5 Ironies of US Reaction to Egypt/UAE Bombing of Libya

The diplomatic angst issuing from Washington around the United Arab Emirates and Egypt bombing of weapons depots belonging to the Qatar-backed fundamentalist militia of Misrata holds many delicious ironies:

1. According to the BBC, “the US, France, Germany, Italy and the UK issued a joint statement denouncing “outside interference” in Libya.” Seriously, guys? Except for Germany, these are the NATO countries that intervened in Libya in the first place, in large part at the insistence of an Arab League led by Egypt and the UAE! It is true that the UAE and Egypt don’t have a UN Security Council Resolution, which authorized NATO involvement (I supported the then no fly zone on those grounds). But the newly elected Libyan House of Representatives has openly called for international intervention against Libya’s out-of-control militias and it is entirely possible that the Libyan government asked, behind the scenes for these air strikes. In any case, “outside interference” isn’t the issue!

2. The US is said to have been “caught off guard” by the air strikes. But the US bombed Tripoli in 1986 without coordinating with most of its Middle East allies. Or then there was that sudden invasion of Iraq for no good reason in 2003. The US is always catching the Middle East off guard.

3. The US is said to be concerned that the UAE used US military equipment in ways not authorized by Congress. But Israel does this all the time and there is no such expression of concern then.

4. The US is planning unilateral air strikes on Syria, the sort of operation that the UAE and Egypt are imitating.

5. The US Congress has been obsessing for years about the September 11, 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi by extremist militias of the sort the UAE and Egypt are now weakening in Libya. Are the Republicans in the House just interested in making political hay with the deaths of the US ambassador and 3 other Americans, or do they really want to roll back extremist forces and lawless militias in Libya? If the latter, they have given no sign of it except carping.

Related video:

The Young Turks: “Mystery Over Who Just Bombed Libya — Solved!”

25 Responses

  1. Somehow, we’re missing any reference here to the violent failed state created by US direction of the military intervention against a government fighting fundamentalist in Libya.

    • Yes, I’ve not seen mentioned that the recognized government has had to move to Tobruk and the islamists have reconstituted their government … Of course, we insist “ours” is the only one that matters because they’re the ones with the oil contracts, but that can change or become moot.

      The strikes may well have come at the request of the recognized government to try to save the airport — which was lost to the Islamist anyway, last I heard anyway.

      The recognized government is still asking for help but all the western powers are tied up with other concerns/commitment and besides “same old same old” — What to do about Syria (fresh turf, at least officially) and ISIS is the sparkling new crisis we haven’t already managed to muddle or botch.
      Isis and affiliates will begin wholesale exploitation of this shortly — start the countdown.

      link to theguardian.com
      link to theguardian.com

  2. Well, yeah, that’s the problem of trashing international norms: the little minions decide that if it’s good enough for Uncle Same then it’s Good Enough For Them.

    Because that’s the funny thing about “norms”.

    If they get trashed often enough then the “trashing” become The New Normal.

    Honestly, the USA should at least stop with the hand-wringing; it’s unseemly, and more than a little pathetic.

  3. This is the result of the US retreat from the Middle East. Israel, Egypt, UAE, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, everybody’s doing their own thing now. We run away then we whine that nobody listens to us anymore.

  4. I don’t believe for a moment the US didn’t know about these airstrikes. What a load of hypocrisy. There’s nothing the UAE and Egypt would do without US consent or direction. It’s just that with intervention in Syria looming, the US can’t be seen as having its hand in too many places in that region.

  5. Egypt and the UAE risk transforming the problem into a new civil war. The militia they have been helping in Tripoli is not necessarily popular and is at least as thuggish as the forces of Libya Dawn. Libya Dawn is treading dangerous ground, however, QaQa and others are inviting foreign forces to murder L ibyans to help facilities their dominance of the country. Foreign intervention as a partisan for one side will backfire badly.

  6. The US has fingers in more pies than it has fingers. These things are only irony to a rational mind; we are being drawn into a post-rational age.

