Who is Watching in Libya, What are They Learning, and What Does That Mean To Us?

By Jay Holmes

China, Syria, and Iran are watching the military operations being conducted by NATO forces in Libya with great attention.

China sent the 4,000 ton frigate, Xuzhou, into Libyan waters, supposedly to assist in evacuations of Chinese citizens from Libya. However, its real mission was likely an ad-hock attempt at quietly conducting SIGINT (SIGnals INTelligence) and ELINT (ELectronic INTelligence) operations against the Western powers involved in air operations in Libya. China will invest massive human resources into the analysis of any information it gathers, but it will use that information for long term planning and development rather than in any political decision making.

China expects no conflict with Western nations in the near future, and there is no reason to panic about China’s SIGINT efforts. Great Britain, Japan, and the United States conduct SIGINT and ELINT operations against China from international waters and air space every day of the week. In the last half century, China has come to understand that these operations do not foretell a pending invasion by Western powers. At the same time, we realize that any attempt by China to take possession of Hawaii will be conducted with real estate agents and stock brokers rather than frigates.

In the case of Syria, what they will learn is simple. They are (re)learning what their defeat would look like if NATO ever decided to invade Syria. The air power and missile barrage brought to bear in Libya are very minimal as compared to what a NATO launched attack could be. In Damascus, even the most politically connected, untalented general will have realized that moving or supplying Syrian forces anywhere in Syria will be nearly impossible with NATO air forces present.

The Syrian Air Force is far larger, better equipped, and better trained than the Libyan Air Force. But Syria is aware that the air power NATO is using in Libya is a token force by the standards of alliance, and that in any major conflict with NATO, the missile attack on Syria would be approximately four times larger and would destroy much of Syria’s air force within the first hour of war.

What Syria observes from the Libyan conflict will cause no major change in its strategy. It will simply continue with its sensible course of not provoking the West to invade, which, given the West’s generally defensive strategic stance, will not be difficult. The lessons learned from Libya will simply confirm the validity of that current strategic stance.

What Syria has newly learned from watching Libya is that it should avoid public threats to conduct genocide against its own citizens as protests are arising in Syria. That is a lesson that Gadhafi and his overconfident gangsters learned too late.

In the case of Iran, the Iranians will analyze information gained by observing the Libyan conflict with great interest. Unlike Syria and China, Iran does not assume there will be no conflict between itself and Western nations.

The two things about the tactical aspects of NATO operations that most interest Iran are the command and control methods of NATO air forces, and the effectiveness of the upgraded Tomahawk missiles employed against Libya. The strategic question of even greater interest to Iran concerns the fact that Western powers mobilized military force against Libya without waiting for the Western political tortoise race to conclude.

While the effectiveness of the air power of NATO nations and of the Tomahawk missiles will cause no great shock in Tehran, the fact that an attack took place in spite of the lack of complete agreement by Western powers is bad news for the ayatollahs and their generals. Iran may find itself recalculating the exact position of the “line in the sand” in their neighborhood.

In the twisted minds of the junta in Tehran, a military conflict with the West may seem like a glorious opportunity to be relished, rather than a threat to be feared. They see that as an improving opportunity over time as Iran improves its military capacity and accomplishes its goal of obtaining a nuclear weapon.

It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall in the weekly ayatollah update meetings in northern Iran this week. I would absolutely love to hear the well-educated Iranian generals trying to explain the implications of the conflict in Libya to the mostly-functionally-illiterate Supreme Council. Nothing in their years of memorizing the Koran and debating its obscure aspects have prepared the mullahs for leading a near nuclear power like Iran.

The Revolutionary Guard leaders are, no doubt, well-practiced in the art of smoothing over the most awkward of conversations between the megalomaniac ayatollahs and the frightened generals. After all, disagreeing with an ayatollah can cause spontaneous separation of the head from the neck.

I wonder how they draw lots to pick the poor fools that have to deliver the report to the all powerful and none-too-wise mullahs? Perhaps the medals that we see on the chests of Iranian admirals and generals were awarded for surviving some number of meetings with their political leadership. As long as Iran is unequipped by nuclear weapons I can enjoy laughing at their internal leadership situation. A nuclear weapon in the hands of the ignorant ayatollahs would not be quite so laughable.

Special Edition Libya: Missiles and Missives

By Jay Holmes

As the White House’s “days not weeks” line has evolved to “don’t worry, just a few months,” the missile and aircraft attacks have degraded Gadhafi’s goon squad enough to allow the Benghazi-based rebels to push west to Bin Jawad on the coastal road to Sirte. Gadhafi has traditionally taken good care of the tribal alliances of the Sirte area so the rebels might find the going a bit rougher in Sirte and on to Tripoli.

A tactical analysis of the available forces, their assets, the geography, and the leadership in the theater of operations would be a fun exercise, but likely doesn’t matter much as long as the NATO forces continue their “if it moves and belongs to Gadhafi kill it” policy. At this point, the most critical tactics will not be employed on the coastal road to Tripoli or in the air above Libya and the Gulf of Sidra.

The most critical battles that need to be decided now are of a diplomatic nature, and they will not be won or lost with another shipload of bargain basement, Chinese made AK-47’s. Rumors are floating through the political sewers of Washington, London, Paris, and Rome that an escape is being proposed to Gadhafi. Western leaders have opted for the “sources high up in the administration” unofficial leak method of announcing efforts to arrange for Momo’s departure (live departure) from Libya.

The toughest thing about playing travel agent for uncle Momo is the fact that he has so many enemies in so many places. The second toughest aspect of planning his vacation is the fact that the few “friends” that would take him are themselves in no position to guarantee their own future let alone Gadhafi’s.

If Momo leaves, he has to go to a country that is willing and accustomed to ignoring the International Court of Justice. Joseph Mugabe and a few other lower budget despots would likely be willing to take Gadhafi if he brings some of his loot with him, or if the West is willing to pay them off in some other creative fashion. The creativity will not require any effort on our part because all despots have favors that they need or would like this week. They will all be quick to turn over their Christmas Wish List to us, in fact, and the poor diplomat that visits prospectively will have his ear filled with demands .

While the Italians are so far rumored to be the negotiators, my guess is that they will handle no more than the communications with Momo. It will take the US, France, and the UK to make a plausible deal with a “host country.”

Getting Momo gone is the obvious best alternative to grinding out a battle to take Tripoli while magically avoiding massive civilian casualties. The less obvious and far trickier part of the equation is encouraging a transition of power that will not threaten Western nations.

