Torpey: Support the Libyans but Don’t Arm Them!

John Torpey writes in a guest column for Informed Comment:

Looking After the Neighborhood in Libya

John Torpey

After much mischief and brutal behavior, the police have finally moved against a vicious druglord and troublemaker in a notoriously rough neighborhood. The beleaguered residents of the neighborhood have been gamely fighting back of late, but they probably can’t contend with the superior firepower of the gangland kingpin who runs the show where they live.

The gangster, of course, is Muammar el-Qaddafi, the drug is oil, and the neighborhood is the Arab Middle East. As with any use of violence by the police, there are many legitimate questions that should be raised about the intervention in this case. But amid all the concerns about what outside forces are doing in Libya, we should not miss one central point: we are witnessing the first true example of what has been called “global domestic policy.”

In a striking shift from the discredited policies and actions of the Bush era, the Obama administration has joined together with a coalition of the well-meaning to stop the potential shedding of a great deal of innocent Libyan blood. Far from the sham “coalition of the willing” that invaded Iraq in 2003, the alliance of forces moving against Colonel Qaddafi is as close to a global endeavor as one can realistically imagine.

The United Nations Security Council has voted, with some dissenters to be sure, to enjoin Qaddafi from slaughtering his citizens. The Arab League – some of whose members the Colonel has needlessly humiliated in the past – has invited outside forces to protect the country’s Arabs. The African Union has been a party to the discussions of the “contact group” meeting in London to develop strategies. Turkey, an increasingly important regional player, has been reassured that no Western occupation will ensue, and has thus been willing to accede to coalition plans. This is in part because “command and control” of the operation has been turned over to NATO, despite the complexities arising from this sort of joint military decision-making. And, of course, many among the opposition have pleaded for outside support.

While the United States is the entity best able to put forces in the field, others have insisted and President Obama agreed that Americans would not send in ground forces, would only be involved in the enterprise for “days, not weeks,” and that it would generally take a back seat with regard to the conduct of the effort. Indeed, Obama was extremely reticent about involving American forces in yet another Muslim country, and only came around after these other parties were committed and he became convinced that American power could be used for a good cause.

From the perspective of only a few years ago, all of this is quite remarkable. At least until the financial meltdown, oceans of ink were being spilled on the character and misadventures of “American empire.” Comparisons to Rome, the first empire spanning the entire world of which it knew, were rife. And the Bush administration seemed to live up to this comparison, seeing Iraq as a playground on which its fantasies of democratic nation-building could be carried out.

American military power remains overpowering, greater than that of all the rest of the world’s forces put together. Yet this is largely a technological matter of little relevance to the kinds of wars that are being fought today. Hence, like other rich societies, the United States can get along with an all-volunteer force rather than a mass conscript army. The wars that are now being fought are often going to be “wars of choice,” because no one in his right mind would attack the United States. These wars will be fought to tamp down conflict and violence in the world’s many rough neighborhoods.

Choosing which neighborhoods invite intervention will be guided by interests, of course. During the first Gulf War, protesters asked, “What if Kuwait’s main export was broccoli?” They had a point. There are many hard questions that should be asked about any use of military force. And questions of the abuse of power must always be answered; military intervention abroad is an intrinsically dubious proposition unless one is engaging with a force comprising a clear and present danger to oneself.

Still, we have turned a corner in international affairs with the Libya intervention. We will look back on it in future years as a return to the internationalism of the pre-Bush years and a re-dedication of American foreign policy to the international institutions it helped build up after World War II. The coalition forces can claim with good reason to have averted major loss of civilian life. The ghost of humanitarian failures past may finally be put to rest.

The difficulty now concerns what to do from here on in. Regime change is not the policy of the United States government, although everyone clearly wants Qaddafi out. Should we supply weapons to the rag-tag, untrained, and ill-armed rebels? This sort of step has a long and often counter-productive history in the annals of American foreign power; just recall the contras in Nicaragua and Osama bin Laden. We know practically nothing about who the rebels are and want they may ultimately want. The region is already awash in American arms. Arming the rebels looks like a very risky bet, but it is hard to leave them hanging as Qaddafi’s forces re-group and beat them back in various places.

