TAPPER: Regarding the massacre at Mazar-e-Sharif that you read the statement from the president about, I’m wondering, that began as a protest against Pastor Terry Jones burning the Quran, or involved in a protest that burned the Quran. And I’m…
Steve Coll advises against it:
[T]he rebels have as yet no command and control; they serve a political entity (if that is not too generous a way to describe the councils that have been set up in eastern Libya) that is recognized as legitimate by France alone. There is no way to police the rebels’ conduct or to hold them accountable for their actions on the battlefield. It is not clear what the rebels are fighting for, other than survival and the possible opportunity to take power in a country loaded with oil.
Gulliver worries about loose weapons:
Guns aren't a policy. Guns are just guns. What that means is that once they're out there, you can't readjust. You can't recalibrate. You can't ask for all your weapons to be returned so that they can be redistributed to the faction that's better aligned with your strategic intent. You can only hope what you've done ends up accomplishing what you want. And I'll be the one millionth guy to say it: hope is not a plan.
(Photo: Libyan rebels return from battle some 30 kilometers before the eastern town of Brega on March 31, 2011, as rebel fighters fought running street battles for the oil town, about 800 kilometres (500 miles) from the capital Tripoli, with forces loyal to Moamer Kadhafi driving around and shooting at people. By Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)
Top news: Pro-Qaddafi forces have reportedly captured the refinery town of Ras Lanuf. The rebels’ westward advance, aided by international airstrikes and a mandated no-fly zone, appears to have stalled since Qaddafi’s forces counterattacked on Tuesday. However, by advancing westward, pro-Qaddafi forces are exposing themselves to western airstrikes, and indeed warplanes and explosions were reported near Ras Lanuf on Wednesday. The government forces are also now reportedly deploying anti-personnel mines.
Meeting in London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, did not rule out the possibility of arming the rebels. "UN [Security Council Resolution] 1973 allows all necessary measures to
protect civilians and civilian-populated areas, and our view is this
would not necessarily rule out the provision of assistance to those
protecting civilians in certain circumstances," Hague said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov disputed that interpretation of the resolution.
Members of of NATO, the Arab League, and the African Union met in London to discuss the ongoing events in Libya. The participants agreed to set up a contact group to coordinate political efforts that will hold its first meeting in Qatar.
- Japan’s TEPCO announced that it will decommission the four stricken reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
- The presidents of India and Pakistan are sitting together at today’s World Cup cricket match.
- Burma’s ruling generals formally handed over power to parliament.
- Security forces have regained control of a government building that was captured by militants in Tikrit, but more than 50 people were killed.
- The death toll from an explosion at an ammunition factory in Southern Yemen has risen to 150.
- Bahrain has detained the country’s most prominent Shiite blogger.
- Forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara captured two towns in the Ivory Cost.
- A member of the opposition MDC party was named speaker of the parliament in Zimbabwe.
- An advisor to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir accused the Southern Sudanese government of training Darfur rebels.
- Former President Jimmy Carter met with Cuban opposition leaders today after talks with President Raul Castro, yesterday.
- Haiti has postponed the release of results from its presidential run-off.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was given a press freedom award during a visit to Argentina.
- Britain has expelled five Libyan diplomats for intimidating opposition groups.
- Italian President Silvio Berlusconi is visiting the island of Lampedusa, which has been overwhelmed by refugees fleeing North Africa in recent weeks.
- French religious leaders are protesting President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plant to hold a public debate on Islam.
MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images
If you thought “protecting civilians” was merely UN-speak for “aiding the rebels” (as many of the rebels did), think again. On the contrary, the fact that NATO believes violence against defenseless people by its putative ally is so likely that deterring it requires a formal warning backed by a threat of bombardment tells you a […]
Washington (CNN) – Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said Thursday that we should not arm rebels in Libya as “we got burned” in previous wars by doing so.
In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, the California Democrat said, “We did in Afghanistan; we got burned by it. We did in Iraq; we got burned by it. In other words, those weapons cropped up later being used against us, and I don’t think that’s something we ought to do.”
U.S. and British officials say no decision has been made about whether to arm the opposition. “We’re not ruling it out or ruling it in,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement Wednesday. “We’re assessing and reviewing options for all types of assistance that we could provide to the Libyan people, and have consulted directly with the opposition and our international partners about these matters.”
The CIA does have operatives working in Libya, sources tell CNN.
The full interview with Feinstein will be on “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer which airs between 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. ET Thursday.
The conflict between the stated desire to see Muammar Gaddafi removed from power and the actual authority granted by UNSCR 1973 is becoming readily apparent:
WASHINGTON — Members of the NATO alliance have sternly warned the rebels in Libya not to attack civilians as they push against the regime of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, according to senior military and government officials.
