Open thread: Libya

2011-03-16

in Bombs and rockets, Law, Politics, Security

I haven’t had time to write anything about the ongoing situation in Libya, but I thought it would be worthwhile to have a discussion thread on the topic.

How do people interpret what is happening? As a democratic uprising? As a civil war? As a combination of the two?

What, if anything, should the international community do? Would imposing a no-fly zone be legal? Would it be a good idea?

Report a typo or inaccuracy

{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

. March 18, 2011 at 12:39 am

U.N. Approves Airstrikes to Halt Attacks by Qaddafi Forces

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations Security Council voted Thursday to authorize military action, including airstrikes against Libyan tanks and heavy artillery and a no-fly zone, a risky foreign intervention aimed at averting a bloody rout of rebels by forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

After days of often acrimonious debate, played out against a desperate clock, as Colonel Qaddafi’s troops advanced to within 100 miles of the rebel capital of Benghazi, Libya, the Security Council authorized member nations to take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians, diplomatic code words calling for military action.

Diplomats said the resolution — which passed with 10 votes, including the United States, and abstentions from Russia, China, Germany, Brazil and India — was written in sweeping terms to allow for a wide range of actions, including strikes on air-defense systems and missile attacks from ships. Military activity could get under way within a matter of hours, they said.

Benghazi erupted in celebration at news of the resolution’s passage. “We are embracing each other,” said Imam Bugaighis, spokeswoman for the rebel council in Benghazi. “The people are euphoric. Although a bit late, the international society did not let us down.”

Tristan March 18, 2011 at 6:06 pm

It looks pretty clear now that NATO is using the civil war/revolution as an excuse to invade and install a US friendly regime. They have waited until the rebels are nearly defeated and have promised more than the Arab league approved. Kosovo 2?

. March 18, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Unfortunately, Col. Gadhafi doesn’t need his air force to prevail, so its grounding or destruction would merely shift the fighting to the backs of his army. Libya is a big country, with 2,000 kilometres of coastline, so the major fighting would take place along the main coastal road. The opposition forces would be no match for even poorly organized army units if Col. Gadhafi decides to get serious.

Watching this unfold from 20,000 feet, the countries enforcing any no-fly zone would be unable to ignore the carnage below them. Backed into a corner, their political leaders would be forced to escalate and authorize attacks against the Libyan army – thereby becoming, in effect, the opposition’s air force. By so doing, they would assume a much larger role in Libya’s future, including reconstruction of the damage they inflicted.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of Col. Gadhafi. But I’m also no fan of political decisions driven by well-meaning military undertakings with the naive belief they will be short term and successful. As the saying goes, “In for a penny, in for a pound.”

The Libyan regime is now deploying airplanes, tanks and artillery against its people as the threat of civil war intensifies. In responding to fast-paced events, the international community has used two relatively new instruments: the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle. Both were designed to grapple with the difficult problem of mass killings of civilians. The problem is atrocities, and the twin challenge is to protect the victims and punish the perpetrators. Both give primacy to domestic means of redress but imply a fallback responsibility on outsiders.

Both also are problematical. So far, because of the practical difficulties and costs of implementing R2P, the ICC option has been the more favoured. But its problems may be deeper and more serious.

The newly elected Conservative Prime Minister in Britain, fresh from making deep budget cuts to the military, responds to a faraway political crisis with sudden and dramatic calls for military action against the ruling dictatorship, with top-secret raids and gunboats steaming to a foreign coast. To some here in Britain, David Cameron in 2011 is coming to resemble Margaret Thatcher in 1982, the year the Iron Lady surprised the world by going to war against Argentina’s military junta.

While Libya today has little in common with the Falklands then, Mr. Cameron has been far more aggressive than other Western leaders in calling for a foreign military intervention, and this week has found himself embroiled in scandal over a botched top-secret spy mission to give MI6 support to the Libyan rebels.

Mr. Cameron faced hostility in the House of Commons Wednesday from a Labour Opposition accusing him of trying to launch a military intervention without United Nations authorization.

. March 18, 2011 at 11:01 pm
. March 18, 2011 at 11:35 pm

So far, both hardline Islamists and secular liberals want the Americans to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya, mainly to prevent Colonel Qaddafi from flying reinforcements of African mercenaries to his base in Tripoli. They also want the West to recognise the national council. And both want a quick end to the colonel’s regime. “If we start a guerrilla war, we’ll get help from foreign jihadists, and Libya will be another Afghanistan,” says Mr Busidra, who wants to keep jihadists out. “International opinion should move.” Lawyers, businessmen, Muslim Brothers and former exiles in the national council all say that no measures should be ruled out; the council specifically called on America to raid Colonel Qaddafi’s base in Tripoli.

. March 18, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Libya’s no-fly zone
The military balance
Muammar Qaddafi has enough military power at his disposal to make dislodging him a bloody and uncertain business

Mar 3rd 2011 | from the print edition

WESTERN capitals are holding urgent talks about what help to give Libya’s rebels. On February 28th Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, told Parliament he had asked the chief of the defence staff “to work with our allies on plans for a military no-fly zone”. But the next day brought cooler talk from America. Robert Gates, the defence secretary, said only that he was sending two naval vessels—an amphibious assault ship, USS Kearsarge, and an amphibious dry dock, USS Ponce—towards Libya, to provide humanitarian help.

The option of a no-fly zone may yet gain ground, however. Colonel Qaddafi’s 18,000-strong air force, with its 13 bases, is critical in his bid to retain power. His use of ground-attack jets may have been exaggerated: they are hardly the weapon of choice for street-fighting. Handier are his 30 or so Russian attack helicopters and transport aircraft. He also has a heavy-transport helicopter squadron with four Boeing Chinooks, and a squadron of Russian medium helicopters that can serve as gunships.

. March 19, 2011 at 3:06 pm

World leaders launch military action against Gadhafi’s forces in Libya

Top officials from the United States, Europe and the Arab world have launched immediate military action to protect civilians as Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces attacked the heart of the country’s rebel uprising.

French air force jets have destroyed some tanks and armoured vehicles during a United-Nations-mandated intervention in Libya, a defence ministry official said on Saturday. “Yes, we have destroyed a number of tanks and armoured vehicles,” the official said, adding that he could not immediately confirm the number.

Anon March 19, 2011 at 6:24 pm

So now the west is at war in Libya too…

Remember when we decided to help out one side in a civil war in Afghanistan? Back in 2001?

