Supporting a No-Fly Zone is Still Fiddling: Responding to Anne-Marie Slaughter

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anne marie slaughter twn.jpgMy friend Anne-Marie Slaughter, former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department and now back teaching at Princeton University, has written a compelling, passionate call for the US to immediately push for a UN Resolution to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. She outlines the reasons some are reticent about a no-fly zone, but in her response to critics, she doesn’t solve the core problem that a no-fly zone doesn’t help the Libyan opposition prevail.
While Slaughter doesn’t refer to me specifically, her arguments tick through many of the issues I raised in this video commentary as well as from my essay on the BBC’s site. Here too is a clip outlining some of these thoughts on Al Jazeera. I think she did a good job of listing the points that the no-fly zone opponents have been making.
Let me go quickly through and respond point by point. First of all, Anne-Marie cites Wes Clark’s views that action in and around Libya are not core interests of the US and thus don’t justify large scale military deployments. I disagree with Clark in the sense that the broad Middle East is of key strategic significance in the region — and that our decisions with regard to Libya, or Bahrain, or Israel/Palestine, or Egypt now have immediate reverberating effects beyond the silo of that country. Oil and energy realities make the Middle East important to the US — but Slaughter is right that human rights and democratic practice are also significant to support, though not definitive in my view. And I don’t have much patience for the view that military intervention on one side of a civil war is the key to democratic outcomes.
Slaughter writes:

Now we have a chance to support a real new beginning in the Muslim world — a new beginning of accountable governments that can provide services and opportunities for their citizens in ways that could dramatically decrease support for terrorist groups and violent extremism.

She is right, but sending in NATO aircraft to bomb Gaddafi’s planes and runways — and sending the US military into yet another cause — only reinforces the mistaken notion that accountable governments are created via military intervention. I think that the state-building and civil society promoting efforts of NGOs, of international governmental bodies, and even nations like the US can help on the periphery of this enormous changes in the region — but to think that “we” can deliver the change for Libyans is self-indulgent and takes the cameras off the brave protesters and puts them on US and NATO ships and airbases. A no-fly zone changes the frame in the region from youth movements seeking new opportunities, change, and the end to institutionalized indignity to a power play between Western military forces vs. authoritarians they have long tolerated.
Slaughter is right to mention Al Jazeera Director General Wadah Khanfar’s claim that what is most important about change in the Middle East is that it has occurred without foreign intervention. She suggests that some (and I am one) believe that Western intervention allows Gaddafi to wrap himself in a nationalistic flag and to delegitimate his opposition as being tools being manipulated for Western ends. Slaughter discounts these issues because of calls by some in the Libya opposition for a no-fly zone.
I am in Doha now at the 6th Al Jazeera Forum and have met officials of the Libyan Opposition Council — including the person formally charged now with the foreign affairs portfolio. What is clear is that the Libyan opposition is still finding its legs and has a number of voices. it is true that some have called for a no-fly zone because they are worried about being rolled back and what support from any source. But the leadership of the Council has “not” called for a no-fly zone.
What the Council wants, as I currently understand things, are:

1. The US to immediately recognize the Libyan opposition as the legitimate government of Libya. There is great ambivalence about the possible meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Paris because there is concern that this looks more like photo-ops for Clinton than the Opposition moving its interests forward, from their perspective. Interestingly, I was told that the Libya Opposition did not want to meet her in Paris — but wanted to meet in Tunisia or Egypt and only wanted to meet her if the US recognized the Opposition’s legitimacy.
2. Arms, arms, arms — or at least get out of the way of arms being delivered. I’m not sure of the accuracy of this, but I was also told that there is a UN arms embargo currently in place against Libya, which encompasses the Opposition. Moammer Gaddafi has no problem, circumventing it, with ship loads of weapons coming from Syria and other nations — but even France, which has recognized the Libyan Opposition as the legitimate government, is not delivering arms. According to representatives and activists from Libya at this conference, the Opposition is forfeiting gains to Gaddafi because they are literally running out of ammunition and bullets. They have nothing to fight with. If we want to move a UN resolution on Libya, perhaps repealing or setting aside this incumbent resolution could be moved forward and be less noxious for China and Russia.
3. Scramble and disrupt Gaddafi’s communications system. Gaddafi is blocking Al Jazeera’s signal inside the country — but more importantly, he has the ability to disrupt some of the communications of the Opposition while maintaining the solvency of his own communications. Outside interests could immediately disrupt and scramble his own communications.
4. Cooperate on intelligence feeds on movements by Gaddafi’s military and command staff. In part because the US does not know the Opposition well and has not recognized the government, we are not feeding useful intelligence to the Opposition.

ALL of these measures would have a lighter footprint that ships, planes, bombs, and other weapons systems that would remind and brand this revolution as delivered by Western forces.
I don’t get why when there are real, doable measures that could immediately help those opposing Gaddafi without the downside risks of a population angry at the large scale Western military footprint or the potential for a Somalia-like “Black Hawk Down” incident which Anne-Marie Slaughter does not discuss that we don’t move in that direction.
Anne-Marie debates Ivo Daalder in her piece on whether a no-fly zone would work or not. She doesn’t acknowledge that the costly investment by the British and Americans in deploying a no-fly zone in Iraq really didn’t cripple Saddam Hussein much. But more importantly, the question really should be is whether a no-fly zone gets the Opposition to a tilting point where they can succeed. The answer is no. A no-fly zone has become an emotional touch point for many who want to help the struggling and brave Libya Opposition — but it doesn’t change facts on the ground.
Slaughter is right that revolutions are messy and once the intoxication of change wears off, there are huge headaches, new conflicts, different political rivalries. But she says that if we allow Gaddafi to win and chop down young protesters, we will have been on the wrong side of things. Again, supporting a no-fly zone is emotional distraction “for us” and does little to help “them.”
She doesn’t deal with the reality that without somehow supporting the Opposition to force a “no drive zone” on Gaddafi’s tanks and arming the rebels with intel and bullets, a no-fly zone will look in retrospect like self-indulgent impotence.
In the part of Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article I least understand, she suggests that those fighting for their freedoms in Libya aren’t trained, aren’t mature enough essentially to handle the weapons that might be given to them. I don’t agree with her. There are many leading the Opposition who were in fact part of Gaddafi’s government. There are others fighting for their lives and futures who do learn fast. But essentially, they need ammo and RPGs immediately. Bigger stuff can be reviewed another time — but she thinks that Benghazi could be lost somehow if we take the “arm the rebels with guns and intel” route.
I don’t understand that. It’s far more likely that Gaddafi will be emboldened by dithering and fiddling about a no-fly zone where the adjacent capacity to run a large scale military operation like that is still in doubt and with the possibility that Russia and China will drag out the process of a UN Resolution.
Thus, for moral posturing reasons, Slaughter suggests that even if a resolution doesn’t get through the UN or if passed, that a no-fly zone not really change the military equation, that it was still the right thing to do.
There are many liberal interventionists and neoconservatives who are supporting a no-fly zone and major political personalities like former President Bill Clinton, former New Mexico Governor and former US Ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson, Senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, John McCain and others have supported a no-fly zone.
However, this stampede to a no-fly zone doesn’t solve the core underlying issues that it isn’t efficacious, that it could rob protesters of their own narrative and even of their political legitimacy, and doesn’t give them the tools they really need to win.
I admire Anne-Marie Slaughter’s call to do the right thing by those who are trying to put some hope into their lives. I agree with her that “It is time to act.”
However, it is time to recognize that there are things we can do immediately and with a small footprint that help those who want to get rid of Gaddafi. These steps would be welcomed by the Arab League who want to see order return to the region and who also want to see Gaddafi moved out.
While Anne-Marie Slaughter wants to see American “fiddling” on helping out Libyans in their revolution, I hope she will take another look at her proposal which seems to me to be taking “fiddling” to an order of magnitude higher.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

