Supersonic Scientist

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The Real U.S. Policy in #Libya

Posted by j_cd on March 29, 2011


President Obama addressed the nation with regards to the U.S. military intervention in Libya tonight. Yet he continues to receive criticism from both the left and right. I think it was predictable, for political and other reasons, that this criticism was forthcoming.

The republicans have had no better answer than anyone else to the question: How should the U.S. respond to this sudden revolution in the Middle East? In fact, they’ve largely been silent. So aside from the economy, they haven’t had anything to hit the president with, politically speaking, in the last month.

Now that military action is underway, the critics are coming out of the woodworks. The arguments that Congressional approval should have been sought, or that we should or shouldn’t have acted unilaterally are moot at this point. So is criticism of NATO and the UN. But the question “What’s the end game?” is a valid one. And an open ended one at that.

The fact is, there just wasn’t time to further deliberate over the possible outcomes while Benghazi hung in the balance. Instead of Gadhafi’s forces being stopped dead in their tracks, it would have been the whole region that suffered. Millions of people aspiring for a better way of life would have been silenced once again by the pragmatic choice of temporary regional stability over the optimistic hope of lasting democracy.

Had we gone in earlier, the rebels would likely have been in Tripoli by now. Unfortunately, due to indecision and political sensitivities, this is the situation in which we find ourselves. In the week since Operation Odyssey Dawn has begun, coalition airstrikes have paved the way for Libyan opposition forces to retake much of the territory they had previously held.

Which brings me to my point. The mission is clear, just not overt for political reasons. The fact is, we’re trying to take out Gadhafi without publicly saying so. Would Russia and China have allowed UN Security Council Resolution 1973 to pass if we said we blatantly said we’re going after Gadhafi? No. Would Turkey have signed on for NATO to enforce the no fly zone and protection of civilians? No.

I mean, what part of a U.S. cruise missile hitting Gadhafi’s Bab El Azizia compound isn’t clear? President Obama is 100%  correct. An overt declaration that we’re trying to kill or capture Gadhafi would splinter the coalition. There wouldn’t even be a coalition. Furthermore, if we say we’re taking out Gadhafi like we did Saddam Hussein in Iraq, we then own that situation. With Afghanistan and Iraq sadly still on our plate, we can’t afford to own this. The nations of Western Europe should rightly take a greater role, as the Mediterranean is in their backyard.

Everyone knows the United States is the only willing country with the firepower to quarterback this operation. But the diplomatic and linguistic nuances required to pull off such a feat are being completely overlooked. Sometimes you have to attack and say you’re not attacking. That’s just how it is.

“The Way of War is
A Way of Deception.

When able,
Feign inability;

When deploying troops,
Appear not to be.”

from – The Art of War – by Sun Tzu


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CNN Psy Ops prepares us for ground troops in #Libya

Posted by j_cd on March 25, 2011

I went 3 days without watching the Libya coverage on CNN and MSNBC. In fact, I didn’t watch any television at all. Now that I’ve tuned into “Libya on CNN” again, the Psychological Operations Atlanta bureau seems to be preparing us for the next phase.

Retired CIA agent turned spy-novel author Bob Baer, and former Senior Intelligence officer General Spider Marks appeared on CNN (video) with John King. Their message: “Bombing alone will not accomplish the objective of creating space between Gaddafi’s forces and the opposition. There will need to be some sort of international peacekeeping force on the ground in Libya”.

Now to preface those comments, Spider Marks had said two days ago on CNN that the current policy and actions of the coalition are likely to lead to a stalemate with a divided Libya. So the need for an international peacekeeping force to provide separation was made in that context, I would assume.

In a story about coordination between U.S. commanders and the Transitional National Council in Benghazi, the LA Times reported yesterday that the CIA was in there gathering intelligence on opposition movements before air strikes had begun. So we already have some special forces on the ground as I had suspected weeks ago.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Reuters reported yesterday that opposition forces killed 30 of Gadhafi’s snipers in Misurata. I’m guessing they may have had some logistical help with that. If not, more power to them. Either way, it’s a good sign for the opposition fighters.

Some sort of special forces contact, or liaison if you will, is probably a necessity. Someone with experience in such matters has to be on the ground to provide accurate targeting information for coalition aircraft. But if the UN puts a peacekeeping force in, the majority of soldiers sent to enforce it should be from Arab countries. The footprint of U.S. boots on the ground is in nobody’s best interest, and it’s not what the Libyans want either.

There’s no telling at this point if Libya will be split between Gaddafi in Tripoli, and the TNC in Benghazi. I think everyone’s goal is to topple Gadhafi. But if that doesn’t happen, is a “peacekeeping force” really necessary to accomplish a division of the country? It seems to me that if opposition soldiers can clear out cities like Misurata with whatever help we’re providing them, they don’t need foreign troops.

Speaking of foreign troops, let’s all remember that Gadhafi was the one to bring in foreign militias from central Africa to fight his war weeks ago. So when you hear his propaganda about the “crusaders”, disregard.

Moving forward, it’s a good thing for NATO to enforce the no fly zone. The United States will still be involved, fulfilling it’s NATO obligations in support of UN Resolution 1973. Meanwhile, the coalition partners should expedite the flow of arms, training, and “technical assistance” to the opposition. Give them all the help we can, but let the Libyans fight this war for their independence.

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Thoughts on #Libya 2011-3-23

Posted by j_cd on March 23, 2011

Photo: Christian Holmér

OK I’ve turned off the television for several days now just to make sure I wasn’t being brainwashed by CNN. Nope, still my own thoughts.