. March 20, 2011 at 11:27 am

Obama Says Allies Acting to Keep ‘Tyrant’ From Attacking Libyan Civilians

President Barack Obama said the U.S. and its allies launched strikes on Libya to keep Muammar Qaddafi from continuing his attacks on civilians in defiance of international demands.

“This is not an outcome that the United States or any of our partners sought,” Obama said yesterday in Brasilia, Brazil, where he started a scheduled five-day trip to Latin America. “But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy.”

Qaddafi ignored an opportunity to avoid a military confrontation by attacking anti-government strongholds in cities such as Benghazi and Misrata after the United Nations Security Council demanded a cease-fire, the U.S. president said.

As many as 25 U.S., Canadian and Italian vessels, including the USS Mount Whitney command vessel, led an attack, dubbed “Odyssey Dawn.” U.S. forces launched Tomahawk cruise missiles and deployed equipment to jam Libyan radar and radios while aircraft from the U.K. and France were in the air over Libya.

Milan March 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm

It does seem that Canada is now part of a coalition that is at war with the government of Libya, albeit a war that has been authorized by the U.N. Security Council.

Perhaps there should have been more domestic debate before the decision was taken. In particular, perhaps there should have been a vote in parliament.

. March 20, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Arab League criticizes Western strikes on Libya

AFP MARCH 20, 2011 11:01 AM

CAIRO, March 20, 2011 (AFP) – The Arab League on Sunday criticized Western military strikes on Libya, a week after urging the United Nations to slap a no-fly zone on the oil-rich North African state.

“What has happened in Libya differs from the goal of imposing a no-fly zone and what we want is the protection of civilians and not bombing other civilians,” Arab League secretary general Amr Mussa told reporters.

On March 12, the Arab League urged the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone on Libya and said Moammar Gadhafi’s regime had “lost legitimacy” as it sought to snuff out a rebellion designed to oust him from power.

In the West’s biggest intervention in the Arab world since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, US warships and a British submarine fired more than 120 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya on Saturday, the US military said.

French warplanes also carried out strikes.

The UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973 on Thursday authorising military action to prevent Gadhafi’s forces from attacking civilians.

© Copyright (c) AFP

Tristan March 20, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Resolution carefully drafted to permit a land attack and a defacto although not dejure occupation

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tme7Avg_54g

Milan March 20, 2011 at 12:55 pm

If we do support the rebels and they do take over Libya, will they end up being much better than Qaddafi?

There is a risk that whoever takes over will be another Hamid Karzai: corrupt, little concerned with democracy or human rights, and forever dependent on western forces to stay in power.

. March 20, 2011 at 12:57 pm

THE FIRST stage of the “multiphase” Operation Odyssey Dawn may already be over. At 19.00 GMT on Saturday evening, American and British naval vessels launched a co-ordinated Tomahawk cruise missile attack on Libyan air-defence systems. At least 110 missiles struck at 20 command and control sites that had been targeted earlier in the week by satellites and aerial-surveillance missions conducted by American and British aircraft. There were also unconfirmed reports of American B-2 “stealth” bombers hitting a major Libyan airfield.

According to allied military sources, the strikes “severely disabled” the Libyan regime’s ability both to “see” coalition aircraft entering Libyan airspace and maintain effective command and control over the country’s integrated air defence systems, which include nearly 100 Mig-25s and 15 Mirage F-1s and a huge arsenal of Russian surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). A bomb-damage assessment is now underway to determine whether more attacks are needed to degrade Muammar Qaddafi’s air defences further before enforcement of the UN-mandated no-fly zone can begin in relative safety. A second phase is likely to begin later on Sunday with coalition aircraft (including 16 British GR4 Tornados, Rafales from the French carrier Charles de Gaulle at Toulon and F-18s from the USS Enterprise in the Red Sea) launching attacks with anti-radiation missiles that lock on to and destroy enemy radar systems.

WHY intervene in Libya and not in other places? I outsource to Normblog, in Britain, who laments

“a tendency to conflate the reasonable demand for a proper degree of consistency and impartiality in the application of moral principles with the not at all reasonable demand for people to display an impossible amount of energy, time, command over resources and so on, by generalizing their actions for the good so as to benefit all parties who might be thought appropriate objects of them. This tendency is wrong-headed, requiring as it does superhuman levels of capability from those of whom the generalizing actions are demanded. It’s as common as it is, not because of any real belief in such impossible levels of capability, but because it’s a quick method of trying to embarrass people you disagree with. But it’s also a useless one.”

Having just listened to President Obama’s statement, it must also be admitted that the aesthetics of each case, as opposed to the objective merits, also affect the decision on whether to intervene. Had Colonel Qaddafi gone on killing quietly and not engaged in loud, mouth-frothing threats to show “no mercy” to the “rats” demanding democracy, he might not now be facing military intervention.

. March 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm

For what it is worth, I welcome the fact that the world at last seems willing to exercise its so-called “duty to protect” people at risk from their own governments. The failures to do so in Rwanda and Darfur and so many other charnel houses is a blot on its conscience that will never be erased. But there is no escaping the fact that this new entanglement was decided upon behind closed doors at the UN and with very little public debate here in the United States. None of this will matter if the end comes quickly. But if things go wrong and America is drawn deeper in, the domestic consequences for the president could be far-reaching.

UNTIL the Arab awakening reached Libya, protesters seemed able to prevail armed with little more than self-belief. Not any more. In Bahrain the regime’s troops, reinforced by foreigners—mostly Saudis—have stormed the protesters’ tent-city at Pearl roundabout, shooting as they went. In Yemen the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh has taken to firing live rounds into the crowds. And in Libya itself, as Muammar Qaddafi seizes back the rebel towns strung along the Mediterranean coast, the people are reaping the whirlwind. Torture and death are rampaging through Brega and Zawiya. Terror and despair loom over Tobruk and Benghazi.

As the violence escalates, the outside world no longer has the easy option of simply backing the “reform” of corrupt and oppressive regimes. Instead, it faces hard choices. Are countries content to sit on their hands and watch rebels die? And if they feel they must step in, what exactly can they do?

In Libya, at least, those questions are fast becoming the business of historians rather than policymakers. The moment will soon have passed when a no-fly zone designed to stop Colonel Qaddafi from using his air force could offer civilians much protection. As The Economist went to press, the UN Security Council was at last discussing this but Colonel Qaddafi was advancing towards Benghazi . If he arrives at the city, its people will need more than just air cover to save them in what could be a bloody and long-drawn-out battle.

Tristan March 20, 2011 at 4:30 pm

“If we do support the rebels and they do take over Libya, will they end up being much better than Qaddafi?”