56 comments on “Supporting a No-Fly Zone is Still Fiddling: Responding to Anne-Marie Slaughter

  1. Paul Norheim says:

    “United Nations (CNN) — The U.N. Security Council will vote Thursday evening
    on whether to impose a no-fly zone — and potentially take other steps — to
    try to halt Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s attacks against rebel positions in
    his country.
    The draft the council will vote on includes language stating that “all necessary
    means” could be used to prevent the “slaughter of civilians,” a diplomat said.
    The vote, coming after weeks of bloody battles between Gadhafi’s forces and
    the opposition, is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET.
    U.S. military officials have said that a no-fly zone would typically be enforced
    by fighter jets whose speed and altitude make it difficult to target Gadhafi’s
    helicopters and that it would not halt the heavy artillery the regime is using on
    the ground.
    Frustration and anger in Benghazi Friedman predicts more unrest in Mideast
    Libyan rebel: We’ve seen heavy gunfire
    A draft version of a proposed resolution goes beyond a no-fly zone. It
    includes language saying U.N. member states could “take all necessary
    measures” to protect civilians in Libya, “including by halting attacks by air,
    land and sea forces under the control of the Gadhafi regime.”
    More here:
    http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/03/17/libya.civil.war/index.html

    Reply

  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Otherwise you’ll be taken for the hypocrites that I suspect you really are”
    How anyone can observe the events of the last two decades, and simply “suspect” hypocricy, is beyond me.
    Whats REALLY amazing to me is that there are jackasses that think hypocricy is a partisan affliction suffered by JUST one side or the other.

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  3. David Billington says:

    I can understand our not wanting to act unilaterally. But it appears that we are not even going to invite the
    other interested countries to raise their level of involvement, which would give us a stronger basis for
    assisting the rebels or a more dignified way to back out if there is no response to our invitation. Instead,
    we do not seem willing to take the risk that the Arab League and the Europeans might say yes and that
    Egypt might be willing to provide a conduit for U.S. arms to eastern Libya.
    This is very sad. It reminds me of all the rhetoric about rolling back communism in the early 1950s until
    the 1956 Hungarian uprising, where we stood aside. But at least we had the spectre of nuclear war to
    deter us from intervention then. I see nothing like that here.
    The simultaneous crackdown in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain will have to be followed after a short interval by
    some real opening up of the political process there, or the next wave of unrest will have more serious
    consequences. And toward Libya, the test of our intentions will be whether oil business as usual resumes
    with the Qaddafi regime.

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  4. Carroll says:

    I am going to let this guy speak for me because after everyone plays armchair general and geopolitical expert and realist and all the other roles available in any crisis….all Libya comes down to is will the US continue the stability thru friendly rulers policy of old or does the US adopt a new direction for future policy and pay the associated up front cost.
    I say we take a new policy course now with Libya as the example and pay the cost.
    When will the so called realist and those trapped by the ghost of Bush past learn that doing the ‘right thing’ and ‘being seen’ as doing the right thing and ‘counted on” to do the right thing always gives any power more power and influence and less challenges to it, creates more stability and cost less in the long term.
    #A Summing up – Michael Brenner
    Washington’s tergervisations these past several days over the Arab popular revolutions have unveiled the core American attitudes toward the Middle East. Unwittingly, we have let the veils drop one by one as we perform an artless improvised dance around the serial crises.
    Here is how I sum it up.
    1. The United States has been a patron power of the status quo. In the current setting, we are transformed into a reactionary power. All and sundry from the Arab ‘street’ to the Arab divan see that. Only the American political class doesn’t. Only they believe that that jerry-built structure is seismic resistant.
    2. The underlying reason is our three obsessions: Terrorism, Iran and Israel – as alluded to in an earlier post. Nothing that is happening has made the slightest qualification in that mindset. Hence, we quietly bless Mr. Saleh and the Bahraini royal family as we did Mr. Suleiman and the fading memory of the dying Mr. Mubarak. Mr. Gates did not fly to Bahrain to bid a fond farewell to anyone but rather to be in on the establishment of a GCC protectorate to keep those Iran inspired Shi’ites in their deferential place. From now all, all our rhetoric about democracy & freedom in the region will cause acute digestive revulsion.
    3. The Obama fear of the unknown is palpable in our abandonment of the Libyans to the tender mercies of Ghadaffi. We could not be moved by the surprising Anglo-French prod; we could not be moved by the shocking display of Arab League unity in calling for what we do not want to do. At ease with one’s own shamelessness makes it all quite easy.
    4. Most distressing to me is that we have settled on this course not through a process of deliberation but through inertia. That inertia is conceptual and temperamental. I doubt that Obama personally has the courage, imagination or personality to embark on something new and untried and risky. He just wants it all to go away – as with the BP oil spill, the financial crisis, and anything else that distracts him from the preoccupation of playing President as long as he possibly can. And there are no creative strategists within hailing distance to suggest otherwise.
    5. For a decade, we have looked like players of a bizarre arcade video game where the goal is to shoot yourself in the foot as many times as possible. Extra points for a disabling injury. At this pastime, we are nonpareils

    Reply

  5. Warren Metzler says:

    Don Bacon, the “done it all the time” referred to providing money, military equipment, advise and intelligence; not all of them coupled with a no fly zone. But if you want one example, Iraq from 1991 until 2003: no fly zone in the north and south, with massive military support, but no combat troops, to the Kurds in the north; and who knows how much military aid to the south.
    To POA. I am sure you are human. And my comments were directed at the fact what Tito Laca proposed could occur, even if it is highly unlikely to be an action the US government would take. But aren’t comments on this blog an opportunity to suggest options that have not yet been considered; and not just an opportunity to complain about all the flaws in the US and world power governments?
    And I fail to grasp the basis for you to define war as solely a long term action. In my dictionary, if country A invades county B with massive fire power and over 100,000 troops, and advances until it controls all of country B, that is a war; even if A only stays for a few weeks.
    Didn’t you consider Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006 a war? And what it did in Gaza for less than a month in 2008-9 a war?
    I propose that the recent Arab uprisings, including in Libya, are the majority of the citizens in each such country finally wanting the kind of freedom available in Western countries. And this cannot be stopped. No amount of military fire power can stop a majority of the population who wants freedom. Just as in our revolution back in 1776. Kaddafi may through his current superior military fire power stave off the opposition for a while, but only for a time. It will not be long before he is gone.
    And even if the US, and other western powers, favor Amr Moussa, as soon as the Egyptian street discovers that fact, he is toast. We are entering a new era, in which the US will find it harder and harder to find leaders of other countries to do their bidding. Long live true freedom and democracy.

