‘Warning’ Versus ‘Actual No-Fly Zone’

What a real warning looks like.

As Max Boot implies at Commentary’s “contentions,” we have a fresh data point on what it takes to influence a thug like Qaddafi. It’s worth recalling what did not work. On March 1, the Obama administration communicated the following, as captured by the New York Times:

“Qaddafi has lost the legitimacy to govern, and it is time for him to go without further violence or delay,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters after a special meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council. “No option is off the table,” she said, adding “that of course includes a no-fly zone.”

But officials in Washington and elsewhere said that direct military action remained unlikely, and that the moves were designed as much as anything as a warning to Colonel Qaddafi and a show of support to the protesters seeking to overthrow his government.

It was observed at the time that the caveat about military action being unlikely served only to cancel out Hillary Clinton’s message. There is no set of rules by which miscreant dictators are bound to take warnings seriously, or ignore the extenuating and mitigating remarks made about them for the benefit of other audiences. Qaddafi didn’t take any of the earlier warnings seriously. But he adjusted promptly to the imminent threat of a no-fly zone.

J.E. Dyer blogs at Hot Air’s Green Room and Commentary’s “contentions.”  She writes a weekly column for Patheos.

36 thoughts on “‘Warning’ Versus ‘Actual No-Fly Zone’”

  1. Yes, and unilaterally declaring a cease-fire appears to be mighty crafty. He can bollix up the UN in more process, meanwhile besiege the rebels and thereby annihilate them slowly.

    1. Your read is about like mine, Richard. Back when Obama and Clinton sent their equivocal message Khadaffi still needed the big guns. Now he’s probably realizing that there’s no harm in silencing them, especially since heavy violence kills too many of the kine who tread the grain along with the bad kine who covet his power over the grain.

  2. This is a dangerous slow motion bluff… Obummer hasn’t the assets in place to enforce this, nor do we have the logistics, extended weaponry, or comprehensive hardware to fly a 24×7 fighter cap (which would be necessary to enforce a no-fly zone).

    Italy to Libya is no small task for a single seat fighter… including loiter time… the transit time is pretty daunting.. I would imagine it would be more like diving to 300 feet… long transit and exit time, very little time on the bottom, and dangerous to boot.

    The ground based operations are risky enough, but we flat out don’t have the carriers in place to cover a country that size. I suppose we could station a few guided missile shooters off the coast, and shoot at whatever flys… but those missiles have their limits, and Quacky only need put up an airliner full of kiddies for us to shoot down, and the game is over.

    So, are we ready for a grinding long range relay race to maintain a no-fly zone over Quacky and his deamons?

    I don’t think for very long, and when the nose falls off the first F-15 that gets caught in a fight… well that’s the ball game.

    That’s Obambi…. Limp in… too late… and then fold…


  3. Arab nations are calling for intervention, the UN Security Council has voted to establish a no-fly zone, the French, Italians and British have agreed to participate and the US will deploy amphibious ships to the Mediterranean…

    “The U.N. Security Council resolution, which passed late Thursday, set the stage for air strikes, a no-fly zone and other military measures short of a ground invasion and approved “all necessary measures” to prevent the regime from striking its own people.”

    What isn’t stated nor clear is what is the purpose and goal of this action… How does it resolve the situation? It’s a step in the direction of siding with the rebels but stops far short of taking on Qaddafi.

    One more example of muddled thinking and tentative, incomplete planning due to an unwillingness to commit to any clear cut course of action.

    Most importantly, it sets a new precedent. This isn’t a civil war, at least not yet. Prior to the revolt, Qaddafi’s government was recognized as legitimate by the UN, with Libya ironically and obscenely voted to chair UN Human Rights Commission.

    So now, in any revolt, in any country, can the UN now vote to interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation? Qaddafi being one of the bad guys isn’t the issue, the precedent set is that the UN can now determine when a formerly recognized legitimate government can be overthrown and prevented, through outside force, from suppressing armed rebellion…

  4. Indeed, I agree Qaddafi has probably spiked the NFZ coalition’s guns with this move. Now what? He has introduced the conditions for an excruciatingly extended “negotiation,” one in which no amount of cleverness will overcome the presence of will on his side and the absence of will on ours.

