Monday, March 21, 2011

Libya: Nobody's Happy, but It Could Be Worse

Nobody seems to be happy about Libya: with the possible exception of folks in Benghazi, who are now less likely to be wiped out by the Libyan colonel's enforcers - - -

- - - And those elsewhere in Libya who don't think Libya's boss is a good leader, and said so. Their chances of survival are now a tad better than they were before a United Nations Security Council resolution made it legal to inconvenience Colonel Muammar Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi. (or Qaddafi, or Gaddafi)

Arab League Supports No-Fly Zone: or, not

The Arab League supports the no-fly zone - or it doesn't. Either someone did a terrible job of quoting them, or they're saying one thing to foreigners and something else to the home audience. Or something else is happening.

Congress: 'No Fair!'

Here in America, the party crowd on Capitol Hill is complaining that the president should have talked with them. As it is, they haven't leaked tactical and strategic information that everyone from the Libyan colonel to Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda would love to learn.

Process, Protocol, and All That

I've run into someone who apparently thinks that the American president has declared war on Libya - without consulting Congress. Which is a breach of protocol - or would be, if war had been declared.

As far as I can tell, war hasn't been declared - and that's going to upset another set of folks.

Ideally - Things Would be Ideal

I think that, ideally, the Libyan colonel would have decided to retire - La Côte d'Azur is a lovely spot, I understand, and not all that far from Libya - instead of having people who don't think he's the greatest killed.

Also ideally, since the colonel didn't quit while he was ahead, It'd be nice if there was an effective international organization: one comprised of those wise and prudent folks who lead the nations of the world. This - quite hypothetical - body of sages could then formulate an ideal plan to convince the Libyan colonel of the error of his ways. Through sweet reason and tender sentiments.

That scenario is wrong on so many levels - the point is, we're stuck with the United Nations and a collection of national leaders who are possibly less clueless than the rest.

It'll have to do.

This isn't a War: It's a - - - Something Else

A world without war, without poverty, and without acne would be nice. It's not the world we have.

Sadly, the Libyan colonel, and others like him, exist.

Eventually, in my opinion, people like Qadhafi annoy or offend enough of their fellow-rulers, or do something so atrocious, that their position as crazy neighbors can't be tolerated.

That seems to have happened with the Libyan colonel.

There may, once, have been a time when a declaration of war might be written, a mutually-convenient time and place would be determined for the battle - and war would be on.

If that situation ever existed, it doesn't now.

What's happening to Libya now is the result of Qadhafi's remarkable style of leadership having finally snapped the patience of his neighbors. In my opinion.

In turn, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution: which an international coalition is now trying to enforce.

U. N. Security Council Resolution 1973 (2011)

I'll get back to some of the problems with the United Nations, the coalition, the resolution, and human nature, after this excerpt from the resolution:
"...Protection of civilians

"4. Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory, and requests the Member States concerned to inform the Secretary-General immediately of the measures they take pursuant to the authorization conferred by this paragraph which shall be immediately reported to the Security Council;

"5. Recognizes the important role of the League of Arab States in matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security in the region, and bearing in mind Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations, requests the Member States of the League of Arab States to cooperate with other Member States in the implementation of paragraph 4;

"No Fly Zone

"6. Decides to establish a ban on all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in order to help protect civilians...."
(S/RES/1973 (2011) The situation in Libya)
I can see why news sources aren't discussing this document all that much. It's long - eight pages - and that excerpt is just part of the top half of page three.

Exciting reading, it isn't.

On the other hand, I think it gives a little more insight into just what's going on. I've linked to the resolution, and a UN press release, down in the 'Background' section of this post.

Here's an excerpt from a sort of United Nations press release:
"Libya: Ban welcomes Security Council authorization of measures to protect civilians"
UN News Centre (March 18, 2011)

"Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for 'immediate action' on the Security Council's authorization of the use of 'all necessary measures' to protect civilians in Libya, terming it a 'historic' affirmation of the global community's responsibility to protect people from their own government's violence.

"The Council yesterday passed a resolution permitting the use of all necessary measures, including the imposition of a no-fly zone, to prevent further attacks and the loss of innocent lives in Libya, where the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi has conducted a military offensive against citizens seeking his removal from power.

"Following the adoption of the resolution, media reports stated that Libyan authorities had declared a ceasefire. Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa was quoted as saying that the truce was intended to 'to protect civilians.'

"The Arab League last weekend requested the Council to impose a no-fly zone after Mr. Qadhafi was reported to have used warplanes, warships, tanks and artillery to seize back cities taken over after weeks of mass protests by peaceful civilians seeking an end to his 41-year rule.

"Mr. Ban said that in adopting Resolution 1973, the Council had placed great importance on the appeal of the League of Arab States for action...."

The Spider-Flag of the United Nations, Yankee Imperialism, and Lizard Men from Outer Space

Decades back, I remember a politico discussing the "spider-flag of the United Nations" and the threat it posed to America. I was impressed - not all that favorably. My teens and the sixties happened at about the same time, and I thought the United Nations was a pretty good idea at the time.

I still do.

I'd better explain that.

We live in a world where the vast majority of people do not live in America: or any other single nation.

International commerce, and today's information technology, makes it increasingly difficult to ignore 'foreigners,' in my opinion.

I think it makes sense to have a forum where representatives of different nations can hurl epithets at each other. Not because I think that name-calling solves problems: but because the same forum can be used by the folks who actually want to communicate, and solve problems.

Quite a bit of what comes out of the U. N. makes about as much sense, again in my opinion, as the notion that shape-shifting, space-alien lizard people really run the world.

On the other hand, the United Nations is the closest thing we've got to "the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world" that Tennyson imagined in "Locksley Hall." But, offhand, it's the only global organization I can think of that's likely to lend an air of legitimacy to military action against the Libyan colonel and his enforcers.

We don't have to like it: it's arguably the best that's available.

Law, Protocol, and National Sovereignty Matter

I think that some criticisms of the president's actions are legitimate. He could have:
  • Taken action a long time
    • Ago
    • From now
  • Waited until
    • Congress
      • Agreed with him
      • Developed a workable alternative
    • Qadhafi
      • Killed more people
      • Decided to be nice
That's not what happened. I think that the matter of Congress being involved in decisions that affect the American armed forces needs to be discussed. And, I think, probably re-evaluated. And that's another topic, somewhat beyond the scope of this blog.

I think that who gives commands to American armed forces matters. I also think that who gives commands to the armed forces of other countries matters. And I'm glad I don't have to sort out how that's going to work.

I think that the national sovereignty of the United States matters. As does the sovereignty of countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. I also think that people like the Libyan colonel have an at-best-dubious claim to the 'sovereign rights of nations.'

It would be nice, I think, if the concern that's been shown for folks who don't support Qadhafi could be shown for their counterparts in Bahrain and Yemen - and that's almost another topic.

I think that quite a few folks in Libya have a much better chance now, of surviving long enough to reform their country, than they did before a coalition started inconveniencing the Libyan colonel's forces.

And that - in my opinion - is not a bad thing.

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Brigid said...

"And it's the only global organization I can think of offhand, that's likely to lend an air of legitimacy to military action against the Libyan colonel and his enforcers.

We don't have to like it: it's arguably the best that's available."

The first sentence has a very odd comma. I'd recommend either putting another one before "offhand" or take it out. I'm not sure about the colon in the second sentence. Wouldn't a "but" make more sense there?

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian H. Gill said...


Right you are, on both counts. I moved the 'offhand' over, and butted the and.

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In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.