Special Edition Libya: Will the Libyan Rebels Hold On?

By Jay Holmes

Western governments have, thus far, declined to use any portion of their massive military superiority to intervene on behalf of the anti-Gadhafi rebels in Libya. It appears that, after their initial, timid response to the rebels, Gadhafi’s loyalists have used their limited military ability effectively against the rebels. As for the rebels, they have chosen a static defense against weapons that they cannot match. Their instincts were understandable, but, given their lack of firepower and training, that tactical decision has allowed Gadhafi to concentrate his attacking forces at the point and time of his choosing. The rebels’ failure to utilize mobility and flexibility has cost them dearly.

It appears (from my distant desk) that the West will not act with anything more than “condemnations” and embargoes. What did the President of the United States mean when he said that the noose was tightening? I can understand our apparent reluctance to act due to our inability to predict what might replace Gadhafi, but, if the US was not going to act, such statements would have been better off left unspoken.

Also, if France was not prepared to crush the Libyan Air Force, then why did Sarkozy choose to recognize as legitimate the leaders of a Libya rebel group that he was not ready to trust? I suspect the answer to this question is in Egypt and Tunisia rather than Libya. It is too easy for politicians and voters to assume that “Case A = Case B = Case C.” This natural and strong human instinct to generalize cases can lead to erroneous conclusions in formulating policy.

It appears that Obama overestimated the impact of his words on Gadhafi. I believe it is best to refrain from announcing hangings until we are sure that the intended victim will, indeed, be brought to the gallows. If the West continues to refrain from military support, and Gadhafi triumphs after being declared “on his way out,” it will constitute an “Arab victory” in the eyes of the Islamic propaganda machinery and those that listen to that machine’s output.

One of the more laughable responses to this dark comedy has come from NATO Command. NATO announced that it not only needs “support from the region” (they got that when the Arab League endorsed a no-fly zone) and an indication that a no-fly zone would help, but it also needs permission from the UN.

The time has come for me to unchain a monstrous question that I have kept locked up for years in my often incautious mouth. Since NATO cannot act without the UN, why is there a NATO, and how soon can we cut that massive expense from the US budget? I can accept NATO’s decision to act or not act. I cannot accept NATO’s declaration that it now takes orders from the UN.

When the Arab League decided to support the no-fly zone concept, their “support” apparently did not include actually lifting a finger for the people of Libya. The prevention of the slaughter of innocent Islamic women and children is apparently the responsibility of the non-Islamic West. So much for that much vaunted illusion of “Arab unity.” The Arab states appear to be united only in their intent on letting someone else take care of the problems faced by the people of Libya.

Given the level of brutality that Gadhafi has inflicted on Libyans in the past, the tribes that have taken part in the rebellion might see horrible reprisals. Gadhafi has much to lose by throwing off his “reformist” costume again and putting on his jackal costume. The West’s reluctance to act against him during the last seven years has been, in part, because he was willing to present to the world an almost believable facade of reform. If the rebels collapse, and Gadhafi opts for the “joy of vengeance,” the people of Benghazi might pay dearly for their military failure. This time, there may well be more than twenty dead at the soccer stadium. And, if a genocidal operation is conducted in Benghazi, Gadhafi will surely claim that the imaginary “outsiders” were the ones responsible.

The rebellion in Libya is not dead yet, but they are fast running out of options. Unless they quickly organize and change tactics, or the west decides to intervene, they will likely be doomed.

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Our Salute

On another topic, Piper and I salute the courageous power company workers and emergency responders in Japan. I lack the information and the expertise to quantify the actual risk, but the workers that are marching into the reactor to try to cool down the fuel reactor cores must be taking tremendous risks. Obviously, they are doing it in hopes of saving other people’s lives. I hope that I am mistaken, but I am very fearful about their prospects for survival.

If a massive evacuation of Tokyo becomes a reality, I wonder if it would be possible for some Japanese to relocate to the United States? If we look at the history of immigrants by nationality, it appears that, as a group, Japanese immigrants in the United States have a great record of becoming good neighbors and responsible citizens.

The reporting from Japan and the editorializing outside of Japan are both being pursued vigorously, so given my lack of expertise in civil defense matters in general and nuclear disasters in particular, I will restrain myself from further comment, other than to say that we offer our sympathy and our best hopes for the people of Japan.

