Netherlands
    10. Italy

    The French government signed a deal as recently as 2007 to sell Gaddafi Mirage fighter jets. Now they have to use their next-generation Rafale to destroy the Mirages which they gladly sold Gaddafi earlier. Now that the Mirages have been reduced to scrap metal, Libya will have to buy new fighter jet from someone - most likely the French since they will be given "winner's rights" by Gaddafi's successors.

  • Comment number 75.

    It is my understanding that the United States is joining the UN in this joint military operation to keep Gaddafi from killing his people. We are not sending in ground troops and our part in this joint UN operation is finished in a week.

  • Comment number 76.


    "Not one of these regimes could survive without the military aid and materials provided by one of the members of the UN."

    Well you are right about the hypocrisy thing but you are wrong about the particulars. Almost all countries in the world are part members of the UN, so blaming the conflict on weapons is silly, since the same claim can be made about any conflict, anywhere, at any time.

    The hypocrisy is present but in the form of oil. Concerns about the welfare of "civilians" is the grand lie here. If it was a genuine and valid excuse, there would be no fly zones over China or North Korea.

  • Comment number 77.

    @ 76 R Hammond

    I don't think you are right about the UN action being motivated by concerns over oil supply over the welfare of people. No 'no fly zone' over China or North Korea? Well firstly what earthly basis would there be to attempt to impose one over China, which everybody acknowledges is reorganizing itself, for the better, at a rate of knots that nobody else pretends they would be able to improve upon. Secondly North Korea is pretty much well locked down already. Efforts to curtail their military excesses tend to be focused more on their attacks on neighbors than what they may or may not do to their own.

    I do not accept that concerns over the welfare of civilians is any sort of a lie in the case of Libya.

  • Comment number 78.


    "I do not accept that concerns over the welfare of civilians is any sort of a lie in the case of Libya."

    That's fine, as long as you acknowledge that you haven't addressed the point about the lack of UN mandated no-fly zones over other countries/regimes that abuse and murder their own civilian populations.

    And which have no oil...

  • Comment number 79.

    73. At 05:13am on 22 Mar 2011, d_m wrote:

    #72 Curt Carpenter:

    So everyone is terrible because they don't live up to your expectations of what they should be. How terrible for you.


    But actually, everyone -- like yourself, for example! -- pretty much DOES live up to my expectations. The problem is that I have such low, low expectations anymore.

    Now go turn on CNN and see if you can catch the latest guided munitions strike videos. Nothing like a good tank roasting to keep you folks entertained.

  • Comment number 80.

    #79 Curt Carpenter:

    Well, you're nothing if not arrogant. Except perhaps for hypocritical. Let's not overlook judgmental, that wouldn't do. You've got it all figured out don't you Curt--nobody quite measures up but you.

    You don't know me and I doubt you know anybody else on this blog, but you've judged us all and found us wanting.

    You don't suppose the problem is you, do you?

    Have you considered counseling?

  • Comment number 81.

    80. At 05:04am on 26 Mar 2011, d_m wrote:
    "You don't know me and I doubt you know anybody else on this blog, but you've judged us all and found us wanting."

    No, not ALL of you. People like yourself, for example, do a pretty good job of meeting my expectations.

    I'd be mighty pleased if you'd make my improvement your personal mission.

  • Comment number 82.


  • Comment number 83.

    @ 78 RHammond

    I did address the point about the lack of UN mandated no-fly zones over other countries/regimes that abuse and murder their own civilian populations. Citing both the countries you used as examples. In my comment @ 77. So I don't need to acknowledge anything. I think you are wrong.

  • Comment number 84.


    OK then let me point out specifics. In regards to China you said:

    "No 'no fly zone' over China or North Korea? Well firstly what earthly basis would there be to attempt to impose one over China, which everybody acknowledges is reorganizing itself, for the better, at a rate of knots that nobody else pretends they would be able to improve upon."

    Which is irrelevant since UN mandated no-fly zones are not contingent or predicated on the degree to which one regime is or is not "reorganizing itself" but rather on the regime killing/murdering its own population. At least that is the official excuse for Libya...

    In the case of Korea you said:

    "Secondly North Korea is pretty much well locked down already."

