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Surely no-one has been surprised to see Senator McCain engaged in what Defense Secretary Gates has rightly called "loose talk" about the use of U.S. military force in Libya.

But to see Senator John Kerry, the Democratic head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - the man who as a Vietnam veteran joined other anti-war veterans in asking who would be the last American to be asked to die in Vietnam - engage in such "loose talk" - that is a more painful cut.

Surely no-one has been surprised to see Senator McCain engaged in what Defense Secretary Gates has rightly called "loose talk" about the use of U.S. military force in Libya.

But to see Senator John Kerry, the Democratic head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - the man who as a Vietnam veteran joined other anti-war veterans in asking who would be the last American to be asked to die in Vietnam - engage in such "loose talk" - that is a more painful cut.

Of course, this is the same Senator Kerry who voted to authorize the U.S. invasion of Iraq in October 2002, even though such action was never authorized by the UN Security Council, and was therefore a major war crime in international law - the crime of aggression. And this is the same Senator Kerry who, as a presidential candidate in August 2004, stood by his vote for the war.

Here is a basic fact about the world that mainstream U.S. media - and politicians like John Kerry - generally find distasteful to acknowledge. The Charter of the United Nations rules out the use of military force by one UN member state against another except in two cases: self-defense against armed attack, and actions approved by the UN Security Council.

Obviously, Libya has not attacked the United States, and there is no realistic prospect that it will do so.

Therefore, because it is an act of war, in order to be legal under international law, the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya must be approved by the UN Security Council. There is no way around it.

The United Nations Charter is not an obscure document that can be safely ignored when it is convenient to do so. It is the founding document of the United Nations. It is the Constitution of the world.

And it is legally binding on the United States, because it is a treaty obligation. According to the U.S. Constitution, treaty obligations are "the supreme law of the land."

So a no-fly zone over Libya must be approved by the UN Security Council. For anyone to claim otherwise is to use the same argument that the Bush Administration used when it ignored the UN to invade Iraq. If it was illegal for the U.S. to invade Iraq - and it was - then it is illegal for the U.S. or NATO to unilaterally impose a no-fly zone over Libya.

If a no-fly zone must be approved by the UN Security Council, then it must be approved by Russia and China. This is not a mistake. It is not an accident of history. The Framers of the UN Charter gave the power to approve military action to the Security Council, and gave five countries a permanent veto, because approving military action was supposed to be hard. The Soviet Union and the United States each held one of the five vetoes. In this sense, the world isn't different than it was in 1945. Getting UN approval for military action is supposed to be difficult. It's supposed to require a broad consensus.

So, any external military action, to be legal, has to get the approval of Russia and China. This is a good thing. It means that anyone who wants to get authorization for external military action has to build consensus, working through institutions like the Arab League, the African Union, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference - these are organizations likely to sway Russia and China - and that means that other concerns, so far largely ignored by much of Washington, have a chance to be taken into account. A proposal for action should be a proposal that can meet the concerns of Russia and China and other countries on the Security Council.

Here are some concerns that Russia, China and others should raise at the UN Security Council, before approving any UN Security Council resolution that authorizes a no-fly zone, or any other external military action.

The imposition of a no fly zone over Libya, especially over parts of the country currently controlled by the Libyan government, would require bombing. Bombing causes civilian casualties. Therefore, authorization of a no-fly zone over Libya, especially over parts of Libya controlled by the Libyan government, means authorizing external military forces to bomb Libya, causing civilian casualties.

Most of the violence now taking place has little to do with air power, and air power, unless it is used for bombing that would produce civilian casualties, would likely do nothing to reduce the current violence, and would be more likely to exacerbate it. So in general, the prospects of a no-fly zone are: little potential for good, much potential for harm.

However, if the international political pressure for a no-fly zone becomes too great - some reports have indicated that a resolution is being tabled at the Security Council, and Avaaz is demanding that a no-fly zone be approved - there is a way to do it that would minimize the likely harm, and maximize the potential benefit.

If I were advising Russia and China and other members of the Security Council, and the pressure for approving a no-fly zone were great, I would point out that the danger of civilian casualties as a result of a no-fly zone could be greatly ameliorated by restricting a UN-authorized no-fly zone to areas of the country already under uncontested rebel control and far away from Libyan government forces, like Benghazi. Furthermore, any no-fly zone should have a short expiration date, so that the matter will have to come back before the Security Council for an early review.