Regardless of public promises made and political careers incinerated, it would be hard to imagine Egypt and the Western nations tolerating a “Tehran West” situation in Tripoli. Some of the supposed leaders of the rebellion have presented a believable facade to the West, but there are clearly some Al Qaeda affiliates involved in the dance.

The best way to avoid a long military commitment in Libya is to invest heavily in helping to create an alternative to Momo that Egypt and the West can live with. It may require some work and a little leadership, but it’s doable. The supporters of the “Islamic Radical Domino Theory” tell us that radical Islamic terrorist states must, by force of nature, replace any government that falls in the mid-east and North Africa. This theory fails to take into account the diversity of cultural and political forces at play in Libya. The Tehran West scenario is avoidable.

Special Edition Libya: A Coalition of the Hesitant

By Jay Holmes

As the Coalition of the Hesitant continues to exercise a “we fly, you no fly” zone over Libya today, several ironies and opportunities seem apparent to me.

Before the ink was dry on the German surrender document that ended the European phase of WWII in 1945, Western European nations started realizing that they wanted less American leadership in European affairs. The US-financed Marshall Plan that brought economic salvation to Western Europe was welcomed, but being in the position of  the recipient clarified for many Europeans the need for strong leadership in Western Europe.

France and De Gaulle tried to fill that need by distancing themselves from the NATO command structure, and by developing nuclear weapons independently of the US. England, having enjoyed a closer relationship with the US, pursued a stronger and more inclusive NATO, and most NATO member states followed that example. For one thing, the cost benefits of unified defense were undeniable, and as the Soviets grew a massive military presence in Eastern Europe, no single Western European nation was in a position to defend itself from a Soviet invasion.

In the decades since, the European desire to exercise its own foreign policy has grown increasingly strong. The lack of a massive Soviet military presence in Eastern Germany since the collapse of the Soviet Union has left Europeans understandably more willing to voice their desire for equality (or, in their view, “inherent superiority”) in world statesmanship. European governments are vigorously resisting a major opportunity for European states to exercise their leadership this week. Apparently, no Western European state is yet willing to take over political or military leadership for the coalition of forces currently arrayed against Uncle Momo Gadhafi.

Many American taxpayers are rooting for some “European Superior Statesmanship” this week. Count me in that group. From my viewpoint, it would be a triumph for world peace if Europe steps up and takes charge of the coalition that exercises the “we fly, you no fly” zone. My desire to see this happen is without my usual sarcasm and free of any negative feelings for European governments. My personal estimate is that between Sarkozy and Cameron, Europe has what it needs to lead events successfully. Though an ideal outcome may not occur in Libya, Europe has much to gain by taking control of the situation. If Europe fails to exercise leadership in the current crisis on its southern doorstep, Mideastern and African nations will be unable to ignore the message and to interpret that “message” to their own liking. Leaving someone else to blame also leaves someone else in charge.

Another opportunity that seems obvious is the opportunity for direct diplomacy with Gadhafi today. One crucial difference between Mubarak and Gadhafi is that Uncle Momo lacks an easy way out. I suggest we offer him one. Gadhafi’s absence from power in Libya would be a possible benefit to Libyans, but his carcass, itself, has no inherent value to anyone. He likely would not easily accept an extended vacation to Venezuela, or perhaps a villa in South Africa, but at some point, he might accept it as a better alternative to incineration. We have nothing to lose by making an offer. If Western European leaders wish, they could simultaneously begin to shape some simple rules for the rebels in exchange for their continued survival at the grace of Western powers. A two-page guide to the future formation of a Libyan constitution could greatly decrease Al Qaeda’s opportunity to take control in Libya.

The current “non war” in Libya need not end in chaos for Libya. A modest investment of political courage by European governments will not likely lead us all to the Garden of Eden, but it could easily avoid a decline into hell for Libya and its neighbors.

Ignore the pundits of doom. Failure is NOT preordained. As that crazy English army officer T.E. Lawrence said to his Bedouin friends, “Nothing is written.”  The price has, by and large, already been paid. Let the benefits be harvested for the betterment of Libyans and Westerners. Success is available and can be purchased with bold statesmanship.

T.E. Lawrence — “Nothing is written.”

Special Edition Libya: They Said Whaaaat?

By Jay Holmes

In the past few days, we have seen Western powers overcome their own reluctance to commit to military action against Gadhafi. The vast news coverage of the ongoing diplomacy amongst Western nations has left us with some interesting quotes and sound bites worth considering.

UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, while speaking to the press on Tuesday, March 15 presumed to speak for Arabs, saying their sentiment is, “If you don’t show your support for the Libyan people and for democracy at this time, you are saying you will intervene only when it’s about your security, but you won’t help when it’s about our democracy.”

If any Arab leaders should actually match Mister Cameron’s stated sentiment, I would simply ask them how soon they will be done taking care of the problem. After all, there is no force in Libya that could stop a determined Egyptian intervention.

I respect Mister Cameron, and I am not questioning his sincerity, but I must ask him what he knows that the rest of us haven’t heard about yet. Apparently, Mister Cameron is certain that a defeat of Gadhafi will lead to a democracy in Libya. What precisely would “our democracy” mean in Libya or in any Arab nation? The world has yet to see an Arab democracy.

As a long time Gadhafi detractor, I will not miss him when he moves to his summer home in Hell, but it is not clear to me what will occur in Libya once Gadhafi enters that post-metabolic phase of his personal adventure. I would like for the people of Libya to have a democracy run by Libyans and at peace with the region and the rest of the world, but I cannot ignore that in Iraq, the greatest number of foreign Islamic terrorists entering post-Saddam Iraq were from Libya. Many of them, in fact, come from the three main tribes of the Benghazi area. The homegrown, Al Qaida-mimicking Islamic group in Libya originates in large part from Benghazi. Right about now, too, I wish a little more urgency would have been shown concerning the destruction of Gadhafi’s 44,000 pounds of mustard gas. That gas makes for a nasty wild card in this sad poker game.

As a natural born idealist and an incurable optimist, I am hoping that Libya’s recent advances in education will be enough for Libyans to overcome the national kidnapping that Islamic Terrorists are attempting in Libya now. I see no hard evidence to support my best wishes for Libya, but time will surely tell. The air strikes by France and the UK, the missile strikes by the US, and the buildup of other Western military forces at Italian bases indicate that Western Europe (excepting Germany) has decided that the devil we know is worse than the devil we do not know. I hope that the influx of British, French, Danish, Canadian, American, Spanish, and Norwegian forces do not disrupt poor Berlusconi’s busy social schedule.

