America on Edge Again: Libya Vote, Libya Vote, Tick Tock, Libya Vote

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Thumbnail image for un-logo.jpgThe United States is about to vote on a UN Security Council Resolution calling for measures — including armed intervention — to protect the Libyan people from Moammer Gaddafi’s tanks, planes and guns. In other words, the US and allies are on the edge of yet another war in the Middle East.
There are different scenarios possible. Perhaps Gaddafi’s forces are a house of cards and that a few bombing runs, hopefully outfitted mostly with planes flown by Arab pilots from Arab nations will stop the progress of Gaddafi’s tanks. Perhaps collapse will come easily. Perhaps someone in his own guard or among his trusted command staff will decide to take Gaddafi out.
The rule of this kind of military engagement, however, is that one can’t plan on rosy scenarios. In fact, it’s vital to put forward the many different worst case scenarios. And on that front, the US could be in another pot of quicksand in which it struck out emotionally and with a lot of power — but sees that strength tapped and sapped.
America’s stock of power is low now — and depending on how the vote goes at the United Nations in the next hour — America’s commitments abroad may become even more extensive while we are slashing school teachers, cops, fire responders, and other programs throughout the budget-battle weary states of the nation. Pilots could be shot down and held by Gaddafi.
If things don’t go well, the US will become embedded in a civil war with the frame of CNN’s and Al Jazeera’s and MSNBC’s cameras focused on Western air power and whether they will deploy boots on the ground. The inspiring protesters of the region — who seem to have won in Egypt and Tunisia — will be of secondary significance.
If we bomb, this becomes our war more than their war. And it will be very hard to leave. And yes, it may end up costing another trillion dollars over time that the US doesn’t have.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

42 comments on “America on Edge Again: Libya Vote, Libya Vote, Tick Tock, Libya Vote

  1. DavidT says:

    Sorry Steve but other than you’re suggesting problems
    ahead, what should the U.S. do?

    Reply

  2. Paul Norheim says:

    Yes Carroll, the Americans have repeatedly said “no ground forces”. But to me, it
    appears that the resolution (“all necessary means”) is open to many interpretations.
    For what it’s worth, the Norwegian Foreign Minister (Norway said they will assist in
    the operations if required) claimed today that the resolution legitimized boots on the
    ground if necessary. This illustrates the uncertainties. But it looks like the UK and
    France may take larger risks then the US in these operations. Maybe they’ve made a
    deal with Pentagon regarding which boots may touch the ground?

    Reply

  3. Carroll says:

    Paul –
    Yes stuff happens- but we keep repeating there will be no ground forces or invasion…and I think the US will stick to that because of everything else on our plate.
    I did hear one think tanker suggest a “peacekeeping force”….which is totally insane, exactly what we shouldn’t do and I don’t think would ever happen.
    Get rid of Gaddaffi and get rid of him now and permanently. Otherwise he will jerk everyone around and around indefinitely and it ‘will’ become a wider involvement.
    Contrary to some media ‘spin’, this is not a ‘civil war’—-but if anyone wants to prove it is or isn’t, get rid of Gaddaffi and his mercs and see what happens. If some tribes keep fighting the opposition then they can call it a civil war and we can bow out, having done our part.

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  4. Paul Norheim says:

    Sorry – the link is in the thread above this one…

    Reply

  5. Paul Norheim says:

    From the NYT article I linked to above:
    “The Security Council vote seemed to have divided
    Europeans, with Germany saying it would not take part
    while Norway was reported as saying it would. In the region,
    Turkey was reported to have registered opposition but Qatar
    said it would support the operation. In Tripoli, government
    minders told journalists on Friday that they could not leave
    their hotel for their own safety, saying that in the aftermath
    of the United Nations vote residents might attack or even
    shoot foreigners. The extent of the danger was unclear.”
    Do the Gaddafi forces consider taking the journalists as
    hostages?

    Reply

  6. Paul Norheim says:

    “Obama isn’t going to add another issue.” (Carroll)
    That’s not up to him. Stuff happens, especially when you
    invade countries in the ME.
    As for your third paragraph in the post, I think that’s an apt
    description of Obama’s mentality, priorities etc..