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  6. kotzabasis says:

    Tito Laca bravo that is the way to go. The active engagement of the technologically unsurpassed superior arms of the U.S. will deal a devastating blow to the morale of Gaddafi

    Reply

  7. Dan Kervick says:

    By the way, Obama is in very big political trouble:
    http://moslereconomics.com/2011/03/14/presidential-approval-index/

    Reply

  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “To be sure, Western intervention in Libya will necessitate at some stage involvement in “nation-building’ – interference in the domestic affairs in the post-Gaddafi period.
    You have it backwards. Nation building neccessitates intervention, not vice versa. The MOTIVE will be nation building, as Israel and the United States do not DARE allow a Muslim state to determine its own destiny.
    Do you REALLY believe the Arab League, Israel, and these bloodsuckers like McCain, Leiberman, or Hillary Clinton are advocating a no-fly zone because they give a flying fuck about the Libyan protesters? No. They want CONTROL over the situation, so they can control the outcome, and the ensuing power structure. And changing the status quo IS NOT on their “to do” list.

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  9. Paul Norheim says:

    Further, from the piece I linked to above:
    “… what dreads the AU countries is that Libya has a
    history of disunity. It was only in 1951 that King Idris
    unified the three autonomous provinces of Tripolitania,
    Fezzan and Cyrenica. In the wake of the current strife,
    centrifugal tendencies have quickly resurfaced. Libya has
    dozens of tribes and Muammar Gaddafi knit together a
    tenuous alliance of some tribes but tribal feuds are
    common. The African countries share similar experience.
    To be sure, Western intervention in Libya will necessitate
    at some stage involvement in “nation-building’ –
    interference in the domestic affairs in the post-Gaddafi
    period. The native peoples will resent this involvement.
    And in the fullness of time, only the Islamist forces stand
    to gain. The stunning political reality of Libya is that Islam
    is the only unifying factor for the tribes and provinces of
    that fragile nation.”
    The more I read about the situation in Libya – historical
    background included – the less it seems to fit into the
    new, shiny narrative of the “Arab awakening”. Although the
    revolt was triggered by the events in Egypt and Tunisia.
    Libya is a special case – very different from both the
    monarchies and the republics in the region – and not only
    due to its despotic leader.

    Reply

  10. Paul Norheim says:

    Amr Moussa heads the Arab league. Perhaps this may partly
    provide an answer, Dan:
    “At the height of the Egyptian uprising, well-known American
    investigative journalist Seymour Hersh said in an interview with
    al-Jazeera that the United States had a “Plan B” in the event of
    Hosni Mubarak stepping down. According to Hersh, it was none
    other than Amr Moussa – “whether he knows or not”. There is
    nothing so far to show Moussa doesn’t know.
    He’s far too well connected not to know – career diplomat and
    foreign minister for over 45 years and secretary general of Arab
    League (AL) since 2001. He hopes to succeed Mubarak as
    Egypt’s next president.
    Moussa delivers …
    Moussa’s bid got great fillip by the AL decision Saturday to
    recommend imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya. His star has
    risen far above Mohammed ElBaradei’s. Two major Arab
    countries opposed the AL statement – Syria and Algeria – but
    Moussa rammed it through, thanks to the AL heavyweights
    clamoring for democracy to succeed and autocracy to end –
    Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain,
    Yemen, Jordan.
    What bizarre drama! The plain truth is that the North Atlantic
    Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU)
    commanded AL to speak since they need a fig leaf to approach
    the United Nations Security Council.
    The EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, was in Cairo on
    Saturday by Moussa’s side to ensure America’s “Plan B”
    delivered. And he did. Promptly, the US, Britain, France and
    Canada “welcomed” the AL statement. NATO will meet on
    Tuesday to tone up its stance on Libya.”
    More here:
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MC15Ak02.html

    Reply

  11. Dan Kervick says:

    Could someone please clarify for me this business with the Arab League and the no fly zone.
    The Arab League wants the Libyan rebels to win? Really???? You have to be kidding me.
    Isn’t it more likely that they want Gadaffi to win, but with less televised drama?

    Reply

  12. drew says:

    The USA should just shame the Arab League into implementing its
    own nfz. I can’t believe the dithering, between the Arab League,
    NATO, the UN, and our President “the noose is tightening” Waters
    Will Recede. The rebels will be encircled if not dead by this time
    tomorrow. I suppose the Arab League will blame *that* on the USA
    as well as they blamed the USA for ridding them of Saddam, or for
    sequestering Arafat.

    Reply

  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Sorry for the typo. I meant no disrespect. I intended to type “Dr”. Calleja.

    Reply

  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Rr. Calleja……
    Thank you for your response.
    Of note to me is that being Maltese, you are of course looking at this issue through the filter of Maltese interests.
    I’m American. And frankly, things ain’t going so good here right now. Even my high end work is drying up, and costs of living are not going down, they’re going up. We’re broke. That is, all of us EXCEPT these bloodsucking pieces of shit in Washington DC and the minute portion of our population that is obscenely wealthy due to the machinations of these criminals.
    And these crazy elitist bastards at the helm are spitting in the faces of us working stiffs and our families, while embroiling us in costly adventures and disastrous policies in the Middle East, with Israel sucking on our teats all the while. And we stopped giving milk a long time ago. Now, we are giving blood, and Washington, and Israel, (as it applies to the Middle East), are intent on maintaining this practice until we are utterly and completely sucked dry.
    I know it sounds callous, but its time we stayed home and cleaned our own house. We’ve got mold, and its poisonous. Truth is, its killing us.

    Reply

  15. DonS says:

    POA, the phrase “On the other hand, if a moral obligation exists . . . ” from Calleja (@5:18) which you cited as a “premise” is really a hypothetical which seems to be being used as a strawman, not really being advocated. (the good Dr. also appears to be a lawyer in Malta, so it might be unfair to saddle him with all the collective guilt attributable to the rest of us poor slobs who bear the burden of American policy).
    I am kind of curious about what directions Hopkins @ 4:32 seems to be hinting.

    Reply

  16. Don Bacon says:

    That’s transliterated to “Da”.

    Reply

  17. Don Bacon says:

    Russia has killed over 25,000 of its own citizens in Chechnya. I say take ’em on. No, on second thought we need Russia to say “??” on the Libya NFZ.
    Similar with China.

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  18. Dr. Etienne A. Calleja says:

    @PissedOffAmerican
    1. This is why no intervention by way of NFZ or, worse still, invading troops, is uncalled for. It is precisely because of how the US is percieved in acting only in preserving or augmenting its interests, that the US should tread, now more than ever,with extreme caution.
    2. I wasn’t referring only to the US. Any ‘western’ power would be viewed as an agent of the US if it were to invade or intervene milarily without a broad consesus especially from the Arab world.
    3. I am not American. I am Maltese and therefore I live in the southernmost European state to the extent that further south, the next city is Tripoli. We are witnessing the onslaught first hand and because of our close proxmity to Libya, we have a special interest in the crises.

    Reply

  19. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “On the other hand, if a moral oblgation exists for a nation to assist the citizens of another….”
    You gotta be kidding me. Your premise doesn’t even belong in this debate, as our selective manner of applying this so-called “moral obligation” robs the premise of all crediblity.
    Need I list the myriad of international attrocities we routinely ignore, or even participate in, that discredit any halo of moral saintlyhood we seek to assume???

