by Gary Farber
In Pottery Barn Libya, Part 1, I began explaining the situation in Libya. Now, more, and what America and NATO should do.
What matters are the choices America and Europe make.
Naturally, Joe Lieberman and John McCain want bombs away, all-out regime change. Nothing makes John McCain happier: Back on the Battlefield: How the Libya debate snapped John McCain out of his 2008 funk—and into a fresh fight with Obama.
John McCain has never met a country he wouldn't like to bomb:
McCain, who insists on visiting Iraq and Afghanistan twice a year, often favors a muscular approach to projecting U.S. military power but is wary of entanglements with no exit strategy. The old aviator, who had both arms repeatedly broken in a Hanoi prison camp, says that experience has “also given me a sense of caution in light of our failure in Vietnam.” While McCain opposed the U.S. military actions in Lebanon and Somalia, he is sympathetic to humanitarian missions—and would even consider sending troops to the war-torn Ivory Coast if someone could “tell me how we stop what’s going on.”
Pressed on when the United States should intervene in other countries, McCain sketches an expansive doctrine that turns on practicality: American forces must be able to “beneficially affect the situation” and avoid “an outcome which would be offensive to our fundamental -principles—whether it’s 1,000 people slaughtered or 8,000…If there’s a massacre or ethnic cleansing and we are able to prevent it, I think the United States should act.”
McCain: bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran.
McCain: "We are all Georgians now."
Cordesman, who has, see previous links, always been deeply wired into the militarist networks of the Washington, D.C. village of talking heads and millionaire journalism, has a (surprise!) widely-quoted piece advocating we (surprise!) go all in.
"The truth is, time isn't on anybody's side yet," said Anthony H. Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "If Kadafi can prevent the east from getting oil, he can consolidate power and outwait the rebels."
Over time, the world might lose its enthusiasm for challenging Kadafi. "Interest flags, support flags and you don't get the military backing," Cordesman said.
Senator Lindsay Graham also wants to attack, of course:
[...] "The idea that the AC-130s and the A-10s and American air power is grounded unless the place goes to hell is just so unnerving that I can't express it adequately," said Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C. "The only thing I would ask is, please reconsider that."
Cordesman is in the Christian Science Monitor:
“From a Libyan viewpoint, dragging the country into a long political and economic crisis, and an extended low-level conflict that devastates populated areas, the net humanitarian cost will be higher than fully backing the rebels, with air power and covert arms and training,” writes Anthony Cordesman, national security expert at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, in a commentary Wednesday on the CSIS website.
A middle path between regime change and the status quo?
Mr. Cordesman says that the international political environment precludes the US, as it does NATO, from openly adopting “regime change” as its Libya policy. But he says that, given the alternative of an “unstable stalemate” in which civilians could suffer “for months or years,” something he calls a “quietly escalating regime kill” is the best option.
Among the essential elements of such a policy would be stepped-up airstrikes on Qaddafi forces and weapons, arming the rebels, sending in teams of Special Forces to guide coalition airstrikes (at Qaddafi assets and away from civilian populations), and fully enforcing United Nations sanctions to deny Qaddafi funds and supplies.
Cordesman acknowledges that Obama may have already approved some steps covertly. Indeed, administration officials quietly confirmed last week that the president OK’d dispatching CIA operatives to Libya to provide intelligence on the rebels and to help guide airstrikes.
The intel on the rebels – who they are and to what degree, if any, they are infiltrated by elements of Al Qaeda – will form the basis for Obama’s next important decision concerning Libya: whether or not to arm the rebels, either directly or through third parties.
[...] Anthony Cordesman, a military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington, said Wednesday that "essentially, the no-fly zone is not going to succeed." [lots more]
"The fact is, day by day, we're going to confront the reality that a no-fly zone is probably a misnomer," said Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "If this structure can't stop Gadhafi's ground forces, then it fails."
"If we want to basically get rid of the regime, then we have to go much further and attack Gadhafi's centers of power and land targets," Cordesman said.
You name a mainstream media outlet, and they've all gotten Tony Cordesman's memo:
Libya: “No Fly” to “Unstable Stalemate” or “Regime Kill?”
That's right, you have three guesses which he's for. Who wants to be a winner?
And Tony is ready with some good quotes, and is in everyone's rolodex.
Cordesman is the One Man Army Corps.
Not particularly re-imagined.
The next most organized units are those composed of bearded men with Islamist leanings. These fighters are likely to be from certain cities -- most famously Darnah -- and of certain backgrounds, such as unemployed men with university degrees. Some have attended Salafi seminaries; a smaller proportion have trained together secretly in Libya. A minuscule inner core fought in Afghanistan alongside Osama bin Laden in the 1980s and created the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) upon their return to Libya in the early 1990s. That group's raison d'être was to violently overthrow Qaddafi. After failed putsch attempts at the end of the 1990s, the Libyan state effectively crushed and co-opted the LIFG during the 2000s. Over the last five years, prominent former LIFG leaders have renounced their previous ties to al Qaeda and articulated an innovative anti-extremist Islamic theology. As the Wall Street Journal's Charles Levinson, who has met with prominent former LIFG elites in Darnah, has reported, "Islamist leaders and their contingent of followers represent a relatively small minority within the rebel cause. They have served the rebels' secular leadership with little friction. Their discipline and fighting experience is badly needed by the rebels' ragtag army."
Although hard-core Islamists are likely to remain bit players politically in the rebel movement, it would be unrealistic to expect Islam not to play a significant role in post-Qaddafi Libya. Much of eastern Libya remains traditional and religiously conservative. Adherence to the Senussi Sufi order served as the defining social, religious, and political lodestar of the Cyrenaicans from the mid-19th century until 1969, after which point Qaddafi suppressed them. Indeed, because Qaddafi excluded all conservative Muslim sensibilities from having a say in politics after 1969, Muslim groups must be granted their rightful seat at the table from now on.
Islam has always served to unite disparate tribal, social, and regional groupings in Libya. In Qaddafi's wake, assuming he falls, we can expect moderate Islam to be a key rhetorical factor in both popular discourse and politics. This should not frighten Western observers, as the use of Islam as a uniting, stabilizing factor will be a bane to jihadi recruitment efforts.
Certainly Qadaffi keeps claiming we should but there's little evidence, as David Zucchino reports: Rebels in Libya insist they're no fans of Al Qaeda.
Col. Moammar Kadafi has depicted this coastal city of squat concrete homes and graceful blue harbor as the staging ground for an Al Qaeda takeover of Libya.
A radical Islamic caliphate, Kadafi claims, is based in Derna, inside rebel-held eastern Libya, and is directing the uprising against him.That characterization draws a belly laugh from Mabrouk Salama, an Irish-educated chemistry professor who serves on the rebel leadership council in Derna.
"Al Qaeda? Here? Ha!" Salama said, shaking his head. "It's just Kadafi's way of trying to scare America."
It is impossible for an outsider to discern the motives, intrigues or heartfelt beliefs of Libyans in cities like Derna, which was sealed off from the outside world for four decades under Kadafi. But appearances, at least, do not suggest a deep Al Qaeda presence here.
Zahi Mogherbi, a retired political science professor in Benghazi who wrote a research paper on radical Islamic influences in Libya, said 63 men from Derna and 23 from Benghazi were among 120 Libyans who went to Iraq in 2006 and '07. Calling those numbers "fairly insignificant" in a nation of 6.5 million, Mogherbi said radical Islam had not taken root in Derna or anywhere else in eastern Libya.
"I have not seen any doctrinal movement to espouse any radical brand of Islam," he said, describing Derna as moderate and progressive by Arab standards.
"It would not be tolerated," Mogherbi said. "The people are rebelling against a dictatorship. They will not substitute this dictatorship for a radical Islamic dictatorship."Leaders of the 15-member opposition council here say that only about half the local men who went to Iraq even survived the war, and that the rest now support the rebellion against Kadafi. Few actually had contact with Al Qaeda or returned bent on radicalizing Libya, they say.
"They're the same as us: revolutionaries who want to get rid of Kadafi and bring democracy and freedom to Libya," said Moftah Mahkrez, a member of the Derna opposition council. "This is Libya, not Afghanistan."
Anis Mahkrez, the friend and follower of Hasadi, said Al Qaeda's philosophy was alien to Libya and had little appeal here. He said Hasadi had joined the fight to depose Kadafi and that he reported to the rebel council.
Rebel leaders here hardly look or sound like Al Qaeda operatives.
Salama, who was jailed under Kadafi and said he holds a doctorate from the University of Dublin, was dressed in a pinstriped business suit. Except for a neatly clipped mustache, he was clean-shaven.
Moftah Mahkrez, 44, a businessman, wore a blue blazer and designer jeans. Brother Anis, 48, who was jailed for five years by the Kadafi regime, wore a stylish black tracksuit.
Anis was once a well-known soccer player. Photos of the brothers in soccer uniforms adorn the home they share in downtown Derna.
Anis nodded vigorously when his brother said he and fellow council members controlled the Hasadi militia that includes Anis.
"My brother is loyal to football, not Al Qaeda," Moftah said.
Moftah described extremists who went to Iraq as poorly educated young men weary of living in Kadafi's police state. "Now they need pencils and paper, not Kalashnikovs" rifles, he said.
Mogherbi, the Benghazi professor who advises the rebel national council, said radical Islam provided a natural outlet for young men living under Kadafi's dictatorship.
"Their radicalization was a reflection of their antagonism toward the Kadafi regime and his neglect of the east," Mogherbi said. "Now that Kadafi no longer controls the east, there is no appeal in this radical form of Islam."
In Senate testimony last week, Navy Adm. James Stavridis, commander of NATO forces, described "flickers in the intelligence of potential Al Qaeda, Hezbollah" influence in Libya. But he said there was no evidence of "significant Al Qaeda presence or any other terrorist presence."
In Benghazi, the rebels' political leadership is dominated by Western-educated lawyers, doctors, businessmen and academics, along with several former Kadafi ministers or diplomats.
Mustafa Gheriani, a rebel spokesman who earned a master's degree from Western Michigan University, says Al Qaeda will try to take advantage of the chaos in Libya. Western-led airstrikes and missile attacks against Kadafi's forces are a bulwark against extremist overtures to young Libyan men, he said recently.
But that could change if U.S. and Western support fades, Gheriani warned. Rebel fighters might be persuaded that radical Islam is the best way to overthrow Kadafi, he said.
"They would align with the devil to get rid of this guy," Gheriani said.
Reasons for concern? Of course. Alarm? Not for now.
In any case, the Islamists, like the army defectors, don't comprise the bulk of rebel fighters. The most prevalent form of unit organization is ad hoc: a few brothers or friends sharing gas money, a few rifles, a rebel flag, and a pickup truck. Occasionally, whole villages or subsections of tribes have joined the rebels as a semicoherent unit. Yet even then, village headmen or tribal sheikhs do not appear to be leading or orchestrating the fighting. In fact, military leadership at the front, inasmuch as it exists, is entirely spontaneous. In late March, for example, the top military brass in Benghazi strongly advised the fighters not to push past Ajdabiya when it was retaken due to coalition airstrikes. The fighters did not obey orders and were quickly routed by Qaddafi's counterattacks.
Indeed, it is nearly impossible to imagine that the revolutionaries can defeat Qaddafi by military force alone. Lacking an effective chain of command or training, they have not yet learned to employ guerrilla tactics, siege tactics, or any formal coordinated military maneuvers. Arming the rebels with more sophisticated munitions will not help them congeal into a coherent fighting force. Training them might help, but it would take too much time.
The best hope for the rebels is that the Qaddafi regime crumbles from within -- a distinct possibility as key defections, daily hardships in Tripoli under international siege, and Qaddafi's diplomatic blunders all progressively demoralize his supporters. So far, coalition air power has been crucial in keeping the rebels alive long enough that Qaddafi's forces may self-destruct. But merely preventing slaughter and a rebel defeat is not enough. Now that the no-fly zone has fulfilled its key humanitarian and strategic mission, it is time for the coalition to shift gears. As Oliver Miles, former British ambassador to Libya, puts it, "Precisely because it is unlikely that the rebels will be able to militarily defeat Qaddafi even with increased coalition air support or more arms, Western and Arab countries can best help the rebels through politics, diplomacy, and propaganda -- all of which, if employed with savoir-faire, may tip the scales away from Qaddafi."
Helping the rebel political leaders effectively requires understanding who they are and how the Libyan uprising began. [...]
[...]Youth activists were quickly joined by lawyers, judges, local administrators, and technocrats who opposed Qaddafi's repressive response to the protests. Many of these individuals were previously government officials or consultants who had become increasingly disillusioned by the failure of Libyan détente with the West to produce genuine political reform at home. On Feb. 27, the most prominent among them banded together in Benghazi to form the Transitional National Council (TNC). The TNC has gained legitimacy as grassroots committees have sprung up across eastern Libya to select local town notables, who have in turn endorsed the TNC. (Ironically, this practice is akin to Qaddafi's ideology of "direct democracy" with its imperative for the creation of local Basic People's Congresses.)
Thus, what began as a youth revolt has been taken over by reformist regime technocrats and defected diplomats, who are the only groups capable of representing the rebels to the outside world. The TNC top leadership has extensive experience interfacing with Western governments and the international business community. The rest of its members were deliberately chosen to represent the various major factions of the opposition. It includes relatives of the former Libyan king, human rights lawyers, former Qaddafi intimates upset with the slow pace of reforms, conservative Muslims who are against al Qaeda, pro-Western businessmen, technocrats with American Ph.D.s, and representatives for women and youth.[...]
Potential problems? Various:
One potential shortcoming of the rebels' current political structure is its heavily Cyrenaican, Arab, and elite makeup. If the rebels succeed in overthrowing Qaddafi, they will face enormous pressure to rapidly incorporate new players from western Libya, the Libyan diaspora, and the Berber, Tuareg, and Tabu ethnic groups. Simultaneously, they would have to focus on the social and economic issues that concern the youth and the unemployed, not merely those of reformist technocrats. Most crucially, after a hypothetical rebel victory the predominantly Cyrenaican fighters will no doubt clamor for their place in the sun as the saviors of Libya. It would be highly inappropriate for outside powers to attempt to micromanage or pre-empt the delicate evolution of the representative structure for the new Libya.
Exactly. We don't want to own the Pottery Barn of Libya. We can't try another Paul Bremer. The last one didn't work out too well.
Two hours ago in Iraq: "Iraqi officials: 6 killed in bombings, assassinations in Baghdad."
Hardline Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr mobilized tens of thousands of followers Saturday, using the anniversary of the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime to issue a warning to American civilians as well as soldiers that it was time to go.
Far from Baghdad's Firdous Square, where US Marines helped Iraqis bring down Saddam Hussein’s statue in 2003, the cleric’s supporters marched from Sadr City to Mustansiriya Square, near a major university in northeast Baghdad. Black smoke rose from the square from the burning American flags, and protesters set up a grisly display of Americans in business suits being burned in cages.
“We are time bombs,” the protesters chanted between a choreographed wave of young men dressed in the satin colors of Iraq's flag.
Asked whether that meant that the Sadrists were opposed to even a US diplomatic mission here if US forces were gone, several officials said the Sadr movement opposed any expansion of the US civilian presence here and considered the embassy the headquarters for the occupation.
US Ambassador James Jeffrey told reporters April 1 that the embassy, already the biggest in the world, planned to double in size next year to 18,000 personnel. That would include security, support staff, and diplomatic offices outside of Baghdad.
Sadr ended his message by calling on all his followers who could to register at the political party’s offices to engage in an open-ended protest until the Americans left.
Most Iraqis are deeply cynical about US intentions here.
“Iraq is a very rich country,” said Sabah al-Amiri, a government employee who came out to the protest. “Logically, I can’t believe the Americans will leave and ignore these interests easily.”
In the complex political climate here, the countdown for US forces to exit Iraq has placed the United States in a bind.
How many more countries can we afford to occupy? How many more Muslim lands do we want to invade?
Amid reports that personality clashes may be enveloping the top TNC leadership, I remain reasonably hopeful that the TNC will be able to successfully incorporate most elements of Libyan society and that political infighting and factionalism can be kept to normal levels. Libya is an artificial colonial creation. But unlike other colonial entities, it lacks the social fissures and historical grievances that have led to sectarian or ethnic violence in places like Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The idea that a civil war might ensue between east and west after Qaddafi's departure is overly pessimistic. Paradoxically, as Qaddafi repressed so many of Libya's social groups other than the Qadhadhfa and Magarha tribes, it is foreseeable that all the former out-groups will be able to strike a rough consensus about building a post-Qaddafi Libya.
The rebels appear to be hard at work in paving the way for this new Libya. They insist that they have organized secret cells in the country's west, a plausible claim given Qaddafi's evident unpopularity in towns like Misrata, Zintan, and Zawiyah. And even though tribesmen of the Magarha and Qadhadhfa will probably stick by Qaddafi and fight on until the end, other more urban and technocratic pillars of the regime are likely to wither if the major Arab and Western players give the TNC more effective support.
But that support should primarily be political, not military in nature. The Western and Arab allies are beginning to recognize this, yet more sophisticated and high-level efforts are urgently needed. Prominent defectors like Moussa Koussa should be harnessed for all their propaganda value and asked to speak out against Qaddafi on Arabic satellite TV. Additionally, the coalition could help rebel leaders voice their cause to their potential comrades in Qaddafi-controlled western Libya. Qatar has already set up a satellite channel for the rebels; more countries should give them airtime, funding, and more diplomatic support. French President Nicolas Sarkozy -- who has recognized the TNC as the legitimate government of all of Libya and seems the most politically committed of Western leaders -- could extend another invitation to Mahmoud Jibril, the rebels' de facto foreign minister, this time to the Élysée Palace, granting him international prestige and a platform to ask for more specific assistance.
Moral power, not firepower, is what will ultimately defeat Qaddafi. The fighters are the heart and soul of the Libyan revolt, but they will never be able to lead it. Savvy diplomatic support and a little bit of good fortune could very well produce a tipping point over the next weeks or months. Until then, the international community must not take its eye off the ball as other crises emerge in the Arab world or the situation on the ground appears to become stalemated. Libya's future depends on it.
If we "Regime Kill," we're in the same damn place we are in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And Obama has a mini-AUMF of his own from his Office Of Legal Counsel. Obama has accomplished little in dismantling the legal regime of George W. Bush, even if John Yoo isn't around to advocate some nice boy's testicle-crushing.
Moreover, Libya is awash in arms. Peter Bouckaert warns:
Libyans are extraordinarily welcoming people, and they don't seem to mind when I poke my nose into the backs of the battle-ready pickups at the front line and snap some pictures of the weapons and munitions the rebels are carrying. Even at the military bases and weapon depots under rebel control, a few words of introduction normally led to a warm welcome and a tour of the facilities. That is, if there is anyone guarding the facilities in the first place. When I went to the main military weapons depot in the contested town of Ajdabiya on March 27, just after Qaddafi's forces had fled the city and rebels were still busy celebrating their victory, I had the entire base and its 35 munitions bunkers, stacked to the rafters with weapons, all to myself for several hours.
What we found was shocking. Qaddafi's weapon stocks far exceeded what we saw in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein; some of the weapons, such as the surface-to-air missiles capable of downing a civilian aircraft, now floating around freely in eastern Libya are giving security officials around the world sleepless nights. After I began circulating some of the pictures I had taken, I began getting anxious calls from arms-control officials, asking for more details about what I had seen. There is good cause for U.S. and European officials to worry -- there are rocket-propelled grenades, surface-to-air missiles, and artillery shells full of explosives that can easily be refashioned into car bombs.
Among the weapons of greatest concern to Western security officials is the SA-7 "Grail" surface-to-air missile, a Soviet-designed, heat-seeking, shoulder-launched missile designed specifically to shoot down low-flying planes. The SA-7 -- basically a long green tube with the missile inside -- belongs to a family of weapons known as man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS. Although these weapons date back to the 1960s, they remain extremely deadly, especially against civilian planes without defense systems. Two SA-7 missiles were fired by al Qaeda operatives at an Israeli chartered Boeing 757 during a November 2002 attack in Mombasa, Kenya, narrowly missing the plane. During the past month and a half, we have seen literally hundreds of SA-7s floating around freely in eastern Libya. The SA-7s require assembly with a trigger mechanism and a battery cooling pack attached to the launch tube, and many of the launch tubes we saw were unassembled. However, some of the SA-7s had been fully assembled.
While the SA-7s have caused the greatest alarm among Western security experts, the rest of Qaddafi's extensive arsenal is nothing to laugh at. We found many varieties of guided anti-tank missiles, including the advanced laser-guided AT-14 "Spriggan" (known in Russia as the Kornet), which was reportedly used by Gaza-based militants one day ago in an attack on a school bus in southern Israel that critically injured a teenager. The Spriggan also served as one of Hezbollah's most effective weapons against Israeli tanks in the 2006 Lebanon war. And there are tens of thousands of some of the nastiest anti-tank mines in the world in Qaddafi's warehouses -- nasty because they are made mostly out of hard-to-detect plastic and can be armed with an anti-lifting device that causes the mine to explode when attempts are made to remove it from the ground.
We also found thousands of 122-mm "Grad" rockets, which are used in a launcher that fires salvos of 40 rockets at one go and are capable of sowing destruction up to 40 miles away. The Grads were the Afghan mujahideen's weapon of choice during their deadly civil war in the early 1990s following the Soviet withdrawal -- they used these rockets to reduce Kabul to rubble. Eastern Libya is also home to tens of thousands of rocket-propelled grenade launchers, which are powerful enough to blow up a tank or punch a hole in a concrete building. We found tens of thousands of artillery, tank, and howitzer shells of various calibers, all loaded with high explosives easily convertible into car or roadside bombs. We even found HESH (high-explosive squash-head) shells, which are filled with plastic explosives -- a dangerous tool in the hands of terrorist groups.
The dangers we saw were not limited to the unguarded stockpiles of weapons. There are vast amounts of abandoned munitions and unexploded ordnance everywhere on the constantly shifting front lines along the coastal highway in eastern Libya. The recent airstrikes by international coalition forces on Libyan government military targets have added to the battlefield debris, leaving behind destroyed ammunition, vehicles, tanks, Grad launchers, and artillery pieces, often still loaded with munitions. Families, often with their children, have been visiting some of these strike sites, taking away potentially deadly mementos. Qaddafi's forces have added to the dangers by laying new minefields -- we discovered two such fields, containing dozens of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, in Ajdabiya after pro-regime forces withdrew. Who knows how many more such minefields have been laid, only to be discovered when someone steps or drives over these concealed hazards?
Libya is a minefield.
If America haplessly wanders into it, we'll have more dead friends, brothers, sisters, parents, children.
Let's not have more than we need to, and let's not say we did.
The White House is reportedly struggling to form policy. We have Marines Gearing Up For Deployment Off Libyan Coast. There was no likely bloodbath prevented in Benghazi.
Alan J. Kuperman proposes Five Principles:
•Do not intervene on humanitarian grounds in ways that benefit rebels unless the state's retaliation is grossly disproportionate. This policy discourages both rebel provocation and state reprisals against civilians. In Libya, we should intervene no further unless Gadhafi's forces massacre civilians.
•Deliver purely humanitarian aid — food, water, sanitation, shelter, medical care — in ways that minimize the benefit to rebels. The United States admirably is delivering supplies to Libyan refugees across the border in Tunisia and Egypt. But we should ensure that relief sites do not become rear bases for Libya's rebels. If local governments are unwilling to patrol the refugee encampments, we should organize multilateral policing.
•Expend substantial resources to persuade states to address the legitimate grievances of non-violent domestic groups. Ironically, Obama has applied little pressure on Yemen and Bahrain, which slaughtered peaceful protesters, but he bombed Libya for responding to armed rebels. This sends precisely the wrong message to the Arab street: If you want U.S. support, resort to violence.
•Do not coerce regime change or surrender of sovereignty unless also taking precautions against violent backlash — such as golden parachutes, power-sharing, or preventive military intervention. If the White House insists on Gadhafi's departure, it should guarantee asylum for him and a continuing share of power for his senior officials and allied tribes. Simply demanding regime change could drive him to genocidal violence as a last resort, while the international community lacks the will for a preventive deployment of ground troops.
•Do not falsely claim "humanitarian" grounds for intervention driven by other objectives. If Obama is intervening because of Gadhafi's past misdeeds, rather than recent humanitarian offenses, he should say so publicly. Otherwise, the White House encourages further rebellions that aim to lure U.S. intervention by provoking retaliation.
Let's follow those. America needs to break its addiction to war. There is little enthusiasm in America for another war. The rebels are confused at best.
Jacob Zuma says that Gaddafi has accepted the African Union cease-fire proposal. Zuma claims optimism.
Zuma, who led a five-strong African Union (AU) delegation to the Libyan capital, said he was optimistic that a settlement would be reached. The delegation, minus Zuma, who was leaving Libya on Sunday night, will travel to Benghazi today to present the plan to the rebel opposition leadership.
Referring to officials of the regime, Zuma told reporters inside Gaddafi's compound at Bab al-Azizia that "the brother leader delegation has accepted the roadmap as presented by us". He also called on Nato to stop airstrikes on Libyan military targets "to give a ceasefire a chance".
Asked about the prospects of a deal, Zuma said: "I am optimistic."
The AU proposal is thought to centre on a negotiated political settlement between the Libyan regime and the rebel opposition, but no details have been disclosed.
However, opposition forces insist they will not consider any political deal that involves Gaddafi or members of his family retaining power.
Proposals put forward by the regime so far have included Gaddafi or one of his sons overseeing political change in Libya. It is far from clear how this gap could be bridged.
"The delegation ... will be proceeding to meet the other party, to talk to everybody and present a political solution to the problem in Libya," Zuma said. "We also ... are making a call on Nato to cease the bombings to allow and to give a ceasefire a chance."
The AU delegation, consisting of the presidents of South Africa, Congo-Brazzaville, Mali, and Mauritania, plus Uganda's foreign minister, landed at Tripoli's Mitiga airport after Nato gave permission for their aircraft to enter Libyan airspace. The planes were the first to land in Tripoli since the international coalition imposed a no-fly zone over the country more than two weeks ago.
Should the U.S. refuse all military options? No. Should we remove all air assets and send them home? No. We need leverage. There's no place for romanticization in peace and war. We need to be hard-headed, and sometimes people need to be killed so that others may live. Sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
There may be a role for military aid, overt or covert. There are, as President Obama has stated, many who can do that. There may be a role for future military involvement by American air power in Libya.
There are many possibilities. I am not a seer. I don't know what will happen. I don't know for sure what's best. The way to fewer deaths and less suffering is often unclear.
But, first: do no harm. Should the argument by OMAC Cordesman for striking hard to kill the head of the snake be listened to? Yes. Arguments should always be weighed and considered.
All I am saying, for now, is simply: let's give peace a chance.
Just give it a chance.
We can say:
[War] is instinctive. But the instinct can be fought. We're human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands! But we can stop it. We can admit that we're killers ... but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes! Knowing that we're not going to kill - today!
We can always bomb the crap out of Libyans next week. They'll still be there. Tomorrow we may be "needing" to bomb rebels.
Our policy has been proclaimed to be:
[...] that Muammar Qaddafi is no longer fit to lead and should leave power. And we are obviously pursuing a number of different means, non-lethal means, non-military means, to help bring that about, to pressure Qaddafi, to isolate him, and to create an environment where the Libyan people hopefully will be able to create their own future with the leaders that they deserve and that they pick. And that's the endgame that we envision.
Let's try not killing today, and giving peace a chance.
UPDATE, 4.11.11., 1:49 p.m. PST:
C. J. Chivers gives a terrific example of how Libya being awash in weapons results in absurd adaptions with danger to all -- in this case, the mutating by rebels of air-to-ground rocket pods onto pickup trucks.
Imagine this war lasting a couple of years, or even six months, and more and more of Qaddafi's weapons stores being grabbed up, a la Iraq, and used by both sides (which may yet splinter into further factions, keep in mind! And then who are we fighting for, exactly?)! Libyan Road Warrior, Redux. And More Photographs From Eastern Libya.