    TMF — the interesting (sad?) thing is that at the AP link in the post, a British defense analyst is quoted as saying that the US will have to take on the majority of the military responsibility for the NFZ. That all depends, of course, on what the heck the NFZ is intended to do and what it might look like — IF it even gets started.

    NATO has a lot of firepower even without us, but Germany is declining to participate in this, and Spain and Italy are offering airfields and MAYBE some offshore support aircraft — maybe. The strike-fighter contingent is to be from the Brits, France, Canada, and Denmark. Maybe UAE, Qatar, and Jordan will send some aircraft. In the case of these nations, the comment about short legs for the combat aircraft is spot-on.

    The US would bring Strike Eagles from Germany and Italy — if we join — and could add the four squadrons from the USS Enterprise’s airwing. Three of those are F/A-18Fs, which have much longer legs than the other strike-fighters. Enterprise would also bring its own airborne tankers.

    But the main thing the coalition will miss without the Enterprise airwing is actually airborne electronic warfare support. The Air Force has no full-specturm counterpart for the EA-6B today.

    I am gravely concerned, frankly, about committing our forces with no US objectives explicitly stated and only the potential goals of Britain and France actually out there for the public to inspect. They’re some of the best of our allies, but they don’t actually agree with each other about the objective here — Britain leaning toward regime-change, France away from it.

    I have a very bad feeling about this. But maybe we’ll get lucky and Qaddafi’s ceasefire will obviate any actual NFZ enforcement.

    1. I agree with your conclusion. I am not unconcerned about the people of Lybia nor the long term problems of leaving Gaddafi in power. No one deserves to live under Gaddafi, and frankly I don´t care who replaces him. Getting rid of an enemy is never wrong.

      But as long as the administration is not clear about American objectives and interestes (and let´s face it, it will never be, it´s not in their DNA) we should stay out of it. There is nothing to gain for America. But of course we already said we oppose Gaddafi, so our credibility is tanking either way.

      As for Clinton´s “Qaddafi has lost the legitimacy to govern” – he never had it, but what does that mean? You either say he has to go – then assassinate him and his son, for Heaven´s sake, and put an end to it and don´t fool around with no fly zones and costly half measures. Or stay out of it and support the status quo of 2007, with a chastened but secure Gaddafi regime. There is no middle way. In either case, don´t listen to the Europeans.

      1. I’m not unconcerned about the Libyan people either. But I’m not concerned enough about them to risk one american life or spend one american dollar, especially since there is no indication we will end up with anything but another dictator and, on the record, there is less than zero chance that whatever we do will be appreciated in any meaningful sense. This is Europe and the Arab leagues problem and they are welcome to it.

        1. Well, isn´t that what I said?

          But in that case, this jerk of a President should stop talking tough and at the same time ruling out any effective measures. It´s the worst of both worlds. Since he plans to use our military assets, maybe he can stop telling our enemies what your plans and limits are, like setting time tables and ruling out ground troops. Another policy that could have been designed to reduce our credibility.

          Better to shut up and take your last sentence as a basis for setting policy. I could get behind that. But Obama will not do that, presumably because it would take a brain and a spine. Or maybe because it wouldn´t do enough damage to America?

  5. I have given my “take” on Ghaddafi’s ceasefire ploy in my final reply on the OC’s previous posting (“This is your world without traditional US leadership”). With adolescent humility, I think it says it all. (No, Fuster, you may not say what you are thinking of saying. This is a family programme..!)

    When will Obama realise that he was elected precisely because the US electorate was fed up to the back teeth of us getting ourselves entrapped in expensive foreign adventures with no obvious advantage for the US or its interests? I hate to have to say this, but if Obama is going to repeat the idiocies of the Republicans, why not just make it all simple and vote Republican in the first place.

  6. In short, the asset list is small, spotty, and unreliable for both (operational and mechanical reasons). The goal is hazy, undefined, has no Rules of Engagment, and no objective.

    Great… lets do it!!!! [insert wince here…]

    And on the EA-6B front… I’d have to check, but that bird is rapidly being phased out for the Super Hornet festooned with electronics pods… and not a lot of combat time…

    This isn’t a very effective or good idea…


    1. I am intrigued at this assertion: “Ghadaffi has lost the right to govern”. Who says? Is it because he hasn’t been democratically elected? Are we now going to send in the troops (or, warplanes, as the case may be) to assist the overthrow of every unelected government?