    Reply

  20. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “POA, I really don’t understand you on this issue. How can you be a human being, and not recognize that the US government could take out Kaddafi’s air power, supply the opposition with a bunch of easy to use effective small scale military equipment, and do nothing else????”
    ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!
    But I’m NOT a human being! Didn’t you read Haim’s post on the “settler’s thread”??? I’m a “prick”, doncha know? (I suppose thats better than being called an “anti-semite”? Thank God that that ‘ol trope got overused and marginalized by years of misapplication, eh?
    And uh, uh huh. We are going to meddle, militarily, in a Middle Eastern nation’s affairs, with perfectly altruistic motives? What fuckin’ planet have you been living on these last three decades?
    I got news for ya. If any of these DC scumbags are advocating for intervention, (and of course they are), the fact that they are doing so HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH “SPREADING DEMOCRACY”. Good lord, right on the heels of our veto at the UN, some of you just can’t get it through your heads who dictates our policies in the Middle East?
    This bullshit about a no-fly zone IS NOT about the Libyan people being allowed, and assisted, in their efforts to control their own destiny. It is about the United States, and Israel, being able to control who, and what, replaces Kadaffi. And you can bet your firstborn that the interests of the Libyan people is a far lesser motive than that of maintaining the status quo in the Middle East. Namely, Israeli dominance through military superiority and nuclear prowess, and screw the interests, freedom, sovereignity, and needs of the “Arab Street” in the various Arab nations.
    “Iraq under Bush junior was never intended to be a non-war”
    Oh bullshit. The motives were misrepresented, the timeline was purposely understated, and the costs were laughably presented as to be borne by the Iraqi oil production. NEVER was this fuckin’ debacle sold as a long term military adventure, or “war” in the proper sense of the word. Nor was it instituted or legalized in the strictest sense of the word.
    Sorry Warren, but it isn’t me that you “don’t understand”. What you actually “don’t understand” is the basic application of common sense, and the wisdom of learning the lessons that history holds.
    “Maybe those advocating military intervention in Libya could also tell us how they intend to pay for it? Maybe by holding bake sales and passing the hat among pro-war bloggers?”
    Ink and paper is cheap.
    Unfortunately, carrier groups, aircraft, jet fuel, and smart bombs are a bit more expensive to produce.
    And unfortunately, stupidity, greed, and the quest for political power is extremely expensive. And they are the most sought after, and sold, commodities produced in Washington DC.
    Bend over kiddies, you are paying for this insanity. The Cleavers died a long time ago, and a cancer ridden and senile Eddie Haskell has the reins now.

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  21. Dr. Etienne A. Calleja says:

    @Abdus salam
    @Tito Laca
    You certainly raise valid points with regard to the immediate implementation of an NFZ over Libyan airspace, points which I think merit discussion.
    Certanly hampering Col. Ghaddafi’s ability to maintain logistics and effectively impede the immportation of mercenaries from neighbouring countries underpins the argument in favour of a NFZ rather forcefully I would say. The situation is very complex as there are a plurality of forces at play here, and the the distinction in simplifying things to oversimplification is so fine that we cannot afford to analyse the situation simplistically. There are, I think, a few things to consider. First of all, there is no single coherent Libyan voice calling for a NFZ. Indeed, as Steve Clemons has correctly pointed out, the leaders of the revolution in the newly formed council are of disparate opinion. They have yet to organise themselves well enough to speak to the international community singularly.
    Secondly, the main proponent and advocate for a NFZ, the Libyan Rebel Commander General Abdel Fatah Yunis, does not point towards Ghaddafi’s logistical capabilty in his call for an NFZ. Indeed the main thrust of his call for a NFZ is to limit the tyrant’s capacity to strike civilians and rebel combatants from the air.
    Another point to consider is Tico lata’s request for the American forces not to follow their military doctrine strictly, to “brave it”, as it were and fly into enemy territory and carry out targeted strikes, without necessarily destroying his anti-aircraft capabilities. There is, I believe, a serious flaw in this logic.
    To begin with why should we ask anyone to “brave it”? If military dctrine were to be followed, as I think it should, and Ghaddafi’s anti-aircraft capability destroyed, can we really say with hand on heart that the military forces would not be “braving” the NFZ? That this sort of operation is safe? On the other hand, if a moral oblgation exists for a nation to assist the citizens of another, why should that nation be asked to ditch a strategy that would go a long-way into safeguarding the lives of the members of its own military?
    Secondly, what political difference
    would there be between attacking Ghaddfi’s surface to air missile capacity and attacking other military engines by way of targeted air-strikes? I would venture that the legitimacy of either action is identical and would be called into question by the international community with equal furore – especially from the Arab world, which is far from united in itself in calling for a NFZ.
    Tito laca has also suggested that military doctrine should be abandoned in favour of establishing a limited NFZ and selective air-strikes. There is no call, in my view, to abandon military strategy entrenched in a doctrine that has been built over centuries long experience and a protracted exposure of a nation’s military force to numerous and vast theatres of war. It is the wisdom of that doctrine that should inform mature, clinical and dispassionate military strategy. Furthermore, any military action stripped of the strategic legitmacy of military doctrne would leave the invading nation bereft of the capacity to justify its actions before the international community. It would ave no fall-back position and we’ll all hear the collective sigh of “Oh!, here we go again”.
    The havoc that this would create would serve the Libyans worse than any other option. And hence, between a choice of doing something (establishing a NFZ) and seeming to do nothing (vacillating) whilst covertly providing arms (the rod not the fish), humanitarian assistance on the bordering nations (food, medical aid, ar lifting the affected region) and a redindant communication systems with real-time intel on the ground will go a long way in providing the rebels the tools they really need to ultimately overthrow their despot.

    Reply

  22. JohnH says:

    Maybe those advocating military intervention in Libya could also tell us how they intend to pay for it? Maybe by holding bake sales and passing the hat among pro-war bloggers?
    I certainly don’t intend to sacrifice more of Social Security, Medicare, or other government services for endless, pointless wars.

    Reply

  23. Grant L. Hopkins says:

    You simply do not know what you are talking about.
    Having been involved for 41 years at every major pricing event at Gulf Oil beginning in 1970 in Libya,1973 at the Yom Kippur War, that priduced the first oil shock, 1978 when we realised that Iran was in real trounle and so adjusted our crude and product slate in the summer of 1978 when we were stil lifting our 8% share of Iran’s 5.5mmb/d of production—and we had pre- sold four nuclear reactors to Iran through our subsidary company Gulf General Atomic, that cratered with the revolution and then six months later at Three Mile Island.
    Washington made the decison last week to abandon any no fly zone over Libya. Qaddafi is our nutcase and his oil, most of which is sold into Italy, Greece the Balkans and Spain & Portugal, along with natural gas, simply cannot be allowed to create another recession. Japan ensured that by suffering the tsunami and earthquake that, depiste what you you read or is being said /fed into the news cycle, is far worse than Chernobyl & will redefine oil and gas economics for the next 25 years.
    I could go on but there is no point in so doing.
    I read you comments with an incredulus stare.
    Grant L. Hopkins
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    14 March 2011

    Reply

  24. Don Bacon says:

    WM: “. . .the US government could take out Kaddafi’s air power, supply the opposition with a bunch of easy to use effective small scale military equipment, and do nothing else???? It is absolutely possible. And we have done it all the time in the past.”
    Perhaps you could provide a half dozen examples, or even one, since we’ve done it all the time.

