Book of the Month

Libya news

First up: Lest we forget, Gaddafi would like to remind us all that he's living in another universe:

Qaddafi Writes to Obama, Urging End to Airstrikes
By David D. Kirkpatrick and Fareem Fahim, New York Times, April 6/7, 2011

TRIPOLI, Libya — Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya sent another strikingly personal letter to President Obama on Wednesday.....

“You will always remain our son whatever happened,” Colonel Qaddafi wrote. “We Endeavour and hope that you will gain victory in the new election campaigne. You are a man who has enough courage to annul a wrong and mistaken action,” he added, in idiosyncratic spelling and capitalization.

[.....]

....Qaddafi’s letter, addressed to “Mr. Our dear son, Excellency, Baraka Hussein Abu Oumama,” the Libyan leader reiterated his characterization of the rebels as "Al Qaeda gangs.” He recalled Mr. Obama’s repeated statements “that America is not responsible for the security of other peoples.”,“That America helps only. This is the right logic,” Colonel Qaddafi wrote, adding, “As you know too well democracy and building of civil society cannot be achieved by means of missiles and aircraft, or by backing armed members of Al Qaeda in Benghazi.”.....

The same article also gets into the arguments between the govenment and rebels about who was responsible for cutting off oil production in the southeast, the  battle for Brega, and the meeting of members of the Transitional National Council with an American envoy.

 Then there's what's happening with Misrata:

Changing Libyan Tactics Pose Problems for NATO
By Steven Erlanger, New York Times, April 6, 2011

PARIS — Angry charges by Libyan rebels that NATO has failed to come to their aid point up a question that has haunted the Western air campaign from the start: how to avoid a stalemate and defeat the Libyan leader without putting foreign troops on the ground.

[....]

In the early stages of the air campaign, allied warplanes blistered Qaddafi tanks, artillery and transport trucks in the desert outside the rebel capital, Benghazi. But American intelligence reports from Libya say that the Qaddafi forces are now hiding their troops and weaponry among urban populations and traveling in pickup trucks and S.U.V.’s rather than military vehicles, making them extremely difficult targets.

[....]

NATO officials said on Wednesday that NATO was flying more missions every day, and that defending Misurata was a priority. Carmen Romero, a NATO spokeswoman, said that the alliance flew 137 missions on Monday and 186 on Tuesday, and planned 198 on Wednesday. “We have a clear mandate, and we will do everything to protect the citizens of Misurata.”

A rebel spokesman in Misurata said Wednesday that NATO had delivered two airstrikes that pushed the Qaddafi forces away from the port, opening it for vital supply ships. “We have renewed momentum, and our friends are helping us big time,” said Mohamed, a rebel spokesman whose name was withheld for the protection of his family.

“NATO is not the problem,” the senior NATO official said. “The Qaddafi forces have learned and have adapted. They’re using human shields, so it’s difficult to attack them from the air.” While many Western officials have accused the Qaddafi forces of using human shields, they have yet to produce explicit evidence. But they generally mean that the troops take shelter, with their armor, in civilian areas.

[....]

That is one reason that allied governments, including the United States and Britain, are urging defections from the Qaddafi circle and hoping that he will be removed from inside. No official, of course, is willing to talk about any covert mission to remove the colonel, except to say that “regime change” is not authorized by the United Nations.

And that is why Britain, Turkey and the United States are all exploring the possibilities of a negotiated solution to the conflict, provided Colonel Qaddafi and his sons relinquish power

[....]

More on the rebel complaints, NATO responses, the problems of withdrawal of US here:

Libyan Rebels Complain of Deadly Delays Under NATO’s Command
By C.J. Chivers and David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, April 4/5, 2011, from Brega

The above also reports, among other things:

In another development on Monday, Italy and Kuwait joined France and Qatar in recognizing the rebels’ coordinating group, the Transitional National Council, as the legitimate government of Libya. “We have decided to recognize the council as the only political, legitimate interlocutor to represent Libya,” said Foreign Minister Franco Frattini of Italy, which plans to send an envoy to Benghazi within days.