    Reply

  7. Don Bacon says:

    You can’t make this stuff up.
    Young: More pay for troops who lose genitals
    By Rick Maze – Staff writer, Marine Times
    Posted : Thursday Mar 17, 2011
    Benefits rates for service members who suffer traumatic injuries to their genitals are under review by Defense and Veterans Affairs department officials in the wake of complaints from a key lawmaker.

    Reply

  8. Carroll says:

    Posted by PissedOffAmerican, Mar 18 2011, 12:40AM – Link >>>>>>>>>
    I think you reading the tea leaves wrong…or maybe I am. But I don’t think the US is going to take on another occupation or more meddling right now. We have our remaining involvement in Iraq, not to mention Afghan still stuck in our throat and extending ourselves long term in Libya is not in the cards. Our ‘political” military commanders want to “win” in Afghan and aren’t going to oppose anything that would take resources away from their ‘vanity’ obsession with Afghan and droning for ghost in Pakistan.
    Look around, everyone is already peeing in their pants over everything we are going to do in Libya, bomb them, invade them, kill thousands, install a puppet, steal their oil– and we haven’t even cranked up a plane yet. Obama won’t do any more in Libya then he has to becuase he wants to be re elected. The election is going to be about the debt, the economy and getting out of Afghan. Obama isn’t going to add another issue.
    Obama is carrying out Bush’s former wars because as we have seen he’s not a ‘change’ person or he wouldn’t have kept Gates. But he’s also not an ‘bold adventurer’ to put in mildly and if he was actually aiming for the US to ‘change’ the ME he’s had three opportunities now to do that and demurred. He’s been pressured by France and the UK, who we sucked into our wars, and embarrassed into doing something about Libya, but that’s all and that’s good in this case. He’s got Iran still on the books and Saudi worries to meditate on.
    And if anyone installs and supports a puppet in Libya 10 to 1 it would be France not the US.
    For every ruler that falls, no matter what form of government is created thereafter or what kind or how much aid we continue to ‘re-made’ governments, regional pressure on the US will build to settle Israel’s case once and for all.
    I see that as a postive.
    I am not convinced that Arabs who have revolted and some died, will easily fall for or allow US interference in choosing their leaders or government. As so many people say, they don’t trust us. You think they aren’t going to be watching like hawks for any signs of US influence? They may select another sob but it will be their sob.

    Reply

  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “A lot of people here are suffering from Bush Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and can’t envision anything different”
    Why would you say that? What, exactly has Obama done differently than Bush in regards to foreign policy??? There’s nothing “post” about it. Its the same old shit, different shitter.
    “Personally I think the US will get in and out quick”
    Gads. You and Dan need to get off the naivette pills. Do you really think that we are going to intervene then refrain from putting another puppet in place? Netanyahu will never allow it. The CIA will be as thick as mollasses after we get through spending quite a few billion undoing our own doing by bombing the shit out of whatever it takes to convince people like you and Dan that “we are doing the right thing”.
    Pay careful attention to the future dog and pony show that will be masqueraded as “elections”, but will actually be a “placement” rather than a free election. Then kick back for a few years, grab a bag of popcorn, and watch the fireworks when we discover we created yet one more Frankenstein monster at great cost in both blood and money.
    And if you think this is all about the “Libyan Street”, that we are doing it for “freedom and democracy”, you haven’t been paying attention these last three decades.

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  10. Phil Faris says:

    Your articles, Steve, are not complete. You bring up lots of points–the points that the media always bring up. But you seem to be unaware of the “real” issues that are handled by our national security decision-makers. Oddly, it was the Rolling Stone Magazine article that BEST presented the real issues in Afghanistan–though with a disbelieving sneer. Now we wait for some weird magazine to interview another General who “knows” before our citizens can learn what’s what in Libya.
    As a retired Mideast intel analyst who worked in London during the last Libya raid, I can say that “we” never were thinking about things the way the media represent them.
    For the record, I don’t support this intervention because it is a politicized response devoid of long-term planning. What’s needed is a UN debate on the concept of governmental legitimacy and standards for membership in the UN. This bailing out of naive faux-revolutionaries whose bluff gets called is not a good precendent.