Limiting a UN-authorized no-fly zone to areas of uncontested rebel military control far away from Libyan government forces, such as Benghazi, would enable such a no-fly zone to be maintained entirely by Arab military forces. This would assuage Arab concerns about non-Arab foreign military intervention. It would also serve as a check on overreach by an implementing force, because the actions of such a force would be subject to scrutiny by Arab public opinion. A no-fly zone that can't be maintained by Arab military force is a no-fly zone that's too big.

Such a UN-authorized no-fly zone could have the effect of putting it beyond dispute that the Libyan government will not retake Benghazi by force, therefore implying that the political forces backing Qaddafi will have to negotiate with the political forces backing the opposition if they want to re-unify the country.

Conversely, limiting a no-fly zone in this way could signal to the armed opposition to the Libyan government that there is a definite limit to how far external military force is willing to go: willing to deter threats to completely annihilate them by Qaddafi's forces, but not willing to help them conquer Tripoli militarily. Thus, if the political forces backing the armed opposition want to re-unify the country, they will likely have to negotiate with the political forces backing Qaddafi, since it seems clear that the armed opposition does not have the military strength to take Tripoli by force.

That would be a good thing. So far the armed opposition seems largely opposed to any negotiations - although there are conflicting reports - perhaps in part because the armed opposition has been encouraged to think that foreigners will help them take Tripoli by force.  

Opposition to any negotiations is a bad thing, because if no negotiations are possible, then the only likely resolution to the conflict is the likely conquest of one side by another after a protracted civil war that produces many civilian casualties.

Even if you are willing to accept the civilian casualties - and why should you be, if they are unnecessary? - the prospect of the conquest of one side by another, particularly as a result of U.S. action, should trouble you. Because the government side doesn't just consist of one guy named Qaddafi. It consists of a lot of Libyans, including Libyan tribes, that back the government, and have a reasonable and legitimate fear that they will get the short end of the stick if the current Libyan government is replaced by one dominated by the tribes that back the armed opposition in Benghazi, as the New York Times documented here.

We've been down this road before. When the U.S. invaded Iraq, it replaced a government in which Sunnis were disproportionately represented with one from which Sunnis were disproportionately excluded. When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, it replaced a government in which Pashtuns were disproportionately represented with one from which Pashtuns were disproportionately excluded. In both cases, the exclusions were a recipe for protracted violent conflict. If the U.S. intervenes militarily on the side of the armed rebels in Libya, instead of insisting on a negotiated transition that represents a new Libyan political consensus, the U.S. risks repeating this mistake of its interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan: ensuring a transition in which folks that have been disproportionately represented and excluded change places, a recipe for continued conflict.

Because military support for Libya's armed opposition runs the risk of simply switching the ins and outs, the Security Council should exact a political price from the political representatives of the armed opposition in exchange for any no-fly zone over Benghazi: they should be required to embrace negotiations towards a transition that gives all the Libyan stakeholders a seat at the table.

Moreover, the political representatives of the armed opposition should be required to embrace measures - which the UN should render every assistance to support - to protect civilians in the areas of rebel control. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times showed why this is needed.

Across eastern Libya, rebel fighters and their supporters are detaining, intimidating and frequently beating African immigrants and black Libyans, accusing them of fighting as mercenaries on behalf of Kadafi, the LAT reported. In areas under rebel control, several accused mercenaries have been killed recently, said Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch. There have been "widespread and systematic attacks" on Africans and black Libyans by rebels and their supporters as they attempt to root out suspected mercenaries, he said. "Thousands of Africans have come under attack and lost their homes and possessions during the recent fighting," Bouckaert said. "A lot of Africans have been caught up in this mercenary hysteria."

In the best possible scenario, a no-fly zone approved by the UN Security Council would be a largely symbolic political act that does not kill anyone and pushes forward, rather than impedes, the prospect of a negotiated political resolution to the conflict. If Russia, China, and other countries on the Security Council can use their leverage in this situation to push for a consensual political resolution of the conflict, than the intent of the Framers of the UN Charter in vesting this power in the Security Council - that the Security Council be a force for peace - will in this case have been fulfilled.

Originally posted to Robert Naiman on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 12:35 PM PST.

Also republished by Foreign Relations.