      Who gave the Saudi Monarchy the right to govern? Why are the rights of the Shias in Saudi and Bahrain and non-Jews in Israel/Palestine to equal political rights less important than the political rights of the Libyan insurgents?

      1. Well you asked..

        Paulite… the world is basically a large street fight. Sovereignty is a matter of the will to nationhood… that about sums it all up. It is a brute force assertion.

        This is a continual theme of a running argument that I have with Libertarians and Constitutional fetishists. (ok not the prurient definition, the functional worship trinket definition…)

        As an example: The United States of America asserted its sovereignty over the period of September 5, 1774 (Opening of the First Continental Congress) through the Declaration of Independence on July 2-4, 1776. As a matter of minimal structures of sovereignty, we printed our own currency, appointed a Commander in Chief, and sent out ambassadors during the 2nd CC in starting in May 1775. That set of acts preceded any “government”. To this day the President of the United States holds three specific functions. Head of State (The ultimate expression of national sovereignty), Commander in Chief of the military (which is the defender of the sovereignty), and then he is Chief Executive of the government.

        Now we get into the meat of the issue. Determining who is worthy to rule what is a Sovereign Act, not an Executive function. That Sovereign act must be backed up by Sovereign Action… and that means either diplomatic (weak, puerile, ineffective…) or military.

        This was the case of the British Royal Government taking exception to the US deciding that it had endured enough, and wished to be its own nation state. George III’s hand was forced (not unhappily mind you – He wanted the rebellion defeated.) His ministers mostly did their best to prevent the separation.

        The British position was weak, the American Army with French assistance and supply… along with some Spanish and Dutch… eventually after great loss and tremendous sacrifice on both sides, the US prevailed. But, the assertion was physical, not diplomatic, and it was violent.

        As I said in the beginning. Sovereign nations must act to protect their sovereignty. The existential threats to that sovereignty are largely the judgment of the Heads of the various states according to their particular national interests.

        There is a great deal of national interest in dealing with a murderous thug like Quacky… There is a great deal of good sense to “teaching a lesson” to bad leaders so that other bad states think twice before executing sovereign acts that go outside of consensus bounds.

        Now, as you might have noted, I do not see a sovereign interest or capability in our dealing with Libya short of blowing the tar out of the place and driving off… Frankly that would be problematic since the replacement for him would inevitably be an Iranian satellite.

        The right to intervene, however, is the right of might.

        That is why Obambi is so dangerous. He has no understanding of national sovereignty, and no desire to demonstrate that he does.


        The Mighty Fahvaag

  7. Can someone please tell me the grounds on which it is asserted that Ghaddafi has “lost the right to govern”. What gives the Saudi monarchy and the Emir of Bahrain the legitimacy to govern?

    Why are the rights of the Libyan insurgents more important than the rights of the Shias in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain?

    1. Well, first of all its Hillary who’s made that assertion. As she’s the Sec. State, presumably that makes her position the administration’s. Again presumably, she’s asserting that when a ruler resists a popular uprising with armed force, it de-legitimizes that regime.

      As you point out, what of other dictatorships, etc. whom the administration does not deem to be illegitimate? Since the administration supports or at least condones those gov’ts, clearly the determinative factor is a popular uprising and the use of force against it. However… the administration did not apply the same standard to Iran’s recent uprising…so clearly the administration applies the ‘standard’ solely when it suits them.

      All of this, very much ties in with the point I made earlier about national sovereignty and the UN. Since the UN and Obama’s administration have created an arbitrary standard, it’s certain to sooner or later, back-fire upon them.

      The precedent has been set and, the principle of the world determining what is legitimate and what is not, within a sovereign nation is now the new ‘standard’. As there are no constitutional limits or even guidelines as to when and how such a determination is to be made, the world, with the Obama administration legitimizing it, has decided that the rule of men, rather than law, shall rule. Humanity will regret it and “the very bad feeling” that J.E. and many of the rest of us have, is fully justified.

      The implications of this go far beyond Libya’s petty dictator Qaddafi.

    2. Paulite, it’s easier to assert the negative case and to list the ways a regime proves itself to not be legitimate.

      Paulites have a good deal of practice doing that and if you take some of the stock criticisms that Paulites apply to the US and apply them to Libya, i think you can answer you own question, in your own way.

