U.N. action on Libya appears to be too late

So, last night the United Nations Security Council approved much more than a no-fly zone over Libya — the council’s resolution called for using “all necessary measures” to keep Col. Moammar Gadhafi from killing the Libyans rebelling against his regime. Then, suddenly, this morning Gadhafi announced a cease-fire.

Victory without firing a shot, right?

Not exactly.

It seems pretty obvious that Gadhafi knows his air force and army would not survive an “all necessary measures” effort by NATO; his comments to the contrary are nothing but mother-of-all-battles bluster. And that calculation on his part would have held true at any time during the last few weeks that Gadhafi’s loyalists have been counter-attacking the rebels across the country.

What has changed, however, is the balance of forces within the country. Check out this map (I’ll post it to the blog later if I can overcome some technical difficulties).

That was the situation as of March 7, less than two weeks ago. Since then, Gadhafi’s forces have beaten back the rebels from Zawiya (just outside the capital Tripoli), Ras Lanuf, Brega and Ajdabiya. The situation in Misrata, the country’s third-largest city, also near Tripoli and which the rebels had held, was unclear. But the city has been under heavy attack from Gadhafi’s forces.

In other words, Gadhafi has already accomplished most of what he set out to do when he began attacking the rebels. Had the U.N. action come two weeks ago, the balance of forces might have produced an outcome in which Gadhafi had to step down and the Libyan people had a chance to form a new, more representative government.

There’s always a chance that things eventually turn out for the better. But as of today, it looks like the two to three weeks it took the “international community” to gather up its resolve were a critical loss of time.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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65 comments Add your comment

Finn McCool

March 18th, 2011
11:09 am

Sorry they didn’t get it scheduled and resolved as you would like it, Kyle. Welcome to the real world.

Perhaps you should concentrate on watching your trust fund grow and leave the real work for the grown ups?

Peter

March 18th, 2011
11:13 am

Gosh your following has real grown Kyle…….maybe you should write about Cheney’s famous line.

“Deficits Don’t matter”.

Or Bush famous line …. “I prayed to MY GOD before attacking Iraq”.

That should get your right wing group going.

carlosgvv

March 18th, 2011
11:17 am

It’s way past time for us to understand America is not the number one bastion of liberty, protector of the free world and God’s gift to all countries everywhere. In fact, we are well on our way to becoming a second-rate country and going broke in the process. We’ve done our duty. Let someone else save the world.

Hillbilly Deluxe

March 18th, 2011
11:21 am

Perhaps the Arab League wanted to wait until Gadhafi forces had the upper hand, lest the movement spread to their own countries?

quick work break

March 18th, 2011
11:22 am

This blog is simple spin on your incorrect assumptions from your previous blog. The actions overnight proved you wrong. I’ll take the bloodshed to stop NOW over dealing with Col. Crazy for a short time. In addition, we also avoided the expense and risk to our servicemembers and innocent civilians had we simply bombed away. What exactly WOULD your policy be? Should we be bombing Yemen and Bahrain right now?

Jimmy62

March 18th, 2011
11:23 am

Yep, typical. Dither while Ghaddafi slaughters his people, then finally do something once the evil dictator is in a stronger position. It’s almost like they care more about the evil dictator than normal people.

Carlosgvv: Interestingly, the rest of the world hasn’t gotten the message. They complain when we do something, but as soon as a crisis happens, everyone wants to know where the Americans are. The Japanese are asking, the Egyptians, the Libyans. Something the left doesn’t like to admit is that while foreign governments may complain about the US, the average person living in poverty elsewhere still looks at us as a bastion of freedom, liberty and opportunity. But don’t worry, Obama’s actions are quickly changing the way the rest of the world looks at us. Freedom, liberty, and opportunity are turning to weak, dithering fools. God, what I wouldn’t give for some real leadership in this country. Even Hillary Clinton is tiring of Obama’s indecisive and ineffectual term of office.