Poll

I oppose any U.S. military intervention in Libya that is not approved by the U.N. Security Council

63%23 votes
36%13 votes

| 36 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Robert, like you, (7+ / 0-)

    I'm very worried about the U.S. acting solo on a no-fly-zone.  The UN has a sorry history of caving to U.S. pressures.  I'm not sure what can be done at this point.  Thanks for thinking through a lot of tough issues.

    What is apparent is that the UN and the world have not invested well in Prevention of Conflict thinking.  

    Jawaher Abu Rahme, rest in peace. The struggle for freedom will continue.

    by soysauce on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 01:09:38 PM PST

    •  like you (6+ / 0-)

      I am worried about the Security Council caving in to US pressure. That is why I came up with a proposal for the Security Council to "cave in" without really caving in - agree on paper to a version of the U.S. proposal that actually mitigates most of the harm it would cause and tries to use it to press for a diplomatic solution.

    •  i don't see another country rushing to the (0+ / 0-)

      front to step up to the plate.

      are we supposed to just ignore people being killed?

      •  Britain and France... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gustogirl

        are out ahead on this. Germany is precluded from sending military forces beyond its borders, but has enacted the harshest sanctions of anyone. Italy, whose role would be essential, is lukewarm, being more vulnerable than any to reprisals, and wants help from the EU dealing with the refugee situation unfolding on Lampedusa already.

        I'm guessing that unless Gaddafi starts shooting missiles at shipping or Nato vessels in the Med or the Gulf of Sidra, or unless we learn of a Gaddafi police unit going into some town or village and massacres everyone in it, that the UN is going to find it very difficult to come up with a reason to find an intervention politically palatable.

        I don't know that I'd trust Gaddafi not to do something like that, but his sons seem a lot more competent than he at the moment.

        "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
        Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

        by papicek on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 10:05:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It would be helpful to quote the alleged (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pozzo, 1918, BachFan

    "loose talk" by Senator Kerry, even better to provide a link to it.

    Baja Arizona Libre!

    by DaNang65 on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 01:27:19 PM PST

  •  As Gates said, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Robert Naiman, Karl Rover, papicek

    if we impose a no fly zone we must be prepared to use bombs.  

    The right is pushing for intervention for the sole purpose of hanging Obama out to dry.


    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 01:49:10 PM PST

  •  The UN Charter is NOT Supreme Law. (5+ / 0-)

    Sorry but it is not.  It heavily influences international affairs but it isn't Supreme Law.  Not one country in this entire world has agreed to subjugate their sovereignty to the UN.  Not. One.   The UN is a collection of "peers" and nothing more.

    •  The U.S. Constitution, article VI, paragraph 2 (6+ / 0-)
      This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.
      •  I once thought so too... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gustogirl, BrowniesAreGood

        but after some research, I find that the USSC finds differently.

        See my comment below.

        "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
        Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

        by papicek on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 06:25:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You're still wrong. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AaronInSanDiego, papicek
        This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

        The US Constitution is the supreme law of the land.  The "authority of the United States" to which it is allowed to engage in treaties and make treaty agreements is limited to it's authority to do so.  No law can be passed, for example, to subjugate the sovereignty of the United States to the UN or any other body.  No law can be passed to divest the CinC of his/her ability to command the US Armed Forces.  Just two examples.

        To the degree we are bound by treaty is irrelevant to the assertion as to which is "supreme".  The Constitution of the United States is supreme, not the UN Charter.

        Further, I don't believe the UN Charter prohibits what you say it does.

        Article 2, clauses 3-4 essentially prohibit war (except in self-defense) by stating, "All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

        In my opinion, this is currently a gray area.  It can be argued that Gaddafi is no longer the legitimate government of Libya.  "Rebels" (which have declared a new President already) have requested assistance.  Under such a scenario we do not need the UN permission to help them.

        Further, a "no fly zone" does not violate "territorial integrity" or "political independence" (in this case).  

        Territorial integrity is the principle under international law that nation-states should not attempt to promote secessionist movements or to promote border changes in other nation-states.  Conversely it states that imposition by force of a border change is an act of aggression.

        Further....

        At the 2005 World Summit, the world's nations agreed on a "Responsibility to Protect" giving a right of humanitarian intervention. It has been argued that this could create a flexible application of concept of sovereignty and territorial integrity, easing the strict adherence and taking into account the de facto status of the territory and other factors present on a case by case basis.[4] The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1674, adopted by the United Nations Security Council on April 28, 2006, "Reaffirm[ed] the provisions of paragraphs 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document regarding the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity".[5]
        However, this responsibility to protect refers only to the ability of external powers to override sovereignty and does not explicitly involve the changing of borders.

