The World

On the table?

Apparently that’s where we are keeping all our options currently. There is talk of a no-fly zone, because it is known that Gaddafi has bombed the opposition and will probably do so increasingly as things become more dire for him. The US has moved assets into the area, but it’s unknown whether we’ll have to use them.

I can see both sides – on the one hand, we certainly don’t want foreign intervention to undermine the populism of the revolt and taint any future regime with the scent of imperialism.

However, the West has clearly thrown their collective hats in with the opposition. If they are crushed, there is no reconciliation possible with Libya for years, probably decades. Moreover, Libya is neither Egypt nor Tunisia – the forces arrayed against the opposition are not an army of the people but a network of secret forces and mercenaries. More people have already died in Libya than in Tunisia and Egypt combined. What would it say about our commitment to Democracy if we watch from our aircraft carriers, loaded up with jet planes, as pro-Democracy forces are bombed and massacred?

I’m curious what everyone thinks. I certainly don’t have the answer.

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  • Pee Dubya, I was thinking the same thing today as I was reading how the rebel forces were being beaten back out of several towns. I suggest the right characterization is in order. Calling the rebels democratic is a stretch given their historic tribal cultural perspectives. All we can really say is that they are anti-Gaddafi. Perhaps the US shouldn't be taking sides but rather supporting basic human rights.

  • "Perhaps the US shouldn’t be taking sides but rather supporting basic human rights."

    I don't think it's possible to fail to take sides and claim to support basic human rights. People are being shot in the streets- that is a clear violation of their basic human rights. Besides, we have clearly taken sides already. Can we now afford to let the side we chose lose, especially when their defeat almost certainly will mean bloodshed?

    EDIT: Read this, too, RE tribes

  • We just don't know the motivations of the rebels other than that they oppose Gaddafi. He is an evil shit no matter what. We don't know if the rebels are equal to or even greater in dastardliness. IMHO, it's better to withhold judgments and picking sides in favor of standing up for human rights and responding to the humanitarian disaster until the smoke clears.

    BTW, if you write posts here I'll respond.

  • I've gone back and forth on this no fly zone. The Libyans are intent on keeping foreign troops off their soil They want to do this as much as possible on their own.

    The UN is talking no-fly zone. That's acceptable providing it is acceptable to the Gadaffi's opposition (and it appears it is). There is also some talk of having the Arab states do the no-fly zone (Egypt and Tunesia, specifically). The problem with that is that they've both undergone and are undergoing revolutions.

    Mubarak's military is still giving mixed messages, still attacking protesters although without the murderous zeal of Gadaffi.

    A no fly zone is not without serious drawbacks. Infrastructure will be bombed and civilians will be injured. This is the reality of it.

    I hope the US stays out of it. I am convinced of that. Any action must come from the UN or the Arab League of Nations.

    It's bad enough that the US is sending Navy ships into the area. That feeds into the garble being put out there by Gadaffi – and also Ahmadinejad (who will soon be seeing a full-fledge revolution himself).

    I believe we must support. We must witness and watch – and we must continue to call on Gadaffi to get the hell out.

    And we need to remember how he got there and why he is still there. And learn from our mistakes.

    The revolution in Libya is America's chance for some amount of redemption here. Let's hope we don't fuck it up by getting involved.

  • "There is also some talk of having the Arab states do the no-fly zone"

    That is a really interesting idea, but yes, I see the problem there too, as Egypt and Tunisia are not really positioned to do it, and indeed probably don't have the air superiority capability to do it without a lot of real fighting. I do find it heartening that the Arab League has taken real steps to isolate Gaddafi. I think similar action by the African Union would be ideal, because Gaddafi nowadays draws much of his international image from Africa and not the other Arab states. The fact that they suspended Madagascar but not Libya is rather glaring.

  • I hate to say it, but I think that Gaddafi stays in power a while longer. He's been in there 42 years, and won't be easy for them to dislodge.


    It would seem that the opposition is growing tired of being bombed.

    And Craig, even if they have the potential to be worse than Gaddafi, I think three factors make them preferable 1) they are still amorphous, and like the young Ho Chi Minh or Fidel Castro, can go either way – supporting them now will almost certainly make them more likely to support us in the future, and could also give us leverage to temper any human right's violating tendencies they may exhibit. 2) we've already chosen sides in this; we can't really change our minds now. Gaddafi surely isn't taking us back, so unless we want to be subjected to another period of state sponsored terrorism and rogue behavior from him, it's best he goes. 3) There has been too much blood shed for this to end well for both sides. Gaddafi has already acted violently against Western marines trying to rescue civilians.

    I doubt he'll allow the West to mitigate the near-inevitable humanitarian crisis that will ensue if he remains in power.

    • Pee Dubya, what I have read says that the rebels are largely ambivalent if not outright hostile to "help" from the US. IF we declare a "no fly" zone, and it doesn't work, then what? Remember we supported the Afghan rebels against the Soviets. How did that work out?

  • Craig – it seems the rebels are increasingly looking for a no-fly zone, though I agree that we probably shouldn't be the ones who initiate it.

    As far as helping out Afghan rebels…that worked out pretty well, all things considered. Yes, Afghanistan later served to shelter terrorists who hurt us, but the terrorists themselves were mostly from Saudi Arabia or Egypt, the money was certainly from there, and bin Laden was attacking us from Sudan well before he moved to Afghanistan, so I don't see how Afghanistan not being a communist dictatorship led directly to our suffering from terrorism.

    And really, from a foreign policy perspective, the problem we have now in Afghanistan is a very small price to pay for the problem we had with the Soviet Union. What was lacking was the follow up.

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