Good fortune to Libya


Time to be nice about something. I was quite cynical in February, but to my surprise we did do something useful, the rebels were brave enough to overcome their lack of organistaion, and after much chaos and death it has worked; the “rebels” are now the government, Gaddafi is a fugitive from justice. The fighting isn’t over but the result of the fighting is not in doubt.

However, as we managed to conclusively demonstrate in Afghanistan and Iraq, winning the war is the easy bit. Likely, everyone has learnt lessons from that. And likely, Libya is in a better starting position that either. So, my best wishes to them all (I never know what to say in such times; I don’t wish people “good luck” before a race, because it isn’t a matter of luck. I could wish them “try hard”, but that is patronising).


This is another side of victory. Great for a while but needs to fade quickly; likely it will.

Gaddafi must go

An unusually forthright statement by our Glorious Leaders:

it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Gaddafi in power. The International Criminal Court is rightly investigating the crimes committed against civilians and the grievous violations of international law. It is unthinkable that someone who has tried to massacre his own people can play a part in their future government. The brave citizens of those towns that have held out against forces that have been mercilessly targeting them would face a fearful vengeance if the world accepted such an arrangement. It would be an unconscionable betrayal. Furthermore, it would condemn Libya to being not only a pariah state, but a failed state too. Gaddafi has promised to carry out terrorist attacks against civilian ships and airliners. And because he has lost the consent of his people any deal that leaves him in power would lead to further chaos and lawlessness. We know from bitter experience what that would mean. Neither Europe, the region nor the world can afford a new safe haven for extremists. There is a pathway to peace that promises new hope for the people of Libya: a future without Gaddafi that preserves Libya’s integrity and sovereignty and restores her economy and the prosperity and security of her people. This needs to begin with a genuine end to violence, marked by deeds, not words. The regime has to pull back from the cities it is besieging, including Ajdabiya, Misrata and Zintan, and its forces return to their barracks. However, so long as Gaddafi is in power, Nato and its coalition partners must maintain their operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds. Then a genuine transition from dictatorship to an inclusive constitutional process can really begin, led by a new generation of leaders.

I still think that we fouled up rather badly by waiting so long to start, but we seem to be on about the right lines, though we could be more vigourous. It looks fairly stalemate-y on the ground at present, as far as can be judged from the sparse reports. And the rebels are pretty rubbish at actual organised fighting – they look more like Keystone cops, running forward until the first shot then running back just as fast. But that cannot last for too long, and we’ve now committed ourselves (or our leaders have, in our name, and I don’t see any serious opposition) to Gadaffi going. So I expect he will, messily.

Oh, the brave Music of a distant Drum!

rubaiyat2 Omar Khayaam, sorry I can’t do the bold around “distant” in a title. I gave Hugo the popcorn on friday, but it didn’t really apply until today. It looks like the Frogs win the first strike award whilst Gaddafi gets the lying scumbag award. The end result of the Gaddafi-vs-the-West military fight is in no doubt; quite where that leaves the ground war is less clear. Probably in an Afghanistan-type situation, where we (well, the US in that case) bombed the Taliban so the Northern Alliance could take over. Only lets hope this time we don’t collude with the drug-dealers; as far as I can tell the rebels are much nicer than the NA.

Soundtrack: Flight of the pelican.

CIP makes various good points; that if we’d done nothing the rebels obvious next choice was Al-Quaeda (but we’ve averted that; good); that by waiting so long we’ve lost the chance to topple Gaddafi easily (sadly so; that leaves Libya badly shot-up and a lot of people pointlessly dead); and that by waiting so long, we’ve probably pushed all the doubters into a show of loyalty to the Dark Side (but hopefully they will be having another think now). But, assuming the worst isn’t true (the worst would be that the West actually wants a stalemate in Libya, because it fears the “example”, and is being leaned on by Saudi and Israel; entirely plausible, but probably not true) then I think the good guys are likely to win out.

Incidentally, I think this is starting to look good for Obama, possibly just by chance. By hanging back and leaving it until late we had the Arab League practically begging the West to intervene, Gaddafi was doing his best to act and sound like a mad dog, and that coupled with France and the UK leading the security council resolution meant that China and Russia found it awkward to veto. Shame about the Squareheads, though.

We’re so predictable

_51601556_rebeltank_ap As in, we start off bombing their air defences. Heavens knows how we’d get on against a clueful opponent. Fortunately the enemy in this case is both clueless and effectively powerless.

This is a picture of a tank. As it happens, a rebel tank. In case you’re wondering what it can do, the BBC has some insightful analysis: It offers high protection from small arms fire and carries a big gun (I’m being snarky of course, that is why you’re here, but the rest of the article is of value). Also interesting to see that Toyota seems to have cornered the market in “technicals” – the stuff-a-machine-gun-on-a-pickup-truck type stuff. They got a bad reputation for wanton violence a while back, but maybe these will feature in the Toyota PR literature.

Too much news

This, of course, pushes the Japanese quake and reactor off the top spot in the news league, which I’d say is a good thing. We can stop vacuously panicking about trivial levels of radionucleides and settle down to some decent war porn, and the Japanese can get started on rebuilding in peace; my best wishes to them.
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