    Reply

  25. Warren Metzler says:

    Tito Laca, I salute you. Except that you seem to be of the impression that US government officials have souls, have real feelings, have the ability to have concern for an oppressed person. When the truth is that you don’t get to advance in the American political system, Republican or Democrat, to a position of authority, unless the powers that be perceive you have become an amoral, soulless, automaton (just like them); able to never take an action unless it benefits one of your big money sponsors, and package each action to be a sincere, democracy and freedom promoting project; in other words to be a highly accomplished actor and liar.
    POA, I really don’t understand you on this issue. How can you be a human being, and not recognize that the US government could take out Kaddafi’s air power, supply the opposition with a bunch of easy to use effective small scale military equipment, and do nothing else???? It is absolutely possible. And we have done it all the time in the past. We didn’t get actively involved in assisting Pinochet to overthrow Chile’s government, but gave the whole lot of money and equipment. Same with Indonesia and Suharto. And originally in Vietnam, plus Congo, a multitude of countries in South America.
    Iraq under Bush junior was never intended to be a non-war. It, nor Afghanistan, was not at all a unplanned escalation from an initial small scale action.
    I believe the truth is that most of the senior officials in the Obama administration, and would be so in any other administration, Republican or Democratic, intrinsically, if not consciously, recognize that what is unfolding in the Arab world is implementation of a whole new consciousness, that will lead to governments far less likely to play the extremely childish (and a sick child at that) geopolitical games our government, and the governments of all the major powers, for decades have been playing; making it much more difficult for the US and those other governments to continue these games in the future. So they are giving lip service to intervention, and to condemnation of Gaddafi, while doing everything they can to not have to take any action, hoping regimes arise that allow the same old stuff to continue. They are attempting to fool us once again.
    Just as Iraq was never about WMD or Saddam supposedly arming Islamic jihadists. And it absolutely was not about oil. We have never needed to occupy a country to get all the oil we need.

    Reply

  26. DonS says:

    Seems like Steve’s positioning has been consistently to go against the tide of the rising call for aggressive US military action, while endorsing the case for responsible and helpful actions short of, effectively, a war posture.
    As a matter of one ‘view’ of ethics and morals one could always propose dethroning tyrants, while of course ignoring our own failure to live up to even a basic semblance of American democratic ideals. I’m not saying this is what the NFZ proponents are doing, but it seems all too easy to get caught up in moment to “do the right thing”, as if that were really a clear path or a consistent US policy throughout the ME.
    Actually that “right moment” may have passed a couple of weeks ago, but it seems like no nation or intelligence component was authorized, committed, or facile enough to take out Gaddafi in a timely manner — not saying that should have, or could have happened, just that the time has passed for the ninja approach.
    On Bill Clinton, on the one hand I guess I can understand his high profile support for a NFZ, perhaps based on an extrapolation from his own ‘dithering’ on Rwanda, which he has identified as his biggest regret I believe. Similarly, citing the Balkans intervention he considers a big success, though one has to, again, question that characterization give his vested interest in this view. But more broadly, my personal view is that his speaking out as he has, with Hillary as SoS, constitutes an arguable, though not of course pure, conflict of interest 1) because it seems to pressure his successor (as most presidents rarely do in such matters) compounded by 2) going against, not just the president and his policy, but one of his loyal retainers [Hillary] who supposedly shares the POTUS policy (certainly to the point of firing Crowley) — and it raises the question of the internal dynamics and potential additional multiple self-serving angles, most especially re Hillary. Unwinding this entanglement is something anyone, even an ego as large as Bill Clinton’s, should have avoided and should not have waded in this deep.
    ———————————
    And, speaking again on Crowley, OT, and Bradley Manning, Glenn Greenwald does an excellent job of summarizing where we are in this unfolding disgrace — less and less flattering to Obama all the time of course — and more devastating to Manning at the same time:
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/03/14/manning/index.html

    Reply

  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “How do you penetrate the wall of the
    assumed template to fit the day’s sound bite and get this info through, and how and can we help make that happen?”
    Turn back the clock a few decades, back to the days when we still had “Representatives”, and an active and responsible “Fourth Estate”.
    Short that, put in a garden and enjoy your vegetables.

    Reply

  28. dianaw says:

    Steve: This is a wonderful essay clarifying a lot
    of the issues surrounding this crisis. One of the
    many reasons I read your site all the time. Is
    there any way to get anyone to listen to you. I am
    afraid the MSM has already decided the “key”
    narrative template for them to gather around is the
    no-fly zone and they will stick to that regardless
    of the facts on the ground and the abundant
    evidence, presented here, that there are
    alternatives. How do you penetrate the wall of the
    assumed template to fit the day’s sound bite and get
    this info through, and how and can we help make that
    happen?

    Reply

  29. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I-m just opining that the US could could to “intervene” without enetering in a full scale “war” with all the logistics and long/term commitments that implies”
    Ah yes. We can have full confidence that any military intervention can be kept within strict parameters, time lines, and preconditions. After all, it worked so well in Iraq, didn’t it?
    Yep. Didn’t take any time at all, did it? And criminy, aren’t we fortunate that the Iraqi oil revenues are paying for the adventure?
    Geez, just because these scumbags in DC consistently get it wrong doesn’t mean they won’t get it right someday, eh?
    Ahhh, what the hell, toss the dice. After all, its only war.

    Reply

  30. Tito Laca says:

    No problem using the term war…
    Actually quite a cool word, “war”… One could say that Libyia is a state of civil war.
    I-m just opining that the US could could to “intervene” without enetering in a full scale “war” with all the logistics and long/term commitments that implies.
    It could, instead, just “identify” 10 or 20 of Gadaffi’s remaining usable ground attack helicopters sitting in an airfield somewhere safetly out of the opposition-s reach and decide to “neutralize” or “severily malfunction” them (wink wink)…
    This “hawk” (like “war”, I find the term “hawk” pretty cool), has no problems with language and terms. I just want to use them properly to make sure they convey the ideas and actions I want to put across in a conversation.

    Reply

  31. PissedOffAmerican says:

    GOOD NEWS!!!!
    The operators of the San Onofre plant have informed us that the plant was designed to withstand a 7.0 quake, and has a seawall that will withstand a 25 foot Tsunami!!!!
    It is comforting knowing that they are feverishly working to petition Mother Nature for a promise that she will limit any future seismic event to those specific parameters. We currently have an army of psychic technicians chanting optimistically…..
    Oooooohhhhhhmmmmmm, ooooooohhhhhhhmmmmmmm…..
    Oooooohhhhhhmmmmmm, ooooooohhhhhhhmmmmmmm…..
    Oooooohhhhhhmmmmmm, ooooooohhhhhhhmmmmmmm…..
    Oooooohhhhhhmmmmmm, ooooooohhhhhhhmmmmmmm…..