    Reply

  11. Carroll says:

    Posted by Dr.Etienne A. Callej, Mar 17 2011, 9:18PM
    Furthermore, if you think that the US does not have even greater obligations because of the manner and extent it has (rightly or wrongly) profitted from other countries and their resources,”>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    You’re right we do..because of our past policies and talking with forked tongue about freedom and democracy while supporting friendly despots and kings for the sake of ‘Stability”.
    LOL…well now as we see, that doesn’t mean long term stability does it? These revolutions were bound to happen, I am surprised it took this long for them to start.
    A lot of people here are suffering from Bush Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and can’t envision anything different. Personally I think the US will get in and out quick and our boots will never touch the ground. Can’t say what France or the UK will do.

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  12. Carroll says:

    Well finally!
    Unlike most, I was with France for an early, quick and dirty NFZ to prevent it getting to this point. Face it, we will get criticized either way by some people, better to be criticized for doing something for “the people” than doing nothing and being seen as supporting or ignoring a murderous tyrant ready to slaughter half his population.
    According to all news reports, France and the UK will take the lead in operations and the US will join in. No word yet on if the Arab League will take part with their AF’s.
    Immediately after the UN decision Gaddafi & Sons said they wanted a ‘cease fire’ with the rebels and wanted a interlocutor set up to handle the discussions.
    Sidney Herald
    Libya ready for ceasefire with rebels: deputy foreign minister March 18, 2011 – 1:50PM
    Libya is ready for a ceasefire with the rebels battling Muammar Gaddafi, but wants to discuss how it will be implemented, deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaaim says.
    “We are ready for this decision (a ceasefire) but we require an interlocutor to discuss how to implement it,” Kaaim told a news conference shortly after the UN Security Council voted to permit “all necessary measures” to impose a no-fly zone, protect civilian areas and impose a ceasefire.
    “We discussed last night with the UN envoy (for Libya, Jordan’s Abdul Ilah Khatib) and asked legitimate questions on the application of a ceasefire,” he said.
    The Security Council authorised air strikes to halt Gaddafi’s offensive against embattled rebel forces in the North African country, with the first bombing raids possible within hours.
    American broadcaster CNN also reports Gaddafi has changed tact with “a humanitarian gesture”, deciding to hold off on plans to send the army in to Benghazi and mercilessly crush all resistance, as had been promised.
    “I just took a phone call from one of Gaddafi’s sons, Seif (al-Islam). This is the message from the leadership,” the CNN correspondent in Tripoli said.

    Reply

  13. Kotzabasis says:

    DonS
    You would have surely know, if you strutted near me, whether I had a

    Reply

  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Amazing. Yesterday the Republipukes were calling an emergency session to shut off funds to NPR.
    Today, we are obsessed with interventions, and terminating a vicious puppet of our own manufacture, whose strings have become tangled.
    Talk about fucked up priorities. Egads.
    We will rue terribly our inability to band together, as a world community, to address the epic emergency unfolding in Japan. A year from now, our mistake will be obvious, and irreversable. One would think that such a dangerous emergency, with possible dire global ramifications, would get our heads screwed on right. Obviously not.
    Kotz is actually certifiable, Paul. I’m sure you’ve visited his site, and have seen for yourself the insanity that long ago percolated to the surface. Responding, or being upset at his personal judgements, is a waste of time. You might as well take offense at a wallaroo passing gas before you take offense at Kotz’s infrequent literary adventures. The redeeming aspect is the occassional trek to dictionary.com that is prompted by his penchant for pretentiously selected wording. More than a few times I have murmured “WTF?” when reading his fascinating criticisms, and have had to increase my vocabulary through research. He claims to be Australian, but I have a strong suspicion that he is actually from the far side of Pluto.
    BTW, I’m a little curious. Has Gaddafi killed as many as Israel did during Operation Cast Lead?