As NATO takes over control of airstrikes in Libya and the Obama administration considers new steps to tip the balance of power there, the coalition has told the rebels that the fog of war will not shield them from possible bombardment by NATO planes and missiles, just as the regime’s forces have been punished.
“We’ve been conveying a message to the rebels that we will be compelled to defend civilians, whether pro-Qaddafi or pro-opposition,” said a senior Obama administration official. “We are working very hard behind the scenes with the rebels so we don’t confront a situation where we face a decision to strike the rebels to defend civilians.”
The warnings, and intense consultations within the NATO-led coalition over its rules for attacking anyone who endangers innocent civilians, come at a time when the civil war in Libya is becoming ever more chaotic, and the battle lines ever less distinct. They raise a fundamental question that the military is now grappling with: Who in Libya is a civilian?
In the early days of the campaign, the civilian population needing protection was hunkered down in cities like Benghazi, behind a thin line of rebel defenders who were easily distinguishable from the attacking government forces.
That is no longer always the case. Armed rebels — some in fairly well-organized militias, others merely young men who have picked up rifles to fight alongside them — have moved out of Benghazi in an effort to take control of other population centers along the way, they hope, to seizing Tripoli.
Meanwhile, fresh intelligence this week showed that Libyan government forces were supplying assault rifles to civilians in the town of Surt, which is populated largely by Qaddafi loyalists. These civilian Qaddafi sympathizers were seenchasing rebel forces in nonmilitary vehicles like sedans and trucks, accompanied by Libyan troops, according to American military officers.
The increasing murkiness of the battlefield, as the freewheeling rebels advance and retreat and as fighters from both sides mingle among civilians, has prompted NATO members to issue new “rules of engagement” spelling out when the coalition may attack units on the ground in the name of protecting civilians.
It was unclear how the rules are changing — especially on the critical questions surrounding NATO’s mandate and whether it extends to protecting rebels who are no longer simply defending civilian populated areas like Benghazi, but are instead are themselves on the offensive.
“This is a challenge,” said a senior alliance military officer. “The problem of discriminating between combatant and civilian is never easy, and it is compounded when you have Libyan regime forces fighting irregular forces, like the rebel militias, in urban areas populated by civilians.”
The challenge would seem to only become greater if the rebels do manage to return to the outskirts of Surt, or even to Tripoli itself. At that point, we’ll likely be dealing with an urban war not unlike Somalia and it would be exceedingly unclear exactly who it is we’re supposed to be protecting. This has the potential to get much more difficult, and much messier.
Plus, Gaddafi goes small-scale.
Via Jim Geraghty, who wonders how the West hitched its star to such a poorly formed and hopeless band of opponents. Look on the bright side: at least this makes the CIA’s job of vetting the resistance a lot easier than we thought. CNN’s Jon Lee Anderson gives Eliot Spitzer the bad news, as Moammar […]
It was revealed Wednesday evening that the Obama administration sent clandestine CIA operatives to Libya weeks ago to assist rebels in their civil war against Moammar Gaddafi.
Not only did MSNBC's Ed Schultz express his support for this action as well as arming these rebels, he also got into a heated argument with a Nation magazine reporter that compared this operation to the "disastrous dirty wars of the 1980s" bringing up images of Ollie North and the Iran-Contra scandal (video follows with transcript and commentary):
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: But, this is the story we start with, that has me fired up tonight. It wasn’t supposed to go like this, but this is how it’s unfolding. "Reuters" reporting there are American boots on the ground in Libya.
"President Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces in Libya, officials tell Reuters."
The order was signed within the past two or three weeks. Tonight, "The New York Times" is reporting the Central Intelligence Agency has inserted clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and make contacts with rebels battling Gadhafi’s forces, according to American officials.
And the "National Journal" reporting more than a dozen CIA operatives were sent to Libya.
You would think this announcement would quickly change the mind of a devout antiwar liberal like Schultz despite his having sycophantically and hypocritically expressed support for this Libyan operation right from the start. Well, think again:
SCHULTZ: When the president announced the United States military engagement in Libya, he was emphatic. There would be no troops, no boots on the ground.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA,PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will not — I repeat — we will not deploy any U.S. troops on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: In fact, U.N. resolution 1973 excludes, quote, "a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory."
Of any form? What’s that mean? NBC sources are telling NBC that the revelation of CIA operatives in Libya is pro forma. Still, the White House knows this kind of revelation — this kind of headline could change the dynamic on the ground in Libya, and support for the president at home could also shift.
