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calendar   Saturday - March 19, 2011

So we are going to war with Libya, a former Brit Ambassador speaks out

I found some very interesting and much thought provoking editorials today. Since the USA is now involved (dragged more or less by the hand according to some),
I’m certain those of you in the USA are reading things or seeing things on TV. But I thought you’d also be interested in how this subject is being treated here in the some of the press.  Since I can’t tolerate the overly left wing Guardian, I haven’t gone there yet to see what those piss ants are saying.
Anyway ... the following was in the Mail today and this was the POV from the former British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Syria.


Did the debacle of Iraq teach us nothing?

By Sir Andrew Green

So we are going to war with Libya. Make no mistake. That is what is involved.

Gaddafi’s instant ceasefire is nothing but a ploy designed to weaken the international coalition against him. The reality is that we are yet again engaging our armed forces in the complex politics of an Arab and Muslim state.

Have we learnt nothing from Iraq? Nor from the developing chaos in Afghanistan?  This time we claim to have the law on our side. Indeed, there was no UN Security.

Council veto from Russia or China but there were five abstentions including, importantly, Germany. This is pretty lukewarm stuff, especially when the going gets difficult, as it surely will.

We also claim to have Arab support but the Arab League resolution was a feeble effort.  Both Syria and Algeria voted against the no-fly zone and these are countries which carry considerable weight in Arab affairs.

Meanwhile, it is claimed that Qatar and the UAE might provide some strike aircraft. Useful, perhaps, as window-dressing, but these countries are political pygmies and military midgets. Their air forces are more like flying clubs than serious military assets.

How have we, yet again, got into such a potentially worrying situation? There are surely some simple rules that should be applied before we even start down such a dangerous road as this.

RULE ONE is to know your enemy. Gaddafi is not just an isolated madman. Although he clearly has an unstable personality, he is supported by a whole apparatus of repression that has held down the Libyan people for 42 years.

To talk of these thugs deserting him just because of the imposition of a UN-supported no-fly zone is simply whistling in the wind. His henchmen know that, if Gaddafi goes, they will swing from the nearest lamp-post – if they are lucky.

RULE TWO must be to select your objective and, above all, be honest about it.
Tony Blair was hugely undermined by his claim to be removing weapons of mass destruction from Iraq when, in truth, his objective was regime change.

This time round we say that our aim is to protect the Libyan people – presumably only those in the east of the country, as there is little we can do in other parts.

But the reality is that we will not get out of Libya unless we can remove the Gaddafi regime. Last night it appeared that David Cameron and his international allies were acknowledging that. However, it is certainly not authorised by the UN resolution.

RULE THREE must be not to start what you cannot finish. In other words do not enter without an exit strategy.

After eight years in Iraq, the Americans are still not out and the prospects for that country on their eventual departure are, to put it mildly, extremely uncertain.
In Afghanistan, after ten years, we seem to be no nearer a viable state from which we can withdraw with confidence.

Despite the experience of Iraq and Afghanistan, we are now engaging ourselves in what amounts to a civil war in Libya in which neither side is likely to have a decisive victory.

Gaddafi should not be able to retake Benghazi once air cover is in place. Equally, the revolutionaries will certainly not be able to take Tripoli and expel Gaddafi by themselves.

The reality is that what we have witnessed in Libya is not the uprising of the forces of freedom and democracy against an evil dictator. It is much more complicated than that.

The Eastern province of Libya, whose capital is Benghazi, was the seat of King Idris, the ruler overthrown by Gaddafi’s coup in 1969.

It is socially, historically and tribally different from the west of the country and has been economically neglected by the regime. The inhabitants have long been disaffected for both political and economic reasons.

Significantly, the uprising took a different course from those in Egypt and Tunisia.
In those two countries the people were able to organise mass demonstrations at very short notice, using the internet to make it difficult to trace individual activists.

They succeeded in outnumbering the security forces who were forced to retreat. As a result, the people lost their fear of the secret police. In Libya, that strategy did not work.

The rebels could not achieve a critical mass so the regime had time to reorganise.
Gaddafi also had military units, some mercenary, who were prepared to use live fire against unarmed demonstrators – which the Egyptian army could not bring itself to do.
All this means that we are left with a situation that is messy politically and confused militarily.

Our new allies are little more than a rag-bag militia, with little discipline, no command structure and no logistics. With air support they should be able to defend Benghazi but the prospect is for a long stand-off with Gaddafi digging in and staring us out.
What then will be the future of the oil terminals which are largely in the east of the country?

Gaddafi seems to have retaken them for the time being but nobody knows whether oil exports can be resumed and, if they are, to whom the money would be paid. As Libya is heavily dependent on imports, these economic factors could become crucial.

Meanwhile, as the situation drags on, developments in neighbouring countries will be of growing importance.

Egypt, whose population of 84million is already greater than that of Germany, will be a key factor but nobody has any idea how things will turn out there. The same applies to Libya’s neighbour to the west, Tunisia.

As for Gaddafi, how will he respond to a prolonged conflict? Will he, as he has threatened, attack Western interests in the air and at sea? Will he turn again to weapons of mass destruction in the knowledge that those who possess them are less likely to be attacked? And how will it all play out in the Arab and Muslim world?

Many will believe Gaddafi’s claims that the West’s intervention is all about it wanting access to Arab oil.

Our response to that argument, that we are concerned about human rights, will be fatally undermined by our failure to protect the Shia in Bahrain, whose peaceful demonstrators have also been victims of vicious repression.

Yet again, the West will be accused of hypocrisy and self-interest. Over time this will be ammunition for Islamic extremists who attribute all the misfortunes of the region to Western conspiracy.

How did we get into this mess? It seems to be that neo-con hawks have succeeded once again in superimposing their enthusiasm for freedom and democracy on hugely complex societies which have no history of freedom and none of the institutions needed for the functioning of a democracy.

These difficulties are simply and naively brushed aside. A wand has been waved and, we are told, the world is a different place.

The Cameron and Sarkozy argument was that we could not stand by and allow Gaddafi to ‘win’. Indeed so, but that is not a sufficient case for direct military involvement.

There was an alternative. This would have been to arrange delivery of a consignment of anti-tank weapons to the rebel groups, which would have rendered Gaddafi’s tanks useless in built-up areas.

Similarly, his helicopter pilots would have steered clear if they found that the rebels had suitable missiles.

Moves like this, if necessary done covertly, would have given the rebels the opportunity to stabilise their defensive position but, crucially, without direct Western military involvement whose implications are now incalculable.

SOURCE

Well I’m sure as heck no expert and have not the makings of a diplomat as I’m too prone to too quickly tell those I really dislike to F***off.
But, now that it’s started and now that we’re going to be engaged as well, don’t you all think perhaps we need to go all out and really get rid of Gadaffi and be done with him?  Sure as hell if he remains he’ll do everything he can to restart (as he threatened) support for terrorists. It may now really be in our national interest to get rid of him by any means we can.


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 03/19/2011 at 03:56 PM   
Filed Under: • MilitaryTyrants and Dictators •  
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