    Which is also irrelevant in the context of "no-fly zone if you kill your own civilians" UN context. N.K. is killing its population through starvation AND occasionally it attacks its southern neighbor, S.K. Yet, no UN mandated no-fly zone over Korea. Why? Oh, neither Korea nor China are oil exporters to the US/EU, are they....

    "So I don't need to acknowledge anything. I think you are wrong."

    Well, that much is obvious and fortunately it demands no rational reasons.

    Incidentally, Syria has just started shooting their demonstrating civilians, just the other day. Don't worry, there will be no UN no-fly resolution for Syria though. No oil in Syria, you see... Or you don't.

  • Comment number 85.

    #81 Curt Carpenter:

    As long as you are repeating yourself, I'll reiterate: have you considered counselling?

  • Comment number 86.

    85. At 11:30pm on 26 Mar 2011, d_m wrote:
    "As long as you are repeating yourself, I'll reiterate: have you considered counselling?"

    As long as I'm repeating myself, I'll reiterate: I'd be most pleased if you'd undertake the instruction yourself. I'm ready to be bathed in the raw power of your insight. Do share!

  • Comment number 87.

    @ 84 RHammond

    Narrow view. You can imagine what I think. But all the same, isn't it great that the Arabian Spring has caught Syria? It won't be the first time blood has been spilt in a good cause. Or indeed the first time Arab blood has been spilt in a good cause...

  • Comment number 88.

    #86 Curt Carpenter:

    Are you beginning to see the humor in this?

  • Comment number 89.

    88. At 05:30am on 27 Mar 2011, d_m wrote:
    "Are you beginning to see the humor in this?"

    Not my kind of humor I guess. I lean toward sardonic sarcasm.

  • Comment number 90.

    #89 Curt Carpenter:

    I was just thinking the humor had more to do with what we were doing than what we were saying.

  • Comment number 91.

    I'm with Francis Power (77) in his last paragraph. But there is no need to explain failure to act elsewhere. The United Nations Responsibility to Protect doctrine is applied on a case-by-case basis. Nobody in any position of responsibility is going to express a policy of general applicability which would decide whether intervention was called for in some future case. The Secretary of State emphasized this recently. There is only one way to decide: bring it up at the UN Security Council, where it can be thoroughly discussed, then voted on. It is the burden of those who advocate intervention to justify it, not the other way around.

    As for China, talk of intervention is foolishness masquerading as serious debate. It is not in the power of the United Nations, or of NATO, or of the US, to take conventional military action against China with anything but disasterous results. Since China has a veto on the Security Council, UN action is out of the question anyway.

  • Comment number 92.

    avg American (75), the US role will not end. Command and Control is being passed to NATO, but the US, as a major contributor to NATO, will continue to have an important role.

  • Comment number 93.

    There is no oil in Ivory Coast. Cocoa is not important.

  • Comment number 94.


    "The United Nations Responsibility to Protect doctrine is applied on a case-by-case basis."

    No kidding. It's just that the cases seem to involve oil. Maybe you meant to say "...on a oil-case-by-oil-case basis."

    "It is not in the power of the United Nations, or of NATO, or of the US, to take conventional military action against China with anything but disasterous results."

    You are right. NATO couldn't survive a Chinese iPod embargo.

    "Since China has a veto on the Security Council, UN action is out of the question anyway."

    A practical excuse for not enforcing a principle. Why not extend it to North Korea, as well. After all North Korea is China's protege. Right?

    And while at it, see if you can find the 6 degrees of separation between Syria, for example, and any of the members of the Security Council with veto powers.

    The UN is a corrupt organization, a facade behind which the world powers hide while they conduct their practical business of economics. It has always been that, it will always be that and nothing more.

    The issue I find amusing is the transparency of the charade, that's all. The excuses offered to prop it up, are as insipid and they are laughable.

  • Comment number 95.

    One must look 20 years ahead.....Where is the OIL going to come from and where will be the security of that oil.?

    Europe and the USA cannot stand by and wait for this oil crisis to suddenly come upon them....

    That is why control of IRAQ and LIBYA is so important....

    Better to confront the inevitable oil crisis now, rather than wait. Otherwise Europe and the USA might end up in a major conflict.

    As it is the IRAQ and the now LIBYA conflicts are minor and manageable.

    SAUDIA ARABIA is already in a stable controlled state.

    Just leaves IRAN....

