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I am a Quaker.  I might well refuse to defend myself against a threat.  I have told my students that were they threatened I would not hesitate to kill to protect them.  

This morning I read this:  

LONDON — For years I watched a “no-fly zone” in Bosnia. I watched Bosnian Muslims being slaughtered as NATO patrolled the skies. The no-fly zone was created by the United Nations Security Council in October 1992. The Srebrenica massacre took place in July 1995. Enough said.

The words, from an op ed sharing the same title as this posting, are by Roger Cohen and appear in today's New York Times.  I agree, and hope his words are not too late.

I also urge you to read the entire piece by Roger Cohen.  I do not always agree with him, but I admire his writing.  In my profile for the DFA Netroots Nation Scholarship(and I still need your help there), I said that this piece by Cohen, about Bosnia, was the post about which I was most proud (it contains a link to a powerful column about that sad place).

You should read Cohen.  What I have to say below may add little, but I have to say it.

Cohen acknowledges that immediately after Bosnia he was a passionate advocate for intervention.  Now he is not so sure.

He reminds us also of Rwanda.

He present the arguments against intervention, for example, that the US cannot afford a military conflict in a third Muslim nation, and that such intervention might be of dubious legality (although I suspect the latter words were written BEFORE last night's UN Security Council vote, which seems to authorize some kind of broader action than just a no-fly zone), as well as arguments for intervention, including his fifth and final point:  

5) Qaddafi is a mass murderer who brought down Pan Am 103 (270 people aboard) and UTA 772 (170 aboard), crimes now reconfirmed by his justice minister. He has slaughtered thousands of his own people over decades. There could scarcely be a more powerful moral case for the elimination of a leader.

He then offers this conclusion:  

What’s clear to me is that there is no halfway house. Spurn conscience-salving gestures. The case against going in prevails unless the West, backed and joined by the Arab League, decides it will, ruthlessly, stop, defeat, remove and, if necessary, kill Qaddafi in short order. I’m skeptical that determination can be forged. Only if it can be does intervention make sense.

The parallel with which I would like to begin is merely to explain my own reasoning process.  I recognize that it may seem odd to many, but bear with me.

As a teacher, I am not required to break up fights between students.  I am technically not authorized to grab a student, and thus if I attempt to break up a fight, I risk prosecution, law suit, and loss of my teaching certificate.  The insurance provided by my union membership will not necessarily protect me in such a situation, since it is outside my duties, and I am NOT required to intervene.

I have never no intervened, even in fights between two girls.  

I have myself been hurt once in helping break up a fight between two rather strong young men outside our cafeteria.

I believe it is immoral for me to stand by and watch someone get pummeled and possibly severely hurt when I can intervene and lessen the damage.  

Our military resources are certainly not inexhaustible.  I understand the reluctance of Americans, especially in a time of great financial stress, to get involved in yet another conflict.

But people are  being slaughtered.  As they were in Rwanda.  As they were in Bosnia.  

Half measures are not enough.  Perhaps had a no-fly zone been in effect 2 weeks ago it might have lessened what is happening, but it would not have prevented it.  After all, artillery, land or sea-based, can do as much damage as aerial bombardment and strafing.  The carnage of the former Yugoslavia might have been prevented well before a no-fly zone was even proposed had the world, or at least the 6th fleet, intervened when the Yugoslav Navy began bombarding Dubrovnik.    Qadaffi does have much of a navy, but it packs sufficient power to level a good portion of Bengazi or any other coastal city.

Cohen thinks Qadaffi is enough of a bully and a coward that he would fold if presented by unified force from the West and from the Arab League.   We cannot be sure of that.

What we can be sure of is that given what is already happening, absent outside intervention he will crush his opposition, and the level of slaughter will - given his ruthlessness - be horrible to consider.  

He is only maintaining himself in power with the help of outside forces - his mercenaries are an important component of his forces - so intervention from the outside on behalf of his opponents is not an introduction of non-Libyan forces into a sovereign nation, as it would have been in Rwanda or Bosnia.  