Global domestic policy probably shouldn’t include handing out guns to lots of unknown forces, even if we may be heartbroken that the Libyan people can’t fight back as effectively as they might otherwise. If we supply them with weapons, the fight may start to look more like ours than theirs, and that may backfire down the road. But the coalition should surely provide intelligence, logistical, and political support, and hope that the neighbors can find a way to clean up the neighborhood as best they can.

John Torpey is Professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

38 Responses

  1. Far from the sham “coalition of the willing” that invaded Iraq in 2003, the alliance of forces moving against Colonel Qaddafi is as close to a global endeavor as one can realistically imagine.

    If you consider those parts of the World that do not include Russia, China, or most of S.America including Brazil, then, yes, it is a global alliance.

    • Those parts of the world had no objection to it; they could have stopped it with one word.

  2. “In a striking shift from the discredited policies and actions of the Bush era, the Obama administration has joined together with a coalition of the well-meaning to stop the potential shedding of a great deal of innocent Libyan blood.”

    One wonders what color the sky is on Professor Torpey’s planet. Here’s a less partisan, and more thoughtful analysis of the Obama aggression:

    link to counterpunch.com

  3. Your observation: “We know practically nothing about who the rebels are and what they may ultimately want.” is spot-on. We have no idea who the rebels are and what they represent. We have no idea what their leaders’ agenda is.

    There is reason to be wary of at least a segment of the rebel leadership. Various reports indicate that one of the rebel leaders, Abdel-Hakim Al-Hasidi, went to Afghanistan in 2002 to fight against the “foreign invasion,” as he called it, i.e. against U.S. forces. Moreover, a 2007 report published by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, based on biographical information on jihadists seized in raids in Iraq, revealed that Libya contributed 19 percent of the foreign fighters in Iraq, second only to Saudi Arabia in absolute numbers, and in per capita terms, number one.

    As you point out, arming the jihadists in Afghanistan in the 1980s to defeat the Soviet Union seemed appropriate then. Little did we know at the time the deadly blow-back that would follow. While Libya is not Afghanistan, it is similar in that, once again, there are voices calling for arming the opposition to a regime we don’t like, an opposition about whom we know nothing. One would hope that our ignorance about whom we were dealing with in Afghanistan and their ultimate goals would lead us to be a bit more cautious about throwing our lot in with the Libyan rebels, whose ultimate goals are equally opaque. If they gain power and turn out to have an anti-American, anti-Western agenda, it would be a sad irony if we, in large part, put them there.

    • While i agree with some og yhe content of this post, a couple of things in it are odd. For example your use of “quotation marks” around the term foreign invasion. When a foreign country invades another country that is, by definition a foreign invasion. Putting the term in quotation marks implies that you think the term was incorrectly used. Don’t you think that people have a right to fight against injustice in whatever way they can? The same points can be said for Iraq or are you of the opinion that the US had a legitimate right to invade and occupy these countries?
      Arming the rebels may or may not be a good idea, but to say that it is wrong because some or many Libyans offered their lives to combat imperialism and injustice is, well, I’m sorry I can’t come up with a better word than stupid!

  4. You may be correct that the US doesn’t need vast conscript armies to fight its wars but the numbers required for an occupation shouldn’t be minimized.
    “The USO said about 200,000 U.S. personnel are being evacuated from Japan to U.S. West Coast cities including San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle/JBLM. ”

    link to kirotv.com

  5. “the alliance of forces moving against Colonel Qaddafi is as close to a global endeavor as one can realistically imagine.”

    Really? Tell that to China, Russia, Brazil, and India, which make up a majority of the world’s population, and which did not vote in favor of the intervention.