For another choice quote, on Wednesday, March 16, the often brilliant Princeton/Harvard/Oxford graduate Anne-Marie Slaughter accused the Obama administration of ignoring the human rights of the people in Libya. She tweeted the following: “U.S. is defining ‘vital strategic interest’ in terms of oil and geography, not universal values. Wrong call that will come back to haunt us.”

For starters “universal values” is a fascinating term. Whose universe is she referring to? Apparently, in her universe the United States military would be quite busy delivering human rights around a largely right-less planet to folks that might not all agree about sharing human rights with their own family members, let alone their neighbors. Would we start with China? Would we first introduce human rights in Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan? What about Malaysia or Indonesia? How about a few human rights in Russia or Rhodesia? Where do we start, and who will be paying for it? Will the Chinese finance our campaign for human rights in China? That would be cute.

Great idea, except for that little war with China thing.

Anne-Marie, did you not loudly criticize Bush for resorting to military intervention in Iraq? But now you want quick and vigorous military action by Obama? What a fascinating idea…. But let’s engage the fullest powers of our imagination for a moment. Let’s pretend that Anne-Marie is not just scoring points on the Obama Camp in hopes of regaining overpaid employment with some future Obama opponent in the next election cycle. Ok, Anne-Marie, you win, let’s do it your way. Come by my house, and I’ll donate one AK-47 assault rifle and a case of ammo (1440 rounds full metal jacket). As you are installing human rights in Libya, keep detailed notes. Call us on your cell phone when you get Africa fixed up, and we’ll proceed from there. We all “universally” wish you every possible success. Pax Americana, the sequel.

And from Uncle Momo, himself, in a letter to European leaders on Saturday, “It is not your country. We could never and would never fire one bullet against our people.”

Well ok, Momo, I suppose technically “one bullet” would be unlikely. A hundred bullets every day of the week, thousands of bullets frequently, massive rocket and artillery barrages accompanied by bombardment by aircraft and followed by an assault by an armored column? Sure, several times this week. But “a single bullet”? Nah, a single bullet wouldn’t be any fun.

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.

Special Edition Libya: Worldwide Poker Game

By Jay Holmes

In our last post, Dave asked, “How much of the reluctance to act is the result of pressure from European allies concerned about their vulnerability to interruption in the flow of gas and oil from Libya? Or is this just homegrown lack of decisiveness?

This is Holmes’ response. . . .

Thank you for your question Dave. The quick answer is “both,” but if you are bored today keep reading. In my view, there are multiple factors that contribute to inertia in any military activity by the West in Libya. From the European point of view, Italy and the UK have the most to lose in Libya, except for the Libyan people, and they are both wanting to avoid mistakes. Sometimes failure to act while avoiding mistakes can, in itself, be a very big mistake.

The UK has a huge financial stake in Libya and is as oil-dependent as any industrial nation is. Current UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, made clear his disgust for the UK’s unsavory “terrorist prisoner release for oil” dealings with Libya, but he faces the same economic realities that his predecessors did. The UK needs oil from, and trade with, Libya.

In Italy, Berlusconi has been happy to deal openly with Libya, and 70% of Italy’s oil addiction is supplied by that country. Also, Italy has agreements in place with Libya for massive works projects to be completed, principally, by Italian construction companies.

France, and, to a lesser degree, Germany, had been attempting to sign significant trade agreements with Libya, as well. We cannot know what deals are being proposed by whom in the back alleys of Europe’s capitols or in US oil companys’ board rooms, but the motives are easy enough to imagine.

We are not the only one’s wondering about any “deals.” The rebels will naturally maintain their own suspicions about who wants what, but if they are smart they will understand the easy opportunity to make promises of future commercial cooperation in exchange for help now. Overall, Europe may be hoping for the US to act while they play the “slow” game. That way, they can avoid responsibility for any casualties or political fallout while reaping the rewards of any US military activity.

There is, in reality, no military reason why European military forces could not easily handle any intervention in Libya without involvement by US forces. Europe has been touting the superior magical qualities of the Euro-fighter since its conception. Europe now has the opportunity to demonstrate the “fight” aspect of the “Eurofighter,” and France could show us the superiority that they have been claiming for their fighter aircraft as well. Let’s see if it happens. Are they just tax-funded, expensive paperweights, or will they be used as Von Clausewitz, a political theorist, would recommend, as an extension of European political policy? Any desire by European governments for US intervention in Libya would be driven by the desire for the USA to pay the lion’s share of the fiscal and political costs.

As for the USA, Obama ran on a somewhat “anti-military” platform. He told us that he would quickly clean up the mess in Iraq, and that he would chase terrorists from Afghanistan while leaving a tidy little democracy in place. He has thus far achieved neither of these goals. In addition, the US courts have apparently crippled his controversial health care reform bill. Obama has used up lots of political capital without achieving any correspondent political victories since coming to power. And on top of these obvious failures, he still faces massive unemployment in the US.

Obama has proposed budget cuts for the Military while still having to feed the gods of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. War gods don’t usually work cheap. They require blood and treasure. For Obama to order US forces to intervene in Libya may be pragmatic in strategic terms and easy in military terms, but it would not be welcomed by his shrinking political base at home. Self-declared, lock-step American “liberals” are not likely to support a Republican candidate, but Obama and the rest of his party need the vote of pragmatic independents to avoid disaster in the next elections.

Naturally, North Korea was not going to let this period of Western stress pass without trying to improve crazy Kim’s position on the world’s geopolitical stage. Not surprisingly, Little Kimy has announced the development of a magnetic impulse nuclear weapon.

In case Obama didn’t have enough on his mind, he has had to respond to the sad tragedy in Japan by having the US Navy use 3rd Fleet (east Pacific) ships to reinforce the US 7th Fleet (far east fleet) in an attempt to deliver medical and logistical aid to the earthquake-ravaged northeastern Japan. Even the USA has a finite number of naval assets. And while the US 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean has been reinforced to deal with Libya, the US 5th Fleet (Indian Ocean) is continuing its operations in support of our forces in Afghanistan and must deal with ongoing threats by Iran in the straits of Hormuz. And then we have those nasty pirates in Somalia to contend with.