Indeed, as well as support from his friends in the media that have been for this war. At least, that's what you would think:
SCHULTZ: The big question tonight that remains: will the United States or its allies arm these Libyan freedom fighters? "Reuters" also reports today U.S. officials have said that Saudi Arabia and Qatar, whose leaders despise Gadhafi, have indicated a willingness to supply Libyan rebels — I call them freedom fighters — with weapons.
Now, remember yesterday, the president told Brian Williams that the operation of arming Libyan rebels wasn’t off the table. He also said the following to ABC News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It’s fair to say that if we wanted to get weapons into Libya, we probably could. We’re looking at all our options at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Senior European diplomat says the coalition of nations involved in Libya, considered arming rebels a serious option and that the coalition is considering that option now.
Reports from the front lines are that anti-Gadhafi forces, they are in retreat. It was not a good day for them. And they are poorly armed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The momentum has changed very quickly in this war. And on the front line, Libya’s revolution is being held together with sticky tape.
Show me what you’re armed with. What’s your weapon? Only that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: So, we have stopped Gadhafi from slaughtering his people in Benghazi. Our airstrikes have allowed the rebels to advance. But now, they’re retreating. After all that, does the world community stand by and watch the freedom fighters get crushed?
The president pledged that there would be no U.S. troops on the ground in Libya. Today, we learned that CIA operatives are on the ground. What does that all mean?
Still, it looks like the freedom fighters’ only shot for survival at this point is a real injection of military hardware that they say they desperately need.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today said that there was still no decision on arming the rebels.
Nobody wants another situation like the mujahideen in Afghanistan in 1980s. Whether or not we arm rebels, freedom fighters, whatever you want to call them, is a very hard decision.
But I think we have to do it. It is a moral decision at this point.
Imagine that. Despite what resulted from arming the mujahideen in Afghanistan – Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda – Schultz is all for doing it AGAIN! This seems especially absurd given reports that al Qaeda is already present amongst the Libyan rebels.
But none of that matters to Schultz. His President is for this, and regardless of how he opposes this kind of conflict with every fabric of his being, this MSNBC shill is all in:
SCHULTZ: You just saw that piece of videotape, that young kid, we have a state in the United States of America, New Hampshire, live free or die. What do you think that Libyan freedom fighter wants? What is his choice?
He’s made what’s on the license plates in New Hampshire, live free or die. That’s where he is. And where does the United States stand tonight?
Look, I am a liberal. I am a progressive. But that means that we need to stand behind people who want freedom.
This isn’t Bush talk. This is totally different from Iraq. It’s totally different from any other situation in my opinion.
This is a situation where we have got a coalition that has come together and realized that Gadhafi is a terrorist. The president has gone on record saying that Libyan agents have killed Americans. That’s all as an American I need to hear.
This president has also gone on record that he was going to get America out of Iraq, close the terrorist center in Guantanamo Bay, and end secret CIA renditions. Despite him having gone back on all three pledges, Schultz is still taking him at his word:
SCHULTZ: Let’s get it done. Let’s arm these rebels. Let’s give them a chance to fight. At least if they’re going to die, they’re going to have some hardware in their hands to defend themselves.
There was a sound bite in Richard Engel’s piece last night, a gentleman says they’re pulling women out of houses. They’re lining people up and assassinating them. They’ve got shooters up on top of the roofs to picking people off.
I mean, come on, America. When do we fight? Does it have to be absolutely perfect and we have to have an absolute end game, and, you know, dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s? Hell no.
This is about freedom, is it not? This is about people who want to get rid of a dictator — a guy who has brutalized them for 40 years and we stand here tonight as if we’re not free. We stand here tonight as if — well, I don’t know about this, I don’t know about that.
The military equation here I understand is very, very complicated. They not trained freedom fighters. But they have in their heart, they have in their soul the same things, and the same qualities and the same spirit that the people who founded this country had in their hearts and their minds centuries ago.
How does he know that? Exactly how does anyone at this point know who or what these rebels are? Quite the contrary, we don't know.
But Schultz's president is for this, and therefore, so is he:
SCHULTZ: Look, this is a tough call. There’s no doubt. It’s a tough call for not only the president, and for people who support the president, who really have had enough of war.
We don’t have a stomach for this, I know that.
Just listen to the people on talk radio across America. They’re using this as a tool to take down our president, because they politically hate him. They have made it their goal over on the right to make sure that President Obama does not get reelected. So they’re playing the political games with the lives and the heart and the spirit and the soul of the Libyan people who all they want is a fighting chance to take down a dictator who has killed Americans.
Liberals, we are better than this. Give them a chance. Arm them.
That section there tells it all. Schultz must clearly think that if this mission in Libya fails, Obama's public support will plummet and with it his reelection chances. As such, he's willing to publicly and aggressively support an operation that he would otherwise be totally against simply because he believes it will help his president retain office.