    “We will look back on it in future years as a return to the internationalism of the pre-Bush years”

    In the pre-Bush years there were plenty of terrible interventions around the world, including the one-sided arming of conflicts such as Afghanistan, Nicaragua, etc. We should all be aware of how well those “interventions” turned out.

  6. How many innocent civilians died in those cruise missile strikes against Tripoli? How much damage was done to critical infrastructure? There has been virtually no information in the MSM. Why is that?

  7. Here’s a question that seemingly is being swept under the rug (although I believe George Will raised it in his op-ed piece “On Libya”): Suppose that with our aid – whatever it ends up entailing – the opposition to Qaddafi wins, what then? Who are they? How friendly – or hostile – will they be to the United States?

    It troubles me that the Obama administration has jumped on board with Western Europe (Other than the US, the Europeans are doing the rest of the heavy lifting for this “Global Coalition”) to come to the aid of, well, whatever.

    Who are we helping? Furthermore, if Qaddafi is embattled by elements of radical Fundamentalist Islam – possibly Al-Queda, What is the role of the Muslim Brotherhood?, other various groups – then why are we attacking an ally in that fight? No one is debating that the world would be a better place without Muammar Qaddafi, but why, all of the sudden, is it in our National interest to remove him? Mere months ago it was not.

    There is a chance that whatever situation arises in Libya after the smoke has cleared could be more hideous than the Qaddafi regime? What if this moves Libya closer to the orbit of Iran? We don’t know any the answer to any of these questions, and that makes Obama’s policy even less well informed and more misguided than Bush’s.

    • Aaron, libya is almost completely Sunni, while Iran in mostly Shia. The possibility that they would be in the same “orbit” is just about impossible at this time

  8. It should never be forgotten that when you hear “40 years of dictatorship” It neatly coincides with 40 years since the US last had a military base there.

    • How correct you are! That would suggest that there was a much more moderate government in place when the U.S. had a base in Libya. Perhaps the U.S. was not the ogre it is portrayed to be. Now that is an interesting thought, is it not?

  9. I’m sorry to say this but this piece turned my gut!

    There is a difference between the police in a neighborhood and the US as world policeman. The police in the former case have legitimacy! The US/Police is an illegitimate corrupt police force that promotes drug dealing in the neighborhood and infact until a month ago was quite happy to let this particular drug dealer peddle his wares in that neighborhood so long as he funneled some of the proceeds to them.

    The African Union, the BRIC countries and close to half of the Arab league and Turkey all opposed military action in Libya. Thats most of humanity. Make no mistake this is a western intervention.

    The greatest threat to the Arab Spring is not Libya suppressing its popular revolt, its the endurance of despotic regimes in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen etc The connivance of the west in enabling these regimes is open for all to see.

    THe Libyan revolution is now fatally tainted. Even if the west slaughters Gaddafi and his family and installs the rebels in his place, the revolution will neither produce democracy nor sovereignty. This for the simple reason that, Western interests and democracy/sovereignty in the middle east are diametrically opposed. It is not for nothing that the west has supported dictatorships in the middle east for decades, it will not permit democracy there.

    Now we hear that there will be CIA boots on the ground (if not already). Brought to power by the CIA how on earth will the leaders of the rebels ever prove that they are not secretly beholden to the CIA?

    But then again, brought to power by the CIA, the rebels will in fact be beholden to the CIA.

    You dance with them that brought you!

    emk

  10. “After much mischief and brutal behavior, the police have finally moved against a vicious druglord and troublemaker in a notoriously rough neighborhood.” – Torpey

    But we dont have any police do we? We just have other bigger gangsters, in the form of the US, the UK, France etc. The figleaf of a UN resolution has already been contorted out of all recognition, and in no way covers their lack of legitimacy.

  11. A job unfinished.

    After nearly eight years of occupation in Iraq the US cannot prevent attacks on government buildings by the resilient insurgency which kill at least 56 people.

    No, if one reads the “Surge” criteria for success, it did not work.