        •  nice reply... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Karl Rover, BrowniesAreGood

          but a no-fly zone is an act of war, the use of force to infringe another nation's sovereign right to fly over its own territory, and an egregious interference in its internal affairs.

          Should we intervene in any way in Libya? Even the UN? At the moment, I don't see the grounds. I think what we're seeing is a regime fighting against a revolt within its own borders. Is there a genocide, ethnic cleansing or other crime against humanity underway which might trigger a response under the reasoning expressed in the Responsibility to Protect? Perhaps. This is arguable, and would require UNSC authorization, as was specifically provided for in R2P regardless.

          The only thing which makes some kind of intervention palatable to the West is Gaddafi's history and his present blatant disregard for his responsibilities as a ruler to look after the welfare of his own people. He asked for a second chance, and did much of what the West wanted in way of renouncing terrorism and a nuclear weapons program, and he was given the chance he wanted. Did this change the leopard's spots? Nope. We see that he's still the unstable ruler he ever was. Less ambitious these days, perhaps.

          Now he has a state without a trained, professional army, no civil society, and which has various unprofessional security organs (in effect private militias) controlled by one son or another. He's facing a rebellion whose determination has yet to be proven and which lacks heavy weaponry and dynamic leadership. About this time last week, I thought he'd be gone by now. The Gaddafi family regime has proven more durable than I thought.

          The Article 2 argument has received broader interpretation since 1990, but I have yet to see the threat to international peace here. A vast influx of Libyan refugees in a bordering nation might be seen as such a threat to international peace, particularly if they turned out to be lawless or decided to try an overthrow their host nation (as was attempted by the PLO in Jordan in 1970) but this hasn't happened yet either. Other threats haven't yet become apparent either. Higher oil prices are not justification enough.

          At any rate, air power isn't going to decide what happens in Libya as long as Gaddafi can't get his combined ops act together. If he mounts a mechanized thrust eastward (he's got about 1,200 tanks) with air support, he leaves himself vulnerable in Tripoli. Just to hold Tripoli and the surrounding area, he'll need pretty much all those armored forces, and who knows if these forces have the necessary supply to attempt an operation in the east?

          What he does have is about 400 low altitude air-to-air missiles, including SA-9 manpads. Remember how beloved by Russian pilots the Stinger was?

          So I'm not thrilled at the prospect of air forces from any country having to maintain a continuous combat air patrol over Tripoli, though John McCain seems to want to hop in the cockpit himself.

          Maybe we should send McCain.

          "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
          Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

          by papicek on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 08:15:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Respectfully... (0+ / 0-)
            but a no-fly zone is an act of war, the use of force to infringe another nation's sovereign right to fly over its own territory, and an egregious interference in its internal affairs.

            This is a different question.  Whether an action should be taken vs whether it can legally be taken.  I'm not arguing that we OUGHT to take this action.

    •  like most international law... (3+ / 0-)

      it's murky, and you're right, sovereignty is in no way diminished by membership in the UN. Robert Naiman's mistaken to call it "supreme law," which is recognized in the international community in the concept of treaties which are not "self-executing."

      In the US, the constitution remains the supreme law, regardless of what it says in the supremacy clause. The argument is interesting: though treaties may be supreme, congress and the president have no power to engage in any agreement which supercedes the Constitution and abrogates any American's constitutional rights, thus the signature and ratification are unconstitutional.

      It gets baroque, but this line of thinking carries weight. It is the argument used in the US refusal to become a states party to the International Criminal Court.

      ::

      Generally speaking, the UNSC will refuse to sanction military operations unless the situation in Libya, which is thus far an internal matter, threatens to spill over its borders. (Potentially Rwanda all over again.) For instance, say Gaddafi wins back the east, and guerrilla strikes emanate out of Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria or Chad, which Tripoli responds to with military force, Then all bets are off. Gaddafi has few friends who aren't marginal themselves.

      However, SecState Clinton's remark today should reassure the diarist:

      U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, repeating Washington's call for consensus, said it was up to the United Nations to decide whether there should be a no-fly zone.

