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October 21, 2011

Comments

For the moment, things in Libya are unsettled. And likely will be for some months. We have a nation with zero experience in self-government, trying to put together the institutions that they will need. The biggest thing that they have going for them is that Tunisia is right next door and several months ahead of them, and so can provide a local how-to example. (Tunisia also has several helpful characteristics that Libya lacks. But the example is still worthwhile.)

While things are getting organized, we will likely hear a lot of opinions from outside. Everybody has a great idea for how Libya ought to organize itself. Many of them cheerfully ignoring the place that the Libyans are starting from. and not a few involving insisting that the Libyans institute something that hasn't even been tried, let alone implemented successfully, anywhere else. With luck, the Libyans will manage to ignore most of those suggestions.

An example that leaps to mind is the unhappiness that a lot of people seem to feel that Qaddafi wasn't captured and kept alive for trial. This ignores several inconvenient facts:
- Libya has no judicial institutions in place which could conduct such a trial. Certainly not one with what outsiders would regard as fairness and due process.
- There really isn't grounds to have shipped him off to the Hague for trial by the IIRC either. Libya wasn't a party to the the treaty setting up the court, and so has no obligation to send anyone there. (I expect that they will join. Eventually. But they aren't there yet. And their proto-government has more pressing concerns.)
- revolutions do not typically involve quiet proceedings among gentlemen. They involve a lot of individuals driven to violence by strong emotions -- and those people do not naturally worry a lot about other people's ideas of due process and fair treatment. (Some armies enforce such ideals on their troops. But they have to work at it. Constantly.)

In short, the only outcomes that anyone could reasonably have expected were:
- Qaddafi gets killed in the final fight.
- Qaddafi is only wounded in the final fight, but dies shortly thereafter (whether from action or inaction).
- Qaddafi is captured, hauled to some highly public location, and dies after a short show trial of some kind.

Of these, the third would, IMHO, be the worst outcome for Libya. Option 2 was not a bad outcome for them.

As it stands, he's gone and the country can move on to the really hard part of their revolution: building a nation and a national government, or at least the foundations for same. In the real world, that is likely to be a slow process, replete withfalse starts, side trips, etc. If the country is a normal, peaceful place, with institutions most of the population accepts as legitimate, in under a decade, they will have done very well indeed.

wj, I agree with much of your summary, though my short version is that I think no one, including any Libyans, has much clue how things are going to settle out, there's such chaos, such a lack of historical institutions, and so much acrimony between the many militias, cities, tribes, etc.

On the killing of Quadaffi, it's moot, of course, and neither am I the least surprised at what happened; there will allegedly be investigations, etc., but it remains moot.

However, he certainly could, had there been discipline, been tried in the International Criminal Court, given the warrant issued last June.

[...] The three-judge Pre-Trial Chamber I at The Hague found "reasonable grounds to believe that the three suspects committed the alleged crimes and that their arrests appear necessary in order to ensure their appearances before the court," the announcement said. The court also believes the warrants are needed to ensure that the three men "do not continue to obstruct and endanger the court's investigations; and to prevent them from using their powers to continue the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the court."

The U.N. Security Council referred the matter to the ICC through a resolution February 26, following widespread complaints about Gadhafi's efforts to crush a rebellion. The resolution said that, while "states not party to the Rome Statute have no obligations under the statute, the Security Council urged all states and concerned regional and other international organisations to cooperate fully with the court and the prosecutor."

No, Libya, such as there is a "Libya" at present, in any organized sense, was not a signatory to the Rome Statute, but that's not particularly relevant.

However, done is done.

The overwhelming issue now is how the hell they'll actually form any kind of unified government.

To be sure, Western interests, as well as China and Russia, will all put vast pressure on maintaining and increasing the oil flow, and getting contracts signed. That requires, at minimum, security for the oil installations, and any kind of government that can maintain that.

Let's get in on the ground.

Which is why the U.S. and NATO bombed and sent in special forces, etc., in Libya, as opposed to, say, Zimbabwe, or Myannmar.

Well, the advantage of it taking this long to finally take Qaddafi out is this. They've had several months, while still unified around one thing they all agreed on getting done, to get accustomed to the idea of working together. And to get a little practice in doing so.

If Qadaffi had just left, there would indeed have been chaos. I'm sure he did not intend to, but he may have done the rebels a favor by staying and fighting on. The result is that there is now something that was not there before: the beginnings of "Libya" -- in the minds of the people, not just in one man's insane imaginings.

I completely agree that nobody, in Libya or outside, has a clue what the next few months, let alone the next few years, will bring. Or rather, there are lots of people who think they know . . . but don't. (On the evidence, their ideas are valuable mostly because they give a list of things that are fairly certain not to happen.)

Let me amend that. I don't know what will happen in Libya. I am confident that in the US, we will see every glitch turned into a loudly proclaimed indictment of the way things have been handled. Both from the left and from the right (albeit with different views on what should have been done instead). We might, as I suspect, have taken just about the best course available in the real world. And nothing but a messy sorting out, taking years, is even remotely possible. But that concept will be widely ignored -- especially be those who have a "vision" which the rest of the universe preversely refuses to fall in with.

Gary, let me also take mild exception to your final bit of analysis.

Yes, there is money to be made in Libya. But there are also other reasons, fairly strong ones, why Libya got treated differently than Zimbabwe or Syria (for two examples). Libya, when the decision was taken to act, had a group with a separate geographic concentration ready to be supported. And the geography of the country (long, slender lines of communication between mostly separated opponents) gave opportunities to act that did not require boots on the ground. Neither Syria nor Zimbabwe has those.

And that's before we get into minor details like actual requests from the Arab League and the UN for intervention. The Arab League may speak out on Syria, although so far they are not. And there is no way the African Union is going to say anything about Zimbabwe.** Which may be foolish in both cases, but the fact remains.

** And that goes for Burma as well. No way ASEAN even thinks about condemning one of their own.

Lindsay Graham = Manifest Destiny, all over again.