    One might believe a certain shame might prevent another Mideast invasion while the first produced longterm extant anarchy. But then one then wouldn’t be familiar with… overweening… Empires of the past and present.

  12. A humanitarian policing operation to save embattled residents?

    Well, it seems that the residents are being killed in dozens by the humanitarian police:

    link to guardian.co.uk
    Vatican envoy to Libya reports on the carnage caused by our brave pilots bombing Tripoli.

    Nothing new: we are killing the people that we said we are protecting.

  13. It’s exciting to see what I’d call a kind of enlightened nationalism emerging at Informed Comment. It’s a welcome relief from the denial of the validity of any kind of nationalism I usually encounter in the so-called progressive blogosphere. Lately, we’ve seen Dr. Coles “credentials” challenged from the left for precisely that reason. He seems capable of envisioning an American national interest of some kind that is actually worth fighting and dying for. I’d say this column furthers that meme. I first became aware of Dr. Cole and his work through his Senate testimony during the Iraq occupation. I find it difficult to imagine the people who are now attempting to read him out of the “progressive” movement testifying in front of a Senate subcommittee about anything. (Well, maybe as a Saturday Night Live skit.) We’ve all experienced the echo chambers that get erected around this or that blogosphere personality and the way they treat deviant thought. It was just this week that I realized how like an echo chamber the entire progressive blogosphere has become, and how quickly it can turn on anyone who dares suggest that nationalism isn’t necessarily a crime.

    • Of course for most involved this is not nationalism but subservience to US governmebnt policy. You may very well consider that ‘nationalism’ I suspect that you are wrong but such is the nature of US politics.
      For a Canadian, a Qatari, an Arab living under the rule of the Saud clan, or the Hashemite family, or for an Englishman, automatically falling in line behind the US on adventure, is the denial of nationalism. And very much like being conscripted into the Punjab Rifles to take part in the Somme.
      As to whether it is ‘enlightened’, again I would differ from you, it is a crime grounded in a trick, of the pettyfogging sort, carried out at the expense of the United Nations.

  14. This “we don’t know who they are” meme is driving me nuts, especailly as phrased by Aaron (above), who asked: “…if Qaddafi is embattled by elements of radical Fundamentalist Islam – possibly Al-Queda [...] – then why are we attacking an ally in that fight?” Are you serious?

    This is the phrasing which Cheney used to talk us into the invasion of Iraq: “there MIGHT be WMD there”, “Saddam MIGHT have contacts with Al-Qaida”, et-f-c.

    Aaron, do you REALLY think Quadhafi is our “ALLY” in anything?

    The rebels are people who are tired of being ruled capriciously by a megalomaniac. Young facebookies, swept up by the Arab Spring flowering to their West & East (Tunisia & Egypt), all partially sparked by Obama’s Cairo speech. Professors returning from exile in the US. Former government ministers & Army units. And yes, probably more than a few Islamists, typically fired up by Islam’s rather romantic focus on Justice. Can you blame them?

    This is who I think the rebels are.

    And I think that Qadhafi will have them all murdered slowly if he regains control of Libya. All in favor, say “but we don’t know who they are!”

  15. At some point the left wing is going to have to learn that you can’t achieve anything by piously folding your hands and wishing on a star. You will never find a “perfect” bloodless operation to remove a tyrant, you will never find a perfect opposition who will immediately ask to become the next state in the Union. The world is a messy place, and if you want to try and improve it, you have to risk getting those delicate hands dirty. This is a fairly obvious feature of reality, but it seems to constantly escape the fantasists who demand miracles as well as lily-white consciences to order. There is no perfect choice here, just a question of what is the best option. If leaving Gaddafi to slaughter his people and then resume his career of maniacal delusion is the best the supposedly humane and gentle left can manage, one can only wonder why they bother to say anything at all.

    • Morzer, my issue with this “intervention” is that the US was far too quick to drop the pen and pick up the sword.