Aquagirl

March 18th, 2011
11:28 am

Overthrowing a political system and establishing a new government requires broad support from the populace. Frankly, they have to be willing to shed more of their own blood than the blood of foreign troops who run to their help. If the Libyan revolution can’t stand on its own legs for two damn weeks, it’s going to fail anyway.

What would make you happy, Kyle? Dropping nukes at the first shot? I sort of admire your for sticking to your position that If Obama Does It, It’s WRONG!!!! but it’s pretty transparent at this point.

Hillbilly Deluxe

March 18th, 2011
11:38 am

If the Libyan revolution can’t stand on its own legs for two damn weeks, it’s going to fail anyway.

When one side has air power and the other doesn’t, it’s pretty obvious who is going to win. All they are asking for is a no-fly zone.

Peter

March 18th, 2011
11:40 am

Hey Jimmy62…so we should invade another country in the name of the American Dream ?

A third War will help American’s ?

What do you think should happen ?

Aquagirl

March 18th, 2011
11:43 am

Hillbilly, the Egyptian protesters had no air power. They seemed to do okay.

Hillbilly Deluxe

March 18th, 2011
11:47 am

Aquagirl

That’s because they weren’t up against a regime that was willing to use air power against them.

Aquagirl

March 18th, 2011
11:49 am

Oh—–and when your Hillbilly Deluxe butt is in the seat of that F-18, maybe you won’t be treating a request for air support like an order for Domino’s pizza.

Jimmy62

March 18th, 2011
11:56 am

Peter: No, I am simply stating that the threat of force the UN is making today would have actually done some good if it had happened two or three weeks ago, rather than waiting till the evil dictator secured his position. But then again, both the UN and Obama have demonstrated over and over again their support for evil dictators over the will of the people.

Hillbilly Deluxe

March 18th, 2011
11:57 am

Aquagirl

Whatever.

Thulsa Doom

March 18th, 2011
12:02 pm

Aquagirl,

The Lybian resistance was broad in support but weak militarily from the gitgo because Khadafy for decades has had absolute control over the country.

The rebels have little or no military training, virtually no arms other than the arms stolen or confiscated from the Lybian army members turned rebels. Throw in dominance over the air and you have a recipe for slaughter. The popular will is there to fight- the arms, training, and outside support are not.

As for the Egyptian uprising the situation is vastly different. Egypt is a democracy even if Mubarak has maintained power for years through corruption, rigged election results,etc. Political dissent was allowed to openly organize and build.

Lybia is a total dictatorship where no dissent and no organized resistance has ever been allowed to even get a small foothold.

jt

March 18th, 2011
12:10 pm

Ahhhhh, no bloodshed.

No shock and awe…………………….yet.

The Wingfields of the world are dissappointed…Standing up gallently for the Libyan downtrodden…………but remember……………….in case you are suffering the effects of bloodlust…………….there is always this———————

Why can’t a Neo-con spare any empathy for AMERICANS?

http://www.drugwarrant.com/articles/drug-war-victim/

Peter

March 18th, 2011
12:13 pm

Hey Jimmy62…..So what would the UN do or Obama for that matter ?

Are we and the UN to go after every dictator in the world, or every unsavory leader ?

What has spending 3 Trillion on Iraq gotten American citizens, beside a broke country and a few rich ?

Aquagirl

March 18th, 2011
12:17 pm

Hillbilly—that’s exactly my point.

Support from the populace doesn’t = “boy, that guy irritates me.” People have to be willing to take an actual risk, for a protracted period of time. And the people have to be more than rioters. You need segments of the military, the upper class, housewives, doctors, plumbers……a broad base of support.

We’ve learned this lesson in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Russians learned it in Afghanistan and are trying to re-learn it in Chechnya. Unless social conditions support a real revolution, all you’ll do is trade one set of despots for another. You can’t impose those conditions by outside military force.

And please don’t “whatevah” the idea that military intervention is a serious matter. You take the idea that it’s just a couple of jets. It’s not. It’s a commitment, and we damn sure better not start anything we’re not willing to finish. That’s another lesson some of us learned from Iraq and Afghanistan. You seem to have slept through that class.