    AFGHANISTAN appears to be a lost cause...It being next to CHINA and PAKISTAN....Why bother.?....Perhaps someone could explain why British troops are here.

    At all costs a MAJOR CONFLICT must be avoided.

    OIL has been at the root of all the progress made during the 20th.Century.....To maintain this growth/wealth/progress, OIL will be paramount in the 21st.Century.

  • Comment number 96.

    I realize, Matt, that my comment may not be directly on topic, but it is from my heart.
    I am outraged at Nobel Peace Laureate, President Barack Obama’s decision to intervene in the internal affairs of Libya...or for that matter any other country.
    Libya is an African educational centre; students come from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia. Libyan educational standards have been among the highest in the world. These young people have - inaccurately - been labeled by the US press as “black mercenaries”; they have been netted in hostile waters - trageted by the US as allied to Al Qaeda insurgents. Odd how the United States can identify these "insurgents", but cannot seem to recognize even see those insurgents in East Libya.
    I join my voice to that of Brazil and other BRIC countries that deplore the invasion of Libya; this can be called nothing else except INVASION, AGGRESSIVE INVASION.
    Does the world not know that pre-Gaddafi women were supressed, but post-Gaddafi women have risen to responsible positions?
    Does the world not know that The National Front For the Salvation of Libya was/is financed by the CIA and that this has gone on since 1981?
    Does the international community not realize that humane persons all over the world are outraged by the Libyan invasion?
    Of course the media panders; of course the media spins; of course it is one step away from impossible to get the truth from the western media.
    President Obama’s justification for this Libyan invasion provides answers that aren't answers; explanations that explain nothing.
    Reports can be found - but not easily - about these so-called rebel leaders. e.g. Did you know that Khalifa Hifter, one leader of the rebel army, spent most of his last 20 years in Langley, Virginia? Talk about pro-American ties! Did you know that General Wesley Clarke told anyone who would listen that Libya was on the US hit-list more than 10 years ago?
    This Odyssey Dawn smells like rotten fish - very much like so many other African operations undertaken by US-supported persons who are willing and able to threaten any "inconvenient" leader who is willing to stand up (with real backbone) and demand that the United States and all of its pathetic puppets: "Get out and stay out!"
    This scenario has been played so many times, it would be boring if not so deadly. How about Sierra Leone, The Republic of The Congo, Ivory Coast, Somalia, Iraq, Angola... (Yawn!) All of these poor beneficial recipients of depleted uranium if not white phosherous.
    Yet Pentagon Secretary Gates said: “Libya is not part of our vital interest.”
    Well then why is the Coalition of the Willing there?
    President Barack has chosen to spend $750M/week in addition to other war costs. (Get ready now.) Economic Policy Institute Study: the average American Black family wealth is $1,700 while that of Whites was $90,000. If Obama wants to intervene with black people, the United States of American would be a good place for him to start. President Obama has done nothing to address this disparity.
    I shout with those who support the right of self-determination for the Libyan people, including their right to resolve differences without interference from outsiders, especially military/imperialist outsiders.

  • Comment number 97.

    re#95. At 11:29am on 01 Apr 2011, coplani wrote:
    "OIL has been at the root of all the progress made during the 20th.Century.....To maintain this growth/wealth/progress, OIL will be paramount in the 21st.Century."

    Those who've read Frank Herbert's "Dune" will recognize the phrase: "The spice must flow." That pretty much sums up western policy toward the middle east.

  • Comment number 98.

    re. #96. After his usual anti-western ramblings Bluesberry asked one good question that I believe Obama has been less than forthright in answering:

    At 4:12pm on 01 Apr 2011, BluesBerry wrote:
    "Yet Pentagon Secretary Gates said: “Libya is not part of our vital interest.”
    Well then why is the Coalition of the Willing there? "

    As best I can tell we are there not because we have a strategic interest there but because our European allies do and as usual they are politically incapable of taking decisive military action without American leadership so if it all blows up their faces they have someone to blame it on. Or to put it more charitably, our allies asked for our help and after dragging them into our fights in Iraq and Afghanistan we owed them one.

  • Comment number 99.

    matt,are these the same gulf capitals that are themselves dictatorships? don't you see the irony of gulf regimes pretending to support democracy in libya.

  • Comment number 100.

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


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