    Reply

  15. Tank Man says:

    Dr. Callej states

    Reply

  16. DonS says:

    E. Callej, regarding your response to me, you are quite right that the US has swaggered it’s weight around in a way that might seem to create the perception or expectation from much of the rest of the world that we owe you something. I can understand that view entirely.
    And it is exactly that perverted debate that takes place in the US under the cloak too often of America exceptionalism. That’s a twisted way of projecting an air of superiority over the rest of the benighted world under the guise of ‘helping’.
    Whether you believe it or not, the US shouting ‘from this side of the pond’ as you say is, in the end a waste of breath. You may think the US owes it to the world to clean up Lybia, and that may be because you are particularly concerned with Lybia. I wish I could see as clearly as you what is the “right” thing for America to do with it’s power. But I can’t, and the last number of exercise of America’s might in the name of some self-proclaimed “right thing” have been nothing but exercises in neo colonialism.
    As to Clapper, there has never been an instance that I can remember when the US administration has lacked for bravado when it comes to military capability. Of course it’s not the spokespersons who pay the price for that.
    I really wish you could tell us why the US is so important in all this; if Quaddafi is such a tin horn dictator the Europeans and the Arab league could take him on easily if they wanted to. There is a saying something like ‘lead, follow, or get out of the way’. Well there was really no need for the US to take the lead in this operation. The down side of that seems to outweigh the benefits.
    And laudable as it may be to help those seeking to cast off dictatorship, the decisions of the US are ultimately based on strategic corporate considerations.

    Reply

  17. Paul Norheim says:

    Well, out of curiosity, I googled it, and found out that I actually had expressed something
    you may call an “initial stand”. Here it is, written almost a month ago. First I asked if
    Gaddafi’s infamous speech was “the surreal and scary prelude to a civil war or a genocide?”
    Then the following post
    “Posted by Paul Norheim, Feb 22 2011, 6:35PM – Link
    “2138: The former British foreign secretary Lord Owen,
    tells the BBC’s Newshour that the situation is “a
    humanitarian disaster”. He believes the UN needs to
    mandate a resolution. “We can’t intervene on the ground,
    but we can stop Gaddafi threatening his own people with
    his air force.”” (BBC)
    I think Lord Owen has may have a point. If this is
    developing into a genocide, neither the UN nor the US nor
    the EU or the AU will react fast enough – if at all. We all
    remember the hesitation of the UN and the US under
    Annan/Albright/ Clinton to agree that what happened in
    Rwanda should be defined as a “genocide”.
    A genocide with machetes may take a month. Employing
    the air force, it may take days, hours. If Gaddafi’s speech
    was a prelude to a genocide, a no-fly-zone should be
    considered.”
    ———————————
    And when it actually turned out to be the prelude to a civil war, I tried to read up on Libyan
    history etc, and reconsidered my position. Well, well… a pity that I changed my mind, thus
    losing my initial inner strength…

    Reply

  18. DonS says:

    Kotz, I’ll echo Paul that you don’t even know my “initial” stand. Indeed, I never expressed one you old fabricator.
    And, as usual, thanks again for you generosity with American troops and tax revenues. Do you strut around with a riding crop? Just curious.

    Reply

  19. DonS says:

    Kotz, I’ll echo Paul that you don’t even know my “initial” stand. Indeed, I never expressed one you old fabricator.
    And, as usual, thanks again for you generosity with American troops and tax revenues. Do you strut around with a riding crop? Just curious.

    Reply

  20. Paul Norheim says:

    “…since they lack the moral strength to admit that they might have been
    wrong on their initial stand on the issue of non-intervention.”
    You always rant about your opponents’ lack of “moral strength”, Kotz,
    especially if they lack enthusiasm for the military solution.
    Yes, maybe my initial stand was wrong – I don’t know. But do YOU know
    what my initial stand actually was? I sympathized with the idea of a no-fly
    zone immediately after Gaddafi’s first speech – the one where he
    characterized the protesters as “rats” influenced by drugs.
    During the first week of the revolt in Libya, I saw the conflict more or less as
    a continuation of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt: an autocrat more
    brutal then the rest of them, employing force against a defenseless
    population demanding democracy. As things developed, and the real nature
    of this conflict become slightly clearer – the resurfacing of the old conflict
    between the Eastern and the Western provinces (that probably is is the main
    reason why this now has developed into a civil war); the tribal dimension;
    the utter lack of institutions; but also the opaqueness regarding the motives,
    aspirations and degree of democratic consciousness of the opposition – I
    eventually started to think that maybe this was not such a good idea.
    On the other hand, it’s very difficult to contemplate a future for Gaddafi as a
    leader in Libya. Whatever the outcome, I have to admit that I’m not optimistic
    regarding the future of Libya.
    You may see this doubt and ambivalence as further prove of my lack of
    moral strength, but frankly I don’t care. Now that a decision has been made,
    I wish the Libyan opposition and its Western supporters good luck and hope
    for the best.
    In any case, my opinions expressed on this blog don’t matter much anyway,
    not on this issue. Nor does your self declared moral strength and
    courageous character.