Well, first you might ask what is Qaddafi like? He’s a brutal dictator willing to use force against his own civilians, quite similar to the regimes the West supports across North Africa and the middle east. Like the other regimes, he often follows US orders and uses the oil riches to increase the wealth of an elite class rather than the majority of the population.

So, why is Qaddafi different from the other regimes? You try to can say he’s supplied the IRA and the Red Army faction, but that doesn’t really work since the Saudis are the primary funders of terrorism in the region, and we support them when they use brutal violence to put down popular demonstrations.

Would it be worse for Qaddafi to be replaced by the rebels? This depends on what your interests are – if you only care about US access to oil, then the rebels might be very similar, or even worse because a democratic Arab region would be more independent Qaddafi. But, if you care to listen to what they rebels have to say about democracy, a government set up by them might feel very different for the people of the region:

“”Everything is still fresh. What we want is democracy, and once we have parties, everyone could express themselves,” says Salwa Bugaigis, a lawyer who has become a spokeswoman for the rebels. As for the Islamist component of the uprising, she adds: “As you can see, I’m unveiled, I’m modern, and they respect me. If they were al Qaeda, they wouldn’t even look at me.”

The Libyan revolution’s slogan is “freedom,” not an Islamic state, and for its banner it adopted the red-black-and-green flag of the pro-American Libyan kingdom Col. Gadhafi overthrew in 1969. The bearded face of Omar Mukhtar, the hero of Libya’s 1930s struggle against Italian colonialism, and his slogan, “We shall win or we shall die,” beams from thousands of Benghazi car stickers and storefronts.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703292304576212742401472186.html

Tristan March 20, 2011 at 4:35 pm

“There is a risk that whoever takes over will be another Hamid Karzai: corrupt, little concerned with democracy or human rights, and forever dependent on western forces to stay in power.”

You’ve touched on something key here – that needing to rely on Western forces to stay in power is a profoundly anti-democratic force. In short because if a region relies on Western aid, and western aid is dependant on specific policies, and if the population are opposed to those policies, you are left with the sharp question between democracy or aid.

The solution is for the West to stop relying on imperial domination of the middle east for its energy supplies. It’s pretty amazing how someone can remain an apologist for America’s strong influential role in the region (which we would call “imperialism” if we took the meaning of the word seriously), while at the same time calling for an end to oil consumption.

Tristan March 20, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Is it legal for Canada to join a war without a vote in parliament?

Milan March 20, 2011 at 5:48 pm

I don’t think there is any constitutional obligation to do so. Of course, a non-confidence motion could be proposed in response, but the Liberals would probably support the government on this.

Milan March 20, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Regarding America’s role in the Middle East, it certainly seems preferable for them to be the power in the region, rather than local governments (most of which are either despotisms or failed states) or other external powers (like Russia or China).

American military dominance seems the least bad option.

Milan March 20, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Incidentally, there is no guarantee whatsoever that the rebels in Libya will establish a democratic state, or one that protects human rights. That may be the aspiration of some anti-Qaddafi individuals, but they may not be the ones who attain positions of power if and when Qaddafi falls.

It is very possible that some new strongman will take over, or some authoritarian cabal like in Burma.

Tristan March 20, 2011 at 7:04 pm

“Regarding America’s role in the Middle East, it certainly seems preferable for them to be the power in the region, rather than local governments (most of which are either despotisms or failed states) or other external powers (like Russia or China).”

I wonder why most of the local governments are despots or failed states. You know, I wonder if it has anything to do with Britain and America?

Tristan March 20, 2011 at 7:06 pm

“It is very possible that some new strongman will take over, or some authoritarian cabal like in Burma.”

It’s not only possible – it’s highly likely, and made much more likely by foreign intervention which will act as it can to ensure the outcome is good for western energy security. If we as democratic citizens of the west, we want to maximize the chance of democracy in the region, we have the responsibility of being cognizant of the actual goals of our governments in this conflict, and to speak out against those goals when they contradict the will of the Libyan people.

Tristan March 20, 2011 at 7:08 pm

“there is no guarantee whatsoever”

In logic we call this the fallacy of appeal to ignorance. It occurs when the burden of proof is shifted away from the side trying to prove something positive to the other side, demanding they prove a universal negative.

Milan March 20, 2011 at 9:38 pm

What do you think ought to be done? If you think the US, UK, France, Canada, etc should intervene to support the rebels – because you think they will form a better government – then the onus is on you to explain why their government would probably be better.

It is also arguable that western intervention on their behalf actually reduces their legitimacy and thus their chances of success.

. March 20, 2011 at 9:45 pm

U.S. defense chief warns against expanding military strike goals in Libya

WASHINGTON, March 20 (Xinhua) — U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned on Sunday that it will complicate the consensus around the UN Security Council resolution on no-fly zone over Libya if there is an attempt to expand the goals of military strikes against the North African nation.

Speaking onboard a plane enroute to Russia, the Pentagon chief made his first public comment about the air mission against Libya, saying he thinks “it’s important that we operate within the mandate of the UN Security Council resolution.”

Gates said the mission is backed by a diverse coalition, and adding additional objectives to the mission “create a problem in that respect.” He also said “it’s unwise to set as specific goals things that you may or may not be able to achieve.”

Gates said most nations in the region want to see Libya remain a unified state, and “having states in the region begin to break up because of internal differences, I think, is a formula for real instability in the future.”

Tristan March 21, 2011 at 8:58 am

I think that more important than arguing about hypothetically what “should” have happened in a distant ideal world, is to should spend our time trying to understand what is happening – specifically trying to distinguish between propaganda and real goals. Why is there a no fly zone over Libya while the west supported/supports violent reprisals against protestors in Egypt, Bahrain, Palestine, etc…? Insofar as we should ask “should” questions they should be directed at our foreign policy as a whole, not only specific moments in a broadly imperial and anti-democratic strategy.

Milan March 21, 2011 at 9:45 am

So you don’t feel confident about what the appropriate course of action in Libya is? Neither do I. If possible, it seems desirable to prevent the killing of civilians, but airstrikes may not help with that and may actually worsen outcomes for the Libyan population.

Tristan March 21, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Yes. I mean, No. I mean, I agree – I don’t know what the right course of action is. My point is we should not only talk about the “right course of action”, but also the IR context in which the actual course of action is determined, and how that relates to values like “protecting civilians” and “furthering democracy” not only as genuine but also as (and sometimes at the same time) as propaganda.