Thulsa Doom

March 18th, 2011
12:18 pm

Aquagirl

March 18th, 2011
11:49 am
“Oh—–and when your Hillbilly Deluxe butt is in the seat of that F-18, maybe you won’t be treating a request for air support like an order for Domino’s pizza.”

Aquagirl,

An F-18 pilot is the type of man who knowingly went into his training with the very real understanding that he could be put in harm’s way one day and have to risk and possibly lose his life. This was understood when they signed up to be a “fighter” pilot.

Aquagirl

March 18th, 2011
12:19 pm

Oh, sorry, that’s Thulsa Doom. Where is my serving peasant with my coffee?

Aquagirl

March 18th, 2011
12:24 pm

Thulsa, the pilot made a serious commitment. That’s no excuse to treat him/her like a toy, which seems to be popular among chickenhawks.

You should respect the military with an equally serious commitment to THINK and not toss them into a war. Sacrificing them on a not well thought out whim, ’cause you want to look like da man is absolutely disgusting.

Ivan

March 18th, 2011
12:25 pm

Just gonna leave this here…

“(Reuters) – Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi bombarded the rebel-held city of Misrata on Friday with tanks and heavy artillery, killing at least 25 people, residents said.

“Gaddafi’s forces are bombing the city with artillery shells and tanks. We now have 25 people dead at the hospital, including several little girls,” Dr Khaled Abou Selha told Reuters by satellite phone.

“They are even bombing ambulances. I saw one little girl with half of her head blown off,” he said, crying.”

Linkage

Thulsa Doom

March 18th, 2011
12:25 pm

Aquagirl,

I’m not sure where your getting your news but on any news program whether it be the conservative Fox news or any of the liberal networks like MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN there is a consensus that the Lybian revolution has broad popular support. But they have been beaten down so brutally for so long that they just don’t have the organization or the arms or channels of support needed to withstand an organized air campaign.

And BTW I’m not sure if I support an air campaign to help the resistance or not- I can see both the pros and cons of such an action. There are reasoned arguments for both.

tar and feathers party

March 18th, 2011
12:26 pm

Good, I am glad it is too late, the world has no business intervening in a civil war.

Peter

March 18th, 2011
12:28 pm

Hey Jimmy62 or Kyle……Is it time to invade Yemen ?

SANAA, Yemen – Yemeni government snipers firing from rooftops and houses shot into a crowd of tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators on Friday, killing at least 40 people and injuring hundreds demanding the ouster of the autocratic president.

What do you say to this ?

tar and feathers party

March 18th, 2011
12:29 pm

To sucker America into WWI, the British planted stories in American newspapers about German troops eating French babies….All lies to get us to do the dying for the English King. Same thing with the horror stories now coming out of Misrata today.

Jefferson

March 18th, 2011
12:35 pm

Why didn’t NATO step in at Kent State when they were shooting Americans ?

Thulsa Doom

March 18th, 2011
12:37 pm

Aquagirl,

I’ve served in the military. Matter of fact so did my younger brother and my dad. And my older brother is a lieutenant colonel in the army who has served in the first Iraqi war and also a couple of years ago in Iraq in the middle of the sh#t.

I therefore know and understand what a military committment means a lot more than you do.

Your opinion that people are bloodthirsty chickenhawks who love the idea of war games and sacrificing soldiers on a “whim”, who love to treat a serviceman like a “toy” so that they can look like “da man” is just plain crazy- not to mention ludicrous. People take war very seriously and weigh the pros and cons of doing so.

Your opinion that people treat it like a game is just a baseless, sweeping generalization that you made about anyone who thinks we should help the Lybian people. And that opinion is just that- its an opinion you have based on zero facts.

You think anyone who advocates a no fly zone is a bloodthirsty chickenhawk but you conveniently ignore that the whole reason why some of these people want to get involved is because of the wholesale slaughter of innocent civilians by Khadafy. It is gutwrenching to watch the slaughter of these people and stand by and do nothing to help them. Why is it so hard for you to understand that some people may want to help simply cause they can’t stand the idea of innocent civilians and children being slaughtered by unchecked Lybian airpower?