      Countries with oil concessions in Libya have decreed that Qaddafi MIGHT conduct a massacre some time in future. Ergo, they reason, he has to be stopped before he gets the chance. Yet some towns between Benghazi and Tripoli are reported to have changed hands at least four times during the current fighting. One would think that if citizens in rebel area were going to be massacred then it would have occurred by now.

      Any government has the duty to protect it’s constituents in accordance with the prevailing law. It is the Libyan government’s DUTY to fight protestors who forego the political process and take up arms. Likewise any government, including the US, will probably have summary execution provisions in its Military Code for mutineers and those who desert under fire.

      Pre-emptive war to stop the use of non-existant WMD is one thing. Pre-emptive war to stop a non-existent massacre is just plain ridiculous (and a testament to the credulity of the public). I predict that Chavez will order a massacre in 17 years when rebels try to oust him. Should we invade now to prevent it? If not, when? How is my whimsical prediction any different to the chicken-entrail prophecies for Qaddafi?

      There are non-destructive uses for the biliions this intervention is costing. For example, offer the funds that would have been spent bombing Libya to Qaddafi along with a “take the money or die” ultimatum. As the Bishop of Tripoli put it “… a diplomatic solution is the principal way to put an end to the spilling of blood among Libyans: offering Gaddafi a dignified exit”.

      This was the same Bishop who reported the massacre of at least 40 civilians by Western aircraft when they bombed Tripoli. The BBC reported further civilian deaths of 7 under 20′s.

      Bahrain, Yemen, the Ivory Coast and Syria are all shooting down protestors but it’s only Libya that is being attacked. Stripping all the flowery rhetoric from Obama’s speech last week, a basic message emerges: “we’re attacking Libya because we can”.

      I don’t know what suddenly made Qaddafi such a pariah, probably the allegation that he personally ordered the Lockerbie bombing, but the boys club don’t like him any more so he must go. I certainly wouldn’t be sad to see the last of him so all the hypocrisy and spin used to mask this operation is utterly senseless when the public would probably be more adamant that Qaddafi must go if told the unvarnished (unshellacked?) truth.

      It’s too late for Libya but give diplomacy a chance next time.

  16. [Global domestic policy probably shouldn’t include handing out guns to lots of unknown forces, even if we may be heartbroken that the Libyan people can’t fight back as effectively as they might otherwise. If we supply them with weapons, the fight may start to look more like ours than theirs, and that may backfire down the road. But the coalition should surely provide intelligence, logistical, and political support, and hope that the neighbors can find a way to clean up the neighborhood as best they can.]

    Not surprisingly, the decision is already made: link to kansascity.com

  17. Important sectors of the Egyptian uprising refused to meet with Hillary. Sounds like my kinds of people! What are they saying about this, the 4th or 8th ? country we’ve shot missiles at this century.
    We can almost predict what millionaire politicians and military leaders could will say. What are the grassroots progressives of Tunisia and Egypt saying? Are they encouraging the Egyptian army to get involved. Are there armed caravans from Tunisia?
    Seriously, where can I find those voices ? Those voices that are a level or two below Aljazeera English ?

  18. To all the supporter of the military intervention: you can justify this all you can with legality, but you are severely underestimating the historic and emotional reaction of the vast majority of Arabs, Muslims, and third world countries who were once colonized by western powers…. and that’s a huge part of the humanity. Listen to what Professor Johan Galtung has to say

    link to english.aljazeera.net

    • “who were once colonized by the Western Powers”???!!! How about the entire Near East, including all of the Arab World, that for more than 400 years was colonized by the Muslim Ottoman Empire? This was a Muslim–not Western–empire that kept the Arabs from advancing at all. Compared to the four centuries of Ottoman Muslim imperial rule, the Western Empire was short-lived, indeed. The Ottoman Muslim Empire, more than anything else, held back the modernization of the Arab Near East.

      • I may have missed the bombs and missiles bring dropped by Turkey in Libya. Can you please provide the url?