There is a more basic question that the world seems reluctant to consider - what is it that gives any regime the right to slaughter its own people?  How far does the fact that one holds power at least nominally justify the use of disproportionate force against political opponents?  

Can a regime defend itself against internal threats?  Of course, it is the right of any legitimate government to do so.  Does anyone reading these words here have any problem with the US Government using appropriate force to prevent say various right-wing militia groups from attempting to overthrow the US government?  

Even the idea of massive force should not be so horrid -  the application of overwhelming force is often the best way of saving lives, because it brings conflict to a far swifter conclusion.  

Still, there is, or at least should be, still the moral concern of collateral damage, of innocents harmed or killed during the period of conflict.  I am well aware of that.   It is an issue that concerns us in our application of force, especially that from the air, in places like Afghanistan.

Too often we are too ready to avert our eyes from the suffering of others.  It may be the mentally ill homeless people living under our bridges and on our steam grates.   We remind ourselves how thankful we are to still have jobs and homes when we read about massive layoffs or mortgage foreclosures.  

And as we draw in our concern and focus on ourselves, our needs narrowly defined, we begin to diminish ourselves, to destroy our own souls.  Here I am remind of words from John Donne, from his Meditation XVII"  

any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

We are confronted with multiple moral challenges.  We may be overcome by the situations which invite outrage.  We as individuals may not be able to respond emotionally to all.  We as a nation cannot afford to respond to all.  We have serious needs here at home.

But violence unchecked begets further violence.  If one tyrant can be brutal to his people seeking liberation from his depredation, how much will that encourage others to suppress the aspirations of their own people?  How dangerous will that make the word as a whole?  How much might that threaten the energy supplies upon which many depend?  How much the interconnected commerce of all kinds?

Those are reasons to think more broadly.  

So is our moral responsibility as human beings.  A moral responsibility for all human beings, regardless of their politics, their "race," their religion, their sexuality.

But outrage is insufficient.

So is doing symbolic actions.

At this point a no-fly zone is of no more meaning than an embargo.

As to embargos, remember that Madeline Albright was challenged about that imposed against the regime of Saddam Hussein, and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children who may have died as a result, and asked if she still thought it was justified, and responded - at least to my horror - that she thought it was.

Actions and inactions have consequences.

That applies to what happens to government workers in Wisconsin and it applies to what happens to opponents of Qaddafi in Libya.

Cohen offers blunt words.

Be Ruthless or Stay out

perhaps, just perhaps, this is a time to be ruthless.

With Libya, for the sake of lives

in our domestic politics for the sake of the republic, the liberal democracy which we are supposed to cherish as "the last great hope of mankind" as Lincoln put it at Gettysburg.

I am a Quaker. I value every human being.   My task is to walk gladly across the Earth answering that of God in each person.  I cannot turn away and acquiesce in the destruction - physically or spiritually - of others and still maintain my soul, my own sanity.  

If I see my students threatened I will intervene, with all necessary force.

I will be ruthless on their behalf.

It is time for the US, it is time for the world, at least in this case.

Be Ruthless   If we Stay Out thousands upon thousands will die, and tyrants everywhere will be emboldened to similar actions.

I cannot acquiesce in that.

Can you?

Originally posted to teacherken on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 03:17 AM PDT.

Also republished by Foreign Relations.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Do we have enough pixie dust? (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Castine, bettync, DvCM, Dave925, Loge

      I do take your moral point...I wouldn't trust the armed forces of the US&Co to help a little old lady cross the street. No matter the nobility of the cause, I believe the Western powers have forfieted any right or duty to act in such cases.

      If forcible intervention in the internal affairs of another country is ever allowable under the UN Charter, the UN Security Council should have in the independent military forces necessary to act.

      The US and other powers simply can not be trusted, and any claim they are acting out of humanitarian aims can not be believed.

      A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1)

      by Boreal Ecologist on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 05:44:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A proposal for a UN military would end the UN (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pelagicray

        The right wing would go into open, armed revolt in this country.  And the Dems would cower before them, cutting off funding and withdrawing from the UN entirely, rather than putting down the traitors.  Without the US, the UN dies a swift and quiet death.  (We're not the only ones who are indispensable - China or Russia pulling out of the UN would be similarly disastrous.)