  8. Ockham says all the current action on NFZ and such is nothing but sham based on the fact that action was delayed until just after Khadaffi got the upper hand and virtually assured his ability to crush the rebellion slowly. None of the Arab Leaguers really wants his home town crowd getting the idea that popular revolutions can easily succeed, nor the idea that the “world” will act in any meaningful way to stop a ruler from slaughtering said crowds if it comes to that. The Europeans, for their part, are completely cynical, their only interest (besides posturing as idealists) being th continued flow of oil from Libya and the Persian Gulf.

  9. We should be big hearted and offer assistance of reasonable terms. My own offer would be ‘We will move one warplane from Afghan or Iraq temporarily to NFZ duty for each thousand serious combat troops you supply to those theaters for service under our commanders for one year.’

  10. I, too, am troubled at trying to identify the casus belli that would justify one or more nations attacking the sovereign nation of Libya. Libya has not attacked another nation recently. (We are confirming now what most of us thought before: that Gaddafi was behind the Lockerbie bombing. That would have been a nice casus belli, but apparently we have given Libya a pass on that one.)

    Apparently, the UN believes that it has authority under its charter to authorize military action against one of its members, and maybe it does. Libya is a member — indeed a member so highly respected that it is qualified to sit on the UN’s Human Rights Council. One could argue that Libya agreed to the UN’s rules when it performed its Human Rights services. If that is the basis, however, we need to acknowledge that a vote of the Security Council could authorize an invasion of US sovereignty, too. That won’t happen because of our military strength — which brings us back to TMF’s point that the decision to intervene in Libya boils down to an assertion of brute force.

    The fact remains that until recently the nations of world (the US included) were happy to do business with a brutal dictator who ordered the Lockerbie terrorist attack. Now, Gaddafi gets a little bad press for turning on his own rebels, and the US thinks it must “Do Something!” Having now threatened, we are committed to fulfilling the threat.

    Gaddafi’s response to the UN authorization was more verbal than substantive. His promised “cease-fire” will turn out to be merely an adjustment in his deceit; rebels will still be dying from the cease fire. Then, we will be faced with an ambiguous situation if we proceed to implement the UN authorized action Will the US seek a judgment from some international tribunal before shooting down Libyan fighters, or will we just go with our best estimate of the situation?

    Messy. Very messy.

  11. There is nothing in the UN charter that grants the UN the lawful right to arbitrarily attack a sovereign member who has not attacked another nation. None of the ‘big five’ permanent members of the UN Security Council, US, Russia, China, Britain, France would have ever agreed to such a precondition.

    Regardless of Qaddafi’s despicable behavior, both past and present, this is clearly outside the UN mandate and without precedent. Most surprisingly, Russia and China’s abstention in the UN vote authgorizing this action is a very rare instance of their failing to appreciate the precedent it sets.

    Were this to happen in China, in principle, upon what basis would China’s leadership object to the UN establishing a no-fly zone over China? Another Tiananmen Square incident would be all the excuse that the UN would need, under the precedent now set. Of course military power would preclude that eventuality, but the legal precedent has now been set.

    Since the left abhors US sovereignty much more than Russia and China’s, look for this to be used in future arguments that the UN should take precedence over US autonomy, while turning a blind eye to any totalitarian behavior with the military muscle and will to use it.

  12. Under international law, the invasion of another sovereign nation is an unlawful act. So too, is attacking another sovereign nation from the air – including restricting its airspace. The exception is, of course, self-defence. There is a more problematic possible “exception” – where central authority has broken down and a humanitarian crisis is threatened. This is the Bosnian and Darfur exception. Presumably, this is also going to be our legal pretext to imposing a NFZ on Libya – and when that doesn’t do the job – as the pretext to intervene on the side of the insurgents by mounting air-attacks on Ghaddafi’s forces. If that doesn’t work either, we will probably try to bribe or blackmail Arab nations to supply ground troops to finish the job – More mission creep is our increasingly creepy involvement in the Arab world.

    News from the “front” suggests that Ghaddafi is taking the Saint Augustine approach to his ceasefire – “Lord make me virtuous – but not yet”. He is currently grabbing what he can and consolidating his positions before he invites the Chinese and Germans in to observe the ceasefire. Making things even murkier, the insurgents have a vested interest in undermining the ceasefire and provide a pretext for the US and its allies to attack the Ghaddafi forces. Continuing to lob mortar rounds into the Ghaddafi positions is a ‘win-win’ scenario for the rebels.