The US Navy is busy this month, and the Pentagon would love to have use of the US-financed bases in Italy to utilize US Air Force assets to conduct any air operations over Libya. If, after financing these bases and pouring in so many millions of dollars into the Italian economy for more than half a century, Italy refuses to cooperate on this point, I think it would represent a turning point for the USA in its troublesome and costly relations with Italy. Change would come quietly, but change would indeed come.

Both Obama and his European “allies” would love to see Gadhafi vanish from the world political stage. In this they are in agreement. But neither Europe, nor the US, wants to help usher in the world’s next theocratic tyrant state. The Libyan revolutionaries have yet to organize enough to present a clear image of themselves to the West so the West is not yet sure what it is being asked to support.

The Arab League has, in a sense, passed the ball back to the Western powers by quickly agreeing to a “no fly” operation over Libya. They are, at the same time, demanding “no military intervention by the West.” I guess in English we can translate that as “make Gadhafi go away, and then we’ll be mad at you for it.” Hardly a surprise.

It seems to me that the most critical need for the Libyan rebels is to establish believable communications with the Western powers. Against this obvious need, they feel a strong instinct to obtain their own “victory” without Western intervention. The rebels will have to get over their own cultural limitations if they wish assistance from the West in removing Gadhafi.

Obama and his policy formulators will have to make their best calculation of what the sum of all the forces at play add up to. This normally simple Newtonian calculation is complicated by everyone’s inability to accurately define the Libyan rebels.

Everyone wants that malodorous diaper changed, but no one wants to be the one to clean the offending baby.

Now take two aspirin and call me in the morning if you need another headache.

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 A history of Libya to help us understand the current dynamics of the unfolding situation:

Special Edition Libya: Timeline, Part I

Special Edition Libya: Timeline, Part II

Special Edition Libya: Timeline, Part III

An Analysis as of March 12, 2011.

Special Edition Libya: March 12, 2011

By Jay Holmes

In 2004, Moammar Gadhafi realized that he had to make a fundamental choice. Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups were on the rise in the Sahara. Moammar could no longer live in conflict with the oil-consuming, cash-delivering Western nations while watching the Islamic fundamentalists gain strength in Sudan, Algeria, and Tunisia. Moammar made the easy choice. He chose to look north toward Europe for his future.

From 2004 to the present, Libya has played host to a wide range of heads of state , foreign ministry officials, and banking leaders, including the leaders of the UK, Italy, Poland, Germany, and the Ukraine. The times and dates have varied, but the theme has remained constant. Gadhafi has been striving to present a believable “reformed” face to the Western media, while his visitors showed up with oil on their minds. Gadhafi increased his nation’s revenue by allowing more oil exploration and drilling. In doing so, he helped keep oil-consuming, industrialized nations from going into petroleum detox.

Uncle Momo’s willingness to suppress his strong instincts for havoc has been erratic. He has shown himself capable of delivering a speech denouncing Islamic fundamentalist terrorists, and issuing orders to send assassin teams to Malawi, Sudan, or Chad in the same day. Although Gadhafi and some of his family members did cause some trouble in the West, they also consistently avoided supporting European terror groups and blowing up airliners during this “reformed” stage of the Gadhafi saga.

Gadhafi demonstrates a clear interest in the family image makeover by presenting his son and heir apparent, Saif, as a kinder, gentler Dictator in Training. When Gadhafi wishes to back down from any harsh or oppressive measures, he frequently has Saif present the news to create the illusion that Saif Gadhafi is a more moderate influence on the regime.

Though many media commentators in the West accept Saif as a “Gadhafi for the new age,” I simply see him as a son who dutifully acts his part in the fashion that movie director Moammar commands. As fun-loving “liberals” go, Saif seems to be a bit trigger happy. Most liberals would not order their bodyguards to open fire on spectators at a soccer game simply because they booed his team. However, Saif did just that in Benghazi. Also, while Saif might not be deserving of any Oscars for his “moderate” performance, an oil-hungry West has been willing to pretend to believe it. I guess when you have enough oil to sell, you don’t have to be Gregory Peck or Lord Laurence Olivier to be believed.

Since Gadhafi felt no threat of retaliation from African nations, except from his well-armed Egyptian neighbors to his east, he demonstrated little restraint in Africa. Within Libya, itself, the population became more educated, more electronically connected to the world beyond its towns and cities, and somewhat more urban. They became, perhaps, somewhat less desperately connected to their tribal roots, and The Uncle Momo Show became less tolerable.

As Libyans watched the Ben Ali Kennel Club fold up shop in Tunisia and run off with their tails between their trembling, hitherto-unexercised legs, they perhaps felt more emboldened in their resistance to Moammar. While Libyans likely recognized Ben Ali and his particular canine pack as being “small mongrels” compared to Moammar and his wolves, the sight of the Mighty Mubarak leaving office had to seem like a miracle of sorts for Libyans and other Africans and Easterners. Mubarak commanded a well-armed and, by African standards, well-trained military, and yet, he was gone.

Libyans are attempting to seize the day in their large corner of the Sahara, but they face some major obstacles. Western leaders have thus far shown an unwillingness to commit to any military action. The minimal risk, low loss option of a “no-fly zone” spoken about by both UK and US leaders is now a few days later being described as a monumental undertaking requiring apparently more detailed planning and preparation than the 1944 invasion of Normandy and Prince William’s wedding combined. While last week it was presented as a casual “intervention light beer” option, this week the US and European governments have decided that it would first need support and approval of everyone, including Alaskan Eskimos and Australian aboriginal councils. Tribes in the upper Amazonian region are often difficult to locate so this could take a while.

When any Western government says, “Oh yes, we really will do it, just as soon as the UN is in agreement,” they are simply backing down without admitting it. If nothing else, UN participants can enjoy a temporarily upgraded illusion of doing important world business.

While US President and occasional Kenyan Barack Obama was busy explaining that we are “boxing in” Gadhafi, his Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that Colonel Gadhafi had a potentially decisive advantage in arms and equipment that would make itself felt as the conflict wore on, and that Gadhafi would win. Clapper’s performance before the US Senate audience begs several questions. Was this his view or the view that the White House instructed him to present as part of a Washington D.C. political magic show? If Obama and his staff were sincere in the surprise they demonstrated at Clapper’s statement, then why is the Director of National Intelligence not providing the President with his honest assessments in the middle of a major crisis?