  7. Your comments are based upon the premise that what 4 anonymous US officials have been telling the NY Times are true statements. I doubt it. It seems incredible that the US did not already know what was happening. The first strike was a week ago. See my take on the NY Times as a mouthpiece for the Obama administration:
    link to kenthink7.blogspot.ca

  8. What was shocking yesterday and remains so today is all of cheering over this — based mostly on better-them-than-us and “Finally, the Arabs are controlling their own” with no recognition of — as Juan mentioned — international law, the UN — or — the rather catastrophic record of such interventions (ummm, see Nato helping foundering and failing Libyan rebels the first time around and see also the Saudi’s helping foundering and failing and in-fighting rebels in Syria) … not only does it skew the outcome, ramp up the brutality, it also tends to destroy the traditional power networks favoring those who “have connections” among and would collaborate with outsiders who — of course — are acting in their own interests.
    Nobody learns.

  9. Guns are the culture medium, the agar in the Petri dish on which the vivid colonies of current pathogenic horrors are so virulently growing. And the worldwide military-industrial machine, cheered on by an enthusiastic trade press and popular media channels, just continues to churn out vast quantities of weapons of all sorts, handed along by our “governments,” like this — link to hotair.com — and paid for by the lives and labor of a whole lot of Ordinary People. Handed along to pump up, and quickly refill to overflowing, the “pipelines” of procurement and overt and covert “logistical deployment” that keep the “small (and larger) weapons caches” and ammo boxes and lockers full of the stuff that is the actual operating foundation of all this geometrically increasing greed- and tribal- and revenge-driven violence.

    All this policy-talk at about the Really Serious Level of Complexity of the Game of RISK ™, on “how to stop ISIS with bombing someplace by somebody with something,” when at smaller scale there’s so much else that could be done to stop the bleeding — but all the institutions are invested in profiting and “gaining influence” and giving their Special Ops and sneaky-petes something to do: all using weapons, particularly small and “medium” arms, to try to “buy influence,” when every time, EVERY TIME, that proves to be an idiotic strategy, complete with furious stupid unnecessary blowback. People who get these guns suddenly find they have a lot of power and a degree of freedom of independent action, out of the suppliers’ control (where the suppliers often have no healthy notion of what their policies are or ought to be, just “operations” to be run) and can so easily cross the bounds of the taboo on murder. And the idiot “training them” mythology? How’s that ever worked out to “our” real general-welfare “security” benefit? (By the way, to the idiots who peddle the MIC as a Patriotic Jobs Program, there’s this bit of cold water: “The Incredible Shrinking Defense (sic) Industry,” link to politico.com)

    A lot of people would like to see an end to the very profitable “legal” (sic) and “illegal” (say what?) spread of ever more assault weapons and related arms and munitions. Good luck to them, of course, and here is some context on the real nature of conflict exacerbation and creation and the reasons why Hordes like IS can grow so effectively (US militias, take note):

    “Transnational Security Threat of Small Arms Proliferation,” link to 361security.com (I had to “select” the whole text of the article to be able to read it – dumb formatting)

    As to scope of these weapons sales AND GIFTS that “keep on giving,” and who’s getting rich from it all, look here, with some fun graphics:

    “Statistics on Arms Trade”, link to filipspagnoli.wordpress.com

    and this, “The Arms Trade is Big Business,” {SIC – no, if one is even half honest about counting the externalities, it’s just suicidal and idiotic} — link to globalissues.org

    For a little desperation on the apparent futility of the efforts to “stop us before we kill again,” there’s this:

    “Regional, International, and Governmental Efforts to Combat the Illicit Traffic in Small and Light Arms,” link to fas.org

    And there are people of good will, who recognize the fundamental nature of this “big business” for what it is, just deathly stupid, and are trying to rein it in: here’s a UN Office of Disarmament Affairs piece on the hopeful Arms Trade Treaty, link to un.org

    Given all the small and large people and their groupings who are “invested” and involved in guns and Gunmen, and the whole sorry mess, and since we humans seem to enjoy Big Business As Usual so much, and all the slaughtering (being slaughtered, not so much, but…), one has to be a little skeptical that short of a Big Die-Off there will be much Hope of Change… but more effort into stopping weapons production and spread would seem to be a big cluster bomb’s worth of low-hanging fruit.

  10. …”the UAE used US military equipment in ways not authorized by Congress.” We expect the UAE to buy warplanes and never use them?