    “Regime Change” isn’t a legal ground to attack a sovereign nation. This is why the Bush and Blair axis had to manufacture the WMD lie to provide legal cover for their decision to invade Iraq. Of course, regime change is exactly what we are really after in Libya too. However, Ghaddafi is refusing to play our game (rotten sport). Once we have our assets in place he will stop offensive operations, invite the observers in, leave us to feed the rebel enclaves, and leave us tied in knots and the rebel areas top wither on the vine.
    What do we do then? Impose sanctions on Libya so that it can’t sell its oil? On what grounds? Because the outcome of the Libyan civil war turned out not to our liking? ‘Can’t see the Chinese and Ruskies going along with that! In the meantime, oil prices are going north – threatening to stifle the delicate shoots of economic recovery (Is is possible that this is all a ploy by Republican Party strategists to prevent a recovery from the Bush recession while Obama is in power? On balance, probably not, they don’t have the brains.). Ghaddafi also knows he has time on his side. The longer this goes on, the greater likelihood is that he will be seen in the Moslem world as a martyr resisting the hated Americans.

    When will we ever learn? Our involvement in this mess is down to an unholy alliance between the neo-con rump in the Republican Party and the humanitarian interventionist persuasion in the Dems. This is set fair to be our third disasterous, zillion dollar, military adventure in the Arab world.

    There are some lessons we need to take on board: Military spending is no different from any other type of government spending. We, the taxpayers pay for it. Military intervention is the most expensive way, and most unpredictable in outcome, to address foreign relations issues. Decades of excessive and unwise military spending has provided us with the temptation of seeing the military as the solution to every foreign problem. We are about to tie up billions of dollars in military assets in this latest unnecessary adventure. If the US taxpayer hadn’t given these toys to the military in the first place, we wouldn’t have been able to succumb to the temptation of this adventure and the exhortations of the bi-partisan foreign-policy idiots.

    The only potential candidate who can be guarranteed not to get us into any more foreign quagmires, and to put the US taxpayer, and the interests of the US to the fore, is Rand Paul.

    (Parting thought: The Governor of Wisconsin is valiantly attempting to take on his pampered public servants and to prioritize the interests of the tax-payers who are paying the bill for all this public generosity. We all agree that our fighting men and women deserve their military pensions for putting their lives on the line for the rest of us. We also realize that, because of the nature of their job, they are entitled to retire and take their pensions earlier than the norm. However, there are tens of thousands of military bureaucrats – pen-pushers in uniform – who have never seen action (any more than the civil servants of Wisconsin). Why are these people getting taxpayer-funded gold-plated pensions in the prime of their working lives?)

    1. Paulite…

      Please without me being impolite…

      Sovereignty has absolutely NOTHING TO DO WITH LAW… period… Sovereign decisions, assertions, and acts are whole and in and of themselves decisions external to any sort of arcane oddball legal code.

      1. Please disabuse yourself of this concept. There is no such thing as international law. It doesn’t exist. Any semblance therein are wholly voluntary, or involuntary treaty obligations which are plenary in nature, and only a virtual “hat tip” is given to the US Senate.

      2. The US Constitution covers only US Law which is subservient and dependent on US sovereignty. Our Sovereignty is not at all dependent on any sort of legal code at all. End of story. This nation exists because it as a whole, wants to. The Constitution is merely a legal code, and government, nothing more.

      As I pointed out before… we had two other governments before we had the current government.

      3. Your analysis is wrong… because it is based on a false premise that there is some sort of set of “rules” of law for international conduct… which is fallacious piffle…

      When we act in a sovereign way we do so for sovereign reasons and sovereign justifications.

      If we determine that Quacky is dangerous to whatever we feel is our ordered way of life and liberty, he is bound to be the object of a sovereign act.

      My issue is that WE are not will to actually perform such an act, to the extent necessary to secure our objectives… because we have no objectives.

      Isolationism is stupid in an interconnected and interdependent world. Constitutionalism is the play thing of dependents. Law is a creature of Sovereignty and can take whatever form the sovereigns so chose.

      If Quacky is dangerous… then he must be removed from power. If he is evil but not dangerous then there are choices to be taken.. but legal has nothing whatever to do with it.