Republicans were quick to respond with anger at what they claim is an undermining of the Libyan resistance and de-facto support for Moammar Gadhafi and his regime. Was Clapper doing a subtle sales job in an attempt to get Congress to demand action? If a demand for military action comes most loudly from Congress, then the White House will be able to take less of the blame for any negative consequences from that military action.

As a young, first term senator, Obama was happy to play the “I voted against war” card in his campaign for the presidency. Now that he’s president, it’s tougher to let the military do his bidding without taking a bit of the responsibility. I honestly can’t yet determine if Clapper is the flaming idiot that he presents himself as, or if he has simply been tossed on the fire before the Golden Ox of Congress. The discordant tones emanating from the White House are starting to sound depressingly like the sort of song that Uncle Momo, himself, would sing.

Suggestions are being voiced that, perhaps, it is time for the USA to dip into its strategic oil reserves. I disagree with the idea, but I am curious about the financial arrangements. Did taxpayers not pay for that oil to be pumped into those reserves? If so, then will Exxon be sending me a check for taking the oil? To prevent having to write so many checks, will the oil simply be passed out for free at the pump? Oh goody, I finally get to enjoy a visit to a gas station without bringing my wallet. We can’t be sure of the financial aspects of the deal, but we can be sure that, one way or another, most of us will continue to fill our tanks and to shop for groceries at a store that depends on diesel trucks for deliveries.

This morning, neither Uncle Momo nor his rebelling subjects can be sure of Washington’s and Europe’s intentions. If meaningful help will arrive for the rebels, it will have to come from the West, but it does not, at this moment, appear to be forthcoming. It is my impression that the anti-Gadhafi forces suffered a blow to their morale when they realized that the West is avoiding military action in Libya. Intelligence Director Clapper is right in his assessment of comparative forces, but, in my view, the key to success for the rebels will be their ability and willingness to cooperate amongst themselves and organize politically, as well as militarily.

It would be unwise for the rebels to use their limited supplies and capabilities in any further attempts to dislodge Gadhafi’s loyalists from the Tripoli area. Even with their limited equipment and supplies, they have an opportunity to oust the Gadhafi Circus by utilizing a mixture of patience and opportunistic ambush tactics whenever Gadhafi forces move. Gadhafi’s forces are not particularly vulnerable in Tripoli, but whenever they take to the roads, they and their supplies will be ripe for the picking.

That strategy will require cooperation and organization. One of the challenges to cooperation and organization amongst the Libyan rebels is that the Islamic radicals will continue to attempt to co-opt this Libyan revolution. The Libyan rebels have not called for my advice. We shall see how they evolve their nascent revolution. Their destiny is, after all, not in the hands of Obama or Western leaders in general. Their destiny is in their hands.

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Three-part history of Libya to help us understand the current dynamics of the unfolding situation.

Special Edition Libya: Timeline, Part I

Special Edition Libya: Timeline, Part II

Special Edition Libya: Timeline, Part III

Special Edition Libya: Timeline, Part III

By Jay Holmes

In 1984, the UK broke off relations with Libya when a Libyan Embassy staff member gunned down London policewoman, Yvonne Fletcher, in front of the Libyan embassy. The British SAS was called in to storm the Libyan Embassy. US Navy 6th Fleet received an alert message about this in a code that was known to be readable by the Russians. Soviet intelligence quickly warned Libya that Steven Decatur’s friends appeared to be restless, and the Libyan Embassy wisely backed down.

Then came a very busy year, 1986. On April 5th, 1986, Libyan-controlled terrorists bombed a disco in Berlin, killing two US servicemen and a woman. Over 230 people were injured.

Subsequently, the US requested participation from its NATO allies for an April 15 raid on Libya. All allies except the UK refused to allow even overflight by US war planes.

Denied the use of bases they had paid for and manned, the US launched twelve F-111 US Air Force fighters from Lakenheath, England. The fighters had to fly an Atlantic route to Gibraltar, and then proceed to Libya without entering any other European air space.

The long flight necessitated low altitude, night-time, mid-air refueling. In the final refueling stage, one of the F-111s dropped to low, touched the water, and was badly damaged. Both crewmen died when their damaged aircraft either crash landed or was shot down by Libyan air defense missiles. The Libyans have presented multiple versions of their side of the story, and the Air Force was not able to recover the wreckage, so the details will likely never be known.

On April 14, Italian politician, Bertino Craxi, a.k.a. Il Crackhead, had warned Moammar Gadhafi of the April 15 raid before the US planes arrived. This was, perhaps, why Gadhafi was not in his palace when it was bombed. In any event, Russian ships monitoring air and sea traffic at the Straits of Gibraltar could not have failed to notice the overflight by the US F-111s.

A small number of US Navy aircraft from two 6th Fleet aircraft carriers joined in the attack. Libya’s five largest terrorist bases were destroyed by the US raid. New Soviet-made aircraft, still in crates, were destroyed. Moammar explained that the raid was a glorious victory for Libya. Not even the Libyans believed that one.

This raid helped deteriorate relations between the Soviets and their client states in North Africa. Many countries with Soviet trained and Soviet equipped air defense systems realized that they had placed their safety in the hands of highly over-rated technology.

The Kremlin, not to be mistaken for Cinderella’s castle.

Also, Libyan resistance to Uncle Momo became far louder and more active after the raid. Moammar complained bitterly to his Soviet friends. The message traffic from the Soviet embassy in Libya to Moscow Center was rumored to be one of the more hilarious dialogues in the history of espionage. The Kremlin was already unhappy at a very expensive and bloody Soviet war in Afghanistan, and Gadhafi’s tirades did not improve morale at the Kremlin.

At one point, Gadhafi allegedly demanded nuclear weapons from the Soviets. The Soviets didn’t mind African and European bloodshed, but they were not about to place their own security in the hands of Uncle Momo.

Allegations circulated that the Politburo considered replacing Uncle Momo with a more reliable client state leader, but if any such plans were discussed, they were never implemented. Libya is not Hungary or Poland, and the Soviets have no way of delivering forces to Libya to back up any “dream coups.” Momo continued making new demands on the Soviets, but he discovered that Russian bookies do not give refunds after the game is played.

Just to be clear, it was alleged by some that the Libyan air defense system built by the Soviets was manned by Soviet military personnel in conjunction with Libyan Air defense soldiers. It was also alleged that the Soviets had ordered the 1981 Libyan Air Force attack against the Navy Hawkeye. The Soviets deny this and have always denied it. Because the Soviets claim there were no Soviets at any Libyan air defense facilities in 1981, 1986, or at any other time, then, of course, no Soviets were harmed in the making of this movie. Glad we cleared that up.