I find it interesting that Christopher Hitchens reckons that Qaddafi should have been arrested and tried in the Hague rather than been killed, when he never voiced such regretful poo-pooings in the case of what might have amounted to similar doings in Yemen by our drones.

A fitting analogy might be found with Mussolini's fate, being hanged and displayed in that gas station. By that point, he, and what few lackeys he had left, were of absolutely no threat to anyone, the U.S., Italy - hell, Hitler had given up on him as surely as he had given up on himself. It was the sheer catharsis of taking down someone who had ruined their country that drove them to do it - international courts (of which there weren't any in 1945), the Geneva convention, etc.

People such as these are not likely to respect institutions and mechanisms they weren't a part of crafting in the first place.

And people like me are (usually) not likely to leave sentence fragments.

I meant - "...international courts (of which there weren't any in 1945), the Geneva convention, etc. be damned (or something like that)"

I stand corrected on myself.

Libya, when the decision was taken to act, had a group with a separate geographic concentration ready to be supported. And the geography of the country (long, slender lines of communication between mostly separated opponents) gave opportunities to act that did not require boots on the ground. Neither Syria nor Zimbabwe has those.
There were lots of special operations forces, European, particularly French and British, American, and Arabian, particularly Quatari, on the ground, "covertly." I'll provide cites as asked for, though none that might be accepted as absolutely definitive. But there's been plenty of reporting on it. Ditto that such special forces were directly fighting, as is inevitable. It was to a large degree the original U.S. anti-Taliban Afghanistan model.

I'd also suggest that the Movement for Democratic Change – both MDC-T and MDC-M could, if one wanted to start fighting in Zimbabwe, be backed. It's not as if there isn't a history of Zimbabwe being conquered/liberated in recent history, after all. ZANLA and ZIPRA guerrillas (ZANU and ZAPU) did it.

And there's the lovely model of modern drones, J-DAMs, ground spotters, trainers, etc.

Ditto in Myanmar. Or lots of places. There's certainly ample opportunity in Syria, given the many rebellious cities and regions, if one wants to argue for it.

But we're not interested, and I'm not arguing we should be.

Sure, every country is unique, but the key, I'd say, in most cases, is motivation and desire by the leadership of the U.S. (and NATO), not ability.

For what it's worth, the African Union also condemned the military action in Libya. Did we care? No.

On the "minor details like actual requests from the Arab League and the UN for intervention," sure, those are very handy.

But we didn't bother with them in Iraq. Kofi Anan asserted the invasion was illegal. Did we care? No.

Why let spoil the beauty of a thing with legality?

Mind, I should note that, having opposed the Libyan intervention, I'm very glad it didn't go on longer and cost yet more lives. Neither will I claim that the policy as it played out was the worst choice. I'll happily allow that it's quite possible it was the least bad choice, after all.

But I didn't have to live through any of it. I'll leave it to Libyans to decide, and if the majority agree that it was the best course of action -- and that seems highly probable -- good enough.

But it's going to be very messy in Libya until... whenever.

You've got a whole mess of armed cities, tribes, regions, and militias, with little in common beyond hating Quaddafi. The NTC has little or no power. There's no overall power, no ongoing negotiations, and little more than simple chaos.

With lots and lots and lots of armed people, and tons of arms lying all around.

I hope for the best, but this is not a recipe for less violence.

Frak, the spam filter is really acting up.

I'll try two parts.

Libya, when the decision was taken to act, had a group with a separate geographic concentration ready to be supported. And the geography of the country (long, slender lines of communication between mostly separated opponents) gave opportunities to act that did not require boots on the ground. Neither Syria nor Zimbabwe has those.
There were lots of special operations forces, European, particularly French and British, American, and Arabian, particularly Quatari, on the ground, "covertly." I'll provide cites as asked for, though none that might be accepted as absolutely definitive. But there's been plenty of reporting on it. Ditto that such special forces were directly fighting, as is inevitable. It was to a large degree the original U.S. anti-Taliban Afghanistan model.

I'd also suggest that the Movement for Democratic Change – both MDC-T and MDC-M could, if one wanted to start fighting in Zimbabwe, be backed. It's not as if there isn't a history of Zimbabwe being conquered/liberated in recent history, after all. ZANLA and ZIPRA guerrillas (ZANU and ZAPU) did it.

And there's the lovely model of modern drones, J-DAMs, ground spotters, trainers, etc.

Ditto in Myanmar. Or lots of places. There's certainly ample opportunity in Syria, given the many rebellious cities and regions, if one wants to argue for it.

But we're not interested, and I'm not arguing we should be.

Sure, every country is unique, but the key, I'd say, in most cases, is motivation and desire by the leadership of the U.S. (and NATO), not ability.

For what it's worth, the African Union also condemned the military action in Libya. Did we care? No.

On the "minor details like actual requests from the Arab League and the UN for intervention," sure, those are very handy.

But we didn't bother with them in Iraq. Kofi Anan asserted the invasion was illegal. Did we care? No.

Why let spoil the beauty of a thing with legality?

Spam filter is really acting up. I'll try splitting into three parts.

Libya, when the decision was taken to act, had a group with a separate geographic concentration ready to be supported. And the geography of the country (long, slender lines of communication between mostly separated opponents) gave opportunities to act that did not require boots on the ground. Neither Syria nor Zimbabwe has those.
There were lots of special operations forces, European, particularly French and British, American, and Arabian, particularly Quatari, on the ground, "covertly." I'll provide cites as asked for, though none that might be accepted as absolutely definitive. But there's been plenty of reporting on it. Ditto that such special forces were directly fighting, as is inevitable. It was to a large degree the original U.S. anti-Taliban Afghanistan model.

I'd also suggest that the Movement for Democratic Change – both MDC-T and MDC-M could, if one wanted to start fighting in Zimbabwe, be backed. It's not as if there isn't a history of Zimbabwe being conquered/liberated in recent history, after all. ZANLA and ZIPRA guerrillas (ZANU and ZAPU) did it.

And there's the lovely model of modern drones, J-DAMs, ground spotters, trainers, etc.

Ditto in Myanmar. Or lots of places. There's certainly ample opportunity in Syria, given the many rebellious cities and regions, if one wants to argue for it.