And here:

NATO vows to protect Misurata amid criticism
Al Jazeera, 06 Apr 2011

Military alliance says besieged town is now its top priority after rebels accuse bloc of failing to protect civilians.

NATO has vowed to protect Libya's civilian population and give priority to the besieged city of Misurata, a day after rebel fighters accused the military alliance of acting too slowly.

"We have a clear mandate and we will do everything to protect the civilians of Misurata," Carmen Romero, deputy spokeswoman for NATO, said on Wednesday, adding "Misurata is our number one priority".

Oana Lungescu, NATO'S spokesperson, told Al Jazeera that the alliance was enforcing the UN mandate to protect civilians against the threat of attack. "In the last six days we've flown over 1,000 sorties and out of those over 400 were strike sorties......

And here:

Nato lacking strike aircraft for Libya campaign
By Ian Traynor in Brussels and Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, 5 April, 2011:

US withdrawal of attack planes puts pressure on European countries, especially France, to offer more strike capability

Nato is running short of attack aircraft for its bombing campaign against Muammar Gaddafi only days after taking command of the Libyan mission from a coalition led by the US, France and Britain...."We will need more strike capability," a Nato official said.

Since the French launched the first raids on Libya 16 days ago, the coalition and Nato have destroyed around 30% of Gaddafi's military capacity, Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard, the Canadian officer leading the air campaign, told Nato ambassadors....

From The Guardian, I also recommended these:

Libyan rebels should receive training funded by Arab countries, says Britain
By Patrick Wintour, 6 April, 2011

Britain is to urge Arab countries to train the disorganised Libyan rebels, and so strengthen their position on the battlefield before negotiations on a ceasefire, senior British defence sources have indicated.

The sources said they were also looking at hiring private security companies, some of which draw on former SAS members, to aid the rebels. These private soldiers could be paid by Arab countries to train the unstructured rebel army....

Gaddafi forces using civilians as human shields, says France
By Peter Walker and agencies, 6 April, 2011

Libya rebels accuse coalition of standing by as Misrata assault continues, saying air strikes have abated since Nato took charge.

And

Brega hit by Gaddafi forces' shells - dramatic amateur video footage

Seven more:

Military Analysis: Libyan Rebels Don’t Really Add Up to an Army
By C. J. Chivers, New York Times, April 6, 2011

Late Monday afternoon, as Libyan rebels prepared another desperate attack on the eastern oil town of Brega, a young rebel raised his rocket-propelled grenade as if to fire. The town’s university, shimmering in the distance, was far beyond his weapon’s maximum range. An older rebel urged him to hold fire, telling him the weapon’s back-blast could do little more than reveal their position and draw a mortar attack.

The younger rebel almost spat with disgust. “I have been fighting for 37 days!” he shouted. “Nobody can tell me what to do!”

The outburst midfight — and the ensuing argument between a determined young man who seemed to have almost no understanding of modern war and an older man who wisely counseled caution — underscored a fact that is self-evident almost everywhere on Libya’s eastern front. The rebel military, as it sometimes called, is not really a military at all.

What is visible in battle here is less an organized force than the martial manifestation of a popular uprising.

With throaty cries and weapons they have looted and scrounged, the rebels gather along Libya ‘s main coastal highway each day, ready to fight. Many of them are brave, even extraordinarily so. Some of them are selfless, swept along by a sense of common purpose and brotherhood that accompanies their revolution....

Budget fight delays Senate Libya debate indefinitely
By Josh Rogin, The Cable @ Foreignpolicy.com, April 6, 2011

The Senate voted late Tuesday afternoon to delay any debate on the Libya war until after the ongoing budget debate. And if the government shuts down on Friday, that debate could be delayed much longer.

Freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) forced the Senate to take a vote on his non-binding amendment expressing the Senate's opposition to the Obama administration's decision to go to war in Libya. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) didn't want a Libya debate to halt progress on the small business bill that was on the floor, so he convened a vote to table the Ryan amendment. Reid's vote to table the amendment passed overwhelmingly, 90-10.  Ten GOP senators actually voted against delaying a vote on Paul amendment, signaling that they are firmly opposed to the president's Libya policy or at least want the debate to happen now.

In an exclusive interview with The Cable, Paul said that he considered the vote to table his amendment as tantamount to a vote on the war itself....

The Mind of Muammar
What can we learn from reading the Libyan dictator's Green Book?

By Christina Larson, Foreignpolicy.com, April 5, 2011

Since Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi's Green Book was published in three installments -- in 1975, 1976, and 1978 -- every Libyan child has had to study it in school; but many, perhaps most, Libyans make fun of it in secret. Western analysts have tried to tease out the book's logic on governance, searching for clues to the intellectual influences on Libya's eccentric strongman, but this is perhaps an overly optimistic endeavor. As Diederik Vandewalle, a professor at Dartmouth College, expert on Libya, and editor of Qadhafi's Revolution 1969-1994, puts it: "A lot of it is pretty convoluted; it's not a book so much as a collection of aphorisms."....


Boat from Libya sinks; 250 missing
Associated Press, April 7, 2011

ROME — A boat carrying as many as 300 migrants from Libya capsized off the Italian coast yesterday, leaving about 250 people unaccounted for. Survivors told of desperately trying to reach rescue boats as those unable to swim screamed in the darkness and pulled one another under the water....

Libyan opposition figure: Help us now and worry later about what comes next
By Thomas E. Ricks The Best Defense @ Foreignpolicy.com, April 5, 2011

By Elizabeth Flora, Best Defense bureau of eastern Libyan affairs

"Who is the Libyan opposition?" Questions regarding the nature of the uprising have confounded journalists and U.S. officials alike over the past few weeks, so when Ambassador Ali Aujali of the Libyan Transitional Council gave a talk at the Center for American Progress yesterday afternoon, it was particularly apropos that this question was the title selected. The wide variation in media rhetoric over the last week, ranging from fearful questions about al Qaeda among the rebels to proposals that the selfsame rebels be called "freedom fighters," has no doubt stemmed from a massive dearth of information that compelled journalists to flock to this event seeking enlightenment.

Aujali maintained that...


Iggy Stardust: Qaddafi is weaker than you think and will be broke in three months

By Thomas E. Ricks, The Best Defense @ Foreignpolicy.com, April 4, 2011

For my money, David Ignatius is the best intelligence reporter around, even though he is officially a columnist (and novelist), not a beat journalist. He had a piece that ran over the weekend and so unfortunately might be missed by many.

High points:....

Jolie Backs Tunisia as Refugees Flee Libya
Jolie presses world to support Tunisia as refugees pour in to escape Libya fighting

Associated Press, April 6, 2011

TUNIS, Tunisia--Angelina Jolie is urging the world community to continue helping Tunisia with its refugee crisis as thousands flood in from its war-torn neighbor, Libya.

The Hollywood celeb and goodwill ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees heaped praise on Tunisia for the way it has been dealing with the problem after a meeting with the Tunisian foreign minister, wrapping up a two-day visit Wednesday.

State news agency TAP quoted Jolie as offering the country her "solidarity." Jolie visited the Tunisia-Libya border area Tuesday.

The UNHCR says more than 400,000 people have fled from Libya over the last month....

The Iggy piece gets at the real meat I think. Forget the war the camera sees. It's the war to peel off the clans, the inner circle, that's the thing. Takes money, confidence, opportunity, treachery. All this bit about "save the poor civilians" reeked of rationalization from Day One. But if they can split the clans... Then they've got it. The only important follow-up question then seems to be, who takes charge? And those answers look less happy daily. The worst sorts have already migrated toward power. The spoils are huge, clan payoffs wil bring support, the public can be encouraged to get revenge on old pro-Gaddafi enemies..... Ugh. Getting rid of Gaddafi was a matter of probabilities. Getting a good new government strikes me as a matter of miracles.