It's really quite disturbing when you think about it that way, for Schultz is pointing fingers at conservatives for "playing the political games with the lives and the heart and the spirit and the soul of the Libyan people." But isn't it him playing political games with the lives of Americans that will be needed to assist these rebels?
How is it possible that a devout antiwar liberal can miss this hypocrisy? Is love for Obama really this blinding?
Before you answer, consider what NBC News military analyst Col. Jack Jacobs next told Schultz:
COLONEL JACK JACOBS, NBC NEWS MILITARY ANALYST: Typically it’s going to take between eight and 16 weeks to take your average young fellow like you saw in that tape, from just being able to handle a knife, to being able to use any kind of small arm or automatic weapon, to be able to understand the difference between laying down a base of fire and maneuvering to close with and capture or kill the enemy. All that stuff, it takes us between eight and 16 weeks. So, weapons alone, ammunition alone is not going to do it. They’re going to need training.
SCHULTZ: Colonel, what about the CIA boots on the ground? Is this standard operating procedure before we get involved in some kind of military operation?
JACOBS: Oh, sure. We’ll always have people on the ground in order to gather intelligence. And in this particular case, in order to make some sort of connection between us and the people evidently running the rebel operation. Without that, it doesn’t make any sense to support anybody.
There also has to be liaison between the people who are on the ground, the Libyans who are fighting and the Egyptians to the east. Don’t forget Benghazi’s got 700,000 people. And when Gadhafi’s people came up close to it, it started to scare those people away towards Egypt.
So, there’s got to be — we have to have some Americans on the ground to do coordination.
So, it's going to take two to four months just to train these rebels with our "boots on the ground."
As such, the President's promises to the American people that this mission would take "weeks not months" as well as us not having any of our "boots on the ground" have been totally broken.
But that also doesn't matter to Schultz who next brought on the Nation's Jeremy Scahill who nicely exposed this MSNBC shill's hypocrisy:
SCHULTZ: For the politics of all of this, let’s turn to "The Nation’s" Jeremy Scahill. His cover story this week is: "The Dangerous U.S. Game in Yemen."
Jeremy, good to have you with us tonight.
JEREMY SCAHILL, THE NATION: Thanks, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Does this headline — how damaging is it to the president? The headline reads, that the president sends CIA into Libya. What do you think?
Isn't it interesting that Schultz's primary concern was how damaging this revelation was to the President? Not a care in the world for the safety of the operatives involved, or whether or not this could lead to a protracted intervention.
Of course not. To shills like Schultz, it's all about getting Obama reelected regardless of the policy:
SCAHILL: Well, you know, the CIA operatives on the ground there are sort of engaged in an eharmony.com, or sort of, you know, dating service relationship with the rebels for the clandestine world. I mean, this is, as Colonel Jacobs said, standard fare.
What I think is of more concern is the fact that there are certainly U.S. Special Operations forces units that are deployed already secretly inside of Libya that are painting targets for the airstrikes. But I have to say that the scenario you’re laying out, when you talk about arming the, quote-unquote, "freedom fighters," it really evokes memories of the disastrous dirty wars of the 1980s. I mean, the United States getting involved in what is effectively a Libyan civil war, 1,000 or so rebels that don’t have much military training.
I mean, what you’re advocating, Ed, is that Americans are going to have to be totally invested in one side of a civil war. The president stuck his neck out very far when he said Gadhafi has to go. If the United States sends troops in there, and they would have to, as Colonel Jacobs said if they’re arming it, then we have a third full-on war in addition to the covert wars that the president is waging in Yemen, in Somalia and also in the Horn of Africa. I think a lot of military folks see mission creep in the big way here, Ed.
Makes sense, right? Is this what America needs now with all of its other problems?
Despite the logic, Schultz wasn't backing down:
SCHULTZ: Well, we have got a coalition put together. No question about it. We have got a willing coalition put together. Timing is everything. The circumstances surrounding this right now present us an opportunity to do justice on a man who the president says his agents have killed Americans.
SCAHILL: There is no question that Moammar Gadhafi — I’m sure most of the entire world wants to see Moammar Gadhafi gone. But the fact is that Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president of Yemen, is a murderous thug who has been sniper shooting nonviolent protesters and he remains a close friend of the Obama administration — the dictatorship, the Khalifa family in Bahrain, these are corrupt monarchy and the only thing that we get out of them is hosting the 5th Fleet there. So, don’t say anything about their violence — the message we’re sending to the world here is –
SCHULTZ: But the U.N. Security Council has not rendered judgment on the country that you’re talking about.