But we're not interested, and I'm not arguing we should be.

Sure, every country is unique, but the key, I'd say, in most cases, is motivation and desire by the leadership of the U.S. (and NATO), not ability.

For what it's worth, the African Union also condemned the military action in Libya. Did we care? No.

On the "minor details like actual requests from the Arab League and the UN for intervention," sure, those are very handy.

But we didn't bother with them in Iraq. Kofi Anan asserted the invasion was illegal. Did we care? No.

Why let spoil the beauty of a thing with legality?

Mind, I should note that, having opposed the Libyan intervention, I'm very glad it didn't go on longer and cost yet more lives. Neither will I claim that the policy as it played out was the worst choice. I'll happily allow that it's quite possible it was the least bad choice, after all.

But I didn't have to live through any of it. I'll leave it to Libyans to decide, and if the majority agree that it was the best course of action -- and that seems highly probable -- good enough.

But it's going to be very messy in Libya until... whenever.

You've got a whole mess of armed cities, tribes, regions, and militias, with little in common beyond hating Quaddafi. The NTC has little or no power. There's no overall power, no ongoing negotiations, and little more than simple chaos.

With lots and lots and lots of armed people, and tons of arms lying all around.

I hope for the best, but this is not a recipe for less violence.

Sure, every country is unique, but the key, I'd say, in most cases, is motivation and desire by the leadership of the U.S. (and NATO), not ability.

My feeling is that the US got dragged into Libya by France and the UK. Especially in the early days, reports seemed to suggest that Sarkozy was willing to go it alone, and though it is hard to separate out whether Cameron was really pushing to go in against the advice of his ministers or whether this is just a view promulgated to take advantage of being seen as tough, I'm not sure. Also I took as evidence of Sarkozy's attitude was the fact that the French jets took out Libya tanks before the US fired cruise missiles to suppress the air defenses, but some reports say that was due to poor coordination rather than attitude. There also a sort of Wag the Dog feel to the way the UK and France were going about this, so I wonder what was happening with the phone hacking scandal and whatever Sarkozy was facing.

Also, Gates' strong comments about NATO's lack of commitment to dealing with Libya is something you would expect if the US got pulled into it, but not as much if the US were the ones initiating it.

Gary, I'm not sure what the legal intervention in Libya has to do with the illegal intervention in Iraq. But whatever. Not going to go around those circles again.

liberal japonicus, I'm sure that the Obama administration didn't want to get involved in another ground war in the Middle East, which is why it so cautiously (and wisely) worked with the UN and NATO, refusing to "take the lead," or to involve US troops.

No one believes that Libya's future is smooth sailing. It's difficult for any country with a long authoritarian past to find a more democratic future. But at least now it's possible, and the future is in the hands of the Libyan people.

Using solely the term "intervention" to describe what was taking place and what was actually mandated is misleading.

The UN resolution gave cover for a "no-fly zone", and "protection of civilians". Implying this to mean regime-change and the favoring of one side in a civil war over another seems to be some kind of stretch. Not that this interpretation was unexpected.

Christian G: You might want to read it, especially the part about "all necessary measures". And no, the interpretation was not at all unexpected (and I'm sure not unexpected by those resolving), so not sure what your point is. That it's just terrible that we lent munitions and expertise to assist a domestic revolutionary movement overthrow a cruel dictator who had a large part of his own civilian population under siege, even though we had substantial support from the most important institution representing the international community? Is your position that we should always be neutral, even when reliable human rights organizations are proclaiming a humanitarian crisis and begging for intervention? It would certainly be different if we started a civil war to overthrow a dictator, then occupied a country (for whatever reason we actually did that) as in Iraq. One of these things is not like the other.

But whatever. It galls the community of those "disappointed" in Obama to give him credit for anything.

sapient, christian did not mention Obama once. In fact, I seem to remember (though I may be basing it on the name) that Christian isn't a US citizen. (maybe German, though I could be getting him and Hartmut confused)

I do think that there is a group that can be defined as Obama-disappointed, but I don't think you should go around trying to add folks to their roster.

"But whatever. It galls the community of those "disappointed" in Obama to give him credit for anything."

It seems to gall someone that anyone would question his continued expansion of the imperial presidency.

He lied, he got us into an intervention in another country and never considered he didn't have the power to unilaterally expand that mission beyond the scope defined by all of the authorizing folks you talk about or what he told the American people.

You like him so it's ok, I understand that.

CCDG, I can see your second and third points. Not agree, necessarily, with the last one (mission creep), but at least I can see the argument.

But perhaps you could provide some specifics on Obama's lies? I can't tell if you think he was driving the whole thing, and just making it look like the French and British were the ones pushing it. Or maybe that he had done something to foment the uprising in eastern Libya. Or....

I've read SC/10200. What it authorizes is simple:

[...] 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;

[...]

Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary measures to enforce compliance with the ban on flights imposed by paragraph 6 above, as necessary, and requests the States concerned in cooperation with the League of Arab States to coordinate closely with the Secretary General on the measures they are taking to implement this ban, including by establishing an appropriate mechanism for implementing the provisions of paragraphs 6 and 7 above [....]

That's all.

So, sapient:

[...] And no, the interpretation was not at all unexpected (and I'm sure not unexpected by those resolving), so not sure what your point is. That
The point is that putting the SAS and SOCOM troops, and CIA was not authorized, and I'm unaware of what legal support there is/was for it. (Whether it was good or bad policy is a separate issue.)

Calling these acts "covert" doesn't make them legal.

You yourself seem to admit that any goal, or acts in support of, regime change by any non-Libyan forces was not authorized: correct me if I'm wrong, please.

Or do you believe that simply any military act in Libya, outside "occupation," by outside military forces, was justifiably legal, and supported by SC/10200 to "protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya"?

Do feel free to expand on what you mean by "the interpretation was not at all unexpected...."

I think that the letter from Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy states the situation pretty clearly. Qaddafi's modus operandi has always been to terrorize civilians. Why would anyone think he would relent?

Even if we concede that this letter, written after the resolution passed, made this interpretation expected (?!?), that does not mean it would suddenly become legal.

I think your reasoning is suffering from a confusion of sufficient measures and necessary ones. It might have been sufficient to cause regime change in order to protect the civil population of Libya, but that says not one solitary thing regarding the necessity of doing so to achieve that end. The resolution authorized all necessary measures. It did not authorize all sufficient ones.

It might have been sufficient to cause regime change in order to protect the civil population of Libya, but that says not one solitary thing regarding the necessity of doing so to achieve that end.

Obviously your opinion of what might have been "necessary" is different from other people's. Reasonable people often disagree.

Well, yes. That would be why I said that you hadn't demonstrated the necessity of the thing, rather than stating the thing was not necessary.

However. You've ignored Gary's quite pointed query:

The point is that putting the SAS and SOCOM troops, and CIA was not authorized, and I'm unaware of what legal support there is/was for it. (Whether it was good or bad policy is a separate issue.)

Calling these acts "covert" doesn't make them legal.

You yourself seem to admit that any goal, or acts in support of, regime change by any non-Libyan forces was not authorized: correct me if I'm wrong, please.

Or do you believe that simply any military act in Libya, outside "occupation," by outside military forces, was justifiably legal, and supported by SC/10200 to "protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya"?

Do you believe that any intervention, military or otherwise, short of occupation was authorized simply by virtue of the would-be intervening actor declaring that they, being a reasonable person capable of forming their own opinion of what was necessary, deemed it necessary? This would be in keeping with your interpretation of the phrase "all necessary measures" in other contexts, but is this what you actually believe?

Future of Libya?

16 Things Libyans Won't Ever See Again ...diary at FDL, can't guarantee complete accuracy

"1. There is no electricity bill in Libya; electricity is free for all its citizens.
...
5. Education and medical treatments are free in Libya. Before Gaddafi only 25% of Libyans are literate. Today the figure is 83%.
...(terrific list)
Add to the above Women were full and equal participants in Libyan society. Under the ultra religious fanatics (we backed) out of Benghazi women will at best become second class citizens or at worse, property."

Well, envy, I guess we get back into the idea of who makes policy. We, as citizens, place power in the Executive to make decisions like what is reasonably necessary. The UN recognizes that we have a democratically elected President who makes policy. I'm assuming that the President (along with other democratically elected, and recognized, leaders) make those determinations together. It's a "bitch" (not sure whether that word is gender offensive here) that we have democratically elected leaders that make policy determinations.

Do I think that "anyone" declaring him or her self "reasonable" should make those decisions? Hell, no. You won't see me voting Republican.

Oh, and I'm not the only one who would cede that kind of latitude to Obama, based on my trust in him, instead of a Republican. My guess is that the UNSC would not have passed that resolution for a GWBush coalition. Obviously, this is conjecture on my part.

bob mcmanus cites the Jane Hamsher/Grover Norquist consortium for the proposition that: Women were full and equal participants in Libyan society.

But some women disagree:

"Women, like most citizens, had virtually no say in government. Those he promoted, like his female bodyguards, were seen as cronies, sex objects or both. Educational opportunities for the well-connected made little difference to conservative and rural families who kept women out of the public sphere. Even in Tripoli, where many women work, drive cars and mix with men, leading less circumscribed lives than some Arab counterparts, female independence was fragile. Bredan, the hairdresser, lost her chance at medical school for making fun of the Green Book."

Not to mention Qaddafi's rape as a weapon strategy.

lj
sapient, christian did not mention Obama once. In fact, I seem to remember (though I may be basing it on the name) that Christian isn't a US citizen. (maybe German, though I could be getting him and Hartmut confused)
You remember that entirely right. And that last comment by Sapient just put a grin on my face. Not like I couldn't (in theory), be a member in some kind of "dispointed in Obama rooster", but the basis for that seems kinda thin here.

Anyway:
You might want to read it, especially the part about "all necessary measures".
I did read it before making my comment. I'm actually surprised that Gary thinks that ground troops were not authorized by it because I believe the wording allows that, and I have read legal analysis supporting this (I'll look that up and post a cite later, I'm running out of time now) However, it's my understanding that not even military measures in the context of self defense (without authorization of the SC) imply an automatic right of regime change. The resolution contains also the phrase "under threat of attack" and (again) a call for ceasefire. Violence against civilians was (and is) also not exclusively (though to a larger extent) perpetrated by pro-Gaddafi forces (which would have been actually an argument to get more involved on the ground, I suppose).

Well, envy, I guess we get back into the idea of who makes policy.

Who makes policy? Um, that would be the legislature, the courts (in the form of decisions interpreting the law), and the ratifying bodies of constitutional amendments and treaties. I think you have (tellingly?) confused this with who executes policy...

I think that the letter from Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy states the situation pretty clearly.
That's nice. Nothing to do with what the UN resolution says. Please respond to my actual questions.

You asserted:

Christian G: You might want to read [SC/10200], especially the part about "all necessary measures".
I quoted it to you.

I wrote:

The point is that putting the SAS and SOCOM troops, and CIA was not authorized, and I'm unaware of what legal support there is/was for it. [...]

You yourself seem to admit that any goal, or acts in support of, regime change by any non-Libyan forces was not authorized: correct me if I'm wrong, please.

You explained that the legal authorization for U.S./NATO/etc.'s military actions is SC/10200.

If so, please explain specifically how. This is not an invitation to discuss anything else. PI invite you to either defend your assertion, or, of course, you are free to withdraw it.

But hiving off in another direction, to statements other than the UN SC resolution, does not support your statement that the three words, out of context, "all necessary measures," authorized what the U.S./NATO, and various outside armed forces did.

To tediously repeat:

You yourself seem to admit that any goal, or acts in support of, regime change by any non-Libyan forces was not authorized: correct me if I'm wrong, please.

Or do you believe that simply any military act in Libya, outside "occupation," by outside military forces, was justifiably legal, and supported by SC/10200 to "protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya"?

Let's try "yes" or "no" answers, but if you are unable, please do simply answer these questions.

Or, of course, you're free to withdraw your claims in whatever manner you wish.

Thanks.

Incidentally, if "other people" thought it would have been a "necessary measure" to protect civilians by dropping a kiloton nuke on Qadaffi military forces, would that have been legal and authorized? How about carpet-bombing Tripoli, or Sirte? How about 100,000 U.S. troops with armor and artillery being devoted, you know, solely to "protecting civilians," and not "occupying"?

If not, why not?

But if that's too complicated a question, simply answering the previously asked and ignored by you would be something I'd appreciate. Thanks.

The question of legality of putting boots on the ground is an interesting one. Certainly the bar is not entering the country, I think that a nation has a right to send troops to protect their own citizens when things go pear-shaped. Also, when the government ceases to govern, the legality of entering a country then, I presume, is moot, because the controlling authority passes to another group.

Also, the effort to get foreign nationals out is a proportionate one, so if there are a lot of foreign nationals going out, there has to be a large number of troops going in to provide an infrastructure. This bbc article details the estimated number of foreign nationals.

You might say that this has nothing to do with SAS or CIA, but it is not the case that it was illegal for troops to go into Libya for particular reasons, so it then becomes a far more difficult proposition to decide on the precise reason an individual soldier or group of soldiers is there. And if soldiers stay on to monitor the situation which then morphs to liasing with rebel forces, which then includes providing tactical and strategic advice, having that figleaf of coverage makes it much more difficult to draw a line as to legal and illegal. It is a figleaf, but all of modern diplomacy seems to be the process of crafting figleaves to cover actions, so referring to legality in this case doesn't get as much as it might in another situation.

I'm sure that everyone is aware of these points, but I just put them here to make them fodder for discussion.

LJ, thanks, but you're referring to the evacuations of foreign nationals back in February. I'm unaware of any actions taken by NATO or other allied countries to openly engage in such evacuations after, say, March 19th, so the point seems abstract, although if your discussion is pointed purely towards the hypothetical in general, fair enough.

But I'm not seeing terribly direct relevance to what happened in Libya.

[...] You might say that this has nothing to do with SAS or CIA, but it is not the case that it was illegal for troops to go into Libya for particular reasons, so it then becomes a far more difficult proposition to decide on the precise reason an individual soldier or group of soldiers is there.
I think the laws of war, U.N. Security Council resolutions, and international treaties are reasonably clear, and I don't follow why or how it "becomes a far more difficult proposition to decide on the precise reason an individual soldier or group of soldiers is there" for any government.

To be sure, if one wishes to postulate extreme incompetence and confusion by such governments or their military, that can happen, but I'm not understanding you as suggesting this was the case.

Undoubtedly we can all (yes?) agree that fig leafs are very popular all around, including governmental actions, including governmental actions in foreign affairs, particularly including military interventions.

But if we're agreeing that what happened in Libya was a set of fig leafs decorating a very specifically limited authorization, I can sign on to that with no problem.

I wouldn't regard any of the issues at hand in Libya as critical, by now, since we're now debating the past. What I remain concerned about is the precedent. I'd like to assume most folks here have read some of the many many articles that have popped up in the Major Media and most authoritative newspapers explaining how great the "new" paradigm is for using air power and covert troops to intervene.

That subject certainly could be be a huge, or any sized, post.

And the argument I understand being presented by sapient seems to repeatedly simply be "if Obama does it, it's okay, and our only concern should be we keep electing presidents we can trust with what seems to be unlimited power to kill at will, so long as American troops aren't endangered."

I don't mean to put words into sapient's keyboard, so if he feels that's an unfair characterization, I will be happy to read any corrections of my misreading, which, to be sure, extends backwards to the many past discussions we've had.

Gary, first, let me say that my participation here is as a commenter, not a defendant answering interrogatories.

But, generally, in the course of protecting civilians (whose circumstances were assessed by SAS and SOCOM troops, and CIA - I assume that some intelligence capability was included in the "all necessary measures" - otherwise, how would they figure out "necessary"?), the NATO forces incidentally furthered the rebels' goal of removing Qaddafi, which the rebels did. The proponents of the resolution (Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron) explained in the open letter that civilians would not be out of danger until Qaddafi was removed, since his military strategy (as exemplified by, among other things, his Viagra-rape plan) was directed at terrorizing the civilian population. There was no evidence that Qaddafi had decided that terrorizing civilians was not part of his plan. In fact, the Viagra-rape plan wasn't discovered until summer.

As to the carpet bombing question, no - carpet bombing would probably not have been anticipated by the resolution. The term "necessary" allows some leeway, but (as I noted) the UNSC recognized that the proponents of the resolution weren't interested in carpet bombing or dropping nukes or they would not have authorized anything. Don't you think that the Security Council had a clue about what was going to happen here? I haven't seen any resolutions brought before the Security Council condemning NATO for exceeding its authority, have you? I didn't think so. No, nobody but the "disappointed" and maybe the ghosts of Milosovic and Idi Amin are sorry to see Qaddafi gone. Oh, and Michelle Bachmann. The fact is, the resolution was passed with a degree of trust in the member nations who were going to be carrying it out. Just like when we vote, we have a degree of trust in the person we elect, to interpret the laws in a reasonable way, and not to lie to us. We're wrong sometimes, for sure.

envy, no, you're incorrect. Policy is made by the Executive within his Constitutional and legal authority. Read. And read the relevant authorizing statutes as well.statutes. We don't elect an automaton robot who is programmed by Congressional legislation to implement the will of Congress. We elect someone who has a lot of power and wields it.

Gary, no. The Executive's power isn't unlimited. The Executive can and should be called to answer for an abuse of authority. But he is able to make a reasonable assessment of what authorizing language allows him to do. Boring, I know, to repeat the checks and balances argument, but if he's exceeding his authority, where's the challenge? I don't see Congress cutting funding. I don't see a lawsuit. I don't see the UN passing a condemnation resolution.

Hi Gary,
My point was that if military assets deployed to Libya are allowed to enter the country to protect nationals and all those nationals are not accounted for, they can stay. Certainly, the deployments that you speak of were not anything over small units. So placing troops in a country is not a cut and dried case and making this argument over what is legal misses the point, imho.

You are concerned about the precedent, which is important. But when you argue that the insertion of foreign troops is illegal, if their initial task is to protect foreign nationals (and some countries without military assets in the area specifically requested that NATO countries enter the country to pick up and presumably protect their own foreign nationals) I don't think it is. Strictly speaking, I don't think that a state of 'war' existed, because it was an internal struggle, and so the 'laws of War' are a poor fit here so I disagree with your assertion that it is reasonably clear. But that's a view that is colored by the fact that I am particularly interested in what nations can do and actually do for their citizens overseas.

Also, major evacuations were continuing up to Mid April, I believe. See here and here and this article says that the last major evacuation was in August.

envy, no, you're incorrect. Policy is made by the Executive within his Constitutional and legal authority. Read. And read the relevant authorizing statutes as well.statutes. We don't elect an automaton robot who is programmed by Congressional legislation to implement the will of Congress. We elect someone who has a lot of power and wields it.

Hmm.. so lemme get this straight. The Executive creates policy, not the Legislature. But if the Executive is doing stuff we don't like, we're not allowed to blame the Executive, or try to influence it to behave itself; we're supposed to blame the Legislature, because it's responsible for the polices we don't like. So we have to try to force it to create policies in the form of legislation curtailing Executive malfeasance, because that'll suddenly make the Executive stop making its own policies and heel like an automaton robot to the Legislature's demands.

Um. Right.

However, I am glad to see that you've finally (albeit perhaps only temporarily) admitted that there is cause for us to hold the President's feet to the fire if they behave in a manner we find irresponsible, unethical, or illegal, rather than deflecting blame to Congress and the Courts as is usually your wont. And the best way we have to do that is to publicly chastise them, and deliver (and if need be, follow through on) sincere threats to withdraw political support of their campaigns if they do not address them. Right?

(As to the Executive creating policy, well, we can either brush this aside as you conflating the terms "procedure" and "policy", or we can go there (from the summarized overview text: "The President cannot order policy; he can only suggest it. Congress can approve any proposal for regulation, policy, settlement of disputes, wages, and working conditions. None of this is delegated to the President. Under a textual approach to interpreting the Constitution the President’s powers are curbed in this extension."). There is a reason Executive Orders since Youngstown have tended to be explicit about what legislative or Constitutional authority the Order is derived from. Executive Orders and their ilk (e.g., National Security Directives), while indeed policy, are on legally shaky ground unless in furtherance or clarification of existing legislation. To quote Justice Black in Youngstown, "[Executive actions absent Constitutional or legislative authorization] do not comport with our recognized theory of government, but with a theory with which our government of laws and not of men is constantly at war.")

None of this deals with the objective problems in Libya, you know. Sapient is only here to defend Obama; he doesn't care about Libya, or anything else in the world except the defense of Obama and of America's right to murder and loot the planet. (Sorry, blood pressure acting up, I mean, "manifest destiny".)

The problem, basically, is that we have a government of bankers, gunmen, Islamist extremists, tribalists and wishy-washy liberals who were installed by foreign intervention (let's be absolutely blunt; without a massive bombing campaign and arms sanctions and ground intervention, the Benghazi rebels would have been defeated within a few weeks and twenty thousand Libyans who are now dead would be alive today.)

This is not a stable coalition; not in any way. It is also not a good recipe for the establishment of any kind of democracy. Least of all in a petro-state.

I'm afraid that the future of Libya is likely to be tyranny, and it is quite possible that it will be worse tyranny than Gadaffi's. But even if it is better tyranny, the remedy could be worse than the disease.

Not sure who you're arguing with, envy. I said that the Executive makes policy within his Constitutional and legal authority (legal authority granted by Congress). The statute that I suggested you read specifically mentions "policy" within the context of the National Security Council. (The NSC, by the way, is an entity set up by Congress, composed of Executive appointees, not Congressional ones. If Congress is so jealous of its policy-making power, I wonder why it didn't put a few Congresspeople in that mix. Oh, I know, maybe because "foreign policy" is an area where the Executive has traditionally had preeminent authority.) And, by the way, the Youngstown opinion doesn't even contain the word "policy" - only the Cliff Notes version does. Always better to quote the actual opinion, as you probably know. (The Youngstown case is unrelated to anything we're discussing here - it has to do with the President's power to order the seizure of domestic private companies, not to make general foreign policy decisions. But I assume you know that too.)

Yes, the President acts within the parameters granted by Congress, but those parameters are very broad and much is delegated. As I have said a million times, both in this thread and in others, there are checks on Executive power, but I don't see any checks being exercised, do you? And, as I've said elsewhere, there is an electoral remedy. So elect someone else if you don't like Obama. There are several Republicans screaming about Obama's alleged malfeasance - perhaps you would prefer one of them. I wouldn't.

The Creator, we'll see what happens in Libya. Perhaps you should provide a cite for your suggestion that 20,000 people who are dead today would have been alive but for the NATO assistance. And you might factor in the number of people that would have been dead had Qaddafi continued to starve much of his country.

I don't disagree that the future is uncertain. So is ours (globally, nationally, and individually). At least there's a change in the Libyan dynamic now - which it appears that Libyans are celebrating. Good for them. I hope that they are able to make a government that represents them. I wish that the brave opposition in Syria could find a way to get rid of Assad.

About that "viagra-rape plan" - it seems in fact rather unlikely at this point that such a plan did in fact exist. I'd be rather surprised if that particular allegation will surface again. (I still hold out for possible discoveries relating to Lockerbie though).


The legal analysis I was referring earlier to concerning a deployment of ground forces is found in the Virgina Journal of International Law. The author argues on page 31 that because the resolution used the term "occupation force", ground forces are allowed as long this doesn't amount to effective control over territory.

Christian G. - I guess we'll see what the International Criminal Court turns up. And thanks for the links.

The problem, basically, is that we have a government of bankers, gunmen, Islamist extremists, tribalists and wishy-washy liberals who were installed by foreign intervention

This is not a stable coalition; not in any way. It is also not a good recipe for the establishment of any kind of democracy. Least of all in a petro-state.

Actually that's a pretty good recipe for establishing a liberal state. Historically stable liberal states are formed not by liberals but as truces between multiple would-be authoritarian groups, none of them capable of winning a potential civil war. Classic examples are the British parliamentary system, formed by competing religious interests, and the French 3rd republic, formed by Bourbonist, Orleanist, and Bonapartist monarchists who couldn't agree on who would be king.

Not to mention the US. While we did have some factions that could be construced as liberal or democratic, we also had a whole lot of (would be, if not already) oligarchs and even some monarchists. IIRC, Washington was explicitly asked to become King.

If he hadn't refused, we would have a very different country today. Just as we would have a very different country if he hadn't chosen to step down as President after two terms. No real question that he could have been effectively President-for-Life. And the country was well served by the fact that, for over a century afterwards, nobody had the chutzpah to try to serve more terms that Washington had.

Overall, we were building something new in part because we had to make compromises. And we succeeded, in part, because we were amazingly lucky.

In a bit of a correction of my earlier comment to envy, the Youngstown opinion (Justice Black) does use the word "policy."

envy provided me with a link to a District Court opinion which does not use the term. Still, the case stands for the following:

"The President's power to issue an executive order must stem either from an act of Congress or from the Constitution itself. Where there was no statute that expressly authorized the President to order the Secretary of Commerce to seize and operate most of the nation's steel mills, nor was there any act of Congress from which such a power could fairly be implied, his executive order was enjoined.

Mass Graves Found in Libya ...mass graves of Ghadafi Loyalists.

"Mr Abdul Jalil said the new Libya would take Islamic law as its foundation. Interest for bank loans would be capped, he said, and restrictions on the number of wives Libyan men could take would be lifted."

Hey, sapient, the future is so bright for women in Libya they'll have to wear shades veils

Sorry, bob mcmanus. I don't read the Jane Hamsher/Grover Norquist consortium site.

But on the subject you raise, I won't be surprised to find that human rights abuses have occurred on both sides. It's unlikely that everyone in the rebel forces are saintly people. War, especially civil war, attracts many kinds of people, including thugs and psychopaths who feel that they have free reign because of the chaos. I'm not one who glorifies war, but there is a legitimate purpose in overthrowing a repressive regime.

Qaddafi was an erratic leader. Some of his policies and practices were probably good, just as some of Saddam's were. Likewise, the Shah of Iran. And Mussolini made the trains run on time. What happened when there was an attempt by the rebels to bring about a movement for self-determination was that Qaddafi responded in a way that convinced many people (including some credible organizations, like Human Rights Watch) that a humanitarian crisis was ensuing, largely caused by Qaddafi's use of military against civilians, and placing areas of the country under siege.

Whether the new government oppresses women or anyone else is still unknown. I don't think that Islamic law as its "foundation" is necessarily a determining factor. That they might outlaw usury seems to me to be a good thing. And if people want to arrange their personal lives in a way that doesn't conform with the experience of the Christian European custom of "one man, one woman," that's really none of my business.

It's new to me that so many people are defending Libya under Qaddafi as a liberal paradise. That certainly has never been my impression.

As I recall (and no doubt the lawyers will correct me if I'm wrong), a fair amount of American and other Western law has its basis in canon law -- that is, the religious law of the Catholic Church. The fact that it has been modified, sometimes out of all recognition, doesn't mean that basis isn't still there.

One can easily see how a country ruled by mild Islamists (as opposed to, say Christian Democrats) might make Islamic law its basis. Without necessarily taking tit to the extremes that the Wahabists and the Iranian Ayatollahs do.

The Libyan Civil War would have been a fine thing, if it had been fought and won entirely by Libyans.

One bad thing about the Libyan War is that Westerners will once again convince themselves that armed intervention in other countries' politics is OK. That's going to get a lot of people killed in the future.

Another bad thing is that, once again, the intervening powers faced little real threat from the people they were attacking.

Qaddafi wasn't a bad enough tyrant to be worth setting that kind of precedent. Better to let him rule and rave another forty years, than to have the world's strongest powers congratulating themselves on how good it feels to attack weak countries.

Sorry, bob mcmanus. I don't read the Jane Hamsher/Grover Norquist consortium site.

How about the Telegraph?

"Mr Abdul-Jalil went further, specifically lifting immediately, by decree, one law from Col. Gaddafi's era that he said was in conflict with Sharia - that banning polygamy."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8844819/Libyas-liberation-interim-ruler-unveils-more-radical-than-expected-plans-for-Islamic-law.html

Thanks, ptl.

Polygamy isn't my particular thing, but it's practiced by a lot of practicing Muslims, even in secular Turkey where it is illegal. I'm not opposed to people arranging their personal lives in keeping with their religious beliefs. That's one of many reasons I believe that civil marriage in the US is so problematic from a legal point of view. It discriminates against people with noncompliant cultural and religious marriage traditions.

As to Abdul-Jalil's statement that "Interest creates disease and hatred among people," hmmm: maybe they'll be able to avoid the usurious practices that is so rampant in our banking system.

Sorry for my obscene failure to edit my previous comment.

But in reply to Roland's comment:

One bad thing about the Libyan War is that Westerners will once again convince themselves that armed intervention in other countries' politics is OK.

First of all, this "precedent" argument is silly. A bad leader doesn't rely on "precedent". Iraq is a good example of that. The way to avoid unwise military action is to elect wise people in government.

Second, sometimes there is a good case for armed intervention. What we really should be focusing on is figuring out when that is. Most people (in theory) believe that "genocide" is one of those times. But what we've seen is that, many times, by the time "genocide" is identified, intervention is too late. In this case, human rights organizations were begging for some kind of intervention. It wasn't "genocide" as that word is defined, but it was a significant humanitarian crisis.