8 comments on “Special Edition Libya: Will the Libyan Rebels Hold On?

  1. educlaytion says:

    NATO or the UN? Hmm… That’s like asking if I’d rather be punched in the neck or kicked in the face. I don’t know, I guess I’m cynical. I do appreciate the need for international arbitration, I just can’t get past how impotent those types of organizations have been historically.
    As for Japan, I’m with you in respecting the bravery of those workers. I could not imagine being in the situation any of them are facing.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      I’m with you, Clay. Though NATO and the UN were founded with the best ideas and intentions, they have both become a travesty. And bless those Japanese workers. I don’t know if they will succeed in their goal, but they show the meaning of try. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Dave says:

    My vote is to ditch the UN. At least NATO doesn’t sanction third world dictators to criticize us on our own dime.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Holmes: You do have a point. While the UN has acheived very little since it’s inception, NATO can claim to have fulfilled it’s original purpose. NATO prevented further Soviet expansion into Europe. With the Soviet Union gone, or at least remodeled as a not very democratic “democratic” state, NATO remians in need of clarification of it’s role for it’s member states. On the other hand, the UN has always been very clearly defined, but it has never conformed to it’s own definition.

  3. kadja1 says:

    Dave has a point, but I have a different idea…Disband NATO…Then kick the UN clear to Switzerland or charge them rent for God’s sake. We shouldn’t be footing that bill either. Let Japan build a hell of a Navy again if they want just to watch Kim Jong Il squirm and pee in his pants. My thoughts are with those Japanese workers.

    I am wondering if anyone has bothered to tell Ghadafi that when he dresses like a woman, he bears a likeness to Aunt Esther off of “Sanford and Son”–only with a beard? I just had to point that out.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Holmes: Switzerland? Hmm. . . . I might want to revisit Switzerland some time, and I would hate to run into any UN roadies while there. Since China has the single largest population, how about moving the UN to the western outskirts of Shanghai? Or, since India has the second largest national population, perhaps we could locate the UN in Chepzi, China, near India and Pakistan. The old New York UN headquarters could be redeveloped as a homeless shelter.

      As for Japan building a navy. . . . Japan, in compliance with the WWII peace treaty, has no navy and wants no navy. Japan does, however, have something called a Maritime Self-Defense Force. (That’s politically sensitive code for “navy.”) That self-defense force has some large, floating metal objects that resemble naval ships. Two of those metal objects bear a striking resemblance to modern helicopter carriers, but, given the history of Japan’s carrier strike forces in WWII, they call those non-carrier objects “helicopter destroyers.”

      Political sensitivity aside, Japan has a capable, well-equipped navy (Maritime Self-Defense Force). I should note that Japan did not build its post WWII navy in defiance of the United States. It built that navy at the behest of the United States. If it were up to the United States, the Japanese Navy would be larger than it is now.

      Japan’s relationship with the US and its neighbors, and Kim’s failed relationship with reality, are subjects for long articles. Kim would remind us that he has nuclear warheads, and that he would love to drop them on Japan. One of the US’s reasons for spending so much money on the development of the US Navy’s newer version of the “Standard” Missiles is the intention of intercepting North Korean Missiles aimed at Japan. Land based Patriot Missiles would complete their interception too close to Japan for comfort, and nuclear warheads will follow the laws of physics. They or their component parts will fall to earth. We prefer that they not fall on Hokkaido, or Golden Gate Park, for that matter.

  4. I don’t know anything about UN doing anything other than give people a slap on the wrist. Since I’m a pacifist, I’d rather keep neither.

    As for our communities, yes, they would welcome Japanese who had lost everything. What I liked about the Japanese was that they’re not moving in chaotic manner. They’re actually quite peaceful considering the recent disaster in their country.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Hi Marilag. In my not-educated-compared-to Holmes opinion, there are certainly a lot of good reasons to ditch both the UN and NATO. If we do feel the need to keep them, perhaps we should look into outsourcing them to India as a budget control measure. I can’t tell they’re doing anything that a good call center can’t handle at this point.

      As for the Japanese, they are certainly giving the quintessential example of orderly behavior at the moment. I admire them for that, too. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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