Pay particular attention to Scahill's response, for Schultz certainly didn't, and that's when things got heated:
SCAHILL: Well, the fact of the matter is, Ed, that that U.N. Security Council resolution was a result of blackmail and cajoling on the part of the Obama administration. A majority of the world’s people represented on the Security Council, Brazil, China, Russia, India — they abstained because they didn’t want anything to do with taking sides in a civil war.
SCHULTZ: And that’s their call. That’s their call.
SCAHILL: That’s the majority of the world’s citizens represented there.
SCHULTZ: But they didn’t stop it.
SCAHILL: There’s no NATO –
SCHULTZ: China could have stepped up. The Russians could have stepped up. They could have blocked this action in Libya, no question about it.
Every situation is different. And Secretary Hillary Clinton said just that, and the president’s been very clear on it. We have a situation now to bring justice on a terrorist who has killed Americans. That’s why I support this policy. That’s why I support this move.
SCAHILL: Well, Ed, this sounds a lot to me like Ollie North and the Iran Contra where you take a 1,000 people –
SCHULTZ: You make any judgment you want. Jeremy, you can paint me any way you want –
SCAHILL: You’re backing 1,000 people, Ed, inside of a very large country, and you’re taking sides in a civil war. What you’re advocating is going to lead to more American deaths –
SCHULTZ: You don’t know that.
SCAHILL: — and hundreds of millions of dollars. Well, it’s already cost us $ 400 million.
SCHULTZ: I take President Obama’s word for it, that troops will not be engaged on the ground. I take his word for it. Now, if he wants to hang me and my opinion out to dry as an American, that’s fine.
SCAHILL: Well, you know what? Your President Obama
SCHULTZ: My President Obama?
SCAHILL: He didn’t call
SCHULTZ: My President Obama? Is it your president, too? Jeremy, is he — wait a minute now. You’re not going to beat to the water’s edge. Is he your president, too?
SCAHILL: Of course. I’m an American.
SCAHILL: I said the words — you’re saying you take his word for it, Ed.
SCHULTZ: I do take his word for it.
SCAHILL: He didn’t close Guantanamo. He’s doubled down on some of the worst policies of the Bush administration. I just got back from Afghanistan where we’re killing mid-level Taliban people.
SCHULTZ: He didn’t put universal health care at the table. I haven’t been totally happy with President Obama on every issue. I’ve been very clear on that.
But the fact is that we have the resources and the position to take out a man who has killed Americans. And I think that we have a moral obligation to the families in this country who lost people on that Pan Am 103. This is our time to do just this. We can do it without boots on the ground.
So, despite the President saying there wouldn't be American boots on the ground, and Schultz selling this war to his viewers as a result of the President's promise concerning this, the "Ed Show" host is now 100 percent behind troops being sent in.
Not only didn't it take long for Obama to break his word, it took even less time for Schultz to change his own tune while completely supporting the President's dangerous misdirection:
SCAHILL: Do you think we should take out Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president of Yemen, who double deals with al Qaeda all the time –
SCHULTZ: You got to the U.N. No, that’s Bush talk. No, Jeremy, Bush talk. No, no, no –
SCAHILL: Bill Clinton didn’t go to the U.N. for Kosovo.
SCAHILL: It’s bipartisan.
SCHULTZ: This is exactly what’s wrong with this debate from the standpoint of what we can do and when we can do it. The president has gone through the U.N. to get this done.
SCAHILL: We’re bombing Yemen. When did the president go to the U.N. to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles in Yemen?
SCHULTZ: You and I disagree. You and I disagree.
SCAHILL: What I’ve said are facts.
SCHULTZ: OK. Well, look, I support the president and the United States to do what they can to help these freedom fighters. That’s where I’m at. You want to call me Ollie North, you go ahead.
SCAHILL: I think it’s a wrong-headed policy that could lead to American deaths and a further disaster in Libya.
SCHULTZ: OK. That’s your calculation. That’s what you feel based on what has happened with the mujahideen in the 1980s. I understand that. But every situation –
SCAHILL: — double dealing with the president of Yemen because he supports al Qaeda one day and us the next day. We’re involved with a very dangerous game throughout the Middle East.
Indeed we are, and Schultz doesn't care for at this point he must think success here – whatever that is – is key to Obama's reelection.
But something was missing in this debate: Vietnam. That war began with America sending members of the OSS to assist our eventual enemy Ho Chi Minh.
For those unfamiliar, the Office of Strategic Services was the precursor to the CIA. Now, many decades later, we're sending clandestine CIA operatives into Libya to assist rebels we know very little about, and due to their already having some ties to al Qaeda could end up being our enemy in the future.
That Scahill missed this disturbing parallel was surprising.
As for Schultz, he's so engaged in supporting his president that he wouldn't see a barn in front of him if he was going five MPH in a tractor heading straight for it.