    Reply

  32. David Billington says:

    I agree that a no-fly zone wouldn’t be enough and that the opposition would need to prevail on
    the ground. But it isn’t clear that one is possible without the other, and ground assistance to the
    opposition would raise two questions.
    The first question is who the opposition really is. Eastern Libya was the second largest recruiting
    ground for al-Qaida and for the insurgents who fought us in Iraq. Qaddafi has self-serving
    reasons to identify his opposition with al-Qaida but do we really know who the leaders of the
    resistance are? And if the opposition isn’t our enemy, would we be willing to give them the kinds
    of infantry weapons that would make a difference against tanks and helicopters?
    The second question is through what countries weapons to the opposition could be channeled.
    Given the geography, the Egyptians are the only possible overland conduit to eastern Libya, and
    to serve in this way would ratchet up their involvement. Have we learned whether they would be
    willing? If they would not be, wouldn’t we have to land weapons directly on the shores of eastern
    Libya if we want to supply the resistance? How would that be seen in the region?
    My own recommendation would be to invite the Arab League to match anything we might do in
    the air with explicit commitments of their own to supply the opposition on the ground, and then
    proceed according to how they respond. For us to act unilaterally on the ground, as you
    recommend, rather than in the air, isn’t practical without Egyptian support, and I think this would
    need the backing of the Arab League.

    Reply

  33. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “The US would have NO set objectives, NO responsibility to take or secure territory, NO requirement to guarantee anything. Just targeted strikes, at the locations and times of their complete choosing, to further degrade Gadaffi’s already weak and shrinking air power. The US would therefore have a COMPLETE tactical advantage, with unlimited flexibility”
    Its amazing, the rhetorical gymnastics a hawk will perform, to avoid using the term “war”.

    Reply

  34. PissedOffAmerican says:

    OT….
    I just watched one of our Energy Department mouthpieces feed us a line of shit about the safety of our nuclear plants. Obviously this lyin’ fuck is unaware of the San Onofre plant, that is of equal age of the troubled plants in Japan, and sits RIGHT ON THE BEACH. Anyone that has ever driven by San Onofre, and has seen the recent Tsunami videos out of Japan, must surely realize how asinine the assertions of this government scripted statement were.
    Morever, LOOK AT THE PICTURES. Can we counter such forces? Tell me, what happens if one of our reactors is turned on its side by an earthquake caused chasm, or earth displacement?
    Do these self-serving corporate salespeople, masquerading as government officials, REALLY expect us to believe that we can build structures or systems that are a match for the fury and power of Mother Nature?
    Anyone else sick of the gawd damned lies our government feeds us non-stop on every issue of importance?? We are being buried in bullshit by these scumbags. How much longer before we all smother in it? Or die, en masse, breathing it?

    Reply

  35. Tito Laca says:

    I think the US and the West is missing a chance here. Don’t overreach. Don’t be constrained by your current military doctrine of “overwhelming force” and your “zero-risk, zero-casualties” approach to a possible intervention, which would force you to certify the TOTAL AND COMPLETE neutralisation of Gadaffi’s air defences before enforcing a COMPREHENSIVE no fly zone, with all the guarantees that entails…
    Instead, “brave it”. You have a command and control, technological, training and numerical superiority unparalleled in the history of air warfare. USE IT. Be opportunistic, “playful” even, in TARGETING sporadically Gaddafi’s ground attack helicopters, his fighter jets, his military transport planes, his main airbases and his fuel depots.
    You don’t have to get them all, you don’t even have to guarantee that some will not be left for his offensives. Just pummel him hard through surprise air raids and missile strikes. Degrade what little air warfare infrastructure he still has left. Goes without saying, mercilessly shoot down any fighter that ventures anywhere near an opposition-held city… As soon as word got round the Libyan pilots, morale would collapse, or pilots flying on supposed missions would simply take off from their bases and immediately head for the nearest border to exchange their jets for political asylum anywhere…
    The US would have NO set objectives, NO responsibility to take or secure territory, NO requirement to guarantee anything. Just targeted strikes, at the locations and times of their complete choosing, to further degrade Gadaffi’s already weak and shrinking air power. The US would therefore have a COMPLETE tactical advantage, with unlimited flexibility.

    Reply

  36. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Comical.
    Marsh’s schizo efforts to decry our biased policies in regards to Isr/Pal, while striving to leave Hillary Clinton completely OUT of the debate, has been an amusing side show. The Marshmellows, and their willing participation in this intellectual juggling act has been no less amusing.
    But on reading her comment, it seems somewhat non-committal, and it is hard for me to interpret it as an endorsement of a no-fly zone. Certainly, saying she is expressing “strong support” for Slaughter’s position is incorrect, if not downright disingenuous.
    Perhaps her vague positioning is an effort to avoid criticizing SOS Clinton, yet maintain the ability to say “I was against a no-fly zone” when it blows up in our faces should we decide to impose one.
    What will be interesting, (should we impose this no-fly zone), and it blows up in our faces, (which it will), will be watching her criticize the action, while leaving her “shero” out of the criticism. If her essays and comments on Isr/Pal are any indication, we are in for some fancy dancin’ on her part.

    Reply

  37. Don Bacon says:

    Why is Ann-Marie Slaughter speaking out now?
    –when she’s been silent for two years when in State?
    –on a military matter on which she has zero expertise?
    –with an Op-Ed that makes Obama look like a ditherer?
    It just came to me. As a close confidant of Hillary Clinton, Slaughter is acting as a stalking-horse for (1) Clinton’s hawkish views and (2) for a future Clinton presidential bid — “strong on defense”.
    Slaughter’s strong support from Taylor Marsh is a big fat clue.

    Reply

  38. Abdus salam says:

    I think there is a misunderstanding of what will be the immediate effect of a NFZ on Gadhafi’s forces. It will first and foremost stop him from keeping his forces supplied logistically in a timely manner. Also it will prevent him from transporting the mercenaries from Neighboring countries, Chad, Mali, Algeria …Etc or moving them from the south to the north where the fighting takes place. Finally, there will be the negative effect on the morale of his troops knowing that the whole world is against them. Let us be clear here. imposing a NFZ will not be enough for the revolutionaries to defeat Gadhafi and his troops into submission in due time, if they don’t have the lethal weapons to counter their supplies of billions of dollars acquired over the years.
    As to Obama’s talk of the availability of all options in Libya, he seems to choose the option of not doing anything, which is available to all other countries including not only the only super power but also to the kingdom of Tonga as well.

    Reply

  39. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hey Kotz, you going over to Libya with Dan to engage the “enemy”, or are you two content to watch the blood flow from a safe distance? Be careful, man, your dictionary isn’t bullet proof.
    Interesting that you two aren’t in a dither over Iraq’s official reponse to protest. Or Israel’s.