There are many costs to war. If you want to see the epistemic costs on the homefront, you just have to open the “National Post” to see how war makes us stupider.

. March 22, 2011 at 10:26 pm

The biggest story in the world today (apart from the catastrophe in Japan) is the war in Libya – a war that Canada has joined. No matter what you think of it, this is a big deal. You might think that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s swift decision to wage war in yet another Muslim country might spark some vigorous political debate.

But where are the hard questions? The United Nations Security Council has endorsed the war. And the Liberals are downright thrilled. “We don’t see this as a partisan issue between Liberals and Conservatives,” Bob Rae, the Liberal foreign affairs critic, was quoted as saying Sunday. “The fact that Mr. Harper has finally agreed to participate doesn’t change the way we will be proceeding over the next week.”

So much for one of our biggest foreign policy decisions in years. Parliament is far more consumed with pseudo scandals and the outrage of handwritten “nots.”

Personally, I’d be thrilled to see Moammar Gadhafi blown to smithereens. But the debacle in Iraq cured me of my liberal-interventionist enthusiasms. So forgive me if I ask a few basic questions, ones you may not be hearing from our elected stewards of democracy.

What is our objective? Are we fighting to protect the Libyan population from the government, or are we fighting for regime change? U.S. military leaders deny they’re going after Colonel Gadhafi, that he might even stay in power. Mr. Harper says he’s got to go. Which is it?

Sure, Col. Gadhafi is an odious thug. But this is not genocide (as in Rwanda), or even ethnic cleansing (as in the former Yugoslavia). It’s a brutal, ugly, local rebellion. There are lots of those. So why this one? Of course we all believe in Arab freedom. So what about Yemen, whose government mowed down unarmed demonstrators last week? What if President Bashar al-Assad keeps shooting civilians in Syria?

What happens when the Americans step down from their lead role, as Barack Obama pledges they will do very soon? Does NATO take the lead? The French? The Arab League? Oops, the Arab League has already opened fire on the Americans and the Europeans for being too aggressive, and most of the Arab nations are MIA. The Saudis? Nah, they’re too busy sending reinforcements to their buddies in Bahrain.

Who says Libya’s rebels are the good guys? What happens if (as seems likely) there are no good guys? As U.S. General David Petraeus asked about Afghanistan, “Tell me how this ends.”

. March 22, 2011 at 10:26 pm

TRIPOLI — The question has hovered over the Libyan uprising from the moment the first tank commander defected to join his cousins protesting in the streets of Benghazi: Is the battle for Libya the clash of a brutal dictator against a democratic opposition, or is it fundamentally a tribal civil war?

The answer could determine the course of both the Libyan uprising and the results of the Western intervention. In the West’s preferred chain of events, airstrikes enable the rebels to unite with the currently passive residents of the western region around Tripoli, under the banner of an essentially democratic revolution that topples Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

He, however, has predicted the opposite: that the revolt is a tribal war of eastern Libya against the west that ends in either his triumph or a prolonged period of chaos.

oleh March 23, 2011 at 12:29 am

The unrest in Libya is another example of why I am grateful to live in Canada. Our “battles” in Parliament or in legislatures is so tame. Why is it that we in Canada have been so fortunate, considering the mosaic from which we came. In part, this can be credited to adopting British traditions of governance and living alongside a friendly neighbour. So at this time we have joined a coalition with countries who have been in part responsible for our good fortune. I do not like it. But it seems generally motivated by acceptable reasons.

The decision to launch air strikes and keep out of the ground is likely to avoid Canadian and coalition casualties for which there is unlikely to be appetite at home.

One aspect that I find disturbing is the actual cost of this intervention. I do not know what it. However ,I imagine it will be more than the costs of the incentive program of waiving $40,000/$20,000 of loans to doctors / nurses who choose to practice in the countryside.

Milan March 23, 2011 at 7:49 am

But it seems generally motivated by acceptable reasons.

One thing I worry about is the lack of a clear plan. Is the intent just to prevent airstrikes against civilians? If so, why are Libyan army tanks being bombed? Is the intent to protect the rebels against as many types of attack as possible? If so, to what end? The partition of Libya? The overthrow of Qaddafi?

Will this end up being another situation where the west provokes a dictator, but then leaves him in power?

Tristan March 24, 2011 at 9:16 am

Canada does not have a peaceful history.

. March 26, 2011 at 3:59 pm
. March 26, 2011 at 5:51 pm

What is our objective in Libya?

By Lewis MacKenzie, Ottawa Citizen

In virtually all the military learning institutions around the world, students from corporals to generals are taught and retaught the 10 principles of war. I won’t bore the reader by listing numbers two to 10, inclusive, because No. 1, Selection and Maintenance of the Aim, is more important than all the rest. It means, in layman’s terms, before going to war decide what your overall objective is and stick to it.

Regrettably, the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1973 authorizing international military action against the forces of Colonel Gadhafi in Libya failed to precisely pin down the political and, by default, the military’s objective, thereby leaving this critical decision to individual nations enforcing the resolution. At this stage there are still a number of vastly different interpretations of what the resolution was attempting to achieve. Some, particularly in the Arab camp, suggest the objective is to freeze the military situation on the ground so diplomacy led by the Arab League and the African Union can proceed. Others have limited their opinion to a more literal interpretation of the resolution and say the role of the no-fly zone should be to protect civilians and population centres, presumably, while the war rages on away from the cities and towns. A more aggressive interpretation sees the aim as defeating Gadhafi’s military, something well beyond the intent of the resolution. All of the above have been suggested at various times during the past week because the resolution, in order to be passed, is intentionally broad and vague and, to date, no nation has taken the lead and convinced the other participants, including Canada, to agree to a common aim.

oleh March 27, 2011 at 1:24 am

One challenge with implementation of a plan is that while a plan is being implemented the population at risk is exposed to death. Initiation of Right to Protect (R2) actions does tend to require a fairly swift response. Gadhafi was not going to wait until a plan was formulated. The international community learned a lesson in Rwanda when it dawdled in its response.

oleh March 30, 2011 at 1:36 am

I was pleased with Obama’s message on Monday in his speech The actions in Libya seem to be targeted towards protecting civilians and not regime change. The United States is not asserting overall control. It seems that Obama is showing the type of restraint which is welcome from a POTUS.

Milan March 30, 2011 at 7:36 am

Doesn’t supporting the rebels, but without the determination to oust Qaddafi, risk setting up an even worse situation than what existed in Libya before this intervention?

If he does hold on to power, it seems unlikely that he will do so with a new found respect for human rights and democracy.