        • Please read my post carefully. I was responding to your statement about Arab states having once been “colonized by the Western Powers,” while completely ignoring the more than four centuries of imperial rule under a Muslim Power, namely the Ottoman Empire. That Turkey is not dropping bombs and missiles today has nothing to do with my response to your original statement.

        • To William H. Barkell 04/02/2011 at 4:52 pm

          And I was responding to your comment too. Both western powers and ottomans had colonized Arabs. Now when the same western powers start bombing their previous colonies then rightfully or not it raises questions and suspicions. Check out Professor Johan Galtung’s comments on this
          link to english.aljazeera.net

          As for the Turks, they are very aware of their past – and may be that’s why they are being cautions and I applaud them for that.

  19. From Washington Post
    ‘His military, at a certain point, is going to have to face the question of whether they are prepared over time to be destroyed by these air attacks or whether they decide it’s time for him to go’,Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    So, the strategy is regime change by aerial death and destruction. From our safe haven in the sky, and out to sea, the coalition of the un-endangered will rain down missiles , bombs, spent uranium bullets, and whatever else they can come up with, until Qaddafi is dead or gone. Basically a death warrant has been issued for the entire Libyan military regardless of what activities they are engaged in, other than giving Qaddafi the boot or the shiv.

    And with Qaddafi and his military out of the way, let the real civil war begin. There will be enough east vs west vs south vendetta to last well through Obama’s next term.

    I figure it took Gates about ten seconds to sum up the US strategy, in words we all can understand. Obama’s speech was 28 minutes long, but I don’t believe he took the ten seconds out to say what Gates did.

  20. If you’re not willing to give them guns, then why are you willing to 1) bomb their enemies for them – and please, this is no longer a “protect the civilians” mission, the US is bombing Gaddafi forces no where near the civilians; and 2) supply CIA assets on the ground to coordinate attacks with the rebels?

    This is without question a “regime change” operation intended to control the price of Libyan oil (for the EU, anyway), and possibly other reasons for the US. Contrary to popular belief, the US does not do “humanitarian” military missions – ever. There is ALWAYS an ulterior agenda.

    People discussing this issue are talking past each other. Juan is right about certain things he maintains are true which his critics ignore, while his critics are correct about certain things they maintain are true which he ignores. The same is true between the neocons and the anti-jihadist crowd.

    Yes, it’s likely that most Libyans who aren’t being directly benefited by Gassafi don’t like Qaddafi and want him out. What percentage of the overall population this is and their geographic distribution in Libya (east vs west vs south) is unclear. This doesn’t mean the entire rebellion is legitimate.

    Yes, it’s likely that the rebels don’t have the support of all Libyans. What percentage of the overall population this is and their geographic distribution in Libya (east vs west vs south) is unclear. This doesn’t mean the rebellion is illegitimate.

    Yes, it’s likely that there are various factions in the rebel movement, including Al Qaeda-related groups, if not Al Qaeda itself. This doesn’t mean the entire rebellion is based on that. This doesn’t mean the rebellion is illegitimate.

    Yes, it’s likely that there are factions in the rebel movement that are being supported by British, French and US intelligence agencies. This doesn’t mean the entire rebellion is based on that. This doesn’t mean the rebellion is illegitimate.

    Yes, it’s likely that the rebels are unable to crush Gaddafi’s regime by themselves. This doesn’t mean the US should be using air power to support them, using ground troops to support them, or even necessarily arming them directly. If Egypt or Saudi Arabia want them armed, they can easily afford to do so.

    Yes, it’s likely that the US and the EU (who have more direct oil investments in Libya than the US) is not intervening for humanitarian reasons, but more likely to control the Libyan oil price as well as to assume control over Libya for other geostrategic reasons. That doesn’t necessarily mean the rebels won’t benefit from US/EU air power. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that if the rebellion is successful that it will be under the thumb of the US/EU – OR Al Qaeda.

    This doesn’t mean the results of a US/EU bombing campaign won’t save some civilian lives in rebel held cities – nor that it won’t cost civilian lives in some Gaddafi held cities. How many lives in either case is totally speculative.