      (Source: Reuters)

      Other reporting claims that the US is agitating for a UNSC authorization of a no-fly zone. Perhaps. I've yet to see anything I consider reliable. Thus far, Britain and France seem to want the measure while Washington is being much more cautious. It'll take something dramatic to move Russia and China, which is not out of the question.

      "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
      Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

      by papicek on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 06:08:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  So the solution (0+ / 0-)

    is to let an insane, murdering thug kill more of his own people in his desire to keep power, just to give lip service to "Supreme Law?" I hardly think the UN signatories intended the charter to  provide cover for murderous dictators.

    •  As a matter of fact, it does exactly that. (0+ / 0-)

      Right in the beginning of the UN Charter, Chapter I, Article 2, Section 7:

      Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter Vll.

      (Emphasis mine)

      Chapter VII is the one titled, "Action with respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression." The concern then was how to deal with wars between countries, and specifically not with the internal matters of countries. That practically all conflict these days occurs within countries, is a situation the UN was not created to deal with.

      The more I think about it, the less legal justification I can see for imposing a no-fly zone.

      ::

      My copy of the UN Charter is the cheapest book I've purchased since the 60's and I didn't even have to get out of my chair to grab it. I keep that puppy close.

      ::

      Here's the question you have to ask yourself: With international law still struggling to come of age, do you really want to weaken what law we have? Particularly with respect to how larger, more powerful states get to treat smaller, weaker countries? In the case of the Rwandan genocide, I'd have said yes, but I'm not seeing a genocide in Libya - yet.

      "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
      Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

      by papicek on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 08:43:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No (0+ / 0-)

        It doesn't say any of those things exactly.

      •  so (0+ / 0-)
        Here's the question you have to ask yourself: With international law still struggling to come of age, do you really want to weaken what law we have? Particularly with respect to how larger, more powerful states get to treat smaller, weaker countries? In the case of the Rwandan genocide, I'd have said yes, but I'm not seeing a genocide in Libya - yet
        .

        Do you wait and let people be slaughtered and then ask "Is it genocide yet" before you act? How many Rwandans had to die before it became genocide and you have supported action?

  •  The Supreme Law is the Constitution and laws (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gustogirl

    and treaties made pursuant thereto.   Congress can act to override treaties or laws at any time, consistent with the Constitution.

    •  Not correct. (5+ / 0-)

      Once a treaty is ratified by the senate it becomes incorporated with in the body of US law. Did you go to the Dick Cheney  mail order law school?

      •  heh (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        UnaSpenser

        may I state my agreement :)

        as we are on the matter of statements made up as one goes along ...

        isn´t this site quite full of them? You know you´re right, I know you´re right; that should be sufficient ...

        Ici s´arrète la loi.

        by marsanges on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 04:54:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  actually... (0+ / 0-)

        the USSC has never found that a treaty obligation supercedes the constitution, for reasons I mention above, which may be the effect intended: all treaty obligations undertaken before the constitution was ratified remained in force, while everything afterward is subject to what US government office holders can do constitutionally.

        Back in the 50's this came up with the Bricker Amendment, which never got anywhere, but whose spirit has tended to be upheld by the courts anyway.

        In short, if the president signs it, and the senate ratifies it, the argument goes that these actions may be unconstitutional because neither body or office has the power to take any action contrary to the constitution.

        "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
        Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

        by papicek on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 10:30:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Well reasoned and calm (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stolen water

    as can be, but this is a freaking emergency.

    All your machinations toward the UN would take MONTHS, and it still would not move Russia or China, who are happily raking in the cash from the inflated oil prices caused by Libya and others.  Nothing would make Russia and China happier than protracted conflict in the Middle East and North Africa.  IMO, that should automatically recuse them from the decision.

    In the meantime, you don't once mention that this is a humanitarian crisis that is worsening with every minute and second and day of delay.  Anti-aircraft missiles are being pointed at human bodies.  Today, Gadaffi upped his use of helicopter gunships and air bombers.  They are indiscriminately killing civilians, women, children and everyone.  They are attacking hospitals, doctors and ambulances.

    At some point, simple humanity will overstep all the built-in constrictions and delays and political tip-toeing in order to stop the massacre.  At least, it should.  And to my mind, the sooner the better.

    And when it is over, I sincerely hope the UN will sit down to find a way to respond much more rapidly to crises like this in the future.

    Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

    by Gustogirl on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 04:16:15 PM PST

    •  re: there is a humanitarian emergency (5+ / 0-)

      It's absolutely true that there is a humanitarian emergency.  But more violence isn't going to help that; more violence is going to make it worse. If you want to end the humanitarian emergency, you should support diplomatic efforts to end, or at least de-escalate, the civil war.

      •  but one can take sides (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mll

        some civil wars should be won by one side, and not "de escalated". I believe that this is such a case.

        Yes you can ask based on what - what for - one chooses sides - but that one can should be clear.

        Ici s´arrète la loi.

        by marsanges on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 05:09:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I continue to be surprised that this humanitarian (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Karl Rover, soysauce

        crisis hasn't led to equal or greater demands for humanitarian aide and non-military interventions. Why all the focus on the no-fly zone?

        Libya: Eight Nonmilitary Options

           

        1. Establishment of an escrow account for Libyan oil revenues

            2. Listing all Libyan personnel involved in repression for sanction under SCR 1970

            3. Seek public declarations from all commercial companies that they will not do business with the Gadhaffi regime.

            4. Immediately position monitoring units on all borders and a naval blockade to ensure that the military embargo under UNSCR 1970 is enforced, and that regime members under ICC investigation or subject to paras 22-23 of UNSCR 1970 do not escape.

            5. Electronic jamming of all regime communications [why aren't we doing this already??]; interference with internet communications, Stuxnet-like attacks on regime IT infrastructure.

            6. Provide immediate and substantial humanitarian assistance in rebel-held areas.

            7. Set up publicly accessible websites using satellite and other reconnaissance data to inform anti-Gaddafi forces of the disposition of regime military and irregular units.

            8. Consider making the Libyan currency non-convertible

      •  Your assumption (0+ / 0-)

        that a NFZ is "more violence" can certainly be questioned.  Many will assert, and past experience has shown, and the intentions behind imposing a NFZ are to deter violence, not cause more violence.  In fact, only with a NFZ could we provide desperately needed air drops of medical supplies, food and water to citizens trapped by Gaddafi forces.

        Diplomatic efforts are and always have been my first choice in conflicts.  Certainly they would have saved much grief had they been exercised more fully prior to the invasion of Iraq.  

        But there is an assumption behind diplomacy that must be present before it can function, and that is that you are dealing with mentally competent, reality-based players.   Because we are dealing with someone who has long demonstrated psychopathic cruelty and megalomaniacal motivations, urgency intensifies.

        Anyway, my first response was spent after a day of becoming increasingly frustrated at the apparently futile (so far) diplomatic efforts to find some way to relieve Libya's suffering - and so I neglected to compliment you on your well thought out, logical diary.  I guess I just hoped to inject some semblance of an impassioned appeal to morality in the face of great, dispassionate analysis.

        So thanks for an excellent diary.

        Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth - Abraham Lincoln

        by Gustogirl on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 07:53:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  rigid ideological bias is more important (0+ / 0-)

      than saving lives.

  •  I disagree with this statement: (3+ / 0-)
    Most of the violence now taking place has little to do with air power, and air power, unless it is used for bombing that would produce civilian casualties, would likely do nothing to reduce the current violence, and would be more likely to exacerbate it. So in general, the prospects of a no-fly zone are: little potential for good, much potential for harm.

    You are saying that Gaddaffi's flights are not causing significant casualties????    

    Please!!

    •  air power never decided a conflict... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Richard Lyon, David Kaib

      without boots on the ground to take the territory, air attacks are not much more than a strategic nuisance, casualties notwithstanding. If Gaddafi ever gets his combined ops act together, then he'll make real use of his air power advantage. If the rebels get their act together and attempt the hardest thing of all, take a city, then Gaddafi hasn't got a chance.

      The rebels won't find that easy.

      "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
      Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

      by papicek on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 06:24:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  1999 Kosovo air campaign n/t (4+ / 0-)
        •  I'll have to think about that... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mll

          my knowledge of the complex Balkan events isn't what it should be.

          Excellent point.

          I was thinking of the really prolonged and effective air campaign before Desert Storm, which still didn't see a surrender until troopers got through the berms and got to the Iraqi Army positions. Would they have surrendered (somehow) without meeting our troops? I don't think so. I think that if they could have, those soldiers would have deserted, and what effect militarily and politically would have been much more dicey. Saddam certainly would have crawled into various holes around Tikrit and emerged from time to time, I think.