    Reply

  21. rc says:

    “But I don’t see anyone with the courage to demand how the US plans to pay for this military adventurism.” — pay?
    Like Iraq, the ‘liberated’ will pay of course.
    As the microscopic Bahrain disappears into history, so as a Sunni ‘majority’ can be maintained vis a vis the Saudi regime’s Arabia (just in case that Western disease called ‘democracy’ breaks out), we can now welcome the new dependant State of Benghaziland to the international community.
    No doubt the military industrial complexes of UK & France will be ecstatic over the new opportunities to trade their dirty toys for Benghaziland oil & gas.
    But what will happen to the Libyan water projects?

    Reply

  22. paulo says:

    While I want the rebels to succeed in Libya I see this as akin to the bank bailout applied to the middle east.
    The UN is virtually guaranteeing that rebellions will succeed. Will that chit be good from now on?
    Let’s say that UN intervenes and Gaddafi gets tossed.
    Then Syria and Yemen for whom the US has no use will the chit be honored?
    Then what happens as Bahrain gets increasingly ugly – Saudi assistance is already on the bad side – and even more to the point when Saudi Arabia itself tips and there are mass uprisings in Riyahd?

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  23. kotzabasis says:

    This comment of Clemons is a master penning in political frivolity. While the UN now backed by the U.S. and its major allies, Britain and France, is considering

    Reply

  24. Dr.Etienne A. Callej says:

    @DonS @ 8:33PM
    Thank you for our response. Now, in like order:
    1. The UN is not THE international community but part of it. Whether or not it enjoys credibilty in the United States or not, is quite frankly beside the point, for I am not one to talk about US domestic politics. I comment about how nations act amongst each other and the obligations they have assumed by manner of convention. This isn’t about a US get tough – this was about US come on and wake up. By your own admission, however, the US uses the UN selectively.
    2. No I do not pay American taxes. What this has to do with the international obligations that the US has towards other nations (as much as and yet more than any other nation – see further down) escapes me. Furthermore, if you think that the US does not have even greater obligations because of the manner and extent it has (rightly or wrongly) profitted from other countries and their resources, well certainly – as an American taxpayer (I’m giving you your due) – you’re entitled to your opinion.
    That’s not the way the rest of us, the great unwashed, look towards the leaders of the free world – a price this that the US h to pay. It comes, so to speak, with the territory. You go on to cite but one eample of where America intervened where it shouldn’t have. There are manty others, which I am certain you and other readers here are aware of. But Iraq was where, in fact, the entire international community was telling it to do precisely the opposite. Yet it forged ahead, created the the WMD lie to find justifcation and roped other nations along with it.Of course the Arab world was outraged! What did you expect?
    3. The perilous path for US policy would have been remaining inctive. Showing the world’s dictators that they could act as they very well pleased, with impunity. The ‘West’ was going to stay home and yell at them from across the pond, and scold them for their bad behaviour, then yell at them some more. That’s how the US was being perceived by Gheddafi even until a few hours ago. This isn’t a question of the US flexing its mscles. It’s about doing the right thing period. And I don’t know what you’re saying about reources. Clapper has come out and said that the US has all the resources to do this and never compained once that ths would stretch resources.
    I am also convinced that this business won’t last long. A couple of weeks at the most and this dictator is out. I never said Steve was inconsistent ad I haven’t been here fo a week or two but just a couple of days, so how you got to the conclusion that I shifted a great deal is, again, a thing I can’t understand. But even if this were true, it would only be a reflection of how tings, this side ofthe planet have been changing and changing fast. an if Steve is not basing his position regarding US policy on what you call penny pinching, then perhaps he ought to clarify what its all about. For in spite of the fact that you said that I misread Steve (which I ddn’t – I even agreed with him on the NFZ when he said it would damage the US if there was no international consensus – well,now there is!) it is you who apparently didn’t read his last piece, where he’s changed tack completely and moved as fast as the US did in shifting on its policy for a NFZ.