    How many lives Gaddafi took in suppressing the initial protests and how this was done is apparently unclear and unconfirmed by unbiased sources. It is likely that the death toll and brutality used was greater than that in Bahrain. But no one knows for sure. But the fact remains that his response to the initial protests started the rebellion. Whether there was EU or US instigation of the initial protests is unknown. That doesn’t prove the initial protests were without basis.

    We have some people going to the extreme of ignoring Gaddafi forty years of brutal suppression of opposition, not to mention forty years of supporting terrorism around the world, just to convince people that attacking Gaddafi is a Bad Thing. I’ve seen people actually citing some living condition improvements in Libya during his reign.

    Well, living conditions in Iraq were pretty good under Saddam Hussein. Anyone want to claim he wasn’t a brutal dictator?

    It’s ridiculous.

    Yes, it’s likely that a successful rebellion that drives out Gaddafi will be a better outcome than Gaddafi crushing the rebellion – for the rebels anyway. But it’s not certain either, nor is it certain that it will be better for 1) US interests, 2) EU interests, 3) Saudis interests, 4) Libyans in general, or 5) anyone else.

    There is no “either/or” here! Everyone has staked out some hardline position on this based on their biases and are ignoring any information that contradicts those biases. That includes Juan, his critics, and the neocons and the anti-jihadists.

    It’s a farce more than anything else so far.

    My opinion:

    1) If the GCC or the Saudis want Gaddafi gone, let them arm and support the rebels. They have plenty of money to do so that doesn’t come out of US taxpayers (except indirectly through the oil price). They can also supply mercenaries like Israel is doing. And if the UN doesn’t like it, the UN should sanction Israel and Saudi Arabia for doing so!

    2) The US and the EU should stay out of it. The rebellion is the rebels problem. As the Arab saying goes, “Those who draw their sword against their prince should fling the scabbard as far away as possible.” The rebels should get their heads out of their butts and learn to fight properly instead of this incompetent nonsense they’re doing so far.

    3) The defecting Libyan soldiers who so far are doing NOTHING to support the rebels should get off their butts or the rebellion should fail. Fish or cut bait!

    4) If the rebellion fails, so be it. If this results in civilian massacres, then so be it. It’s not like this will be the first time. If the rebellion succeeds, so be it. And whoever takes power, be it democrats or Al Qaeda, so be it.

  21. Possibly OT, but every time I hear the Libyan revolutionaries described as a “rag-tag army,” I have two thoughts:

    1) They didn’t take up weapons until Gaddafi started shooting them. Most of these people are ordinary citizens, who in that regard remind me mightily of the…

    2) “Rag-tag” Continental Army under George Washington, which never would have won without the intervention of the French!

  22. Ok, now what? Reports indicate that the rebels are retreating in many areans and that they are outnumbered by Qaddfi’s forces 10-1. The bombings worked for awhile, and they certainly did prevent a possible massacre, but the rebels are losing ground. Obviously The US cannot afford to send ground troops into Lybiya, and the other NATO countries don’t want to either. So my question is should we arm the rebels and train them? Do we send CIA/special forces to work with the rebals? How long is this war going to take?

  23. One line stuck out in this article, ‘Regime change is not the policy of the United States government’ really ?

  24. I am against arming the rebels but I am less against that than allowing NATO to bomb Loyalist tanks. Giving someone the tools to fight their own battles is not as bad as fighting their battles for them. Unless they are physically or mentally handicapped.
    I have heard that a civil war is about to break out in the Ivory Coast because the President will not step down. Will the US and or Nato launch a humanitarian rescue mission there too? I bet that the west does not. It would be much more justified. If Libyan opponents of Ghaddhaffi fear execution they have a clear escape route to Egypt or Algeria. There are currently fluid but clear front lines. I doubt if that will be the case in the Ivory Coast.
    I think that the inhabitants of Lala land should chew a pig’s ass. What do they call a pig’s ass there?

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