There’s been much trepidation about what’s happening in Libya since the enforcement of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 (PDF) began. So I’ve been listening to and reading the opinion of those who are less enthusiastic than I. Here are a few of the people I’ve checked out. An ex-CIA agent, a law scholar, and even this article “Libya:what would Orwell do?“. I’ve also been listening to KPFK and other public radio a lot.

Even though I advocated for U.S. military involvement in Libya, I don’t necessarily disagree with some of what these people are saying. It’s not a particularly brilliant political or strategic move, and it’s fraught with danger. It’s true that we’re looking the other way in Bahrain and Yemen because of the 5th Fleet and al Queda. And yes, securing the supply of Libyan light sweet crude for Western Europe probably did have something to do with it.

But I don’t think it was orchestrated to be a takeover of Libyan oil from the beginning. Once France, Britain, Italy and the U.S. said Gadhafi must step down and he continued his brutal assault, we were somewhat backed into a corner. Future oil contracts in Libya would not be coming our way, and people were still being killed en masse.

I don’t think President Obama is as naive as these people think, however. I believe he understands the Middle East more deeply than he’s being given credit for. He knows this could be political suicide, and I’m sure he realizes the uncertainty of the endgame here.

The bottom line for me is that we had to stop Gadhafi’s march to Benghazi, and level the playing field militarily to give the opposition fighters a chance of toppling this tyrannical bastard. I never said I thought it was a great idea, I said I felt that we had to do it.

And I thought we had to do it too. I’m glad we’re not pussyfooting around either. The fact that the coalition says they’re not targeting Gadhafi, and then hit his compound with a cruise missile brings a smile to my face. Fine, let’s do this right and try to avoid a lengthy stalemate.

When the Egypt revolution was happening, I said we should put some ships nearby to shore up against Iranian influence in the Suez. Iran wants to seize this opportunity to exert further influence in the region. After we practically handed them Iraq on a silver platter, we just can’t afford to sit this one out.

It has just been reported that the French and Americans have agreed that NATO will assume command and control for Operation Odyssey Dawn. I’m sure President Obama welcomes this. The last thing he wants is to get mired in an endless war that could cost him an election.

The important thing that I see right now for the Libyan people is for them to come together. If they are strong and united, that is the best thing for them and for Libya. Put aside small differences and show the world your new government can be effective and stable, with no need for foreign occupation.

Oh, and I hope you get rid of Gadhafi for once and for all.

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Don’t call me a neo-liberal – #libya

Posted by j_cd on March 21, 2011

For anyone who thinks I may have gone off the deep end with my support for the Arab Spring, military action in Libya, etc…

First of all, with regard to Egypt and Tunisia. I’ve never liked how Middle East dictators oppress their people and blame the United States. It’s my belief that a more open form of government in that part of the world will improve relations between the U.S. and Middle East people. So I wholeheartedly backed what happened in Egypt.

I knew at the moment there were demonstrations in Libya, we would end up becoming militarily involved there sooner or later. I wish it had been sooner. Brave and beautiful people like Mahmoud Nabbous would probably still be alive.

But I do understand the reluctance of Americans to get involved in another Middle East conflict. They are looking through a prism of Iraq and Afghanistan. I argue that as the world evolves, you must at least be open to shifting your viewpoint in light of current events.

I thought we should have left Afghanistan when it became clear that Osama Bin Laden had escaped at Tora Bora. And the images of a wide-eyed George W. Bush sitting in the oval office saying “My fellow Americans, Iraq poses a grave threat” still haunts me. But I have shifted my view to be open to what could possibly be a new dawn in much of the Arab world.

I am not blind to the obvious, that Libya has the best oil in the world, Libyan light sweet crude. However, U.S., British, French and Italian companies already have oil contracts in Libya. So the argument that we’re after their oil doesn’t hold water for me.

Nor do I believe that George Soros and his neo-socialist caliphate are behind all this, pulling the strings with their funding. I just don’t think anyone is smart enough to orchestrate this widespread and rapid upheaval with any degree of precision. This theory also insults the man in Tunisia who set himself on fire in protest, sparking a wave of Arab revolution.

Ultra right wingers like Bill Kristol think that Iraq was some wonderful liberation of people, so when he lumps Libya in with Iraq and Afghanistan I shake my head. Ultra lefties are the ones who are looking at this through the Iraq/Afghanistan prism, and they pretty much oppose all military action anyway.

I don’t fit into either of these camps, so I guess I’m a neo-centrist. I didn’t previously know there was such a thing, but apparently that’s what I am.

Let me just point out that at the time we invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein was not killing 8,000 of his own people. Yes, he had killed some in the past, and where were we then? I never supported the Iraq disaster.

What really caused me to be such a vocal supporter of the Libyan uprising was the videos of Gaddafi’s carnage on YouTube. Truly horrifying atrocities committed against women and children. I’ve been following this thing very closely. I don’t just get my information from CNN, I follow Libyans on twitter and I listen to a lot of public radio.

If this thing turns into another Iraq I will eat my words, but I really don’t think so. It’s important for the Libyan people to come together quickly and not have any prolonged civil war or political infighting. That way there will no excuse for the “rebuilding” of Libya such as the poor Iraqis were subjected to.

In any event, I just wanted to clarify my position so nobody thinks I’m a neo-socialist war monger who only looks at things from one angle. Thanks for reading.

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