Scary, isn't it?
The good news: the White House has suddenly found a necessity to determine who exactly we’re helping by bombing Moammar Gaddafi’s forces in Libya. The bad news: the Obama administration isn’t known for its superior vetting skills. Still, Obama wasn’t openly musing whether to send arms to Adolfo Carrion and Penny Pritzker, either: The Obama […]
The rebels in Libya suffered a decisive reversal on Wednesday, as Gaddafi’s forces changed tactics. The rebels were forced to pull out of the key oil town of Ras Lanuf, according to the BBC, as well as several other cities.
Libya military actions – March 30 (BBC)
Western politicians, analysts and journalists had been fantasizing that the rebels could hold on to the towns with oil fields, and that they could then sell the oil to support their effort. That fantasy now seems unlikely to be fulfilled.
It’s becoming widely recognized that the rebels have no military experience, and are poorly disciplined and ill-trained, according to the Guardian.
Not only does Gaddafi have a trained army, but he’s also hired thousands of foreign fighters from Chad, Niger, Mali and other countries to provide security in urban areas, freeing up soldiers to fight the rebels.
Reuters reported on Wednesday evening that President Barack Obama has signed, within the last two or three weeks, a secret order authorizing covert support for the rebels.
Furthermore, the CIA has sent more than a dozen covert operatives to Libya as part of an escalating U.S. effort to help the rebels to oust Gaddafi, according to a report by the National Journal.
The CIA’s deployment to Libya is certain expand, and direct assistance to the Libyan rebels will be provided. Furthermore, the United Kingdom has several dozen Special Air Service commandoes and M16 agents already operating there, according to the report.
Thus it appears that America is becoming more fully committed and involved in the Libyan intervention, and that the American involvement is becoming increasingly dangerous.
I’ve been holding back an important part of the Generational Dynamics analysis of the Libyan intervention, mainly as an emotional decision because the news is not good.
In order to describe the situation, I’m going to go into the weeds of generational theory, but hopefully the result will be worth the effort.
In order to analyze what’s going to happen in Libya, the first question is to identify Libya’s previous generation eras, particularly its generational crisis wars. (See Basics of Generational Dynamics.)
I’ve found it extremely difficult to do this analysis, because I’ve been unable to find enough historical information about Libya.
Based on what I knew several weeks ago, I tentatively concluded that the last crisis war was the Italian invasion of Libya that began in 1911, and reached a climax in 1920 with the destruction of the Tripolitanian Republic, and the agreement with the Sunusis with the al-Rajma agreement of 1920. This would make Gaddafi’s 1969 coup, or its aftermath, a likely candidate for the next crisis war. However, even when I reached this conclusion, I knew it might be wishful thinking, since nothing about the 1969 coup or its aftermath “reads” like a generational crisis war.
Libya, showing the three historic divisions: Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica
Several weeks ago, an online correspondent wrote to me, putting the case that Libya’s last crisis war climaxed in 1931 with the Italian massacre of Bedouins in Cyrenaica, and the settling of a large population of Italians in Tripolitania.
So I wrote back to him as follows:
“I guess I’m emotionally reluctant to accept your conclusions because if you’re right then it means that the current Libya war is a full-fledged crisis civil war, which means that things are certain to go very, very badly.
So I think that for emotional reasons I’m going to postpone a decision a while longer, until it’s clearer which way things are going, now that we’re in three simultaneous wars in Muslim countries.”
To put this conclusion into perspectively, let’s take a quick look at the Vietnam war and the recent Iraq war.
North and South Vietnam have had different ethnic origins, with North Vietnam (Vietnamese Kingdom) originally populated by ethnic Chinese, and South Vietnam (Champa Kingdom) populated by Polynesian settlers from Indonesia and Malaysia. These ethnic differences resulted in one crisis civil war after another over the centuries. Prior to the 1960s, Vietnam’s last crisis war was the French conquest of Indochina in the 1880s and 1890s. By the 1960s, Vietnam was deep into a generational Crisis era, and so there was bound to be a crisis civil war, and the U.S. could neither have caused it nor prevented it. All the U.S. could do was to get caught in the middle, which we did.
The Iraq war was frequently called “another Vietnam,” but it was nothing like the Vietnam war. Iraq’s previous crisis war was the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, so Iraq is in a generational Awakening era, where a crisis civil war is literally impossible. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and al-Qaeda in Iraq did all they could to trigger a sectarian civil war, but it fizzled within a year, as expected.
Now we come to the Libya intervention, which is increasingly becoming a civil war with the U.S. being caught in the middle. Iraq could never have become “another Vietnam,” but ironically Libya can.