          Now you've got me going :)

          "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
          Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

          by papicek on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 09:49:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  The US/UK neocon fiasco in Iraq (6+ / 0-)

    created damage on many fronts and many ways. One aspect of that damage was to destroy any credibility of those two nations as being reliable authorities for determining the appropriateness of international military intervention.

     

  •  it's not unilateral (0+ / 0-)
    then it is illegal for the U.S. or NATO to unilaterally impose a no-fly zone over Libya.

    if libyans themselves are begging for intervention.

    •  iraq's no-fly zones were illegal. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      truong son traveler

      they weren't sanctioned by the UN. that didn't stop us from implementing one.

      for member nations to duck under the cover of international law as an excuse for inaction, pretending to treat it as sanctity, when they routinely violate it - is a joke and obscene.

      •  Not so clear (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        stolen water

        In 1993, then Secretary-General Boutros Ghali stated that US, UK, and French enforcement of the no-fly zones was authorized under Security Council Resolution 678, in light of Iraqi violations of the terms of Resolution 687 (the ceasefire resolution ending the 1991 Gulf War). According to activist journalist John Pilger, he reversed himself a decade later when he was no longer SG.  

        •  not so clear? (0+ / 0-)

          the former UN secretary general admitted it illegal. as have other experts on international law. where's the fuzzy part?

          •  Did you read the comment? (0+ / 0-)

            The former Secretary General proclaimed that it was legal and in accordance with the Charter at the time. Ten years later, he claimed that there was no legal basis, without providing any explanation of why his earlier reasoning was wrong.

            Some other experts on international law say the Iraq no fly zones were illegal; others say they were legal.

            So: it's not so clear.

      •  everything Bush did in Iraq... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Karl Rover, stolen water

        was an illegal war of aggression for which Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al belong in a prison cell in the Hague. I hope you're not suggesting we go that route again?

        As for that joke and obscentiy, you've got an apt description of GOP foreign policy right there.

        "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
        Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

        by papicek on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 10:15:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  it's not only bush/cheney. it's not just gop polic (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          papicek

          the US operates outside the law all the time. rendition, torture, indefinite detention, assassinations, etc. i doubt all of our drone activities are legal.

          for once, can't we do so for humanitarian reasons? for a honorable cause?

          why can't we level the playing field just a bit and employ a few surgical strikes via drones? the regime has military outposts that are isolated and far removed from the general population. it's only fair. the tactical advantages that gaddafi enjoys (tanks, planes, weapons) are there because the western world gave it him.

          •  read this... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            stolen water

            post about Rwanda I wrote a year ago.

            Especially the last section. Good people have been fretting over this for a long, long time, and the closest we've ever come to to getting an answer is R2P.

            "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
            Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

            by papicek on Wed Mar 09, 2011 at 06:27:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  while i don't discount this occuring (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    papicek
    Across eastern Libya, rebel fighters and their supporters are detaining, intimidating and frequently beating African immigrants and black Libyans,

    it must also be noted that in news reports covering the fighting coming out of benghazi and brega, show videos of blacks being included as being part of the resistance forces and treated as fellow comrades.

  •  No fly zones (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Karl Rover, papicek

    or any foreign military involvement in Libya would be a huge mistake that would come back to bite us in the arse.

    What a great propaganda tool it would be for Gaddafi and could serve to unite the Libyans in a resistance movement against a foreign power.

    Whenever important resources are at stake international law, treaties, ethics and common sense go out the window.

  •  Back off Sen Kerry, back off US (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Karl Rover
    In only a few years, the world has become polycentric. Every large country, including Brazil, China, India and South Africa, is trying to find its place – neither in opposition nor subservient to the US, but beside it, defending its own interests. Turkey is a member of Nato and a US ally, but plays an important role in the region by taking an independent stance towards Iran’s nuclear program and Palestine. North Africa and the Middle East want to join this global movement.

    “What the people of the region demand,” wrote Graham Fuller, former CIA officer and author of The Future of Political Islam, “is to be able to take control of their own lives and destinies. ... In the near term, the prescription is stark – Washington must back off and leave these societies alone, ending the long political infantilization of Middle Eastern populations ... based on a myopic vision of American interests

    Source

    Access to Libya's petroleum resources is Washington's overriding interest.

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