    Reply

  40. Kotzabasis says:

    As to the concerns of Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, that a no-fly zone would entail the destruction of Libya

    Reply

  41. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its amazing to me that there are those who seem incognizant of the inept, corrupt, costly, deadly, and illegal clusterfucks we have in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now the argument is being made that these self same assholes that are hellbent on bankrupting this country by waging war with false pretenses now embroil us in yet one more military adventure.
    Hey Dan, you sending any of YOUR kids over to die in any of these fuckin’ fiascos? Going yourself? Maybe you oughta worry more about what is happening HERE, to OUR children’s futures, instead of prompting these pieces of shit in DC to do a rerun of “How to replace one puppet with another”.
    We need to stay OUT of this. You wanna do something constructive for the “Arab Street”? Kick these damned organizations like AIPAC out of here, stop funding these fuckin’ murderous racists in Israel, enforce the NPT in an unbiased manner and demand that ALL nuclear powers join if they want our “aid”, isolate Israel politically by changing our narrative inre to Isr/Pal, and stop installing and sucking off these despots like Kaddaffi, Mubarek, Hussein, Marcos, etc.
    Do you REALLY think that we will have “democracy” as a goal should we meddle militarily in Libya? Was that our goal when we humored and paid off this bastard Kaddaffi? Was that our goal when our State Department was recently lauding him as a hero, a great leader, and an important ally in this bullshit scam known as the “War On Terror”?
    So now you wanna lay the groundwork to have these great “thinkers” in DC manipulate events to Israel’s and our advantage in an attempt to maintain the status quo in the Middle East? Do you really think that these sacks of shit in DC give a flyin’ fuck about “freedom” and “democracy”???
    What, you aren’t paying attention these last few decades? Now you wanna shovel great gobs of additional taxpayer monies into the coffers of our bombmakers and merchants of death that are hellbent on maintaining a permanent state of war?
    Gads, it is indeed disheartening to see that intelligence can be so stupid.
    “There are many liberal interventionists and neoconservatives who are supporting a no-fly zone and major political personalities like former President Bill Clinton, former New Mexico Governor and former US Ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson, Senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, John McCain and others have supported a no-fly zone”
    Oh goodie. I mean hey, these guys were so RIGHT about Iraq, eh?

    Reply

  42. Don Bacon says:

    Bahrain is a tyranny:
    Bahrain is an absolute monarchy where the king appoints the 40 members of the senate. The 40 members of the lower house are elected, but gerrymandering prevents the Shiite majority from attaining a majority of seats in it. Besides, the lower house of parliament is relatively toothless, and it can be overruled by the appointed upper house. Both can be over-ruled by the king.
    But there will be no US military attacks on Bahrain:
    Thousands of demonstrators on Sunday cut off Bahrain’s financial centre and drove back police trying to eject them from the capital’s central roundabout, while protesters also clashed with government supporters on the campus of the main university.
    Saudi Arabia will help:
    Saudi forces are preparing to intervene in neighbouring Bahrain, after a day of clashes between police and protesters who mounted the most serious challenge to the island

    Reply

  43. Dr. Etienne A. Calleja says:

    Until I read your essay on the BBC site and your piece on Slaughter’s position, I was one advocating for a no-fly zone over Libya and extremely despondent over the international community’s lethargy in deciding on a course of action and fudging interests and issues.
    It is not that I was not aware of the political fallout that the West would have to deal with post-Ghaddafi or that I was somehow ignorant of the mantle that Ghaddafi would wear following an invasion, but it was only recently (thanks to Sky news reporting!) that I have come to learn that a no-fly zone would not tip the scales of military operations in favour of the rebels.
    Being no military strategist I had to contemplate how this could be possible, but it was really quite easy on assessing the major source of rebel casualty. It was not from the sky, but gunfire from the ground that has the rebels running.
    The cost of a no-fly zone and the accusations waxing for American oil-interests were things I was, and still am, comfortable able to ignore in preferance to a successful strategy that would ensure the preservation of human lives. Now, however, reading this last piece of yours, I am convinced that, in fact, a no-fly zone would not provide a satisfactory answer to Libya’s rebels.
    Perhaps, I ought to be more chagrined that EU leaders, Washington and Nato, whilst wasting valuable time dithering on no-fly zones, didn’t propose doable simple solutions to alleviate the drama and suffering of this crisis as it unfolds.
    There is one thing that I disagree with. This is the statement made by Wadar Khanfar, about the importance of change in the Middle East occuring without foreign intervention. There is only one thing I can say to this. The need for foreign intervention has arisen only now. The way the regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain et al handled protestors cannot be compared to the brutal and inhuman crackdown that is presently occuring in Libya. It would be unfair to equate Ben Ali, Mubarak and the Royal houshold in Yemen to Ghaddafi.
    And in the light of all this, another argument cogently comes to the fore. What if the revolution in Libya were to fail due to inaction from the West. Would there not be political fallout for ommission as for commission? Would not the current rulers of neighbouring North African countries who are witnessing protests within their own territories, not learn lessons from Ghaddafi, and turn on their own citizens, were he to prevail? Are we not also, by floundering and remaining inactive on the Libyan crises, not suffering ecnomically? Libya has opened its doors for exportation to Russia and China today, whilst closing trade with Europe.
    If the answers to all these questions, remain in the affirmative, would this porvide a solid basis for proper military intervention (boots on the ground)in the face of genocide and extermination by Ghaddafi and his cohorts?
    All said and done however, I cannot see the rebels winning this war, and for all the wrath and criticism brought to bear upon him, Clapper might actually be proven right.

    Reply

  44. Don Bacon says:

    Those proposing bomb-dropping on another country have no respect for the United Nations Charter.
    # 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.

    Reply

  45. JohnH says:

    Liberal interventionists like Slaughter (what a name!) are desperate to take Boehner’s $100 billion savings and redirect it to the military.
    Of course, when that happens, there will be no talk of finding the savings elsewhere in the bloated military budget. Nor will the impact on the enormous federal debt be mentioned. When military activities are at hand, the federal deficit be damned!
    Programs for children, education and health care are acceptable targets for debt reduction, military adventures are not.

    Reply

  46. Kathleen says:

    What really qualifies Anne Marie Slaughter to have such a strong opinion?
    Over at Pro Cole’s Informed Comment lots of post about the Arab League pushing for “no fly zone”
    http://www.juancole.com/2011/03/more-on-arab-league-call-for-a-libya-no-fly-zone.html
    They should lead not Anne Marie Slaughter of Steve Clemons

    Reply

  47. Don Bacon says:

    Regarding Anne-Marie Slaughter, it’s nice to finally hear from her. Her friend Clinton hired Ann-Marie as policy chief and then kept her in a back room, apparently, for two years working on the State-building QDDR. We haven’t heard a peep from Ann-Marie in two years.
    It was just as well. Apparently Hillary knew what she was doing. Now that Ann-Marie is free to speak she puts her foot firmly in her mouth with: “Fiddling While Libya Burns” showing that while she might know something about State policy she doesn’t know beans about military power (see my comments above).
    Obama has covered his butt saying he needs UNSC direction on a NFZ, and since Russia and China won’t agree he’s covered, Ann-Marie’s proposed threats to Russia and China notwithstanding. Another reason why Clinton apparently knew what she was doing in muzzling Slaughter. Threaten Russia and China? Slaughter’s got that Woodrow Wilson attitude, but this isn’t 1914. There’s a new world and the U.S. no longer has much diplomatic cachet in the world.
    Go back to the Concert of Democracies, Ann-Marie.

    Reply

  48. Dan Kervick says:

    “You need boots on the ground.”
    Maybe. Maybe now. But there was a moment during the initial days of this revolution when Gadaffi was completely besieged and backed against a wall, and his military and foreign service people were abandoning him in droves. If someone had dropped a bomb on his head at that time, that would have been the end of him and his regime. He was allowed to regroup.