Aquagirl

March 18th, 2011
12:41 pm

Thulsa, if Gaddafi can keep control of the military, it’s obviously not a broad enough revolution. There are enough soldiers and generals who will follow a dictator, to the point of killing other Libyans.
Get rid of Gaddafi, and another dictator will rise from the “popular” revolution. In time, they’ll be shelling the locals who challenge their control. Wash, rinse, repeat. You want to sign up for that, go ahead. However good your intentions, it’s a fool’s errand.

People will not be free if they want to switch from one despot to another. They have to rebel against the SYSTEM of dictatorship. They have to be ready to establish a government based on freedom, not freedom from the particular guy in charge right now.

Aquagirl

March 18th, 2011
12:45 pm

Thulsa, I served in the military too, so don’t even pull that card.

Thulsa Doom

March 18th, 2011
12:49 pm

Aquagirl,

Not sure where you’ve been but Khadafy does not have complete control of the military. A decent portion of the rebels are soldiers who turned against Khadafy and are fighting with the rebels. Also pilots have defected and flown their jets to other nations. As I’ve already said the revolution has very broad support- this seems to be the consensus of both conservative and liberal news media. They just don’t have organization, funds, support, etc.

And you don’t know if another dictator will simply take over for Khadafy. That is your opinion- not a fact. You may well be right- you may well be wrong. But you cannot see into the future and say unequivocally that this is what will happen.

Nor can you say unequivocally that they are simply rebelling in favor of another dictatorship. You don’t know that. You only think that you do

Thulsa Doom

March 18th, 2011
12:50 pm

Aquagirl,

What was your rank and specialty- what branch?

Thulsa Doom

March 18th, 2011
12:56 pm

Aquagirl,

You out there? I was just curious about the branch you served in, rank, and where you did your boot camp and what base you were stationed at?

Aquagirl

March 18th, 2011
1:01 pm

Thulsa,yep, I’m here–MI, Spec 4, Ft. Jackson, and mostly Ft. Bragg. In that order.

Maybe that’s why I don’t think what we see on MSNBC and FOX should be the total basis for one’s opinion.

Idle Remarks

March 18th, 2011
1:06 pm

Anyone with an eye to history cannot help but compare this to Neville Chamberlain’s wondrous “peace in our time” remark. Well done, U.N.

Jefferson Jackson

March 18th, 2011
1:09 pm

Thuggish governments will always have the initial upperhand in military matters, as they can make their decisions swiftly and crisply. Democracies, on the other hand, must move more deliberately toward military engagement so as to assess the many pros and cons of throwing young men into battle. In the long run, right generally prevails. Case in point: The U.S.S.R.

Thulsa Doom

March 18th, 2011
1:12 pm

Aquagirl,

Ok. I was beginning to wonder. Sure took you a long time to answer a simple question. I was wondering if you were googling or just calling a friend that was in the military to ask what they did so that you could insert it as your own. I’ll take you at your word.

My only statement though is that as you and I both know when you sign up in the military you do so with the full understanding that you could be in a war. I’ve known a few pilots and I don’t know a pilot who would not want to fly combat missions if they knew they could save civilian lives when they did so.

As a matter of fact President Clinton turned the tide of the Serbian slaughter of civilians with the bombing campaign in the post-Yugoslav war. The only complaint the pilots had was that they were ordered to fly at high altitudes to avoid possible surface to air missiles- thus making their own bombs lose accuracy and causing more civilian casualties. The pilots were upset that they were not allowed to place more risk on their own lives by flying at lower altitudes- thus placing more risk on their own lives but greaty increasing bombing accuracy of military and not civilian targets. Very honorable men who understand risk.

Aquagirl

March 18th, 2011
1:27 pm

No, Thulsa, I was reading about the coming traffic nightmare this weekend. But I understand, when the topic is the the economy, I am amazed by how many people commenting have MBA’s, six figure salaries, and their own corporations. It’s like magic!