      That is why we have a mechanism for declaring offensive war. However we are in the midst of a defensive war where we must pick our battles and campaigns with intelligence and forethought.

      Ron Paul is an idiot. His son is less so, but following him like some messiah from the age of Henry Cabot Lodge is ludicrous. He and his followers are just as bad as Obambi and his…

      All delusion all the time…

      Peace, Love, and Bobby Sherman.


      1. Also trying not to be impolite……

        International law, no less than national law (including constitutional law), is a construct of rules which depends on observance and enforcement. It is nothing more.
        Sovreignty is an abstract concept. Law doesn’t confer it. However, law may recognize it and attribute certain incidences to it.

        Avoidance of unnecessary and counterproductive military interventions in foreign parts is NOT “isolationism”. It is common sense (Or it WAS until the neo-cons and their partners in crime, the humanitarian interventionists, hijacked our foreign policy)

        I take it that you are not an unabashed admirer of Rand Paul.

  13. Does armed resistance to established government produce its own legitimacy? If so, shouldn’t the UN have considered a response to the events at the Branch Davidian “compound”? The denouement of this: http://www.newsminer.com/view/full_story/12411207/article-Documents–Militia-members-stored-weapons-near-Fairbanks-Ice-Park-?instance=home_news_window_left_top_1 is easily predicted. Should the UN become involved? My personal experience of the Ghaddafi regime doesn’t allow me to characterize him as a “brutal thug”. The media describes the conditions in Libya and for decades there hasn’t been much description. We’re not aware that there is wide-spread hunger or lack of clothing and housing in the country. In fact, thousands of foreigners willingly travel back and forth to engage in trade and work there. We’re told about his involvement in the Lockerbie attack and the presence of a Ukrainian nurse but practically nothing of the daily life of an ordinary Libyan and his relationship with the government.

    Neither Ghaddafi nor any other despotism can endure without the acquiescence of a significant portion of the population. When the opposition has gathered enough power to rival the establishment the conflict is engaged more dynamically. When enough Libyans want a change, it will occur.

  14. What you’ve all talked out here is the problem with UN multilateralism, which presupposes a body of international “law” that doesn’t exist.

    I certainly don’t defend the statement that Qaddafi has “lost the right to govern,” or whatever the exact words were. There is no grand tribunal out there conferring that “right” on sovereigns and taking it away. There are only the decisions of sovereign nations to recognize particular governments, and a modern tradition of international consensus. That tradition has depended entirely on the US fostering it. It won’t survive a prolonged absence by the US from the leadership position.

    If the US invades another nation, the nature of the act is the US invading another nation, and that is, indeed, an act of war. It may not be the first act of war committed in the sequence of events, but it is one.

    Multilateralism can be used for certain purposes by statesmen who keep firmly in mind the truth that international actions are inherently power moves between nation-states, and none of the multilateralist googoo is binding. But believing the Koolaid about multilateralism leads to pious nonsense like “Qaddafi has lost the right to govern” — and it also leads to the use of force in imprudent and impractical ways.

    The real question is always whether the US is prepared to make war on another nation to achieve an objective. In the case of Iraq in 2003, my answer was yes. I had zero trouble then and I have zero now in declaring that making war on Saddam Hussein was necessary for the security of the United States. I have always had less certainty about the need to regime-change and occupy Afghanistan. Of the two efforts, the one in Afghanistan was the more quixotic.

    Regarding Libya, the most pragmatic posture is that if Qaddafi is no more dangerous than he has been the last 20 years, it’s not a bad deal for regional security if he stays in power.

    If we had a president capable of seeing things through in terms of backing an alternative government, that would be one thing. Complaints that we don’t have the forces to provide air and special forces support for a Libyan transitional government, as it seeks to topple Qaddafi itself, are invalid. NATO collectively has the forces, and if the US took the lead, we’d be in the driver’s seat regarding which Libyans we were dealing with and what the stratregy was. It would be better for the US if a new government of comparative moderates were to replace Qaddafi, and the only way to bolster such a government against Al Qaeda is to be in there ourselves, doing it.

    But I have no illusions about Obama’s ability to carry this off. What concerns me at this point is that he may get my shipmates embroiled in a war being prosecuted by someone else, without US leadership and with only the lowest common denominator of “multilateral” goals. That’s a recipe for disaster. If nothing else, it’s one heck of a way to generate American hostages.