Generational Dynamics forecasting is at best probabilistic. It can predict things with certainty over a long time frame, or with some uncertainty in a shorter time window.
So at this point, I don’t completely buy into the Libyan disaster scenario. There are too many uncertainties, and I’ve come to have too much respect for the power of chaotic events and political interventions to delay trend events and the inevitable. Furthermore, it’s my fault that I haven’t tracked down whatever books or histories or whatever of Libya in the 1920s and 1930s to be able to reach a definitive conclusion on what happened there. (As long as I’m blaming myself, I’ll take the liberty of whining a little, because I simply don’t have the time to do a lot of the research that needs to be done. I make no money from Generational Dynamics, which is a public service, and I’m like everyone else having to work hard at my day job just to pay bills.)
At this point, all I can really say is that, based on the information I have so far, there is a non-trivial probability that the Libyan intervention will degenerate into a bloody crisis civil war. In the case of the Iraq war, I could say that the probability of that happening was zero. In the case of Libya, I don’t know whether that probability is 30% or 50% or 70%, but I know for certain that it’s well above zero. However, one bit of good news is that I totally discount any credible involvement by al-Qaeda in Libya.
The key to refining this analysis is to thoroughly study what happened in Libya in the 1920s and 1930s, Libya’s last generational Crisis era, in order to understand the historical relationship between the Arabs, Berbers, Bedouins, Italians, and other ethnic and tribal groups in Libya. Perhaps I’ll have the time and opportunity to do that analysis soon.
In the meantime, what I can tell you know now, based on what I know now, is that the Libya war is much more like the Vietnam war than Iraq ever was, and that I’m not very optimistic about what’s coming soon. And with the entire Mideast in a generational Crisis era, it could be much worse than Vietnam. It’s a shame that no one in the Administration knows anything about generational theory, or they might be pursuing a different policy.
On a day when a poll found President Barack Obama getting his lowest polling numbers ever, and as the big political story playing out is whether or not there will be a government shutdown, a new story has surfaced via an exclusive report that promises to spark a new extensive debate. And it already has — a debate sweeping like lightning through the Internet and on cable news and cable talk shows:
Reuters reports that Obama has authorized secret help for Libya rebels:
President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, government officials told Reuters on Wednesday.
Obama signed the order, known as a presidential “finding”, within the last two or three weeks, according to government sources familiar with the matter.
Such findings are a principal form of presidential directive used to authorize secret operations by the Central Intelligence Agency. This is a necessary legal step before such action can take place but does not mean that it will.
As is common practice for this and all administrations, I am not going to comment on intelligence matters,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement. “I will reiterate what the president said yesterday — no decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any group in Libya.”
The CIA declined comment.
News that Obama had given the authorization surfaced as the President and other U.S. and allied officials spoke openly about the possibility of sending arms supplies to Gaddafi’s opponents, who are fighting better-equipped government forces.
The United States is part of a coalition, with NATO members and some Arab states, which is conducting air strikes on Libyan government forces under a U.N. mandate aimed at protecting civilians opposing Gaddafi.
Interviews by U.S. networks on Tuesday, Obama said the objective was for Gaddafi to “ultimately step down” from power. He spoke of applying “steady pressure, not only militarily but also through these other means” to force Gaddafi out.
News agencies, news websites and often partisan political blogs are already jumping on the story. Here’s a cross section of news reports and viewpoints so you can make up your own mind on whether this was justified, legal, illegal, a bad move, a smart move or the kind of behind-the-scenes action that may not be unusual except for the fact that it has come out into the political light of day:
–ABC News confirms the story:
President Obama has a signed a secret presidential finding authorizing covert operations to aid the effort in Libya where rebels are in full retreat despite air support from U.S. and allied forces, a source tells ABC News.
The presidential finding discusses a number of ways to help the opposition to Moammar Gadhafi, authorizing some assistance now and setting up a legal framework for more robust activities in the future.
The finding does not direct covert operatives to provide arms to the rebels immediately, although it does prepare for such a contingency and other contingencies should the president decide to go down that road in the future.
The White House press office issued a statement saying it does not comment on intelligence matters.
“I will reiterate what the President said yesterday – no decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any group in Libya. We’re not ruling it out or ruling it in,” the statement said. “We’re assessing and reviewing options for all types of assistance that we could provide to the Libyan people.”
The revelation of the finding comes as Washington is debating whether to arm the rag tag army trying to oust Libya’s long time strongman Moammar Gadhafi.
The ABC News TV report:
–The New York Times:
The Central Intelligence Agency has inserted clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and to contact and vet the beleaguered rebels battling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces, according to American officials.