After April, 1986, the history of Uncle Momo became more bizaare with each passing year. We had the infamous Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, and a variety of truces and wars in Mr. Gadhafi’s neighborhood. The incidents of outrage are too numerous to even mention, but they are available from many sources online and at your local library. However, I will hit on some highlights.

From 1986 to the present, Gadhafi has dealt with multiple assassination attempts and attempted coups. One of the results is that the frequent purges of military officers have left the Libyan military with poor leadership capabilities. These purges are having a major impact on Moammar and his supporters this month.

Moammar started off 1987 with the execution of six Libyan military officers and two civilians for plotting a coup against him.

Also in 1987, Gadhafi sponsored a coup in Berkina Faso, a small country located in west Africa. It became his west African regional arms shipment hub. Moammar then expanded his cross border incursions into Chad and invaded his neighbor. France and the US backed Chad and evicted Moammar from most of Chad.

In December, 1987, Libya announced a massive water tunnel project to transport water from Tunisia to Libya. The project would supposedly involve over two thousand miles of underground pipeline. Libya’s neighbors were not happy about this so eventually Tunisia, Libya, and Algeria came to a regional water agreement to address the critical need for water in the area.

Never forget the importance of water in Libya and its surrounding countries. Momo never forgets this, and his various water projects in Libya have been an important factor in keeping him in power. In Libya, a little water can purchase a lot of loyalty.

In December of 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie Scotland when a bomb planted by a Libyan agent detonated in the cargo hold of the 747. All 259 passengers and crew members died. Falling debris killed eleven people on the ground.

Lockerbie, Scotland terror scene

In 1989, Tomcats shot down two Libyan Mig-23 Flogger-E fighters attempting to attack the US 6th Fleet. The Libyan Floggers did not damage any US ships or aircraft before they were shot down, even though they were expensively modified with the intent of assuring success in an attack against the US fleet. Reports indicated they were outfitted with upgraded engines, improved radar, and improved weapons systems. Gadhafi was apparently deeply discouraged by their failure.

In September, 1989, the Libyans planted a bomb on a French DC-10. 170 passengers were killed.

On November 14, 1990, both the U.S. and British governments announced indictments against two Libyan intelligence officials for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

In 1993, a coup attempt by some of Moammar’s more powerful military supporters failed. Because the plotters included members of his own, traditionally loyal people, that attempt disturbed him more than any previous attempts.

In 1995, an Islamic militant group in Libya announced its intention to take over Libya. An unanticipated effect of that was that some of his less ardent supporters drew closer to him. Many educated Libyans were more frightened of the Islamic group than they were of him, worried that the fundamentalists would be far less pleasant to live under.

1996 was another exciting year for Uncle Momo. In February, another assassination attempt on him failed, but several bystanders were killed. Several years later the UK was blamed for the attempt but they denied it.

In March, 1996, Moammar had to deploy several thousand troops to northwest Libya to smother an uprising. Then, Uncle Momo, escorted by his “girlfriend bodyguards,” visited Cairo, Egypt for 5 days to lecture Egypt on methods of good government. Yes, this really happened.

In June, 1996, 1200 people were killed in a fight at Abu Salim prison between the Libyan military and forces of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Also that month, there was a soccer match in Tripoli between Gadhafi’s son’s team and some unfortunate soccer players. When the fans booed little Gadhafi’s team, little Gadhafi’s bodyguards gunned down 20 fans. Yes, I am serious.

In November, 1996, the Islamic rebels failed in yet another assassination attempt on Moammar when the Russian-made grenade did not detonate properly.

In 1998, just when you thought it couldn’t get any crazier, Moammar announced that he was tired of having to lead all of the Arabs in the world because some of them didn’t show him the respect he deserved as the great pan-Arabic king. He said he had been generous with his time, and he explained that, after two decades of brutal abuse of blacks in Libya, Libya would now become a “black African” country. Libya would no longer be an “Arab” country. He instructed Libyan men to find and wed only black women, and for Libyan women to marry only black men. The wave of grateful black Africans failed to show up in Libya. The few blacks that mistakenly showed up looking for work faced continued abuse rather than any honeymoons.

On April 5, 1999, after eleven years of “pressure” from the west Libya turned over two of the plotters from the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 bombing for trial in the Hague by Scottish judges. One interesting thing about this is that one of the plotters turned over was a member of the Magharia tribe.

Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi, Lockerbie bomber

Eighty-five percent of Libya’s population remains loyal to tribal affiliations to this day. The Magharia tribe’s alliance with Uncle Momo’s Gadhafi tribe is critical for Moammar to remain in power. It has been rumored that Moammar believed a “fix’ was in, and that both of the killers would be acquitted in exchange for continued oil sales. This has never been proven, but one of the bomber plotters was, in fact, acquitted.

In July, 1999, both the US and the UK announced a resumption of diplomatic ties with Libya.

On January 31, 2001, at the International Court in Hague, Netherlands, a Scottish court sentenced Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence officer, to life in a Scottish prison for the 1998 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

On May 30, 2001, Gadhafi sent troops and weapons to the Central African Republic to help President Patasse put down a coup attempt. Patasse was temporarily bolstered, but he was unable to subdue the conflict between “southerners” and “northerners” in the CAR, and Patasse was overthrown in a coup in 2003.

On January 20, 2003, the UN managed to establish a new level of absurdity in its long and disappointing history when its human rights watchdog committee elected a Libyan diplomat as its president for the year, despite concern from the US about the country’s poor record on civil liberties, and its well documented role in sponsoring terrorism. So Libya was simultaneously under UN sanctions for terrorism, and it was serving on the UN Commission on Human Rights and its successor, the UN Human Rights Council. The UN General Assembly only suspended Libya from that Council on March 2 of last week.

In April 2003 Libya admitted to the Lockerbie bombing, something everyone had known all along, and agreed to pay reparations to the families of the victims. While Gadhafi was in the middle of his “newer, nicer Uncle Momo” publicity campaign, Libyan agents were captured in Saudi Arabia when they attempted to hatch a plot to kill Saudi Prince Abdullah. The house of Saud will not forget.

On October 4, 2003, in apparent celebration of its appointment to the UN human rights committee Libya, attempted to ship gas centrifuges for Uranium-235 separation from Switzerland via Italy. Italian authorities were alerted in time, and the shipment was captured.