  11. The problem is, Libya’s government may have asked for the intervention, as is its right to do, but it can’t admit it, fearing loss of face at home. Which leaves us all in the dark opining on what the right thing is to do.

    • The thing we call “Libya” out of habit and convenience, it actually exists and persists and has a “government” that can “ask for intervention?” In among all the other pretexts and flux that are astir?

      • We call it libya because that is the name of the country.

        Also if your going to put up multiple posts, try to at least come out with better thought out comments which do not have such horrendous writing.

        • Maybe on maps, but like Iraq, it seems that the people who live there don’t seem to think so. It kind of doesn’t matter what “we” call it, us blogitators, now does it? It even appears the White House, that “speaks” its mind or what “we” are allowed to hear of it through the mouth of a guy named Earnest (what a great appointment), is acting like those “countries” have already been Balkanized and subdivided.

  12. DOS Press briefing, Monday: Jen Psaki answers a question on Russian plans to send a second aid convoy to Ukraine

    …So you can’t say one thing and do another and expect the international community to believe that there is legitimate or credible intention behind your words..

    link to state.gov

  13. While Libya’s war has been of lower level conflict that Syria, it has been going on an equally long time with no resolution in sight.
    There are reports wrt ISIS in Syria that — rather Taliban like — they are being accepted as victors in areas where the population is simply exhausted by fighting.

    I wondered if Juan would comment on this Guardian article:

    Isis: a portrait of the menace that is sweeping my homeland

    link to theguardian.com
    Guardian: Isis: a portrait of the menace that is sweeping my homeland.

    I had been (and still am) confused about the apparent widespread, sudden adoption of extreme fundamentalism and sharia not only in Syria but also Iraq where Wahabbbism/Al-Qa’ida had been rejected before by the more liberal and more secular Iraqi Sunnis.

    is this correct:

    The second trend that makes Isis a more perilous phenomenon is the neglected ideological shakeup of Sunni Islam’s traditional Salafism. This has been taking place more noticeably since the Arab spring, when Salafis became increasingly politicised. Salafism, not to be conflated with Wahhabism, was traditionally inward-looking and loyal to the political establishment. Salafists, religiously speaking, hold extremist views, but also tend to hold pragmatic political positions. Jihadists, who are heavily influenced by Salafi ideas but equally influenced by political Islam, started polarising the Salafi landscape and steadily, if slowly, eroding traditional Salafism.

    • SS, I second your request for Dr. Cole’s thoughts on the nature of the beast and its motions, and maybe a cure for the sickness.

      The article you link to at the Guardian seems to be the kind of eyes-open, informed analysis and understanding that you would hope our Rulers are enlightened by and working from. Fat chance, since their tools consist of undermining and overthrowing the kinds of governments that favor Ordinary People and stability over “manageable dictators.” And of course the manifest recourse to a large, dirty drawerful of “military options,” consisting, in addition of unschooled booted troops to kick in doors and detect IEDs by driving and walking over them, of which bombs and missiles to use, dropped and fired off from which airframe that needs some current press to “support” future procurement money and sell the military as a career and the products of “our” We-Never-Forget-Who-We-Are-Working-For contractors, link to creekside1.blogspot.com

      The effing Saudi and other Wahhabis and “Islamist” types are like our own “conservatives,” single-mindedly and by application of wealth and constancy of purpose undermining and destroying decency and comity in favor of oppressive medieval wish lists of predation. And “we” do not seem to have a clue, us Ordinary People all around, about how to keep ourselves from being fed to these vultures. You would think there should be a way to counter the seduction of Victorious Mafiasalafism. Should be.

  14. Forgive me, but when people like the UAE, which have helped fund Syrian islamists claim they are bombing the “bad” Islamists, I just don’t buy it.

  15. Yes, it’s a big irony. Only the masters, that is the US,
    have the right to strike, but the slaves or the subordinates

    The reason UAE and Egypt did not inform the US
    is that they lost trust of the US. So, a better strategy
    is for the US is to try to regain back their trust, rather
    than rebuking them. Moreover, this scolding will just embolden
    the islamist militias in Lybia.

    Now, the US wants to build a coalition to confront ISIS.
    Good luck if any Arab country will join, after all
    the bullying they get from the US administration.
    The US administration should learn from George Bush
    the Senior of how to win over Arab countries, and build a coalition.

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