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March 24, 2011



Sure fooled Levi, though I think my four year old son could manage that.

The obvious force to use is the French Foreign Legion.

As a war this actually makes some sense for the French. Quadaffi has always been a rival in some of their affairs in Africa, plus there's the oil and its location. Shame that it was one of Levi's bright ideas.


"...a masterful exercise in strategic communications on the fly (it fooled me, at any rate) whose basic aim seems to have been not only to get a no fly zone in place but to establish the idea that a coherent movement actually exists on whose behalf an intervention can be made.

Well:perhaps. But wasn't this supposed to be a Twitter and Facebook Revolution? & isn't the universal mantra in mainstream news organisations all about how they've gotta adapt to social media and citizen journalism?

& perhaps they did - but utterly uncritically, losing sight of the fact that 99.9% of of it all is noise in their urgency to write the "Arab 1848 is spreading to yet another country" story. In short, it is at least as probably cock-up as conspiracy.

Fairly big cock up though. & then easily exploitable by the politicos as we've seen.


I wouldn't say it was a conspiracy, but I think there has been message discipline operating. The change from "we can do it ourselves" to "we need a no fly zone" was pretty sudden. I suspect that some of the defecting Gaddafi ministers were working their contacts in Europe to see what was possible and began tailoring the message to that. The twitter stuff is a kind of volume multiplier. Suddenly, everyone in Libya seems to be calling for intervention at once, even though most of the tweets are coming from outside the country.


Not sure at all about this. The stated rationale of the intervention is to prevent a massacre, or further massacres - in other words, it's explicitly not about intervening on behalf of a coherent movement with a chance of carrying off a successful uprising, so much as intervening to protect civilians in danger of being slaughtered in the aftermath of an uprising which had already failed. This clearly doesn't quite fit with all the Gaddafi-must-go talk, but it's what the UNSC signed up to.

I'd never assumed that the rebels were a coherent & unified body, and haven't seen much reporting which made that assumption either.


The rebels weren't in a position to write the actual UN resolution. It's also doubtful that a regime change revolution would have passed.

Also the starting gun here was the French recognition of the Transitional council as the legitimate government of Libya, Britain managed to stage that odd incident where various people got caught wandering around the desert, and Clinton met with opposition figures on March 12 after which the State Department pushed heavily for intervention. Whatever the resolution says, it wouldn't have come together if the outside parties didn't think they had a government in embryo that they could work with.


" ..... if the outside parties didn't think they had a government in embryo that they could work with."

Yet the public in those "outside parties" has been ldt in the dark about what this government in embryo is.


You're coming down on the "liberal intervention" side of the fence, then. I think you should run this theory past Conor.


Not so much that, more that there's no clear distinction between the two. It's just an open ended intervention. Protecting the people can mean anything from preventing Gaddafi's airforce flying to killing him. No occupying ground force can mean any ground force you choose to define as non-occupational. As for the incredible shrinking Libyan rebel army, compare and contrast:


Ken MacLeod

I'm no Claud Cockburn, but in my younger days I pulled a very minor version of that kind of stunt.


On a more serious note, it's impressive to see how Gadaffi's offer of an amnesty to rebels who lay down their arms, combined with a warning of a 'house to house, room to room' search for, and no mercy to, those who don't, has been spun into a threat to massacre the people of Benghazi.

Maybe the amnesty offer was insincere, but that's not what's being said. Instead, we get Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian saying:

Colonel Gaddafi threatened to attack the rebel city of Benghazi with "no mercy, no pity," adding in chilling words, "We will come. House by house, room by room." If those nations with the power to stop these pre-announced killings had stood aside, they would have been morally culpable. Benghazi was set to become another Srebrenica – and those that did nothing would share the same shame.


If the rebels and/or their more powerful allies were to close in on Tripoli, what would they announce to the 'Gadaffi loyalists'? No doubt that they should throw down their arms, and that anyone who didn't would be hunted down.

House by house, room by room.

Ken MacLeod

In fact, they're doing it already:

For a month, gangs of young gunmen have roamed the city, rousting Libyan blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa from their homes and holding them for interrogation as suspected mercenaries or government spies.

Over the last several days, the opposition has begun rounding up men accused of fighting as mercenaries for Kadafi's militias as government forces pushed toward Benghazi. It has launched nightly manhunts for about 8,000 people named as government operatives in secret police files seized after internal security operatives fled in the face of the rebellion that ended Kadafi's control of eastern Libya last month.

"We know who they are," said Abdelhafed Ghoga, the chief opposition spokesman. He called them "people with bloodstained hands" and "enemies of the revolution."

Any suspected Kadafi loyalist or spy who does not surrender, Ghoga warned, will face revolutionary "justice."


Ken - stunting link doesn't work.


Try this

Ken MacLeod

Thanks, ejh - sorry about the links. My comment kept getting rejected and I thought the embedded links were the problem.

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