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  25. JohnH says:

    Who, pray tell, will be bold enough to ask Obama and Boehner how they and their ilk plan to pay for this?
    As Steve correctly points out, “America’s commitments abroad may become even more extensive while we are slashing school teachers, cops, fire responders, and other programs throughout the budget-battle weary states of the nation.”
    But I don’t see anyone with the courage to demand how the US plans to pay for this military adventurism.

    Reply

  26. Paul Norheim says:

    According to a reporter at al Jazeera, many protesters in
    Egypt are upset, and regard this as Western aggression and
    “intervention in Arab affairs.”
    Given the clear European initiative, maybe countries like the
    UK and France will “own” this conflict to a much larger
    degree than the US?

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  27. DonS says:

    “It shouldn’t have taken this long to get the US to move. The international community risked losing all credibility, and then tell me Steve, in monetary terms what that would have cost the United States – if we’re now reduced to counting nickels and dimes in order to understand our international obligations ?” (E. Calleja)
    Your statement really mixes a couple of ideas that don’t really go together well.
    1) Who is this “international community” that would lose credibility, and with whom since the authorizing body (UN) IS the international community? And just to remind you, the UN has very little credibility in the US right now anyway, and many of the proponents of a US “get tough” attitude are very likely among those most disdainful of the UN (with a couple of exceptions like the hapless John Kerry). For them, the UN has no credibility anyway. Face it, the US jumps on, or against, the UN bandwagon only very selectively (to wit, the constant veto of resolutions to do with Israel)
    2) as to being “reduced to counting nickels and dimes in order to understand our international obligations”, you speak as though you pay American taxes, especially since you seem to attribute the motive force behind this “obligation” to the US (and maybe you are right in that the US has used the UN in the past to cover for it’s own parochial objectives; e.g. Iraq). You should also be reminded that the “obligation” you confidently cite brings with it analogies to some of the most discredited, received with hostility, and divisive chapters in American foreign policy, particularly vis a vis the Arab/Muslim world.
    3) The reckoning here is not being done primarily in monetary terms as I understand Steve’s position. It is far more in terms of a perilous path for US policy. The monetary angle is, however, a concrete reality of an insanely skewed US government budget. Not to mention stretched military forces to the extent the may be involved. You totally misread Steve’s post, I believe, if you think that money is the gravamen of the argument — almost to the point where I think you are using it as a red herring — since, to me, Steve cites the skewed US budget priorities to emphasize, not justify, his argument. Perhaps it would take an American (sane) to understand the nuances of the military tail wagging the fiscal dog, and the outrageously distorted burden borne by average Americans compared to the rich, who make money if the US is at peace but, even more, when there are dollars to be made in the war business.
    Finally, I think Steve has been consistent in his position the past week or two, but you seem to have shifted a good deal. As I said, much of Steve’s position is related to an appreciation of American policy , foreign and domestic. You may have missed some of these nuances, which is understandable. But, trust me if you will, Steve is not primarily basing his position on “penny pinching”.
    — Dr.DonS

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  28. Paul Norheim says:

    If they manage to take out Gaddafi within a short time, this
    may encourage demonstrators in other countries like
    Algeria, perhaps even Syria? The Arab Street may interpret
    the latest UN resolution as a sign that the West will not
    accept Tienanmen-like scenarios, and will assist them if it
    comes to that in their own countries. This may encourage
    them to confront their leaders. But this may depend on the
    outcome in Libya.

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  29. Paul Norheim says:

    Yes Don; the “all necessary means” formulation is probably
    the crucial part here. Perhaps UK and France might do the
    “preparations” for the no-fly zone that Gates referred to
    some days ago, and the US might be responsible for the
    implementation of the-no fly zone, while the UK/France
    make rapid raids on other targets? I expect some heavy
    attacks in and around Tripoli within hours. (My two cents)

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  30. Dan Kervick says:

    People celebrating in Benghazi. Watch Al Jazeera.

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  31. Don Bacon says:

    The emphasis may not be on the “no fly” but on the “allow all necessary measures to protect civilians,” that is air attacks on the troops, tanks and artillery threatening Benghazi. It’s difficult to limit a war once it starts, as we’ve experienced.

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  32. Paul Norheim says:

    UK and France.

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  33. Cee says:

    Strikes authorized. Who steps out to take the blame for the first one?