Previous to the centrifuge incident, Libya had received two tons of yellow cake uranium from North Korea in 1991 in exchange for oil and cash. Libya did not yet know that we were aware of the Uranium shipment. Gadhafi realized that he was vulnerable to military action by the UK and the US. He claimed to abandon his efforts at creating a nuclear weapon.

Rumors abounded that both Venezuela and Brazil were cooperating with Libya in a three-nation project to develop nuclear warheads. Eventually, international inspections revealed that Libya’s three nuclear weapons development sites had been dismantled, with all known equipment accounted for.

Mustard gas shells

Libya secretly agreed with the UK and the US to destroy 44,000 pounds of mustard gas under joint supervision by the US and the UK. Neither the US nor the UK wanted the UN involved in the process. No mustard gas was destroyed, and it remains in Libya still, but it does not appear that Gadhafi has pursued further development of the required delivery systems. Keep in mind that manufacturing mustard gas is much easier than safely destroying it. He opened Pandora’s box by making it, and now it’s still in his hands.

After apparently abandoning his WMD programs, Moammar announced a new foreign policy that included renouncing all terrorism. He also announced several economic reforms. From 2004 to the present we’ve seen a major shift in Libyan policy. Gadhafi continues to kill Libyans and other Africans, but he has moved toward a profit-based diplomacy with Western nations.

The blood still flows, but so does the oil.

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Special Edition Libya: Timeline, Part I

Special Edition Libya: Timeline, Part II

 

Special Edition Libya: Historical Timeline, Part I

By Jay Holmes

Events in Libya are fast and furious right now, and many are wondering what Libya will look like in the near future. Let’s start with a brief history so as to remind ourselves that beyond the painful glaring light that is Gadhafi, there is a country of sorts.

Around 1000 B.C., the Garamantes, a tribal people descended from Berbers and Saharan herders, inhabited the area of the Fazzan in southern Libya.

In the 7th century B.C., Phoenicians got lost on a Saturday boat trip and decided to stay in what is now western Libya. The fishing was ok, and the few locals couldn’t gather enough strength to evict them. Greek tourists continued to enter the area without visas and refused to go home. They founded a colony of illegal aliens called Cyrenaica. Claims as to dates and times of this colony remain confusing. The Greeks, Romans, Libyans, and Egyptians were still arguing about it when I left the cafe in Benghazi.

Around 600 B.C., Carthaginians heard about the fishing and arrived to set up housekeeping.

Between 74 B.C. and 19 B.C., the Romans conducted a 55 year campaign that, at the time, was considered something of a blitzkrieg. That’s when the Romans gained control of what we call Libya. The Libyans found the Romans a bit less argumentative than the Greeks, and they developed a taste for Italian cooking. The Libyans also noticed that Italian construction workers are faster than Greek construction workers, and they let them stay.

In 158 A.D., long before the first publishing lawsuit ever occurred in Manhattan, Libyan Berber Apulieus of Madaura published The Golden Ass. You might have read it. Your high school teacher called it The Metamorphosis. The story is about a fool who dabbles in magic and accidently turns himself into a mule. Yes, Libyans have been writing decently for a long time. They do not all speak and act like the Clown Prince Gadhafi.

Life cruised along with lots of trading and fishing. Thanks to overgrazing and dry conditions, Libya lost most of its arable land and never regained it. This ecological disaster still affects Libya today. In 100 A.D., he who controlled Libya’s scarce water controlled Libya. In 2011, he who controls Libya’s scarce water controls Libya.

Then, in 643 A.D. the Muslim wave came over the horizon. They were organized and obedient to their generals, and they conquered and kept going. They took their religious crusade on to Europe, via Spain. That wave didn’t stop until Charles Martel, a.k.a. The Hammer, put up an organized fight at Tours, France in 732.

Libyans kept fishing, trading, and herding in Libya, and then, in the 1500s, the Ottoman Empire showed up and took over. Many Libyans were unhappy about the new regime, but the Ottomans were unmoved.

In 1801 the Libyan, Tunisian, and Algerian coasts had long been controlled by annoying pirates. The pirates left British and French ships alone because they had glimpsed the British and French navies. They were not crazy. At that time, there was almost no American navy. As a result, the pirates took any and every American ship they wanted, kept them, and ransomed the American sailors.

Decatur Boarding the Tripolitan Gunboat by Dennis Malone Carter

Also in 1801, President Thomas Jefferson made his famous “we won’t deal with terrorists” speech. An unreasonably foolhardy young American naval lieutenant by the name of Stephen Decatur took a ridiculously small force of ships and men to the region to enforce a “no pirates zone.” The Pasha laughed, France laughed, and England, having the biggest and best navy, laughed the loudest. The King of Spain, on the other hand, said, “Don’t laugh. I know these people. These Americans are trouble.”

Stephen had the foresight to bring two important things with him. He brought Marines. . . . They don’t laugh, ever. . . . He also brought some hard-drinking Redsox fans from south Boston. Between the deadly Marines and fourteen years of nonstop chanting of, “The pasha sucks,” the creepy pirates wisely give up.

In 1815, the pirates signed a treaty agreeing to only pick on the English and the French. Decatur, in his farewell to Libya speech, said, “Don’t ever piss us off again. Next time we bring carriers and even more Marines.” Libya believed that for a long time.

In 1911, Italy offered the tried and true regime-change bargain to get rid of the Ottomans, and Libya accepted. Life with the Italians was more annoying than life with the Turks had been, particularly when the Italians pressed thousands of Libyan men into twentieth century slavery. The Italians also stole Libya’s oil, but they left most of the women alone. And then again, there’s that hard-to-turn-down Italian cooking. Like in Brooklyn, there’s an Italian restaurant on every other corner in Tripoli. Nevertheless, nobody likes having their sons taken away into slavery, and the Libyans don’t forget.

During WWII, the Italians, under Mussolini, overextended themselves in the hope of  bowling the English out of Egypt and taking the Suez Canal. In February, 1941, Erwin Rommel took his Afrika Korps into Libya to reinforce the Italians.

In 1942, an annoying man wearing a strange, ill-fitting hat showed up and made trouble. . . . No, not Moammar. . . . Bernard Montgomery. The guy was an egomaniacal jerk, but Churchill liked him, and he had a pretty good English army with him, including some hard-brawling Australians and stubborn New Zealanders. After a brief discussion with the Italians, and a prolonged and bitter fight with the Afrika Korps, the Germans left. Rommel had better tanks, but Monty had those iron Aussies. When the Germans retreated, the Libyans were mildly happier for it. The British did not enslave the Libyans. That made them far more likeable.

Bernard Montgomery–Wonder if this started Gadhafi down the path of wayward hats?

In 1945, a Libyan-style Kristallnacht occurred, and many of the surviving 40,000 Libyan Jews left. Some did not. Many of those that stayed were murdered in 1948. A few survived and stayed until 1968, when they were banished from Libya.

In 1951, Libya became independent under King Idris al-Sanusi. Having a king of a united Libya was tough to maintain because there were about 140 tribes in Libya, and the only thing those tribes could agree on was that they didn’t like Germans, they didn’t like Ottomans, they didn’t like Italians, and they didn’t like Jews. The king, however, remembering what his grandfather told him about that crazy Stephen Decatur, agreed to allow the United States to operate Military bases.

In 1956, American oil companies showed up with more cash than British oil companies and took over the show. Business tycoon Armand Hammer and Occidental Petroleum were very good at this sort of thing.

In 1969, the King of Libya traveled abroad for medical treatment, and a faction of young army officers, lead by a bold 27-year-old named Captain Moammar Gadhafi, took power and kept it for a long time. In fact, he still has it this morning as I write, and Stephen Decatur has not shown up. . . . Yet.

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This Special Edition Libya timeline by Holmes is continued in Timeline, Part II, and Timeline, Part III.

Holmes Writes a Tearful Dear John Letter to Gadhafi

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

Piper:

Holmes has a long and involved past with Moammar Gadhafi (“Uncle Momo”) so these events in Libya are especially moving for him. It wasn’t a difficult decision for him to write this Dear John Letter now that it looks like a break up in their relationship is imminent. His only regrets are that he didn’t have the chance to write it thirty years ago, and that extenuating circumstances prevent him from personally delivering it to Gadhafi today.

When I read it, the first thing I did was crack up laughing. Then I pointed out that, without a little background, it might sound too much like an inside joke. Please enjoy the brief history lesson so that you, too, can rofl with us. . . .

During the Cold War, Gadhafi allowed the Soviets, the East Germans, and the other Warsaw Pact countries to use Libya as a giant terrorist training camp. Sometimes there were upwards of 30 camps operating at a time for the purpose of training terrorist groups to attack Israel and Western nations. Gadhafi even cooperated with the Irish Republican Army for a while, until the IRA decided he was too filthy even for them.

Holmes and many of his friends spent decades intimately involved in fighting the Soviets, the East Germans, and the various terrorist organizations they sponsored. The stories of their sacrifices will never be told, but they were numerous and deeply personal.

In 1986, Gadhafi was blown away (pun intended) that his vaunted, high-tech Soviet Air Defense System proved useless against a rather limited air attack by less than two dozen aircraft from the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy. Rumors circulated that clandestine operations had simultaneously been carried out against military assets in Libya. In addition, Gadhafi’s Syrian allies had sent their best naval unit to the Gulf of Sidra with the intention of guaranteeing damage to the U.S. 6th fleet. That Syrian ship exploded shortly after casting off from its dock in Libya. Both Syria and Libya were left unenthusiastic about the prospects of any future engagements with the U.S. 6th fleet, despite the best cheerleading the Soviets could bring to bear.

As part of our Bayard & Holmes Peace Initiative, we are doing what we can to encourage Uncle Momo to seek a new career, and we are offering him a free gift from our Peace Initiative product line. The following is Holmes’ own personal appeal in the form of an open Dear John Letter to Uncle Momo. . . .

Holmes:

My Dearest Momo,

Perhaps you are surprised that I would write you now, but after all these years, I hate to see us break up this way. The lack of closure is emotionally draining for both of us. After all, my relationship with you has lasted even longer than my marriage thus far.

I was so young and impetuous when we first met. I know that some of the things that I have said and done may have hurt your feelings. Please accept that my friends and I always acted with sincerity and the best of intentions. I hope you can understand that some of the things you did were really hurtful to me and to many of my close friends, as well.

I am sitting here listening to Carol King sing Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, and it brings me so many fond memories of our long and often exciting friendship. All those years. . . . So many cute hats, none of which ever fit you. . . . Those charming outfits. . . . That lovely fireworks display on a romantic spring night in 1986. . . . These  memories all come flooding back to me as I sit here and laugh cry.

Seeing you in such painful difficulties these days has made me re-evaluate our long connection. I want this to all end for us on the best possible note. Although I know you have not always loved me, I am sure you have never questioned my sincerity or passion. It’s all been very real for me.

Based on my deeper understanding of our heart-felt connection, I am offering you a gift. . . . A gift from my heart. . . . In fact, in your honor, I have decided to offer this special gift to any deserving person in the world. . . . the Seventy-Two Virgins Golden Retirement Plan. In fact, out of my deep respect for you, I will ask potential retirees in the future to plan in advance by donating a small portion of their plunder to my special fund, so that I may be able to help as many needy souls as possible.

Because of all the years of joy you have brought me, I am offering this gift to you free of any of your normal financial arrangements. Unlike your other so-called friends, Gordon Brown and Silvio Berlusconi, I won’t take a penny from you. Yes Momo, I know about that gas pipeline you built to Silvio’s house, and look at how he has repaid you! But I forgive you. And I want you to know that my friendship with Markus Wolf* in no way detracted from all we have been to each other. “Mischa” never meant a thing to me.

My dear friend, stop struggling and give yourself the rest you deserve. Those seventy-two virgins will keep you happy for eternity. I know how picky you are about your meals so I have also arranged for a lovely, doting Ukrainian nurse to be your celestial mommy. Just stop for a moment and think of your future, Momo. Imagine being young again, imagine being attractive this time, imagine four exhausted recent virgins by your side, and your mommy’s voice entering that lovely silk tent. . . .”Ooo, Momo darling. . . . come to lunch Dear. Mommy made you your favorite lamb goulash. . . .”

Please come and visit soon so that we can implement your overdue, well-deserved gift. I want to finally repay you for our long years of friendship. Come what may, never forget that we had Paris in the spring, Rome in the fall, and those wonderful picnics on the Algerian border. Thank you for a lifetime of wonderful memories.

Sincerely,

Holmes, CEO, Celestial After-Care, Inc.

*Markus Wolf was the despised director of the foreign intelligence branch of the East German Stasi (secret police).