Thursday, March 24, 2011

Libran Rebels Not Worth Fighting For

The Independent, from the UK, tells us all I think we need to know to decide that America doesn't really have a dog in the civil conflict in Libya. The headline of today's report pulls no punches. It is:

The resistance has foundered on its own indiscipline and farcical ineptitude

. . . Rather than press home their advantage and retake Ajdabiya, the rebel fighters – known as the Shabaab – were too busy having their pictures taken with the wreckage or looting anything left intact from the supply trucks. A desultory attack late in the day was easily repulsed by the regime's forces which then dug in around the city.

The bombardment by the US, France and Britain was meant to break the regime's forces and galvanise the rebels. Extraordinarily, it appears to have had the opposite effect, with the Shabaab retreating yet again in the next 48 hours.

There is little sign of leadership on the issue from the political hierarchy at the opposition's capital, Benghazi, where the provisional administration, with the prize of international recognition seemingly within reach, has been enmeshed in a bout of internal rivalry. . .

To date the Shabaab has wasted at least three times the ordnance than it has fired in anger by shooting into the air in celebration of often non-existent victories. It has blown up guns by using the wrong type of ammunition, crashed its few tanks into each other and shot down two of its own planes. . .

The "best" part of the article is the end, which is straight out of Catch-22:

The rebels' operations are further undermined by an absence of command and control. On Monday two men standing within a hundred yards of each other, "Captain" Jalal Idrisi and "Major" Adil Hassi, claimed to be in charge of the fighters who were meant to be attacking Ajdabiya. A brief advance soon turned into a chaotic retreat. Major Hassi then claimed that the misjudgement in going forward had been Captain Idris's idea. But why didn't they liaise? "We haven't got communications equipment" he responded. But the Captain is standing just over there, journalists pointed out. "I don't talk to him," said Major Hassi.

In addition, the pro-war camp needs to explain the following. In 2003, Libya came to terms with the US and agreed to dismantle its nuclear weapons program and cooperate against al-Qaeda. Perhaps it has done something egregious to violate the terms of that agreement. If not, and if the US simply turned against Libya after striking a deal to let bygones be bygones, what hostile nation will every again trust America after it has, only 8 years later, turned to regime change by force of arms against the regime it willingly dealt with?

Congress should invoke the 1973 War Powers Act and should explicitly either cut off funds for all offensive and clandestine activities in Libya, absent a showing of appropriateness from the White House.

As the Independent points out, the issue is not whether the Libyan regime is "good". But the North Korean regime tortures and executes its own people. Syria has just killed about 25 protesters in the past few days. Supporting the Karzai regime in Kabul is bad enough. What's so hot about the Libyan rebels that we prefer them to the existing government enough to go to war?

Since President Obama has set a goal of doubling exports, perhaps what he should do is hire the US military out as mercenaries, with the goal of deposing all "bad" regimes worldwide. Since there are so many of them, that could be a real money-maker. But the Libyan intervention is on our dime, which means it is done with newly printed money, which is a further blow to savers and investors in the US markets. It is, however, good for many campaign contributors such as those in the oil and military industries. It couldn't be that the new Chief of Staff, Daley, has thought of that, could it?

Copyright (C) Long Lake LLC 2011

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