While President Obama has insisted that no American military ground troops participate in the Libyan campaign, small groups of C.I.A. operatives have been working in Libya for several weeks as part of a shadow force of Westerners that the Obama administration hopes can help bleed Colonel Qaddafi’s military, the officials said.
In addition to the C.I.A. presence, composed of an unknown number of Americans who had worked at the spy agency’s station in Tripoli and others who arrived more recently, current and former British officials said that dozens of British special forces and MI6 intelligence officers are working inside Libya. The British operatives have been directing airstrikes from British jets and gathering intelligence about the whereabouts of Libyan government tank columns, artillery pieces and missile installations, the officials said.
American officials hope that similar information gathered by American intelligence officers — including the location of Colonel Qaddafi’s munitions depots and the clusters of government troops inside towns — might help weaken Libya’s military enough to encourage defections within its ranks.
Obama’s Bush-like (which is not to say “Bush-lite”) national security practices have long included a reliance on covert operations to deal in some of the darker corners of the world. Anyone who is surprised that Obama would do this hasn’t been paying attention.
As always, the fear is that Islamists may end up in power, and thus the U.S. will have backed a (new) regime opposed to American interests and those of our allies, especially Israel. Not only that, the administration’s been all over the map, with confused and contradictory statements, and of course a Jello policy on regime change or not. More on that from Melanie Phillips, “Humpty in Toytown and the Arab Boomerang.”
Now of course this is yet another leak of classified info for political gains. But who did it and why? It could be an Obamanaut making sure the country knows he is not a complete muppet. It could also be someone trying to derail the multinational hugs and love fest (with a few bombs) that Barry had sent our military over to run. If we are covertly, well I guess more overtly now, helping the rebels then the whole bold-faced lie he told on television was a bold-faced lie. I mean you can call it misdirection or discretion and you would be correct. But you can dang sure call it a prime time prevarication and it makes it impossible to pretend we are just refueling some planes for our buddies the French.
So I am against whoever leaked it doing so to either help or hinder Obama. I think it is kinda interesting that there are reasons for both to do so. But hey let’s enjoy this rare moment of transparency and just be happy that O is willing to allow the skulking about with satchels of cash and supressed weapons that really makes the best diplomacy. I just assume his aides are reading B5 for their strategery needs.
I wonder if this finding has anything to do with the Libyan expat resident of Northern Virginia, 10 miles from Langley, showing up in Benghazi to command the rebel army?
So this “debate” looks like a clown show. Maybe Obama will officially authorize arms shipments under the UN resolution and maybe he will show “restraint.” But as Hosenball says, the pieces are in place for Obama to permit weapons to funnel to the rebels under the covert action. He may have to give a follow-up assent – known as a “Mother May I” finding – but that’s not too difficult. Arming and training insurgents falls within the scope of this order, the President need only give the go-ahead.
Apparently the proper way to go about this, according to the White House, is to authorize first and ask questions later….
If Gaddafi is overthrown, then Obama wins in 2012 (albeit with an all-GOP Congress), and if there’s any jihadist presence whatsoever in the new Libyan government, would Republicans try to impeach Obama for precisely this — giving materil aid to terrorists? Hell, if he wins again, they’re going to try to impeach him for something, right? This seems as likely a cause as any.
There are increasing signs that the United States and our coalition partners are getting closer to shifting the mission in Libya from the ‘protection of civilians’ authorized by UNSCR 1973 to openly siding with the rebels. In the last two days, for example, both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have stated that the U.S. is considering arming the rebels in the face of news that the Libyan Army has defeated them so soundly that the retreat is turning into a rout. More important, though, is the CNN report that the U.S. is preparing to completely change its ‘war strategy’:
A former leader of Libya’s al Qaeda affiliate says he thinks “freelance jihadists” have joined the rebel forces, as NATO’s commander told Congress on Tuesday that intelligence indicates some al Qaeda and Hezbollah terrorists are fighting Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s forces.
Former jihadist Noman Benotman, who renounced his al Qaeda affiliation in 2000, said in an interview that he estimates 1,000 jihadists are in Libya.
Outside observers generally estimate the number of trained Libyan fighters to be about 1,000.
Mr. Benotman told The Washington Times that al Qaeda’s North African affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb, has tried without success to co-opt the leadership of Col. Gadhafi’s opposition. But Mr. Benotman said the interim council leading Libya’s opposition is seeking democratic elections, not an Islamic republic.
“We have freelance jihadists,” he said. “But everything is still under control of the interim national council. There is no other organization that says, ‘We are leaders of the revolution with this emir,’ like al Qaeda would. Everyone is afraid to do this; they would be labeled as undermining the people.”
These are the people we’re proposing to go to war to help, and while Gaddafi may be a horrible person and a dictator, I don’t see the value in replacing him with people who look up to the likes of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar.