No-Fly Zone Over Libya Could Backfire & Undermine Protests in Middle East

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I recorded a few minutes of comments outlining my concerns over the Libya No-Fly Zone debate.
In short, a no-fly zone is a high cost, low return strategy that doesn’t necessarily create a military tipping point in favor of the Libyan opposition. Gaddafi is at war with his own people, and it’s natural and important to try and protect and help unarmed protesters and innocent victims — but a no-fly zone may harm the situation more than help.
If the US and NATO impose a no-fly zone, it gives Gaddafi a frame he thrives in: Libya against what he calls the imperialistic and neo-colonial interventions of evil America and the West. Last week at the TED 2011 meeting in Long Beach, Al Jazeera Director General Wadah Khanfar underscored the significance that the protests shaking the entire Middle East were occurring without the clutter and distraction and potential delegitimization of foreign intervention.
This is important. A no-fly zone changes what appears on TV and changes the entire frame. What is happening in the Middle East will instantly become about what the West will do and won’t do — rather than on what the citizens who have had enough are doing for themselves.
I still believe we should help and there are ways to do so without a large military footprint.
Among these and perhaps most importantly is sharing real time intelligence with the Opposition, from targeting to what Gaddafi’s movements are. Stop the flow of mercenary goons into the country. Consider a blockade. Perhaps look at facilitating third countries helping to re-arm and supply the military stocks of the Opposition with no US weapons visibility — which will only stoke the conspiracy theories that run rampant that the US has become Messianically obsessed with regime change and will tilt outcomes in directions it wants rather than what the public is calling for.
Send food, water, shelter and medical supplies to support those in need — on the borders with Egypt & Tunisia — as well as inside Libya.
But caution is important here and thinking about the downsides and tripwires to engagement much broader and more serious than a “no fly zone”.
in the Qatar newspaper The Peninsula today, the editorial page highlighted a “quote of the day” by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle who said:

A no-fly zone is not putting up a traffic sign, but intervening with bombs, rockets, weapons. If it doesn’t work, do we go further, with land forces?”

That is an important question among others — but the biggest blindspot that the US and West have is that there is an enormous allergy among average citizens to Western meddling.
We need to sort that out — and need to make sure that what ever the US and NATO elect to do actually helps rather than undermines those fighting for better futures in Libya.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

50 comments on “No-Fly Zone Over Libya Could Backfire & Undermine Protests in Middle East

  1. LEP says:

    NATO, without international consensus or a UN resolution authorizing such action, initiated a wrong-footed “humanitarian intervention” by subjecting Serbia to an unrelenting aerial bombardment during the 1999 Kosovo crisis. Alas, the Serbs are Eastern Orthodox Christians and, unlike Col. Gaddafi’s Libyan autocratic regime, they do not possess any significant OIL resources. Therefore, when it comes to “humanitarian interventions,” autocratic regimes that possess OIL resources win “hands down” even if and when they engage in open genocide against their own people. “Double standards” anyone?

    Reply

  2. questions says:

    Sci. American gets engineers to talk:
    “It is considered to be extremely unlikely, but the station blackout has been one of the great concerns for decades.
    “The probability of this occurring is hard to calculate primarily because of the possibility of what are called common-cause accidents, where the loss of offsite power and of onsite power are caused by the same thing. In this case, it was the earthquake and tsunami. So we’re in uncharted territory, we’re in a land where probability says we shouldn’t be. And we’re hoping that all of the barriers to release of radioactivity will not fail.””
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fukushima-core
    ****
    There’s the problem in a nutshell. It’s known this kind of thing can happen, but it’s considered extremely unlikely. All events are extremely unlikely til they happen.
    Prevention costs money, lowers profits, increases the cost of using resources.
    Every person in Japan who used electricity over the 40 years of these plants’ lives was benefiting from future-displaced cost externalities. The power company did not pay for sufficient redundant systems. Engineers knew this kind of accident could happen. There are clearly engineering ways to design further back up systems, independent of one another, independent of all sorts of systems that can fail. This point turns out to be well-known and even put into use. Part of the cooling system at the failed reactors did indeed have independence.
    But we don’t really want to spend money preventing things that might never happen. So we externalize those costs to the future, to other people’s deaths, to disaster that may or may not occur.
    This kind of externalization might make sense in some instances — you don’t get a new TV at the first sign of issues with the current one. You wait. And if your TV breaks during the first set of hearings Congress holds on, say, torture, you might miss out. So you’ve externalized the risk to some future situation you hope won’t ever come about. But with the TV, you’re the one to suffer — a future version of you. With a nuke plant, it’s the workers, the people in the vicinity, and the country who all suffer. And the externalized cost is radiation sickness or displacement from evacuations, and all the concomitant costs.
    Meanwhile, the powerplant has extra profits over those forty years. And the accident is so massive and so totally an “act of nature” that the owners/operators of the plants never really pay much for the damages, and what they do pay is in cheaper dollars than were the earnings over the course of those forty years of profits.
    It’s an unfortunate structure, but entirely logical, entirely the way we think of things.
    The way around it is to have a strong regulatory system that is written up by careful writers and is based on the insights of engineers and risk analysts, rather than on the basis of a Bush-Republican-inspired cost-benefit analysis. Yeah, right.
    Think of the contingencies that have to be spelled out in regulation, and then think about how often idiots complain about how long a text or a bill is.
    Length is what allows for writerly and careful explanations of all sorts of matters.
    And regulation is what keeps us from going critical.
    Why the fuck to we fight these?
    I’m with Brad DeLong on this issue. Nuclear accident survivors don’t let anyone vote for Republicans.
    And anyone who is a libertarian is incapable of coherent thought.

    Reply

  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “POA, while I value and agree w/ the majority of your rants, I do not appreciate the extent to which you use the audience built by Steve for consistent personal OT comments”
    Oh my.
    Its bad enough that I’ve been forbidden to be obnoxious on here. That is a serious blow to my psyche, and has caused no small amount of stress to my neighbors, who now have been forced to do their yardwork wearing kevlar vests as I seek alternative avenues of stress alleviation.
    Now you want me to remain firmly attached to a specific format and topic regimen????
    Good gawd man, you should apply for a position at Gitmo. Perhaps they could supply you with a pair of pliers, and put you on the fingernail detail.

