“We could impose, and could have imposed a no-fly zone. They would have stopped flying if that had been imposed. They’re using air power and helicopters to continue these massacres. We should recognize a provisional government somewhere in eastern Libya, perhaps Benghazi. We should make it clear that we will provide assistance to that provisional government. And finally, we should make it absolutely clear that anyone who continues or is engaged in these kinds of barbarous acts is going to find themselves on trial in a war crimes tribunal. We’ve got to really get tough.”On Friday night’s edition of Washington Week in Review, Martha Raddatz, Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent for ABC News, ridiculed the idea of a no-fly zone, thus:
“I love that they keep talking about this no fly zone. I can’t imagine that that could happen, because, first of all, you would really have to have the U.N. It would be tantamount to an act of war if you went in and had a no-fly zone. I mean the same reason you can’t really land in Libya –it’s still a sovereign country. And if you don’t have permission to land there, you can’t do that. So I think a no-fly zone is not a reality here.”So, John McCain, in order to prove that he is going to “really get tough,” would start a war in Libya. But wait! There’s more! He recommends that we support a provisional government in Benghazi. Does anyone know who’s in charge in Benghazi?
Here’s how David Zucchino described it for the L.A. Times:
“In Benghazi, the center of the eastern rebellion that broke free from 41 years of despotic rule a week ago, everyone is in charge — and no one is in charge. But everyone seems to have claimed a piece of the revolution.Not exactly De Gaul in 1943 Algiers.
“Men toting shotguns and hunting rifles operate checkpoints. Teenagers in sneakers direct traffic. Young men dance in the back of pickup trucks towing antiaircraft guns, and the makeshift government center in the downtown courthouse has the strung-out, manic feel of a college all-nighter.”
Here’s a late breaking news item from the British newspaper the Independent:
Does this sound to you like the type of provisional government we want to recognize? I don’t think so. But Senator McCain not only wants to recognize it, he wants to provide assistance to it. There’s one small problem: the government has no address. In fact, on February 27th, the Libyan Youth Movement tweeted at 16:36: “Tripoli is and will be the capital of Libya, any talk of a 'Libyan' government on hold until Tripoli liberated.”
Former justice minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil announced that he would head an interim government with the suggestion that it has the backing of the US. He also said an agreement could be reached with the sons of Col Gaddafi to end the spiraling violence.
But confusion and controversy surrounded the announcement after the official spokesman for the Council disputed that version of events, saying that Mr Abdel-Jalil had expressed purely personal views. Abdul Hafiz Gouga added that there could be no accommodation with remnants of the regime because of "the huge human rights abuses" that had been committed. He insisted Mr. Abdel-Jalil would only be a member of the Council rather than its head. In fact, said Mr. Gouga, the organisation will have no hierarchy with the members, their numbers as yet undisclosed, all having an equal say on policy.”
Now let’s assume that we could overcome the no-address problem and send war materiel and maybe even advisors into Benghazi to help sustain the resistance to Qaddafi. It could all turn out for the best. Or not.
First, the Arab world will not immediately forget that the U.S. has been supportive of some of the worst tyrants in the Muslim world, from the Shah of Iran, to Saddam Hussein, to Hosni Mubarak, and, some would say, to Mo Qaddafi. There is a risk that a peck on the cheek from the U.S. government to a nascent democratic movement in Libya could be the kiss of death.
Most Libyans have never known any form of government other than the Jamahiriya (a state of the masses) which in theory is government by the populace through local councils and in practice, an authoritarian kleptocracy. Can anyone guarantee that the next government in Libya will not also be corrupt? Do we want to be the midwife of such a government?
In case you haven’t noticed, Libya is oil-rich, producing about 2% of the world’s production of oil. Do you suppose any neighbors of Libya could covetously look upon those oil reserves? Algeria and Niger have border disputes with Libya and Chadian rebels are living in South Libya. If the rebels in Libya succeed in dismantling the Libyan army, will the country be vulnerable to attack from any of its neighbors? If so, who will the Libyans blame?
And last but not least, what are we to make of John McCain’s threat that “anyone … who is engaged in these kinds of barbarous acts is going to find themselves on trial in a war crimes tribunal?” I mean, other than McCain’s weakness with English grammar.
This threat must really put shivers in the boots of Mo. Qaddafi, who admitted to complicity in the Lockerbie bombing, for which he was rewarded with diplomatic recognition from George W. Bush. More directly to the point, Qaddafi has no intention of leaving office alive whether it is to go to exile or the Hague.
I can hear you now saying, “Big Mitch, you’ve successfully proven that John McCain is a reckless know-nothing, but we knew that since the day he nominated Sarah Palin. What do you propose to do about Libya?
Well, I am glad you asked. How about nothing. It sounds to me that things are going pretty well there.
At this juncture, it appears nearly certain that Qaddafi will be hanging from a tree before the ides of March. Sadly, many Libyan patriots will be the victims of his violence before his reign of terror is over. The price of Libyan freedom will be paid in much blood, but there is no other way. It is cold comfort to know that the Libyan military has been kept weak by Libya because Qaddafi did not want to lose power the way he gained it, viz., by military coup.
An American hands-off policy seems to have worked in Tunisia and Egypt. Both countries have survived revolutions with little or none of the knee-jerk anti-America and anti-Israel rhetoric that should have been expected. Perhaps Arabs are seeing that President Obama was serious when he said he would respect their desire for self-determination. And our non-involvement seems to be working in Libya:
As we read in the Daily Caller
The Arab League has barred Libya from attending meetings of the bloc until it ends its violent crackdown on protesters, which it said involved violations of human rights and international laws.Of course, we know that a policy of non-intervention will displease some cranky old men like Christopher Hitchens.
Hitchens sounds intelligent because he uses words like “obtrudes.” But here is what he said about Obama’s careful measured response to the situation in Libya:
"For weeks, the administration dithered over Egypt and calibrated its actions to the lowest and slowest common denominators, on the grounds that it was difficult to deal with a rancid old friend and ally who had outlived his usefulness. But then it became the turn of Muammar Qaddafi—an all-round stinking nuisance and moreover a long-term enemy—and the dithering began all over again. Until Wednesday Feb. 23, when the president made a few anodyne remarks that condemned "violence" in general but failed to cite Qaddafi in particular—every important statesman and stateswoman in the world had been heard from, with the exception of Obama.”I’ve already written about Obama’s “dithering” over Egypt, praising him for laying the groundwork for a peaceful revolution in Egypt, and then letting it take its course. But on the subject of Libya, Hitchens seems to think that Obama’s reticence was a character flaw.
What he fails to understand is that a matter of the safety of hundreds of Americans had obtruded itself into the calculus. U.S. efforts to evacuate hundreds of Americans from Libya were being stymied by bad weather on the coast — and by the refusal of Qaddafi's government to allow American charter planes to land there. Ramping up the rhetoric could have had disasterous results for those whose safety is a primary concern of the POTUS.
A few hours after Hitchen’s idiocy hit the blogosphere, the U.S.-chartered ferry the Maria Dolores carrying 300 passengers, including at least 167 U.S. citizens Americans finally arrived at the Mediterranean island of Malta. We will wait in vain, for Hitchens message of congratulations to Obama.
With Americans out of Libya, we can expect to see coordinated efforts to oust Qaddafi. The most successful of these will be those of Libyans fighting for their basic human rights and for their freedom. God bless them for doing so, and for the bravery and self sacrifice that their task demands.
"... and tell ’Big Mitch sent ya!"