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  34. Dr.Etienne A. Calleja says:

    I have read your piece today Steve and I must say that this is where you and I part company. A few days ago i worte in to tell you that I was coming round to the idea that a no-fly zone was not such a good idea and that it would not have helped the rebels much. I read your article and I was sold.
    I was equally sold on the idea that this was not advocating doing nothing. in your essay on the BBC site and even on your post a few days ago, you were advocating targetted strikes as well as arming the rebels over a no-fly zone. Well, Steve, this is what the resolution as proposed before the UNSC is. It proposes a no-fly zone as well as a no drive zone.
    And surprise, I see that you’re against it. You cite economic and politcal reasons for not wanting the US to jump into the fray. This is now a position that I am vehemently against. America and the rest of the free world cannot stand idly by as human lives go to waste purely due to financial concerns. Because that’s all there is really now. The geopolitical issues have been sorted out – the entire World is clamouring for the West to do something. The Arab league is pressurin the West to act. What more can you want.
    Even the US’s greatest ally has expressed its frustration with Presidnt Obama’s foreign policy, and quite frankly whilst I ascribed all the domestic criticism that President Obama was made to bear, as nothing but dirty politics. But now, having witnesed the exstent of his foreign policy and his quasi-disregard in allowing the suffering of the Libyan people reach this unacceptable stage, I am begining to find that I have lost all hope in having an audacious President.
    But I speak with the benefit of hindsight. The vote has been taken and the resolution as proposed has passed with 15 in favour and 5 abstesions. This might actually turn the tide in the rebels favour. And any move towards democracy will benefit the entire region and ultimately the entire world.
    It shouldn’t have taken this long to get the US to move. The internationl community risked losing all credibility, and then tell me Steve, in monetary terms what that would have cost the United States – if we’re now reduced to counting nickels and dimes in order to understand our international obligations ?

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  35. rc says:

    UN authorises no-fly zone over Libya
    Security Council imposes a no-fly zone over Libya and authorises “all necessary measures” to protect civilians.
    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/03/201131720311168561.html
    It has nothing to do with the oil! (yeah, right)
    Now if there was only as much concern about stopping similar attacks by the Israeli regime on the civilian population of Gaza.

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  36. Don Bacon says:

    A draft U.N. Security Council resolution, obtained by Al Arabiya, would authorize a no-fly zone over Libya and allow Arab states and others in cooperation with the United Nations to protect Libyan civilians, including the rebel-held city of Benghazi.
    If adopted, the resolution would allow “all necessary measures” to be taken “to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in (Libya), including Benghazi, while excluding an occupation force.”
    A vote on the draft resolution was set for 2200 GMT.
    According to the resolution, the Security Council would “establish a ban on all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in order to help protect civilians.”
    The resolution tightens sanctions that were ordered against the Gaddafi regime on Feb. 26. Resolution 1970 ordered an assets freeze and travel ban against the Libyan leader, members of his family and close associates.
    It deplores Gaddafi’s failure to heed the U.N. calls for an end to the violence and says that “widespread and systematic attacks” on civilians are still taking place and warns that these could be crimes against humanity.

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  37. DonS says:

    Additional words of caution and sanity:
    ” . . . I

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  38. Paul Norheim says:

    Now, will Gaddhafi try to attack Benghazi by air in the hours
    before “the world” arrives?

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  39. Paul Norheim says:

    Yes, now they will attack Libyan forces – perhaps within hours.

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  40. Don Bacon says:

    Probably the goal of the UNSC is to encourage Libyan compliance with the RtoP — responsibility to protect — which has been affirmed by the UNSC.
    The RtoP reads in part as follows: Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. . . .The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability. . .The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
    Notice that any international action should be peaceful. So it seems to me that there is no legal basis for any military action authorized by the UNSC.
    The UN Charter likewise prohibits military force against another state:
    # All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
    # All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

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  41. Don Bacon says:

    The Powell Doctrine states that a list of questions all have to be answered affirmatively before military action is taken by the United States:
    1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
    2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
    3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
    4. Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
    5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
    6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
    7. Is the action supported by the American people?
    8. Do we have genuine broad international support?
    ———–
    It would seem that there is no vital national security interest threatened.
    The only U.S. objective that has been stated is that Gaddafi should step down. (And be replaced by his son?) How doe a NFZ accomplish that?
    The other questions are similarly difficult to answer.

    Reply

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