Tristan March 30, 2011 at 8:12 pm

It’s irresponsible to talk about Western foreign policy concerning Libya without considering it in context of Western support for brutal dictatorships all over the region, and the role of Western intervention in the creation and maintenance of those regimes. Or, outside of Western support for Israel’s continued colonization of land gained by war in ’67, which remains a rallying cry for the anti-western sentiment used by opportunist dictators like Qaddafi to maintain popularity and power.

In short, there are reasons why so many in North Africa and the middle east are “Anti-American”, and without seriously considering the history behind those feelings, any way of thinking about intervention in Libya will remain shallow and irresponsible.

. March 30, 2011 at 8:14 pm

The West’s ‘double standards’ in Middle East

Mark LeVine

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/03/201132710224885390.html

Tristan March 30, 2011 at 8:18 pm

The debate in the “Economist” is irresponsible: it’s not possible not to take a position on “Arab World Revolutions” so long as one is economically and militarily involved in the region. If the US wants to take a stance of neutrality, it should stop military support of all states in the region and withdraw its armies and navies.

Pete March 31, 2011 at 6:49 am

Sadly this is what eCONomist Friedman enthused a few years back after the establishment of the US backed regime in Iraq- a viral wave of so called freedom sweeping the other Arab states, where in fact the freedom is free trade US multinationals reaping the “liberated” states national wealth. Profiteering war must stop, political accountability must start.

. April 3, 2011 at 12:20 pm

One of the most difficult and important problems confronting the international community is what to do when a government turns its guns on its own people. In Libya, Canada and other countries chose military intervention. Our jets are in the air at this very moment.

Also at this very moment, the man who ordered the military into action is seeking a mandate to form the next government. His opponent is a human rights scholar with special expertise in the very issue of international interventions to protect people from their own governments. It’s hard to imagine circumstances more likely to produce a sustained debate about this engagement in particular and Canadian foreign policy in general.

And yet hardly a word has been said in the election about Libya or anything beyond our borders. Nor is that likely to change.

For Stephen Harper, it would be risk without reward. He can’t use Libya as a wedge because the Liberals supported the intervention. Worse, talking about Libya would raise questions about Afghanistan, and on that file the Liberal team of Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae have been far more principled and consistent. Still worse, it would resurrect Iraq, and Harper would prefer voters not remember that he was a passionate supporter of Canadian participation in that colossal cockup. And worst of all, any discussion of foreign policy would remind the electorate that his government was the first in Canadian history to try and fail to land a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

. April 7, 2011 at 9:48 pm

“WE APOLOGISE for the unplanned hiatus in bombing of the Middle East. Normal service has now been resumed.” Thus one wry Facebook posting after Barack Obama launched Operation Odyssey Dawn and America unleashed its cruise missiles. To people all over the world, it has come as a shock that this of all presidents, the man who always opposed George W. Bush’s “dumb” invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 2003, should have plunged the United States into a war of his own against Colonel Muammar Qaddafi of Libya.

In America too the decision came out of the blue. Distracted by the tsunami and nuclear catastrophe in Japan, the media had lost sight for a while of the negotiations taking place behind closed doors in the UN Security Council. By the time Resolution 1973 authorised “all necessary measures” to protect civilians, and military operations swiftly followed, there had been none of the public weighing of pros and cons that preceded the Iraq war. Nor did Congress get a chance to have its say. The lack of debate was inevitable, given that the operation was, as Robert Gates, the defence secretary, later admitted, put together “on the fly” to block Colonel Qaddafi’s imminent conquest of Benghazi. But now, rather like the squabbling international coalition itself, Mr Obama’s many critics are scrambling to make up for lost time.

Some of the most scathing criticism has come not from Republicans but from anguished liberals. Like the neoconservatives who were so bullish about Iraq, and have now got their voices back, a few on the left are still haunted by the world’s failure to prevent atrocities in benighted places such as Rwanda and Bosnia and are still willing to entertain military intervention on humanitarian grounds in some circumstances. But a good many have come to see the Iraq war as an unmitigated calamity and concluded that no good can ever come from American intervention in a Muslim country. One influential blogger, Andrew Sullivan, seems scarcely able to believe that what he calls a “neocon-bleeding heart alliance” has forgotten the Iraqi lesson so soon.

Milan April 7, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Here’s one sign that this is a weird war:

But something is out of kilter with Muammar Qaddafi’s claims that Libya’s revolution is an al-Qaeda plot. These jihadis enthusiastically back the NATO-led bombing campaign. “A blessing,” says Sufian bin Qumu, an inmate for six years of a pen in Guantánamo Bay, who drove trucks for Osama bin Laden’s Sudanese haulage company before heading to the Afghan camps. “Excellent,” echoes Abdel Hakim al-Hisadi, a rebel commander who trained in Khost camp, Mr bin Laden’s base in Afghanistan. “It’s changed the way we look at the West. They saved our people and we have to say thanks.”

. April 7, 2011 at 10:44 pm

The president, it now emerges, remembers exactly what he wrote. He hesitated about whether to act in Libya (just ask the French and British, who egged him on but came close to losing hope), but he was always clear about how. All the conditions he wished for in that book five years ago have come to pass. In this week’s speech he ticked them methodically off: “an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves. We also had the ability to stop Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.” Under such circumstances, he said, for America to turn a blind eye to the fate of Benghazi would have been “a betrayal of who we are”.

More significant, however, is that habit of mind. In Libya Mr Obama is challenging the assumption of global leadership America has taken for granted ever since the second world war. America has joined coalitions before, but never under a president quite so adamant that America is not in charge—even if the military burden-sharing is indeed a bit of an illusion.

. April 7, 2011 at 10:56 pm

A day earlier General Carter Ham, the American officer who was running operations in Libya until NATO assumed command, had presciently warned: “The regime still vastly overmatches opposition forces militarily. The regime possesses the capability to roll them back very quickly. Coalition air power is the major reason that has not happened.” The general added that apart from some “localised wavering” there had so far been only a few cases of military or government officials defecting to the opposition.

For a time, it looked as if a pattern had been established. Allied air power would take out the government’s tanks, artillery and other heavy weapons, shell-shocked loyalist soldiers would flee and the ragtag army of rebels toting AK-47s and captured RPGs would surge forward into the vacuum, driving hell-for-leather to the next town along the coast road in a motley cavalcade of elderly cars and pickup trucks.