        "And the President of the United States - would be seated right here. I would be here. And he would be here. I would turn - and there he’d be. I could pet ‘im." - Lewis Black

        by libdevil on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 07:52:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  And this has gotten far worse in the past 10 years (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Justus, Boreal Ecologist

        Since Bush did what he did (starting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and ordering torture, etc), and since Obama has done what he's done (expanding the war in AfPak, and continuing some of Bush's worst policies, and blocking prosecutions of Bush et al), the U.S. has virtually ZERO moral standing in the world. Our "leaders" can lecture other nations and rulers all they want... but all they'll accomplish is coming away looking like total HYPOCRITES.

        "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media." -- Noam Chomsky

        by ratmach on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:27:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  comments and questions (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Loge, Justus

      This is the UN acting not the US. It appears France is taking the lead. By definition, the UN acts with deliberation and restraint it is part of the process. Are you suggesting the US go it alone full bore acting beyond the restraints?

      2 weeks ago there was not concensus in the UN with several countries voting against and raising reasonable and complex questions. Of those against, China was most clear regarding it's concerns and setting forth terms it thought should be met before acting including negotiation and obtaining a more clear regional concensus to act by the Arab League. Some of those terms were met and China and 4 other countries including Germany abstained, effective taking a "no objection" position to avoid obstructing majority will but presumably negotiating behind closed to shape the resolution. What is your opinion of "Abstain" verses "No" votes given your all or nothing position?

      This is a popular uprising that materialized rather quickly and with no centralized leadership, and a background of tribal and class rivalries. This presentes complex problems in legal, moral and practial terms. Presumably the UN has untimately been swayed to act based on facts on the ground putting humanitarian concerns above them but still must face the practical problems which would be even more complex should a ground invasion be chosen including the prospect of a messy endgame (unlikey I think but possible) of a protracted civil war. Supposing that were to happen al la Iraq, then what?

      The insurgents were against foreign intervention before they were for it before they were against it and now for it, one of the problems presented by a lack of central leadership. What should be the decision making criteria in such cases? Can war machines be turned on and off at the flip of a switch and who bears responsibility for the outcome?

      The moral issues may be black and white but war tends to be a messy business. What does "Be Ruthless" mean in practical terms in this case? And if it means a boots on the ground invasion, how fast can that be accomplished and what happens until then? What degree of force and rules of engagement?

      The UN has chosen a calibrated military response that does not preclude taking other measures later. Although the article compares the situation to Bosnia it appears to be quite different. If were are to assume the siuations are equivelent and the same timeline of years between imposing a no fly zone and the evential outcome it suggests there would be time to escalate the response. It also might be quite different. Why not take this step first and see what happens before escalating?

      What the insergents have requested is a No-Fly Zone and have gotten that. Why go further at this point?

      If we approach this from simply moral or humanitarian grounds it raises the question "what is so special about Libya?". The world is full of greater and lesser conflicts, some of which have dragged on for years. Perhaps they lack oil or Facebook pages, but if we strictly apply moral criteria then it would seem the UN or US should intervene militarally in many other conflits including, for example, the Israel/Palistian conflit. What should be the criteria to make such decisions?

      Thanks you for publishing this diary and raising some difficult questions, and if you care to, answering some or all of mine.

      As a fellow pacifist I believe that is ultimately the best path if often the longest or most difficult one, but I also share your beleif that people ultimately must chose for themselves and once the shooting starts as it has, inserting ourselves between boys brandishing fists in the schoolyard or adults with more lethal weapons raise the diffiult issue of whether to stand on the sidelines or intervene.

      T+R.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 10:31:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  i've also heard them call for targetted strikes (0+ / 0-)
        What the insergents have requested is a No-Fly Zone and have gotten that. Why go further at this point?

        against the regime's military bases.

        just this morning, someone living in misurata, which is enduring heavy shelling (despite qaddafi's pretense of calling for a ceasefire,) called for the west to bomb qaddafi now.