I’ve known a few pilots too. One shot down one of my best friends over a no-fly zone, and another killed quite a few paratroopers when they crashed into a loading C-130. Being honorable and understanding risk does not always produce the best outcome.

Thulsa Doom

March 18th, 2011
1:44 pm

Aquagirl,

A pilot shot down a friend of yours over a no-fly zone? That’s bizarre. I’ve never heard of a friendly aircraft being shot down by another friendly aircraft in a no fly zone. Seems the air traffic controllers tend to have a very good grasp on friendly aircraft in the area not to mention that with radio communication they can also identify each other. I have heard of friendly aircraft hitting allied tanks and apcs on the ground but hitting friendly aircraft I’ve never heard of.

The pilot crashing into a loading C-130 has nothing to do with being honorable and understanding risk producing the best outcome. That’s just a tragic accident and as you know even training operations in the military are wraught with danger.

In any event I’m out for the day. The rest of you have at it in deciding should we or should we not intervene.

I will leave you with this though. There are some places that we absolutely should’ve intervened- Clinton was right to intervene in the Yugoslav war because genocide was taking place.

And I wish he had intervened in Rwanda where 800,000 Tutsis were slaughtered by the Hutus. It reminds me of a quote- “The only thing evil needs to flourish is for good men to stand by and do nothing”.

@@

March 18th, 2011
1:48 pm

Another lost opportunity for Obama.

With the “Eagle” away, the buzzards will play.

This certainly won’t bolster Obama’s image in the M.E. His audacity was sho’nuff hopin’ it would..

Anyhoo, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Haul Qaddafi before a military tribunal. BURN HIS A$$!!!!!

Be sure to take his sons too. They’re all that’s holding him up.

Peter

March 18th, 2011
1:50 pm

Hey @@ …How many wars do you want to be at the same time ?

You think war is good for the current economy ?

Aquagirl

March 18th, 2011
1:54 pm

Thulsa, yep, blasted not just one, but two of ‘em right out of the sky. Whoopsie.

I’ll leave you with another quote: pick your battles. The world is full of evil. We have limited resources. Using them wisely is the difference between making yourself feel good and actually accomplishing something worthwhile.

@@

March 18th, 2011
2:00 pm

tar:

Post a picture of yourself. If I’m ever walking down the street and find you laying dead, I’ll echo your sentiments:

Good, I am glad it is too late, I had no desire to intervene in this guy’s life. It was irrelevant to me.

@@

March 18th, 2011
2:03 pm

Hey to you too, Peter.

We were gonna blow up some airstrips. Kill a few airplanes. It was made clear there would be no ground invasion, just air invasion.

The cost? Everything we needed was in the vicinity. No point in letting perfectly good munitions sit idle.

Larry Major

March 18th, 2011
2:13 pm

I can remember when nation building was something Democrats did.

carlosgvv

March 18th, 2011
2:19 pm

Jimmy62

You are certainly right to want real leadership in our country. We all do. Unfortunately, it looks like Obama will run for re-election in 2012 and the Republican front-runners all look like losers too. So, as usual, our choices will be bad and worse.

Peter

March 18th, 2011
2:35 pm

Hey @@…..I really don’t think the country in general has stomach for any more conflicts abroad until we can wrap up the two we are in……and who knows when that will happen.

Georgia Voter

March 18th, 2011
3:04 pm

I actually agree with KW that a no-fly zone should have been enacted and enforced sooner. But my views aren’t determined by taking the opposite position of the person in the White House just because he happens to be a Democrat.

Remember that Republicans and their sympathizers criticized President Clinton for leading in Bosnia, argued that we shouldn’t be the world’s police, etcetera. Today, they say the exact opposite. (They think we have short memories.)

Road Scholar

March 18th, 2011
3:14 pm

Kyle and Jimmy62; Delta is ready when you are! I know that they have flights to Egypt from Atlanta…they might just open the door and let you jump out when they fly over Libya! Dr Stangelove II! Or are you touting this as Boehmer’s jobs program?

Road Scholar

March 18th, 2011
3:15 pm

Oh and PS: how do we pay for what you propose?