    Reply

  49. Warren Metzler says:

    I support all of Dan Kervick’s points. And add that the no fly zone in Iraq WAS NOT, from official announcements, to weaken Saddam’s rule; and to act now as if it was is revisionist history designed as propaganda to support a current view of Libya. It was to ensure that Saddam didn’t use his aircraft to bomb or strafe the people in the north and the south; and it worked very well.
    Further, regarding Slaughter’s and Clark’s view that Libya is not a core US interest, and therefore doesn’t justify US military intervention. Do people really get the world view that is inside a person who makes this argument? It is that the US has interests in the rest of the world, which obviously have nothing to do with what might be good for the residents of each such area; and when US types perceive those interests as threatened, the US can use its military to invade and get what it wants. I defy you to tell me the difference between that view and any mafia family’s view of what it considers to be an invasion of “its” territory????!!!!
    Can you not see that most foreign policy types are operating from a criminal mindset?
    When oh when will American intelligentsia and political types get that it is immoral, and totally in opposition to the core of the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution for us to ever interfere with another country, other than to respond to an obvious injustice being carried out in that country; such as the current Libya situation. If it is not reasonable for you to take action A against your neighbor here in the US, it should be considered immoral and totally uncivilized for our government to take action A against another country.
    What in the world is the moral, or rational, basis for an action or the US government, if it is not based on the foundation of law in this country? I propose none. The points of our constitution, especially the Bill of Rights have no moral or rational foundation unless they apply to ALL humans, not just humans who happen to be citizens of the US.
    I also object to the “costly no fly zone” point. It is, from my point of view, obscene to talk about the cost of a few million dollar operation, which would be very effective against a thug like Kaddafi, when we are spending hundreds of billions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen performing actions that are obviously almost totally ineffective, often criminal, and thoroughly immoral.
    To Chari, when has the UN ever taken a lead on anything? Plus, the UN is just an infrastructure for its members; who are the ones who need to “take the lead”; from my view, better stated as take some appropriate actions.
    Finally, how come there is not yet on this blog comment on PJ Crowley’s firing? The man told the truth about our immoral, totally vindictive, counter to several of the Uniform Code of Military Justice’s explicit rules, truly shameful treatment of Bradley Manning. And Obama, who explicitly told us that he doesn’t want yes people around him, but instead wants people to challenge him, so that he discovers the right way to be. How is it that intelligent people don’t recognize that Obama is obviously a total liar, solely interested in self-aggrandizement, and fundamentally unwilling to ever act in a truly moral manner? Why has no reporter yet asked Obama to explain why he has failed to keep almost every campaign promise he ever made?
    This issue of Crowley, and its implication that the US government is incapable of ever following a reasonable standard is core to our foreign policy, the primary topic of this blog.

    Reply

  50. danceman says:

    You are of course correct. But lets look at the facts. Gaddafi Mugabe Gbagbo all under server criticism and restrictions from the UN. But they take no notice and continue getting arms from Belarus and murdering their people. There is only one way to stop a bully! A bloody nose or in the case of a serial mass murder, like these, death. The UN should charge and convict these men of mass murder and issue an execution order.

    Reply

  51. Don Bacon says:

    A day late and a dollar short.
    One of the important lessons of recent military history is the limited effectiveness of air power. You need boots on the ground. Recall, for instance, the exaggerated claims of

    Reply

  52. Taylor Marsh says:

    So glad you wrote such an in-depth rebuttal on this, Steve.
    Obviously, as Sect. Clinton

    Reply

  53. Paul Norheim says:

    Meanwhile:
    “Troops from a number of Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia,
    have arrived in Bahrain in response to a request from the small
    Gulf kingdom, officials say.
    It comes a day after the worst violence since seven anti-
    government protesters were killed in clashes with security
    forces last month.
    Dozens of people were injured on Sunday as protesters pushed
    back police and barricaded roads.
    Bahrain’s opposition said the foreign troops amounted to an
    occupation.
    A Saudi official said about 1,000 Saudi Arabian troops arrived
    in Bahrain early on Monday.
    The troops are part of a Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC)
    deployment, a six-nation regional grouping which includes
    Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United
    Arab Emirates.
    It is believed they are intended to guard key facilities such as
    oil and gas installations and financial institutions.
    Bahrain’s Shia majority has long complained of discrimination
    at the hands of the Sunni ruling elite, but large-scale protests
    broke out last month after the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia
    were toppled in uprisings.
    In a statement issued before the arrival of the GCC troops was
    confirmed, the Shia-led opposition said: “We consider the
    arrival of any soldier, or military vehicle, into Bahraini
    territory… an overt occupation of the kingdom of Bahrain and a
    conspiracy against the unarmed people of Bahrain.”
    King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifah has offered dialogue with the
    protesters but they have refused, saying they want the
    government to step down.”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12729786

    Reply

  54. jonst says:

    The ‘vehicle’ selected to get us to the destination might change……but the “destination” is always the same. US involvement.

    Reply

  55. Chari says:

    The UN needs to take the lead on this and move on it; it’s exactly the type of thing for which the UN was created. The US can’t afford to go it alone.
    Steve, was wondering if you’ll be posting anything on the on-going devastation in Northeastern Japan; I was surprised to see nothing posted from you yet. (Please don’t take this as me trying to tell you about what to write!) Thanks!

    Reply

  56. Dan Kervick says:

    You say the no-fly zone will be inefficacious, and that it won’t help the rebels win. I don’t know why grounding and shooting down the planes that are currently pounding rebel positions would do nothing to help the rebels win. But I’m not a military man. So let’s hear more about how we *do* help the rebels win. The four steps you outlined as representing the opposition council’s desires seem useful. But perhaps there are other things that can be done covertly.
    The Iraq analogy seems week to me. The no-fly zone in Iraq did little to weaken Saddam’s hold on the country because there was no revolutionary war raging inside Iraq to topple Saddam. But such a war is being fought in Libya as we speak.
    You say:
    “She is right, but sending in NATO aircraft to bomb Gaddafi’s planes and runways — and sending the US military into yet another cause — only reinforces the mistaken notion that accountable governments are created via military intervention.”
    Is the American Revolution tainted or nullified because the French intervened on our behalf and helped us defeat the British? Sometimes foreign intervention can actually help bring a democratic, accountable government to power.
    “… and takes the cameras off the brave protesters and puts them on US and NATO ships and airbases.”
    That’s a risk. But the brave protesters won’t be assisted at all if the camera is on them as they are all pounded into the dirt. It is important – not just for US interests, but for the interests of people in the region – for the world to see which side we are on. Right now, the people of Libya and the Middle East are probably wondering whether Obama is only mouthing pretty pro-people words in public, but secretly working to defeat them in private. If they conclude that the world’s most potent military power is actually working to destroy them, they will be possibly become demoralized and conclude that their efforts are hopeless.
    And standing by as Qadaffi slaughters people is a signal that we actually support Qadaffi, and that carries risks for the US that are just as great as the risks you mention that come from intervention. What happens if this revolutionary wave continues, but the revolutionaries of the region determine – based on our inaction in Libya – that the US is among the powers they are fighting against, aligned with the autocrats against the people? What happens if they turn their revolutionary efforts against US economic interests? People need to know where we stand.
    The overriding goal is to encourage the people-powered revolutionary wave, and keep it rolling. I want to hear constructive proposals for how we can best play our part in doing that. If the no-fly zone is not the best approach, fine. So what do we do instead?

    Reply

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