    1. Thanks Jen… bingo… as always…

      Now our folks are flyin’ and fightin’. Guess we shall see, but they have my full unequivocal support and prayers.

      May God be with us and watch over those in harm’s way.


      1. aww shucks, the opticon is full of no doubts. you have plenty of illusions about Obama and your illusions about Obama have never been affected by your predictions about his behavior not panning out.

        1. If I had ever made a predication about Obama’s behavior that did not pan out, I would, naturally, have been affected by that.

          1. rats. no matter how old she gets, she’s still that same little prize-winning speller.

            a point to you.

            1. Actually, that was a typo. You still owe me an articulation of what predictions (no “a”) I have made about Obama that have not panned out.

  15. International law “exists” because the US, the USSR (subsequently Russia), and China, have ‘observed’, by and large, the conventions which we call ‘international law’ in their relations with each other and their First World allies and clients. Of course, during the cold war none of us observed international law – or frequently – civilized behaviour of any standard, in our dealings with the Third World.

    For my money, the US people are the arbitrar of whether or not we should get ourselves involved militarily (not whether some individuals have ‘zero trouble’ with putting other people’s children in the way of harm). By that measure, the neo-con wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, whether legal or not under international law, were a bad idea. These wars, which sacrificed the lives and health of thousands of Americans (and hundreds of thousands of non-Americans) have also burgled our treasury for no advantage to US interests that I (or most Americans) can see.

    Sadly, most of the pressure that has gotten us into this latest morass again came from the Weekly Standard and National Review, the pulpits of the rump neo-con tendency. Obama should have resisted this pressure and told Clinton and Powers that he wasn’t elected to continue the foreign policy of the most discredited faction in the Republican Party. As far as I can see, most of the potential GOP candidates for 2012 except Rand Paul were also for this intervention in Libya.

  16. I get a little tired of the claim that the Bush administration lied about Saddam’s WMDs. The Bush administration had the same information that was acted upon in a small way by the Clinton administration. So, the best one could claim is that Bush was as gullible as Clinton and believed the consistent reports from the CIA. The assertion that Saddam had either WMD’s or programs to create them certainly did not originate with the Bush regime.

    Claims of WMDs also came from Saddam himself, when he was trying to intimidate his neighbors. The US felt it could not, in the post 9/11 context, safely disbelieve those claims. Well, gee, too bad, Saddam. You shouldn’t have tried to talk out of both sides of your mouth.

    We also forget that in 2003 there was still a state of hositilities existing with Iraq, since the Gulf War had ended with a ceasefire, the terms of which were violated. We have no such existing hosilities with Libya.

    I would be more comfortable whacking Gaddafi for his role in the Lockerbie bombing, but the world has apparently decided to give him a pass on that one. I don’t think there would be any questions under international law about the sufficiency of international terrorism as a casus belli.

    We don’t know who is going to take over from Gaddafi, and whether that person or organization is going to be better or worse than the current regime. Lacking either a crystal ball or adequate intelligence, perhaps we are attacking Libya’s military assets to make sure that when the new regime takes over, all its military equipment will be broken.

    1. get as tired as you like, Vinnie. the accusation fits the facts. Cheney’s and his guys shopped around for stories that they could use and coerced the CIA to change their assessment that stories of an active program were not credible.

      1. What evidence do you have that Bush, Cheney, or [fill in the blank] knew that there were no WMD in Iraq but claimed otherwise? Short of that, the charge of lying is itself a lie, for it is a conclusion based on a premise known by the speaker to be false.

        1. Well, we now know that they had the CIA assessment “edited”, and that they put pressure on people to come to conclusions which were favourable to the WMD case. Logic suggests that they wouldn’t have needed to do these things if the raw intelligence was pleasing to them in the first place.
          Reinforcing this conclusion is the fact that the Brits actually set up an inquiry to investigate the interference by Tony and his cronies with what British intelligence had concluded (That there were no WMDs nor active WMD programmes). This inquiry found that the intelligence was “sexed up” in the delightful usage of Blair’s press secretary. Given the close ties between the Foreign Office, the State Dept., and the CIA and MI5, it is just not credible that our government didn’t know what their government knew.

          Of course there is nothing as gullible as the true believer.

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