War is not a good solution to problems, so starting one is rarely (or never) a good idea. I think Iraq is, again, an example of that. But I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea to intervene (in a circumspect way) when a well-armed and organized brutal dictator of 40+ years is threatening to massacre a large opposition and has a large number of civilians under siege, when the UN gives its permission for intervention, and we lend munitions to a coalition of countries to allow the rebel movement to succeed in such a manner that we can immediately end our military involvement and allow a democratic (or self-determining, at least) political result to occur. If there is a right way to go about it, this seems to be the right way.

Nobody can guarantee a political result that we favor. That's part of why what we did was good. We aren't calling the shots here to install a puppet government. We helped make it possible for the Libyans to decide for themselves.

roland, you point would work better if outside countries had started the revolt in Libya. But that isn't what happened. (Unless you want to count the revolutions in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, which I don't think is what you were talking about.) So just leaving Qaddafi to "rule and rave" wasn't the option.

The choices were:
1) stand by and watch him massacre thousands. (Which, be it noted, is what he said he intended to do.
2) take some kind of action to prevent him doing so. (What kind of action was most appropriate is, judging from your words, a separate discussion.)

The chances of the Libyan Civil War being fought and won "entirely by Libyans" was nil. The people driving the revolution had minimil equipment; certainly nothing that could stop a tank. Which meant that, without outside help, all the could do was die gloriously. Along with their families and neighbors, whether involved or not.

I hope you don't consider the outside world's inaction during the Rawandan genocide a fine model for the West to follow. But that seems to be what your post would result in.

sapient, of course the marriage laws of the UK and the US are based on Christian notions of marriage. But -- any other considerations apart -- Abdul-Jalil has, if the Telegraph's correct, legalised polygamy by fiat. He's an interim leader, yet he seems prepared to issue decrees implementing sharia law as he construes it.

Usury contravenes basic Muslim tenets; and I support the UK's acceptance of sharia-compliant mortgages, etc.. I do though wonder whether a blanket ban on non-sharia banking institutions will benefit Libya.

"One bad thing about the Libyan War is that Westerners will once again convince themselves that armed intervention in other countries' politics is OK. That's going to get a lot of people killed in the future."

Without going so far as to say it would have been better to allow Gaddafi to rule than give Americans/Westerners another self-righteous rush (I'd listen to Libyans argue about that), I agree that the self-righteous aspect is a very bad thing. On a related note, this is what I didn't like about the Samantha Power book "A Problem From Hell." If you're going to write a book about slaughter and US foreign policy, then have the decency to devote a large number of pages to massacres and genocides that the US either supported or committed, and don't just write about how our lack of intervention allowed some other bad guy (someone not on our payroll at the moment) to kill a bunch of people. There's nothing our political class likes better than to sit around and pontificate seriously about our duty to bomb some bad guy, and whether we've been derelict. I mean, yeah, sometimes there's Rwanda, but then sometimes there's also East Timor (which we helped destroy in bipartisan fashion) and Guatemala and El Salvador and Angola and Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos and Iraq and then--well, nevermind. The political culture in the US is such that it is easier to stop someone else's war crimes than it is to stop our own. And yeah, both parties are to blame.

He's an interim leader, yet he seems prepared to issue decrees implementing sharia law as he construes it.

According to The Lonely Planet (a copy found on Google books dated 2007), "Despite an early plan by Colonel Qaddafi to outlaw polygamy, the practise of marrying more than one wife remains legal, although rare, in Libya."

So I don't know whether The Lonely Planet is correct, but it seems that not much legislating was done by Abdul-Jalil in his "decree."

Anyway, my purpose isn't to defend Abdul-Jalil. I don't know enough about him to do that. The point is that the dynamic has changed so that there is the possibility of self-determination for Libyans. I hope that Libyans find themselves in a freer society. It's up to them to continue to fight for it and make it happen (I hope without further violence).

I can fully understand the reluctance of many here to support any overseas intervention by the US. And I'm equally sympathetic to your objection to the presidential powers implicit in Obama's failure to seek Congressional approval for the US involvement in this particular adventure.
However, from the point of view of a Brit, whose government did seek parliamentary approval, I see things a little differently. Though I regard the Iraq invasion as probably criminal, and certainly more than regrettable, Libya seems to me to be an entirely different case. The incredibly rapid fall of Tripoli indicates (to me at least) that the vast majority of the population sided with the rebels. Western airpower did not and could not have achieved that on its own - as has been clearly demonstrated by all our other failed efforts.
The support of the large majority of the Libyan population seems to me both justification for (and absolutely necessary to the success of) the intervention.

As far as SAS and other 'special forces' boots on the ground are concerned, is their legitimacy not now a moot point, as they are presumably there with the approval of Libyan authorities recognized by the UN since September (and by the US and the UK since July) ?
www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/16/us-libya-un-assembly-idUSTRE78F4QA20110916

Here's a link for details of some of the players in the transitional council:
www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14896059

And Mussolini made the trains run on time.
No offense, but, no, he didn't. Nope. Fascist myth.

The future of Libya remains green.

No offense, but, no, he didn't. Nope. Fascist myth.

Hahaha. Thanks, Gary, Not a surprise that such a myth should be debunked. My deceased WWII veteran friends would be fully in accord and laughing and appreciative.

The future of Libya remains green.

Not a surprise. Certainly, we (I) hope that whatever economic benefits arise enure to the benefit of the Libyan people (and the global community - whatever!). No question that capitalistic vultures, or entrepreneurial opportunists, or liberated business artisans ... whatever ... are anxious to make hay from the new Libya. Maybe everything is all about self-gratification. Maybe our own freedom of expression is all about self-gratification. The arts? All about self-gratification. Altruism? All about self-gratification.

In the end, we're all selfish. Maybe we should all start digging our own graves. The only worthwhile enterprise. Or maybe we should buy into the myth. Whatever myth makes it meaningful.

An anti Libyan intervention article--

link

Take with a grain of salt, just as one should take pro-intervention arguments with a grain of salt, particularly the numbers (that 30,000 dead figure is also cited by the pro-interventionists, with of course a different spin placed on who is responsible for most of the alleged dead). But there are some useful links to HRW and Amnesty International reports about rebel abuses.

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