. April 21, 2011 at 8:56 pm

THE FIRST stage of the “multiphase” Operation Odyssey Dawn may already be over. At 19.00 GMT on Saturday evening, American and British naval vessels launched a co-ordinated Tomahawk cruise missile attack on Libyan air-defence systems. At least 110 missiles struck at 20 command and control sites that had been targeted earlier in the week by satellites and aerial-surveillance missions conducted by American and British aircraft. There were also unconfirmed reports of American B-2 “stealth” bombers hitting a major Libyan airfield.

According to allied military sources, the strikes “severely disabled” the Libyan regime’s ability both to “see” coalition aircraft entering Libyan airspace and maintain effective command and control over the country’s integrated air defence systems, which include nearly 100 Mig-25s and 15 Mirage F-1s and a huge arsenal of Russian surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). A bomb-damage assessment is now underway to determine whether more attacks are needed to degrade Muammar Qaddafi’s air defences further before enforcement of the UN-mandated no-fly zone can begin in relative safety. A second phase is likely to begin later on Sunday with coalition aircraft (including 16 British GR4 Tornados, Rafales from the French carrier Charles de Gaulle at Toulon and F-18s from the USS Enterprise in the Red Sea) launching attacks with anti-radiation missiles that lock on to and destroy enemy radar systems.

Just over two hours before the main assault began, French Rafale (pictured) and Mirage 2000 fighters went into action over Benghazi. As international leaders met in Paris to agree the outline of the UN-backed military campaign, anxiety had grown over the threat to Libya’s second-biggest city. The ceasefire declared by the Qaddafi regime on Friday had been exposed as a ruse, as loyalist forces sped towards the rebels’ stronghold, beginning a major tank and artillery bombardment early on Saturday, while infiltrating snipers into central areas of the city.

. April 25, 2011 at 10:41 am

“The U.S. and its Western allies are sure to do whatever they can to prevent authentic democracy in the Arab world. To understand why, it is only necessary to look at the studies of Arab opinion conducted by U.S. polling agencies. Though barely reported, they are certainly known to planners. They reveal that by overwhelming majorities, Arabs regard the U.S. and Israel as the major threats they face: The U.S. is so regarded by 90 percent of Egyptians, in the region generally by more than 75 percent. Some Arabs regard Iran as a threat: 10 percent. Opposition to U.S. policy is so strong that a majority believes that security would be improved if Iran had nuclear weapons—in Egypt, 80 percent. Other figures are similar. If public opinion were to influence policy, the U.S. not only would not control the region, but would be expelled from it, along with its allies, undermining fundamental principles of global dominance.”

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/is_the_world_too_big_to_fail_20110422/?ln

dot April 26, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Advocates of a short-term bombing campaign were wrong. Civilians are not being protected as envisioned, Colonel Qaddafi isn’t folding, and as tribes threaten to enter the fray, Libya may be nearing collapse. Washington now has three options — none of them ideal.
 
America could pull out, making a tacit admission that the intervention was a strategic mistake. But a resurgent Colonel Qaddafi would likely seek revenge against the rebels and those who helped them. Moreover, NATO’s resolve would be called into question, as would America’s. Whatever influence Washington might have in the region would evaporate and Al Qaeda would waste no time pointing out that the United States had abandoned Muslims on the battlefield.
 
Or we could continue doing the minimum necessary to avoid losing. But even if Colonel Qaddafi were to eventually fall, we’d still face the significant and unknown consequences of a postwar Libya. The United States and NATO would not be able to simply leave. We tried this in Afghanistan and Iraq, and it got us an insurgency.
 
Finally, the United States and its allies could commit the military resources required to genuinely protect Libyan civilians and oust Colonel Qaddafi. Unlike the Bosnian Croats in 1995 and the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan in 2001, the rebel forces in Libya are too disorganized to take advantage of NATO air support. To give them a fighting chance, NATO must put military advisers and combat air controllers on the ground — not just British, French and Italian, but also a small number of American ones.
 
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/26/opinion/26Dubik.html

. May 2, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Removing the Qaddafis
Crunch time in Libya
The allies are sending out dangerous signs of confusion just when resolution is most needed

Apr 20th 2011 | from the print edition

ONLY five weeks after Western aircraft flew their first sorties over Libya, the fight has already become wearily familiar. The rebel advance and Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s claw back towards the east have been succeeded by what looks like stalemate. The outrage that united the world against the threat of butchery in Benghazi has begun to dull. The coalition’s different interests have reasserted themselves.

The particular argument at the moment is about whether America will supply the special aircraft needed to attack the colonel’s troops in urban areas (especially wretched Misrata where his men have been committing atrocities). Barack Obama has been stalling, the Europeans hyperventilating. The aircraft are desperately needed and losing Misrata would be a hefty blow (see article), but the worry is that the dithering is symptomatic both of a broader reluctance to see the job through and division over how it should be done. It is the moment in a campaign when, for the lack of application and clear thinking, the endeavour is in danger of slipping away. It is crunch time, when commitment counts.

anon May 9, 2011 at 5:20 am

“But something is out of kilter with Muammar Qaddafi’s claims that Libya’s revolution is an al-Qaeda plot. These jihadis enthusiastically back the NATO-led bombing campaign. ”

There is nothing particularly weird about this. The Jihadists are in favour of Western military presence in the region generally, because it stirs up anti-western sentiments and increases support for their cause. Their anti-imperialist goals are much more appealing than their true-believer religious aims, and so long as Western states are involved in imperialist activity in the region they can stress the former rather than the latter to gain recruits.

. May 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Nor is Misrata the only point of pressure on Colonel Qaddafi. In the past few days, NATO’s targeting strategy has evolved. Recognising that air power could only have limited effects against dispersed forces engaged in small-scale tactical engagements that have little effect on the overall strategic position, NATO is stepping up its attacks on the palaces, military headquarters and communications centres that are critical to the regime’s ability both to sustain its campaign of violence and to convince wavering supporters that it will survive. On April 25th Norwegian F-16s hit Colonel Qaddafi’s residential compound in the middle of Tripoli, destroying administrative offices and a command centre. After a separate attack, state television was briefly forced off the air.

. May 15, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Such doubts from within have recently grown stronger. Unlike the war on terror, which in many ways bolstered the jihadists’ paranoid vision of Islam as a faith locked in mortal combat with an unrelenting foe, the wave of democratic change now sweeping the region risks undermining it altogether. Not only has it already succeeded where Mr Bin Laden failed, in knocking down such “apostate regimes” as those of Egypt and Tunisia. It has done so through the peaceful mobilisation of ordinary people, inspired not by religious fervour but by secular demands.