"Getting a good new government strikes me as a matter of miracles."  This is probably true in just about any country in need of a better government.  Which may make one take the position that the best foreign policy position of the US government is learn to work with the current dictator et al and sort of try to nudge him or her or them toward reforms over the long haul. 

I don't usually like "smackdowns." But I really liked this one, about Wolfowitz's op-ed in WaPo. It's very short:

No, I don't think Libya is Obama's Iraq
By Thomas E. Ricks, The Best Defense @ Foreignpolicy.com, April 4, 2011

Here's the illustration he uses for it:

Rick's short response has a link to an interesting research paper - "The Analogical Mind" by Keith J. Holyoak and Paul Thagard.

I appreciate a good analogy (or metaphor), which can offer a quick way to provide some insight on a current situation or topic.  But there are sure a lot of bad ones out there. 

The illustration above says it all.  Just today I saw this regarding Wisconsin latest election: On a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon, Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate was jubilant over the results, saying they represent a "watershed moment for Wisconsin and a Waterloo for Scott Walker."   Really?  Waterloo?  I would like to suggest that we all just stop using Napolean's defeat as analogy for political defeats in this country.

(worthless little sidenote:  I noticed after I started writing this comment that the article by Holyoak and Thagard was published at the University of Waterloo website.)

Back to Libya. 

It also represents one the examples of what seems to be a change at the ICC

His nine-year term nearing its end, Luis Moreno-Ocampo is speeding up the reaction time of the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal in an effort to not only prosecute atrocities but possibly even prevent them from happening.

The idea that the court should be an agent for peace is written into its founding statute, which says that ending impunity for atrocities should help avert them. Recently, that role has taken on added urgency as violent rebellions in Libya, Ivory Coast and Kenya have turned civilians into targets for embattled regimes.

Nongovernment groups promoting international justice welcome the more proactive role.

"This is a very good development," said Alison Smith, legal counsel for the advocacy group No Peace Without Justice. "He is essentially putting people on notice that he's watching what they're doing and if they step out of line there's a chance they might end up before the ICC."

Interesting, haven't heard Keith's name for a while...

You are aware of...ahummm...this little item. Courtesy of Matt Taibbi.

Barack Obama recently issued an executive order imposing a wave of sanctions against Libya, not only freezing Libyan assets, but barring Americans from having business dealings with Libyan banks.

So raise your hand if you knew that the United States has been extending billions of dollars in aid to Qaddafi and to the Central Bank of Libya, through a Libyan-owned subsidiary bank operating out of Bahrain. And raise your hand if you knew that, just a week or so after Obama’s executive order, the U.S. Treasury Department quietly issued an order exempting this and other Libyan-owned banks to continue operating without sanction.

I came across the curious case of the Arab Banking Corporation, better known as ABC, while researching a story about the results of the audit of the Federal Reserve. That story, which will be coming out in Rolling Stone in two weeks, will examine in detail some of the many lunacies uncovered by Senate investigators amid the recently-released list of bailout and emergency aid recipients – a list that includes many extremely shocking names, from foreign industrial competitors to hedge funds in tax-haven nations to various Wall Street figures of note (and some of their relatives).

U.N. ends mandate for NATO mission in Libya
By the CNN Wire Staff
October 27, 2011 -- Updated 1601 GMT

United Nations (CNN) -- The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to end military operations in Libya.

The council adopted a resolution that rescinded its mandate for military intervention in Libya, effectively canceling the NATO mission there as of Monday.

Libya's interim leaders declared their nation liberated last Sunday after the capture and death of deposed dictator Moammar Gadhafi....

In March, the council adopted Resolution 1973, which imposed a no-fly zone in the country's airspace and authorized member states "to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country ... while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory."

There were no opposing votes on the 15-member council, but China, Russia, Germany, India and Brazil abstained. Germany said it was concerned about a protracted military conflict....

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