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  4. questions says:

    More schematics.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/world/japan-nuclear-reactors-and-seismic-activity/?hpid=topnews
    And evacuations up to 200,000 according to WaPo.
    And WaPo (?) has something about 4 trains full of people missing. Coastal train tracks and tsunami, perhaps.
    LAT:
    “Backup generators powering the pumps at the first five disabled reactors failed almost immediately after the earthquake, apparently inactivated by exposure to seawater from the tsunami that swept through the seaside plants. The facilities had to rely on backup batteries that last up to eight hours until additional batteries and generators could be brought in.”
    Wonder if that’s the same kind of batter power estimate that comes with laptops….

    Reply

  5. questions says:

    Unlike the diarist, I don’t read schematics well at all. Like the diarist, I am no kind of engineer.
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/12/955723/-Breaking:Fukushima-Japan-Reactor:-Whats-Happening,-Meltdown
    And this:
    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-news-us-japan-quaketre72a0ss-20110311,0,7597594.story
    and Mark Thoma has a brief comment up, with good readers comments regarding zirconium coatings on the rods, temperature issues and explosion issues and hydrogen issues.
    Apparently, this plant is a very old design that isn’t made anymore. And it isn’t even a very efficient model. It boils water, turns it into steam, uses the steam to turn turbines that then generate the electricity.

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  6. Sand says:

    “…There are really good reasons for this none of which is really a greed issue…”
    OK — greed and Addiction.
    Q: “…so many regulations to pass…” yep for the planet to survive and support life — so those future generations can even exist on this planet.
    “…As Brad DeLong says, friends don’t let friends vote Republican, and **”we need a better press…”**
    I sometimes fight myself with this one — is it that — 1/2 the American public are media brainwashed or just plain dumb? Especially with the state and policies of the Republican party over the last 10 years (at least).

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  7. questions says:

    Sand, I only half agree with the greed issue.
    POA drives a truck. He hardly seems greedy to me. But he uses more energy in that truck, and drives far greater distances than I do.
    It’s not just greed. It’s structures, comfort, personal needs.
    We have inherited a system that depends on cheap energy. Converting from such a system puts us at such a strategic disadvantage as a generation, as individuals, as a nation, as a species…that whoever is forced to make the biggest alterations will simply suffer profoundly.
    We don’t like our unemployment and greater efficiency. We want growth, and spending, and infrastructure and we want our stuff. We want the freedom of cars. The freedom of trucks. As soon as people have some money, they get personal living spaces and personal transportation. There are really good reasons for this none of which is really a greed issue.
    We have to do several things all at the same time — we are going to have to engineer redundancy. We are going to have to find greater efficiencies in energy use. There are some new internal combustion engines with significant efficiency ratings improvements such as to make hybrids and electric-only cars wasteful in comparison. We have to shrink our lives, but that shrinks the economy unless we learn to consume events rather than things.
    There are so many people to coordinate, so many many game theory situations to resolve, so many regulations to pass….
    As Brad DeLong says, friends don’t let friends vote Republican, and we need a better press. Grasp reality with a whole bunch of shark teeth, talons, fingers, tentacles and everything else we have. And maybe we’ll get somewhere down the road we need to be down. But Sarah Palin is out there demagoguing light bulb conversion, and plenty of people are pretty convinced that light bulb choice is in the US Constitution somewhere, as it were.
    These are the same people who believe everything Scott Walker, James O’Keefe, and Fox Noise say.
    They dwell among us.

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  8. Sand says:

    Q: “…Looks worse and better by turns, but worse may well be winning out…”
    This disaster has shown us that we are in a planetary gamble. Humans cannot control these nuclear power plants, we just gamble that nature can’t/won’t outsmart us.
    One push of nature — and everything we’ve ever known can be destroyed. We could reduce the risk — solar, wind, but all know why that won’t happen. We could still get our energy, but the downside is that we would have to learn to be less greedy. What a concept — to be less greedy.

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  9. questions says:

    More news on the Japan nukes:
    This, from the first page of the WaPo story:
    “Japanese government officials said Saturday evening that the explosion did not damage the nuclear containment vessel of the Unit 1 reactor, and they suggested that a widespread radioactive leak could be avoided.
    But local officials of Fukushima Prefecture said at least three patients at a hospital less than two miles from the damaged nuclear plant have been exposed to radiation, Japanese news media reported. The three, chosen for random radiation testing from 90 patients and staff who were awaiting evacuation by helicopter, needed to be decontaminated, although they have not yet shown physical symptoms of radiation poisoning, officials said. ”
    and this from the second page:
    “Japanese authorities initially evacuated about 3,000 residents living within 1.9 miles of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, on the east coast about 150 miles north of Tokyo and south of the heavily damaged city of Sendai. Later they widened that evacuation to a six-mile radius and, after the explosion, extended the evacuation area to 12.5 miles. People within a 16.2-mile radius were told to remain indoors, said the Web site of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Incident and Emergency Center.
    According to NHK news, the Japanese health ministry had dispatched an emergency medical team, including experts on radiation exposure, to the Fukushima Daiichi complex nuclear plant. ”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/11/AR2011031103673_2.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2011031100651
    **
    Looks worse and better by turns, but worse may well be winning out.
    ***
    And Sand, it wasn’t just the earthquake. If you read somewhere above, I posted a link with the basic mechanism. There is a cooling system that needs electricity. The power went out. The back up generators blew out from the tsunami. The next level of back up is battery power that is very short term. The heat and pressure built up in the core, and some radioactive steam was released. Steam disperses, and though it’s probably not the best thing for human health, most of the stuff we do isn’t the best thing for human health, and most of our energy use causes someone some cancer….
    The plan at this point was to inject sea water into the core to cool it and stop the pressure from building up. This procedure was stopped because of the possibility of another tsunami.
    There were backups, but they appear to have been insufficient. There may be design issues or corruption issues that will come up during investigations.
    Clearly there is major risk in a lot of things we do to get energy. Problem is, no one wants to do without their energy. Their cheap energy. Their energy that comes complete with externalized costs that someone else pays. Who dies of cancer so we can drive, and heat, and cool, and refrigerate, and package and ship? Who is going to be drowned first by rising seas? We externalize this stuff and the disasters seem to hit someone else.
    Nukes have huge problems. Nukes in seismic zones have huge risks. If we’re not going to pay for 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 redundant safety systems that don’t depend on one another, on other systems that could be non-functional in a disaster, or on the presence of functioning humans, well, then, this kind of thing could perhaps happen again.
    Remember, though, this even required not just the earthquake, but also the tsunami, and the blowout of a generator, and the insufficiency of the battery back ups, and possibly some design issues.
    GE, 40 years ago.
    We probably need some audits. Random audits.

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  10. Sand says:

    Questions: I did ready the “NY” article — and found it to be a rather ‘upbeat — don’t worry’ on the whole kinda article dotted with a few truths — like:
    “…The big worries on the reported radiation releases in Japan center on radioactive iodine and cesium.

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  11. questions says:

    Let’s not forget Wisconsin — major protest, pix at link, tractors, too!
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/12/955694/-WisconsinCan-we-throw-a-protest-rally-or-what!-%28Photo-Diary%29
    Keep the energy up, make it last through recall season, don’t forget next January, and Nov 2012.
    WI needs a long memory, and a lot of sustained intensity.
    *****
    Sand, read the NYT post for kinds of radiation. It would appear there are differences.

    Reply

  12. Lorne Marr says:

    I think it is very important to avoid interfering directly in the conflict since the people of Libya are fighting to put a halt to the dictatorial regime and the US intervention could be seen as an attempt to impose the Western style of life in this part of the world.

    Reply

  13. Sand says:

    Questions last (long) post boils down to:
    The rational relationship between the threat of a “light bulb” and “nuclear meltdown”.
    Q: “…Thus far, I don’t think this is a Chernobyl style melt down, and if I’m reading right, it’s a completely different kind of reactor…”
    What — you mean there’s like different kinds of “human-friendly” radiation that these particular reactors stream out?
    Libya: I agree with Leon Hadar: “US Obsession with the M-E will only benefit China”. And, what happens if we do intervene, and because we are overstretcher already — happen to ‘lose’? Coz, our James Clapper seems to think we might — Wondering if Israeli intelligence had anything to do with his Senate hearing?

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  14. questions says:

    Here’s some more info regarding Japan and the nukes:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/science/13radiation.html?hp
    “The danger of nitrogen-16 is an issue only for plant workers and operators because its half-life is only seven seconds, after which it decays back into natural oxygen. A half-life is the time it takes half the atoms of a radioactive substance to disintegrate.
    The other form of radioactivity often in the cooling water of a nuclear reactor is tritium. It is a naturally occurring radioactive form of hydrogen, sometimes known as heavy hydrogen. It is found in trace amounts in groundwater throughout the world. Tritium emits a weak form of radiation that does not travel very far in the air and cannot penetrate the skin.
    It accumulates in the cooling water of nuclear reactors and is often vented in small amounts to the environment. Its half-life is 12 years.
    The big worries on the reported radiation releases in Japan center on radioactive iodine and cesium. ”
    *****
    There are more details. There is much uncertainty. It’s a good idea to have a little of the science background presented here, as it seems pretty relevant. And it’s been ages since I’ve been over these issues.

    Reply

  15. questions says:

    erichwwk,
    Please note that Steve has posted several times over the years here that he does not like open threads, he does not mind off topic posts, that he welcomes open discussion with the sole proviso that it not be overly personally vindictive or attacking people in ways that are grossly inappropriate. Beyond basic civility, it’s basically ok to talk about the earthquake and tsunami under the heading of Libya.
    If there are issues with off topicness, Steve can simply put a gentle note in and it’ll stop. Just like that.
    As for POA and nukes, I’m a little more nuanced than what I’m being credited with. The problem is huge though. We won’t live well without vast quantities of cheap energy. That’s simply a given. We can do some cutting back with conservation, with transportation changes, with packaging changes and so on. We can even paint our roofs white (see Chu on this one) But there are limits to that. We can burn more dead dinosaurs and that will give us more BP-style spills, more greenhouse gases, and more soot. We can do nukes, and we know what the potential risks are. (Thus far, I don’t think this is a Chernobyl style melt down, and if I’m reading right, it’s a completely different kind of reactor. It’s been ages since I’ve read up on nuclear power issues, so I won’t swear to any of this, but I think that the risks vary significantly for different kinds of reactors.)
    We really have significant issues with energy policy, as a nation, as regions, and as a world.
    But those problems exist within a system that makes broad changes to our lives and lifestyles and energy use very difficult.
    It wasn’t that long ago that gas peaked above 4 bucks a gallon and you, POA, were pretty unhappy. You drive a truck because you have to. So do others. We all have to do what we do, and if anyone tries to cut back, that person is at a relative disadvantage compared to other competitors. Welcome to game theory.
    Until we’re all compelled to live right, very few of us will do so. And the transition from our current style of energy use to something new will be painful.
    People are suffering over light bulbs, for heaven’s sake. A fucking light bulb.
    What are we going to do about air conditioners, refrigerators, self-defrosting GIGANTIC refrigerators, trucks, highways, suburbs, detached housing, heating and the like. Oh, and life in the desert, which sucks down the kilowatt hours…..
    Indeed nukes have problems. So do fossil fuels. And in very short order, we’re seeing the very negative side of energy use.
    Who’s the first to stop using any kind of energy?
    *****
    Oh, and Paul, thanks for the Onion! Read up on what the phelps clan plans next! I think I saw it on Huff Po….

    Reply

  16. Sand says:

    “…BTW, you might wanna check out a map of the “no man’s land” around Chenobyl, and compare it to the size of Japan…”
    I hear you POA. What are we not being told? I’ve emailed Dr. Helen Calidicott (as I’m sure others have) asking her to respond (to us all) and give her take on what is really happening in Japan.
    The media released photos are truly horrific.

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  17. Paul Norheim says:

    Dammit! Every time I klick on this TWN thread, I get redirected to The Onion!
    But OK, since we’re at it, here’s the latest:
    “FORMER DAVENPORT, IA

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  18. Don Bacon says:

    The White House has announced that President Obama has wrung a major concession out of the senate hawks. While the new federal tax on orphanages designed to pay for the Libya War Commission will be effective immediately under the pay-as-you-go policy, the tax will sunset in 2015. It will expire unless the president is forced to continue it, the spokesman added, or unless Lady Gaga sets another Twitter record, he added.
    In further news the President has discounted the irresponsible chatter regarding the lack of any U.S. strategic interest in Libya. “We need to take the peoples’ minds off of their daily problems like jobs and housing,” he said. “Attitude counts, and just remember how important the shores of Tripoli are to the Marines.”

    Reply

  19. erichwwk says:

    POA, while I value and agree w/ the majority of your rants, I do not appreciate the extent to which you use the audience built by Steve for consistent personal OT comments.
    Again, I suggest to Steve that he provide an “open thread” outlet. As he knows, nuclear issues, income and power inequality, and US imperialism and fascism are at the top of my agenda. As Steve covers such a breadth of topics, the longer a front page topic is not covered at TWN, the harder it is to refrain from engaging his audience in what we perceive might be more important issues. As Japan is somewhat of a Steve specialty, I hope he shares his take soon.
    So first,in keeping with the “on topic” caveat, readers may be interested in Fidel Castro Ruz’s take on Libya:
    it is here: http://bit.ly/hXxJu1
    re the Fukushima reactor, I posted this in another place: [ cite at hot URL]
    Re how we define little, as in “a little radiation” the Guardian reports:
    “Kyodo cited an official who said that the rate of hourly radiation leaking from Fukushima was equal to the amount usually permitted in a year.”
    If that is indeed the magnitude of the radiation leakage, what is reported as “a little” actually is closer to 9,000 times Japanese permitted standards.
    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”
    There are 24 hrs/ day, 365 days/ yr .
    If what Kyodo news is reporting is accurate, they suggest the radiation leak is ~ 8,760 times the permitted amount, once the previous releases were not enough to prevent the air containment building from exploding.

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  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Indeed the nuke plants seem to have “survived” an 8.9 earthquake and the following tsunami — now of course, it’s a modified version of survive, but it looks for now like no meltdown, very little radioactive material released, and things might be under control, at least according to this post — no definitive claims on my part for now”
    ROFLMAO!!!!
    Deja vu. You were posting the same kind of naive pabulum about the Gulf disaster too, Questions. When discussing the horrendous possibilities of a nuclear meltdown at one of these plants, what is occurring in Japan can hardly be described as “survival” when considering their damaged state. I suppose you could say the nuclear plant at Chernobyl is a “survivor” as well, eh? After all, the buildings are still standing, and it didn’t even experience a quake.
    What are the odds of a continued chain of “close calls”, Questions, (if in fact this ends up being a “close call” in Japan)? Do you think we can dodge the bullet everytime one of these “safe” plants are subjected to natural disaster, terrorism, or human error? The costs are far too great when the inevitable occurs, as it surely will.

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  21. PissedOffAmerican says:

    New report from NASA finds that nearly 50 percent of the population along the Gulf Coast is experiencing sickness indicative of chemical poisoning related to the BP oil spill
    March 12, 2011

    Reply

  22. DonS says:

    So the Arab League wants it, or has been bribed into wanting it. France and the UK are on board. What say we let those entities handle it. Of course we’ll have to bribe them to handle it, but at least we get to say there’s no American fingerprints on it.
    Unless McCain, Graham, Liberman or one or more of those types says that’s not good enough because, um, Muslims, er, terrorists, uh . . . well whatever they say it’s good enough to cave, er, compromise on. Still need the commission, though, as long as the cost can be offset by a 10% rebate on income taxes for those making over $500,000.
    Speaking of no fingerprints, I notice Gates is in Bahrain today telling the Bahrainis to get with the democratization kick so Iran doesn’t get stronger, yada, yada, yada . . . Must mean we have a policy, or something. Can’t really spell it out until Bibi has spoken.

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  23. questions says:

    Here’s something a little complex and odd and who knows how to evaluate the twists and turns:
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/12/955645/-What-Is-Really-Behind-The-Wisconsin-No-bid-Power-Plant-Sell-Off

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  24. questions says:

    Indeed the nuke plants seem to have “survived” an 8.9 earthquake and the following tsunami — now of course, it’s a modified version of survive, but it looks for now like no meltdown, very little radioactive material released, and things might be under control, at least according to this post — no definitive claims on my part for now:
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/12/955578/-Fukushima-Update
    “This was not a nuclear explosion. Meaning a small scale mushroom cloud. I’m assured by experts that can’t happen with this type of fuel. The power of the explosion was probably more like a conventional bomb or natural gas storage accident.
    The danger to the larger local community is fallout from venting, or material from melting fuel rods lost in an explosion. Hence the evacuation. But so far, radiation reportedly detected outside the plant has been minimal.”
    There may be more recent reports out with better data at this point.
    The real issue here is whether or not sufficient redundancy has been built in to these systems such that melt downs can be avoided.
    There are two levels of redundancy here, one is mechanical and the other is political.
    Mechanically, it seems that a 4th or 5th layer might have been a good idea, as the human response could easily have been delayed by a huge aftershock or by further water damage from the tsunamis.
    Politically, I have read in a few places now that the nuke system in Japan is fairly corrupt.
    This isn’t a great place for corruption, let’s face it.
    How much redundancy does one need to build in to a system to deal with the likelihood of corruption?
    As for nukes in seismic zones, again the issue is always going to be particular, related to proper risk analysis, and even then, gotta say, it may just not entirely be worth the once in a million years accident risk. Nuke accidents can be pretty bad.
    As for off topic posts, I am guilty as charged, If Steve even hints that he’d prefer I went further down the page to post, I would certainly change it. Thus far, I’ve heard nothing of the sort.
    And since, in my feverish brain, there are systems analysis similarities between the Japan earthquake and nuke accident and what we’re looking at for Libya and pretty much what we do all over the place, I think, personally speaking, it’s not super off topic.
    Systems analysis is how we must think, how we must figure out the worth of a policy, how we need to figure out what to do.
    Systems analysis runs smack into the political analysis that our representatives do.
    This clash between the political system and the, umm, systemic system (sorry) is to be dealt with. If we ignore the politics or the system side of any issue, we’re sunk.
    And maybe we are just sunk.
    But I’m always up for some hopey changey shit!

    Reply

  25. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Dan, you neglected to mention the appropriation of funds with which this comission will be financed. Of course, compensation of the commission members must be commiserate with the gravity of their deliberations. Considering that they will undoubtedly meet every Wednesday for a two hour session, we must make sure that they are fairly compensated for the other six days that they spend in earnest preparation.
    Sixteen million should be enough to get the effort off the ground, but of course we should include a prudent reserve, in case the effort should exceed the time period required for actual usefulness.

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  26. Don Bacon says:

    In other news, the president wants to make it crystal clear prior to the first commission session that he would be satisfied with half a no-fly zone, and that is negotiable.

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  27. Dan Kervick says:

    (Washington) After weeks of intensive internal deliberations over the Libya crisis, the White House announced today the formation of a national commission charged with studying the feasibility of a no-fly zone in Libya.
    The National Commission on No-fly Zones in Oil Exporting Countries Run by Crackpots will be chaired by retired US Senators Sam Nunn (D-GA) and John Warner (R-VA).
    The commission will begin taking testimony in May or June, and has been ordered to report out its findings by no later August 31, 2012.
    The White House shot back at charges from critics over the extended time frame. Appearing stunned and perplexed by the criticism, administration spokesman Jay Carney cited the complexity and sensitivity of the foreign policy challenges posed by the Libya crisis, as well as the usual difficulties in assembling a sufficient number of retired statesmen with nothing to do but serve on phony-baloney Washington commissions.

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  28. Don Bacon says:

    They’ve been bought.
    The Arab League is in favour of enacting a no-fly zone over Libya, secretary general Amr Moussa said.
    http://di-ve.com/Default.aspx?ID=72&Action=1&NewsId=81704&cache=false

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  29. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Heres a post I made in Febuary of 2010……
    http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2010/02/robert_gibbs_tw/#comment-152265
    Excerpt….
    “Ever been in an earthquake over a 7.0??? Imagine an eight, or a nine. A nuclear facility is going to survive that intact? Horseshit”
    End excerpt.
    Sometimes, people, the answers are remarkably simple. Look over the intellectual back and forths on that thread, Kervick leading the charge of deep thought and pretentious rumination.
    But really, all the deep thought and careful debate doesn’t mean shit when you can boil an issue down to one simple common sense observation. Sometimes the facts just don’t require an essay, because a sentence or two will do.
    How about, when considering this Libya no-fly zone thing, we just declare, “We don’t have the money”.

    Reply

  30. Don Bacon says:

    Last July the US-Libya relationship was on an upward course. Libya, according to the US ambassador, was “a strong ally in countering terrorism in a volatile region. Then an insurgency arises and the US throws Libya under the bus, putting its reputation on a rebellion w/o leaders, an unknown force!
    I guess there’s more to it.
    Embassy of the U.S. Tripoli, Libya
    Remarks by Ambassador Gene A. Cretz
    at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
    Friday, June 4, 2010 (extracts)
    –The United States and Libya have just embarked on the second year of fully renewed diplomatic relations

    Reply

  31. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Surreal. I tuned into Rush Limbaugh yesterday, and what was he talking about???? Monica Lewinsky.
    And here? No one else sees the plain and clear message Mother Nature just handed us in Japan? We’re all stuck on this speeding cosmic dirtball together, people. Theres no jumpin’ off.
    Sometime back, arguing with someone here, (Questions?), I noted the insanity of nuclear powerplants being placed in areas of high seismic activity. Fact is, we are no match for the power of the cosmos, of which we are a part.
    Yet here we are, these inconsequential little sentient bugs, killing each other willy-nilly over archaic superstitions and greedy aspirations of wealth and power.
    Interesting, this discussion, in that should we impose a no fly zone on Libya, the gross expenditure will undoubtedly be more than what we will expend, in the same time period, on aid to the devastated nation of Japan. Good money after bad. How much have we spent on propping Kaddaffi up, on sucking him off, on getting him to play nicey-nice with the Israelis?
    Another puppet gone bad. Should we tally the cost of our global puppet shows that have broke script and gone rogue over the course of the last fifty years? We keep putting these shows on, despite the fact we have proven ourselves, time and again, to be lousy puppeteers.
    Japan?? We’ll promise a dollar figure, and because its Japan, we might even keep our promise. After all, its not like its Haiti or anything.
    Meanwhile, here at home, we’ll cut one more “entitlement” here at home, fix a few less bridges, cut education funding.
    Whats a “smart bomb” go for these days? Jet fuel? Whats it cost to set up a carrier group within striking range of Libya, and maintain a no fly zone?
    Don’t you kinda wish, if these slimey fuckers in DC wanna keep printing money, that they’d at least print a little for you and me?

    Reply

  32. erichwwk says:

    Re my previous comment, I wish I had said:
    “Blockade”— NO
    “Embargo”—–Possibly

    Reply

  33. bks says:

    Kabul – Afghan President Hamid Karzai said
    Saturday that NATO and US should stop
    their operations in the war-torn country.
    ‘I ask NATO and US, with honor and humbleness
    and not with arrogance, to stop its operations on our soil,’ Karzai said in the eastern province of
    Kunar, according to a statement from the
    presidential palace. …
    http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/southasia/news/article_1625580.php
    –bks

    Reply

  34. erichwwk says:

    While OT issues are complementary and contribute to a better society, I do strongly urge folks to curtail their use of this forum, and their comments, to stray far from the central issue.
    The issue put on the table by Steve Clemons was on the “The US role in implementing a no-fly zone over Libya”.
    If another issue is more important to a particular reader, I urge that person either find a blog discussing that issue, or have the patience to wait until Steve puts that issue on the table.
    Perhaps Steve might consider an occasional “open thread” to give THIS community of readers an opportunity to vent and share thoughts among the TWN community built essentially on valuing the style of dialogue promoted by Steve? Better to have Off and On topic comments collated in a separate location?
    My comments on the no-fly zone:
    I am glad Steve is actively promoting the downside of that view. Bravo!
    I myself would go further, and ask folks to think through ANY use of force (eg encouraging the arming of insurgents), a tactic that seems to me to share similar downsides to the “no fly zone” itself. To be it is not an issue of a “somewhat” smaller military footprint, but one of NO FOOTPRINT or FINGERPRINTS AT ALL, difficult as it is to watch folks being slaughtered. If the international community is to act, I would say through the UN, AFTER, the UN morphs into a non UN or at a non-security council enforcement body.
    So, in regards to the specifics:
    * — “share intelligence” —- NO.
    Innocuous,impartial, and non military intervention as it seems at first glance, it IS a first step in converting the struggle from a Libyan one to one w/ a US military partner. There is a blowback component here, as we insert ourselves in the military process, as by trying to control airspace. As Steve recognizes, intelligence is an important component of a military strategy. Kudos for also recognizing how this would change the dynamic and how the insurgency would be framed.
    * — “work through allies to encourage supplying arms to the insurgents. — No.
    Which insurgents? Had we not supplied the original arms around the world, all these horrendous dictators would not be able to abuse their citizens to the extent we are now witnessing. The real problem to me is the excessive use of force to resolve conflicts, the misconception that peace is the end, rather than seeing peace as the means. So I say export LESS military hardware, not more.
    Humanitarian aid. Yes. Absolutely. But again through Arabian or African orgs with wide legitimate support.
    Blockade- Possibly? But we MUST think through how a blockade would look in terms of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, and the importation of military hardware into Israel. Blockades too are an act of war, although we have spun this out of political misdirection. The US blockade of Japan before WWII is often portrayed in US history books,as a non-war act, to claim that “Japan attacked first”.
    Ditto for the US imposed no-fly zone over Bosnia or Iraq. By definition, a blockade supports the gestalt that “force/ war” is more of an answer than it actually is, by improperly discounting the future.
    Other sources in addition to Al Jazeera:
    http://therealnews.com

    Reply

  35. r. says:

    Well, if Bradley Manning’s mother is a UK citizen, then she can always ask for assistance from the UK Government.
    If his incarceration and trial do not meet EU laws then there is an international dimension to this.
    Will London bow and scrape like Tony Blair did? Or, will they support a British subject / EU citizen in need?
    Manning obviously needs assistance to get a fair hearing. In addition to the, as yet, unproven allegations against him, there are at least two other potential issues impacting his treatment by the US Authorities: he’s homosexual; and he’s half-British.

    Reply

  36. J Pratt says:

    1. Adm. Nathman (who led the last air strikes on Libya) noted on
    AC360 that imposing a no fly zone would draw resources currently
    supporting active ops in Afghanistan, and could come with
    casualties. What then -ground troops?
    2. US tax payers have paid billions already to train and equip
    Egyptian, Saudi and other military. Our hearts go out to the rebels
    — but why must this be our fight? Just b/c the Egyptian military is
    busy at home, and the Saudi’s are fearful it might happen there
    doesn’t mean we need to step in. We’re busy elsewhere and have
    problems at home too…

    Reply

  37. DonS says:

    “Then think about Bradley Manning — when did the filter get it to the president’s desk, and what can he do when it comes to crossing the military over the treatment of one guy, who really did download secret information, as a uniformed member of the military, and did transmit the info. What does a president do in this situation? How much outrage can he feel given the limits on his time and information sources, and how much outrage can he express given the nature of the office?” (Questions)
    Points taken, of course, and they are some of the points that hew to the apparently reasonable path. And you could also throw in a bunch of really vulgar points from the right wingers which may, indeed, be of even greater influence than the reasonable ones you cite.
    But we’re not just talking about the treatment of one guy, are we? We’re talking about everyman — or at least every American — under the Constitution, not to mention human rights. We’re not talking about optional mode of detainee treatment (prior to trial); we are potentially talking about actual torture, legally proscribed by Geneva Conventions, and circumvented by Bush/Cheney legalisms (and very likely continued by Obama in venues beyond our sight). That’s a subject which Obama spoke out forcefully against in the past, a signature issue if you will, and which one might expect should not be resolved on the basis of “oh, it’s ok, the military told me it’s ok”.
    As to the “filter” of information, Obama addressed this issue, which had be widely, and rightly, in the news a lot, only when he was specifically asked, and only when it became impossible to ignore due to a member of his own administration putting it right on the radar. I would even guess that Obama had been well aware of the matter long before he was forced to speak. As to Obama’s possible outrage, I think we can say there is none, or he has found a way to trade it for political expediency.
    And as to that bottom line, it may not be too cynical to say this is all about the crusade against Julian Assange and getting a confession out of Manning anyway possible. And it doesn’t hurt that other potential whistle blowers, military or not, can read the tea leaves.
    Remember, as I’m sure you do, this is not a question of praising Manning for raging against the oligarchy (laudable though that might be). It’s a question of not even blinking an eye with regard to whether a line proscribing the hot button issue of torture has not just been approached, but very likely crossed. And authorized, by someone. Again.
    For those interested, or who might want to scoff, here’s Daniel Ellsberg, also widely considered a ‘bad’ American by so many, from the Guardian, via FDL:
    http://firedoglake.com/2011/03/11/this-shameful-abuse-of-bradley-manning/

    Reply

  38. questions says:

    “UPDATE: Sigh. I should have waited two hours before writing this. I could have pointed to someone who went in and showed how doctored the footage is. The Republican hijacked line isn

    Reply

  39. questions says:

    h/t nakedcapitalism —
    OT, but WOW.
    http://www.itworld.com/security/139794/with-hacking-music-can-take-control-your-car
    A cd can include coding that allows a hacker to take over computerizes aspects of late model cars.
    From a cd!
    Nevermind Bluetooth or cell networks — this is a cd you burn at home and play in the car.
    It probably would take some effort to get the code into the music that would then be burned and played in the car — it might be pretty hard to target one car and ensure that the driver/owner actually played that cd….
    But still, it’s pretty amazing.
    *******
    Oh, and the world is coming to an end.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12687272
    h/t nakedcapitalism

    Reply

  40. questions says:

    Fascinating system for avoiding corruption and for avoiding profiling and for avoiding failures in ground level, granular, risk assessment:
    http://www.themonkeycage.org/2011/03/randomizing_customs.html
    Using a random number generator to decide if bags get searched at customs.
    Perhaps such a system could be devised for all sorts of inspections, and all sorts of systems. Take away human judgment in the places we most suck at it or are most likely to be bribed.
    Some banks will get their books looked at, some banksters will face charges, some agencies will be AUDITED, some winners and losers will emerge — all from a random number generator.
    That’s a powerful idea.

    Reply

  41. Kotzabasis says:

    Is Clemons suggesting that U.S. foreign policy now, and crucial intervention on its part to prevent a Rwandan or Darfur massacre redux, has to take into account

    Reply

  42. questions says:

    Here’s a nice quick description of what back up redundancy means, and why it’s not enough:
    “The problems at the nuclear plants came in waves, starting with two of the six Daiichi units.
    The quake disrupted the electric power the reactors used to run their cooling facilities, which pump water into the reactor core to cool the fuel rods there. The reactors switched to backup diesel generators, but the tsunami then swept in and shut down the generators used for the No. 2 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi. The unit then tapped excess steam in the core to power a turbine and switched to battery power, which would last only a few hours.
    “There’s a basic cooling system that requires power, which they don’t have,” said Glenn McCullough, former chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, who was tracking the Japan situation. ”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/11/AR2011031103673_2.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2011031100651
    There were already 2 back ups to the main back up and there was a third layer of back up because they could bring in mobile electric generators to keep the cooling system going.
    Some what ifs:
    What if the people who know how to do this back up work, who are local, all got washed away into the ocean or trapped in collapsed buildings?
    What if debris had blocked the route in?
    What if some kind of blast had killed them?
    What if more earthquakes or another couple of tsunami waves had hit after the mobile generators were in place?
    There are some disasters that are so large, that despite their unlikelihood, we need to invest so much money in them, that either we simply don’t court them — no nukes in seismic zones, say.
    There is a cost to every level of redundancy. We still need more redundancy. I do not know how many layers of redundancy any particular risky object requires, but that’s what we need to be thinking about.
    The way Steve, above, runs through a risk assessment of a no-fly zone, so we need to do the same with every policy.
    But risk assessment is long-term, boring, non-position taking non-sexy, doesn’t play well on Sunday talking heads shows, doesn’t really even blog well, is more about some boring technocrat taking meetings and looking at flow charts, isn’t speechy or leadershippy. It’s what we need, though.
    *********
    One other tangent on the morning (ok, there might be a lot more) — years ago, Bush II made an interesting comment in an interview that I think summed up his universe — he talked about how much pressure there was on a president, how he had to hold himself against that pressure and just how hard it was to do so. He made this comment in a plaintive voice, it was sad, one got a sense of the isolation and misery of the job, and his coping mechanism was really to be absent from the job of being decider and simply stay with his already-designed and built sense of the world. He didn’t weigh, it seemed, so much as stick with what he already knew.
    Obama made a comment with a similar structure, though completely different content in a recent interview. The truth of things comes from these small comments.
    Obama noted that the easy stuff is always dealt with by other people. When a matter comes to him, it’s always a hard one.
    So think about all the shit that happens in the world that COULD be thought as a presidential matter. Think how much is dealt with by aides. And then think what ends up making it to the president’s desk, how much he can do about such things given the institutional nature of the political realm.
    Then think about Bradley Manning — when did the filter get it to the president’s desk, and what can he do when it comes to crossing the military over the treatment of one guy, who really did download secret information, as a uniformed member of the military, and did transmit the info. What does a president do in this situation? How much outrage can he feel given the limits on his time and information sources, and how much outrage can he express given the nature of the office?
    I don’t have answers, but I think the filter system is something that needs to be thought through. It’s a kind of risk assessment, which is the topic of the day.

    Reply

  43. questions says:

    This deserves to be circulated, on the class war happening before our eyes:
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/11/955300/-Class-warfare,-illustrated
    Very nice graphic.
    There are risks involved in making the wealthy even wealthier. There are risks to humanity, risks to the broader economy, and eventually risks to social stability.
    If you have a choice between the mortgage interest deduction on a vacation home and support for low income housing, which do you pick? Support for the nth home for the well-housed, or support for the first home for the unhoused or barely housed?
    Well, we know what happens.
    The whole dynamic of individual greed over social concern gets us into something of a pickle. It can indeed swing too far the other direction, but let’s face it, most people want to work, want the dignity of getting a paycheck, want the dignity of doing things for themselves. Listen to any 2 year old’s refusal of help for any task and you can see, people don’t like being dependent.
    But we don’t assess risks well, so we panic about all those lazy people who don’t want to help themselves, who don’t want dignity, and we refuse to help them.
    Meanwhile, if you’ve worked hard, you DESERVE social help in buying a second or third oceanside or city or country vacation home. A ski home. A horse farm/ranch home. A mountain home. A home on the range…. Of course, because you’re deserving!

    Reply

  44. questions says:

    We don’t do risk assessment well in any arena at all.
    Since we’re back to the old posting system, I can’t put in thousands of links, so I’ll just gesture towards the ideas….
    NYT has a piece up on light bulb panics. So the Republicans, with Michele Bachmann as their fearless leader (OMG, all is lost), are demagoguing the changeover from incandescent bulbs to led and compact fluorescent bulbs. Instead, apparently, the Republicans are pro-choice regarding light bulbs.
    Where does that lead us? Perhaps to needing more nuclear plants in seismic zones, since the whole midwest seems now to be a seismic zone?
    So let’s read about the explosions at Japan’s nuclear plants. Also built in seismic zones.
    I thought this earthquake and series of tsunamis would be horrible without being horrific (an uncertain line between the two, but Haiti’s 300,000 dead seems far worse than Japan’s thousand or more dead). But suddenly we have radiation leaks, partial meltdowns, and perhaps by the time Sunday rolls around in the US, a complete nuclear disaster in the only country to have been bombed by nukes. What a nightmare come to the day world.
    We don’t assess risks well at all. We can be enraged by light bulb tyranny (omg), and then be perfectly fine with the utter world destruction of fossil fuels, nuke plants in seismic zones, and mining deaths and the rest. But DAMMIT I will have my incandescent bulbs.
    *****
    On the earthquake, check this out:
    “The powerful earthquake that unleashed a devastating tsunami Friday appears to have moved the main island of Japan by 8 feet (2.4 meters) and shifted the Earth on its axis.
    “At this point, we know that one GPS station moved (8 feet), and we have seen a map from GSI (Geospatial Information Authority) in Japan showing the pattern of shift over a large area is consistent with about that much shift of the land mass,” said Kenneth Hudnut, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
    Reports from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy estimated the 8.9-magnitude quake shifted the planet on its axis by nearly 4 inches (10 centimeters).”
    That line from Carrol King, “I feel the earth move under my feet” seems suddenly apt.
    ***********
    All over the leftish media are posts about the Republican budget’s cutting NOAA and tsunami warnings and weather warnings and earthquake warnings or whatever the list is.
    Also all over the place are Peter King’s panic attacks about the Muslim radicalization hearings.
    We don’t do risk assessment well. We want to cut precisely the disaster preparedness information gathering scientific endeavors we need. We want to add even more supervision of the 1.3 billion Muslims on the planet. Why? Because it’s easy to demonize people, it gives a thrill up or down the leg to the Republican party to demagogue people, it helps with positioning and reelection. It’s politics. And we buy into it.
    Meanwhile, the boring shit that takes a Ph.D. earned at the age of 35, years of math calculations and star gazing and hi tech equipment and grant proposals and the like to figure out what to do about disaster readiness, how to assess potential costs of disasters, how to figure out what we should do. It’s abstract, hard to understand, doesn’t translate well into bumper stickers, and doesn’t fit well with the Fox meme.
    We need to know how to do proper risk assessment.
    And instead we get Michele Bachmann, we get the graphs up on themonkey cage:
    http://www.themonkeycage.org/2011/03/you_want_more_epistemic_closur.html
    on epistemic closure and why it is that educated Republicans are truly and astoundingly bad at risk assessment.
    “The graph below makes clear that better-educated liberals and conservatives are more polarized on global warming than their less well-educated kindred.”
    More educated Republicans are somehow less educated! UNbelievable. Their news sources and their resentments and their skepticism which is drawn from news and resentment make them think Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck speak the truth. Wow.
    ****
    So where are we in the world? Frightened to death of Muslims and LED bulbs, frightened of lazy people who will steal our wealth, frightened of government debt, frightened by the non-American in the White House….
    And what do we really need to worry about? It comes up around here frequently.
    We should be worrying about energy.
    We should be worrying about the institutionalization of humiliating treatment of our “enemies” of the moment. Somewhere between the normalization of Gitmo, the treatment of Bradley Manning, the commonplace police brutality, the conditions in our prisons, the joy we take in other people’s pain, our willingness to allow far too many government secrets, we are a mess.
    At some level, it’s all of a piece. We don’t assess risks well at all. Bradley Manning is far less a risk to himself, to others, to national security, than is the mortgage mess.
    The banksters, following their own interests, incentives, and logic, managed to tank the country.
    Bradley Manning, realizing that there were some seriously bad actions on the part of his country, managed single-handedly (ok, with some help) to release the information for all of us to decide what our government is doing.
    How do we handle this? By rewarding the banksters and treating Bradley Manning horribly.
    We don’t do risk assessment well.
    I am fully aware of what the gov’t worries about regarding governance, control, rebellion. The lines are clear where the politicking and the policy are, where the concerns are with needing to crack down on whistle blowers to maintain control and to limit the number of whistle blowers there are. And yet, whistle blowers help with risk assessment.
    So the gov’t is really caught between these two polls — needing to kill whistle blowers and needing more whistle blowers to come forth on a regular basis. Sucks, doesn’t it?
    But, really, you don’t need to parade a guy naked in order to remove the incentives to whistle blowing. No one is casual about the loss of everything when it comes to releasing documents under the guise of whistle blowing. People are always ruined. We don’t have to torture them on the way down.
    ****
    Could we have a national moment in which all media spend, I don’t know, 24 or 48, or maybe 72 hours, on the completely unsexy and non-position taking issues of risk assessment? Could we stop and think? Of course not. It would affect advertising revenue. The billionaires would lose a little money. The unthinkers would have to think.
    Someone on the right would have to say publicly that Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mick Huckabee, Rand Paul, Ron Paul, libertarianism in general, conservatism as well, and Scott Walker, and Rick Scott and the Michigan governor who has declared some kind of martial law of some modified sort — that all of these people are incapable of rational thought and decent policy-making.
    Someone would have to note that James O’Keefe doctors his videos.
    Someone would have to note that Fox distorts pretty much everything instead of presenting actual evidence and structuring coherent arguments.
    Ain’t never gonna happen.
    We don’t assess risks well. We will pay. We will pay.

    Reply

  45. J. Winters says:

    Very subtle points. Shifting the frame in the way you mention would come at a heavy cost to nascent popular participation in Libya and beyond. But is there a point at which bearing that cost is preferable to the alternative?
    That is, what if the Libyan rebels and opposition are on the verge of being routed and utterly crushed? That wouldn’t be so much a frame shift as a Tiananmen deathblow (including the region-wide ripple effects that will have against popular pressures).
    I don’t say this because I favor of a no-fly zone. The strongest argument against it is the one you made: that it is likely to hurt far more than it helps.
    The key in this struggle is to credibly raise the costs on the the armed forces commanders loyally killing on Gaddafi’s behalf. It is they who wavered and undercut Mubarak (as they did when Soeharto handed the army orders to massacre protesters in Jakarta).
    The way to shake their confidence is to change their calculations about their fate and time horizons. At the moment, it makes sense to them to side with Gaddafi.
    But what if key leaders up the ante by naming names, and vowing to pursue and bring to justice a specific list of armed forces officers carrying out Gaddafi’s attacks on his own people?
    Shift the pressure from Gaddafi to them. Publish their names and faces.
    State it clearly — they will be hunted down by the international community and Nuremberged, even if it takes decades.

    Reply

  46. Don Bacon says:

    Tell me why aiding an insurgency against a U.S. ally (an ally until the insurgency started) doesn’t harm U.S. national security and cause increased distress to American fuel consumers (as is now happening). And what kind of signal would this material aid send to other despotic U.S. allies in other Arab lands?
    In other words, the primary goal of U.S. foreign policy ought to be a better future for Americans, not for Libyans, and debating on ways that the Libyan insurgency should be helped misses the central question: Why should we help the Libya insurgency?
    For one thing the U.S. recently, with David Petraeus in the lead, has been a champion of countering insurgencies not aiding them. What changed that?
    The U.S. has had an enduring policy of supporting Arab despots, like Mubarak and Gadafi, and the other Arab potentates, to advance U.S. national security. What changed that?
    I suspect that the U.S. policy hasn’t in fact changed but rather the neocons and neolibs have suddenly, with Libya, “got religion” about democracy and civilian casualties, impulses which never appeared with U.S. military imperialism.
    Hey, they figure, if it puts Obama in a position uncomfortable to him, of making policy decisions, it must be good. Obama and Clinton are not disappointing them — they’re spinning and twisting as expected.

    Reply

  47. Dan Kervick says:

    Well, it’s probably too late now, since the United States has already signaled to the people of the Middle East that it prefers to let Ghaddafi slaughter the opposition and doesn’t want any more revolutions. The window of opportunity for intervention was in the early days of the uprising when the rebel forces were on the offensive and Ghaddafi backed up against a wall.
    I’m sure the Saudis are relived that Obama is now clearly with them and the counterrevolutionaries. The Saudi “day of rage” apparently never materialized, with Saudi pro-democracy forces no doubt inspired by the forked tongue diffidence of Washington.
    Ever stalwart.

    Reply

  48. rc says:

    I should add — the critical point made on intervention (no fly zones) was that only 3-4 strategic airfields need be neutralized for the revolutionary forces to then have an equal playing field.
    And also that Egypt’s military could do this under UN or even Arab League mandate. I think he could have added Turkey’s military as well.

    Reply

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