. May 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Canada orders 1,300 smart bombs
$100,000-apiece weapons to be used in Libyan mission
David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen
 
   As the Libyan war enters its third month the Defence Department has quietly ordered more than 1,300 laser-guided smart bombs.
 
   The department could not provide comment about the purchase of the 500-pound Paveway bombs, but sources confirmed the new stocks are for the Libyan campaign, to replace those already dropped and for future missions against the North African country.
 
   No details were provided about how much the purchase will cost taxpayers.
 
   But John Pike, director of the Washington-based defence think-tank GlobalSecurity.org said the smart bomb cost about $100,000 each.
 
   Pike said he wasn’t surprised that Canada is ordering more of the bombs, since reports have been circulating for several weeks that NATO nations taking part in the Libyan war are running out of weapons.
 
   “It seems to me that Canada is not alone in misunderstanding its munitions requirements,” he said. “What kind of war did Canada think it was going to fight? Did they think this war was going to be over quickly or that the Americans would drop all the bombs?”
 
   But Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, the chairman of NATO’s military committee, has denied that the alliance’s member countries are running low on ammunition.

. June 7, 2011 at 5:46 pm

David Cameron’s resolve to take a leading role in Libya immediately called into question one of the main, if unspoken, assumptions underlying the SDSR: that no more “wars of choice” would be fought until the exchequer was flusher. So far, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is just about coping with the demands of the Libyan intervention; the Treasury has not yet balked at meeting the costs from its reserve, even as they spiral. But it would have been a different story if the Libyan crisis had blown up only a few months later—because the campaign has relied on precisely the sort of air and maritime assets that the SDSR, preoccupied as it was with the land war in Afghanistan, blithely calculated that Britain could do without.

For example, HMS Cumberland, one of four Type-22 frigates identified for retirement, was on its way home to be decommissioned before it was sent into action, first ferrying British nationals to safety and then helping to enforce the maritime exclusion zone off the coast of Libya. Similarly, the Nimrod R1 reconnaissance aircraft, due to be scrapped in March, has won a stay of execution because it was needed in Libya. The brunt of Britain’s contribution to striking at the Libyan regime’s military infrastructure has been borne by Tornado GR4s. The number of Tornado squadrons is scheduled to be reduced from seven to five next month.

. June 7, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Responsibility to protect
The lessons of Libya
Outsiders had good reason to intervene in Libya. But their cause may suffer from it

FOR those who back muscular humanitarian intervention, both the words and deeds of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi provided absolute moral clarity. “Come out of your homes, attack [the opposition] in their dens,” he told his supporters on February 22nd. He called the protesters “cockroaches” and “rats” who did not deserve to live: language chillingly reminiscent of the broadcasts of Radio Mille Collines, which spurred on the perpetrators of Rwanda’s genocide in 1994.

As he spoke, his forces had set their sights on Benghazi, their adversaries’ stronghold. According to Human Rights Watch, a New York-based group, government forces had already killed 233 people in the preceding week. A bloodbath beckoned, in a city of 700,000 people. The United Nations Security Council invoked a fateful formula, urging the regime to meet its “responsibility to protect” its people. On March 17th the council, “expressing its determination to ensure the protection of civilians”, ordered air strikes.

That set the stage for the first full-blown test of a principle that the UN adopted in 2005 and has been refining since. The doctrine of “responsibility to protect” (R2P) holds that when a sovereign state fails to prevent atrocities, foreign governments may intervene to stop them. Human-rights advocates say it saves lives. Sceptics see it as too easily misused to be useful: a cover for imperialism, or even an incentive to kill (because even if a massacre is not looming, an unscrupulous warlord might be tempted to engineer one against his own people to spur outside support).

. July 6, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Libya’s oil
The colonel is running on empty
The tide continues to flow against Muammar Qaddafi

TO RUN short of fuel, as Field-Marshal Rommel discovered in 1942, can be fatal to a military campaign in north Africa. Thanks to NATO’s aerial bombardment, Muammar Qaddafi has few tanks left to seize up but his regime is running on empty. His military forces, now deploying civilian vehicles on the front line in the hope of confusing NATO’s pilots, have priority in using the gasoline and diesel still available to the colonel. But it may soon run out.

A litre of fuel in the capital now sells for more than $8, about 50 times the price in Benghazi, the rebel stronghold in the east. Some lines of cars at Tripoli’s petrol stations now stretch for more than a mile, with drivers taking turns to keep watch over cars left in queues overnight. Thieves scour the capital for vehicles that still have fuel in their tanks.

Limited supplies exist. A trickle of oil from fields in the regime-held south-west feeds the refinery at Zawiya, on the coast near Tripoli. Aerial surveillance shows heat coming from the plant but it is probably operating at no more than 30% of its capacity of 120,000 barrels a day (b/d). On June 12th rebels tried to capture the town but were repulsed by artillery. If Colonel Qaddafi were to lose Zawiya and its refinery, the game would probably be up.

. July 21, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Few places in the world are as dependent on petroleum as Libya: All water for drinking and irrigating crops is delivered by diesel-fuelled well pumps from deep beneath the desert or produced using giant diesel-powered desalination plants; all electricity is generated with petroleum-powered turbines.

“Without oil, nobody in this country will have water to drink,” says Nasser Bubteina, head of the eastern Libya branch of the Great Man-Made River, a huge network of pipelines and tunnels that pumps water from beneath the Sahara to homes and fields.

Mr. Bubteina has just barely been able to pump enough water to supply Benghazi with water, because the generators used by his pumping stations have been forced to serve double duty, providing southern Libya with electricity in the mornings and evenings. As it stands, he has enough stored to provide five days’ drinking water if fuel is cut off or diverted to the troops.

. July 30, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Libya
Keep calm, keep going
The world must intensify the pressure against Muammar Qaddafi—and help plan for the future

THE voices of those who prophesy doom in Libya are becoming ever louder. The fracas, they say, should never have concerned the West, which has no great interest in the place. The Americans want less and less to do with it. Barack Obama, scolded by many in Congress for getting involved in the first place, is hiding in NATO’s back seat. Generals in Britain and France, who are shouldering much of NATO’s campaign burden, are complaining about the stress and strain on their forces in trying to bring down Muammar Qaddafi. The Gulf Arabs are loth to cough up the cash they promised to support the rebels.

There is no timetable and no exit plan, say the pessimists. The rebels are a shoddy lot who are likely, if they get into power, to be no nicer than what went before. Moreover, it is all about tribes, not democracy, and Colonel Qaddafi plainly has a lot of them on his side. To cap it all, NATO, in its frustration at failing to remove the regime in a trice, is killing civilians—the very crime it was meant, under UN Security Council Resolution 1973, to prevent. In short, it is a dreadful mess, with no obvious way out.

. August 5, 2011 at 4:02 pm

War in Libya
Closing in on Tripoli
Libya’s rebels have gained the upper hand, but what happens after they claim victory is not at all clear

IN PUBLIC parks in rebel-held eastern Libya the removal of the “Brother Leader” has become a game played by children. They roll a giant rubber die, then skip after it across a printed plastic sheet on a prescribed route from Benghazi via Misrata and the Nafusa mountains to Tripoli, the capital, where a grinning Muammar Qaddafi sits on bags of money on top of a crowded prison. A player explains, “If you fall on Qaddafi’s forces you have to go to his jail. Get the rebels to free you.”

In reality, the task is a little trickier. Yet the rebels are making good progress. The front lines are moving in one direction only: slowly but steadily towards Tripoli, where the colonel is believed to be.

Several thousand rebels in the Nafusa mountains south of Tripoli have changed tactics in recent weeks from defensive to offensive operations. They have advanced into the Jifarah plain, capturing the power station at Shakshuk, and pushed to the outskirts of Bir Ghanam, 80km (50 miles) from Tripoli. The current front line runs through a gypsum factory. In the daily exchanges of fire the rebels use newly acquired European-made Milan anti-tank missiles. Helped by NATO air strikes, they have captured villages near Zintan and are planning to attack Gharyan, a well-fortified gateway to Tripoli, despite setbacks.

. September 18, 2011 at 9:03 pm

The NTC was quickly able to call upon a network of power-plant managers, logisticians and others who kept Benghazi’s lights shining and its warehouses stocked with food. The council also managed to get speedy de facto recognition, granted by Arab countries, such as Qatar, which provided petrol and other essential supplies, and by Western countries, such as France, Britain and the United States, which provided the airpower that at the very last minute saved Benghazi from a government armoured-column that had bulldozed its way to the outskirts of town. Most easterners seem to realise how valuable it was that a united leadership filled the power vacuum so quickly.

As other uprisings freed towns farther west, the NTC expanded its membership. Council members claim that they were chosen in close consultation with tribal and revolutionary leaders inside the liberated zones or, if such leaders could not be contacted, with western Libyan refugees living either in the east of the country or in Tunisia. But the NTC itself acknowledges that its legitimacy is tenuous. The council has consequently tried hard not to tread too roughly on regional sensitivities, affirming at every possible opportunity that it intends the east to be part of a united Libya with Tripoli as its capital.

The rebels have also planned their military strategy so that, whenever possible, any advance on a government-held town was co-ordinated with an uprising of revolutionaries from within. This appears to have given each part of Libya a sense of having delivered its own “liberation”, as opposed to having been conquered by easterners. The policy has been so successful that some western military commanders even complained that they were left to do the bulk of the fighting with minimal support from the east.

. September 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm

NATO after Libya

A troubling victory

The alliance’s performance in Libya confounded critics and raised awkward questions

AS NATO prepares to wind down its air operations over Libya and end its naval blockade, satisfaction over the outcome will be mixed with concern over the weaknesses it exposed. Time was always against the brutal regime of Muammar Qaddafi, but had the effort to oust him dragged on into the winter, the political will of those NATO members doing the heavy lifting in Libya would have been tested and the mission’s critics, particularly in America, would have claimed vindication. The smell of failure would have added to NATO’s woes as it struggles to find a respectable exit from Afghanistan over the next three years.

In many ways, NATO did rather well. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 authorised the protection of civilians, but specifically ruled out the use of ground forces. The alliance stretched its mandate to the limit, in effect becoming the insurgents’ air arm. As Michael Clarke, the director of the Royal United Services Institute, a London think-tank, observes, supporting disorganised and poorly equipped rebel forces against a well-armed and ruthless regime required improvisation and flexibility.

oleh November 2, 2011 at 4:51 am

The role of the coalition in effecting regime change was demonstrated when a coalition convoy stopped Qaddafi’s convoy’s retreat and enabled his capture and death. I am of mixed views. The original mission of protection of civilians was honourable and meritorious. When that purpose was accomplished the intervention did not cease. Ah, politics is complicated.

. November 21, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Human rights in Libya
Bad habits
The new rulers must ensure that the victors do not imitate the vanquished

A MONTH before Muammar’s Qaddafi’s death, a group of young Libyans in Benghazi, where the revolution began, were debating justice and human rights. “Don’t send him to the International Criminal Court [at The Hague],” one of them argued. “They cannot torture him there—and we need to know the truth about his crimes”. “Well, okay, but if he is tortured in Libya, it will give us a bad name”, said another participant. “No, no, you cannot torture anyone, anywhere, don’t you know that?” exclaimed a third. Then the oldest in the group, a 28-year-old engineer, pleaded: “Let us stop thinking about Qaddafi and the past and think about Libya’s future.” Then came a vote on the motion that “This house believes that Qaddafi and the others should be tried in Libya, not in The Hague”. The motion was defeated.

The debate was part of a week-long training scheme set up by a non-governmental Polish organisation, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, at the request of two new groups in Benghazi. Like Libya, Poland came up for air after 40 years of totalitarian government. Poland and Libya offer useful comparisons.

For the two dozen Libyan students, most of them in their early 20s, the concept of human rights was new. Under Colonel Qaddafi they were not so much violated as non-existent. The father of one of the students was taken when she was four years old to Abu Salim prison in Tripoli. For 14 years her family brought him clothes and food. Yet she was unaware until recently that he was one of more than 1,200 prisoners massacred on one day in 1996.

. May 17, 2012 at 11:24 am

OTTAWA — Amid allegations the Conservative government intentionally lowballed the price of the F-35 stealth fighter project, newly released National Defence documents indicate the full cost of last year’s Libya mission was nearly $350 million — seven times what Defence Minister Peter MacKay told Canadians it cost.

The revelation is likely to raise further accusations of a systemic effort to hide the true cost of Canadian military operations and equipment purchases, and lead to fresh demands for accountability.

Last October, with Moammar Gadhafi dead and NATO wrapping up its seven-month air-and-sea campaign in Libya, MacKay said the mission had cost taxpayers $50 million — or about $10 million less than the Defence Department had predicted.

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/True+cost+Libya+mission+seven+times+estimate+documents/6601885/story.html

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