        "wanting to be free yourself means wanting that others be free.” ...

        by stolen water on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 03:28:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This points back to the problem (0+ / 0-)

          Of more than one cook in the kitchen.

          And so, it is ultimately the responsibility of the party inserting itself into the conflict (in this ase the UN) to decide what it should do since it then takes on some responsibility for the outcome.

          And your last paragraph underlines the problem.

          Nothing prevents the UN from escalating later if sees fit and the restrictions of the mandade might just allow that in any case if provocation is sufficient in the eyes of the command.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 12:00:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koNko
        would be even more complex should a ground invasion be chosen including the prospect of a messy endgame (unlikey I think but possible) of a protracted civil war. Supposing that were to happen al la Iraq, then what?

        sectarian differences should be left to libyans to settle among themselves.

        the former justice minister who defected to the opposition and who is now member of the transitional council offers this:

        Abdel Jalil said he wanted to reassure those who had been supporters of Gadafy.

        “We would like to tell them that they are safe and we are not against them. What is happening here is a political power struggle and they will not be affected.

        “The tribe and the clan of Gadafy are not responsible for his behaviour, they are innocent.

        “We will not assign to them any blame.”

        via

        "wanting to be free yourself means wanting that others be free.” ...

        by stolen water on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 04:38:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But the history is different. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          stolen water

          I do hope this does not eventually evolve into a civil war, but sometimes "my enemy's enemy is my friend" and that only lasts so long.

          For example, in the "Anti-Japanese War", the KMT and Communists found common cause until the Japanese were defeated and not one minute longer. Or the present situation in Iraq, which has long historical roots perhaps more similar to Libya.

          One way to avoid that would be for the UN to keep a peackeeping mission there but that would take another resolution.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 12:07:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  rebels and transitional council (0+ / 0-)
        The insurgents were against foreign intervention before they were for it before they were against it and now for it, one of the problems presented by a lack of central leadership. What should be the decision making criteria in such cases? Can war machines be turned on and off at the flip of a switch and who bears responsibility for the outcome?

        have called for nfz AND targeted strikes. what they mean by saying "no foreign intervention" is no boots on the ground.

        i thought i included this earlier but don't see it.

    •  A bit off-topic (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      stolen water

      But since you raised the issue:

      Even the idea of massive force should not be so horrid -  the application of overwhelming force is often the best way of saving lives, because it brings conflict to a far swifter conclusion.

      The logical extension of this was demonstred by the  Hiroshima and Nagsaki bombings and this continues to be the rationale, often applied in retrospect, by may people.

      Others would say these were gratutitous or terrorist acts targeting innocent civillians to meat political ends in violation of international law.

      But certianly they might represent an example of Mr. Cohen's "Ruthless" principle applied.

      Your thoughts?

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 12:12:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  world war II (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koNko

        was militarily equipped nations warring against one another. libya is oppressed people rising up against a dictator. i don't think the two are comparable.

        The logical extension of this was demonstred by the  Hiroshima and Nagsaki bombings and this continues to be the rationale, often applied in retrospect, by may people.

        Others would say these were gratutitous or terrorist acts targeting innocent civillians to meat political ends in violation of international law.

        i used to reluctantly go along with this notion that dropping nukes was necessary to "save lives" until i saw errol morris' fog of war along with other documentaries. it's clear this rationale was nothing but propaganda. the US had already laid waste the country in their carpet firebombing of japan (indiscriminate bombing, also violation of law.) and had killed hundreds of thousands of people even before we even dropped the nukes. that final act was gratuitous and a war crime. it should have been prosecuted. a nation prevailing in winning a war in the end shouldn't shelter it from prosecution for crimes committed.

        "wanting to be free yourself means wanting that others be free.” ...

        by stolen water on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 04:00:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for your reply. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          stolen water

          What I'm trying to do here with these questions is to get people to think in 3 dimensions, both in terms of what we might do as a matter of principle or for other reasons and consider the consequenes of action, inaction or the type of action.

          The reason is the diarist (and article quoted) presents a nuanced arguement and then resolves it in very black and white terms going so far as to advocate what some might construe as excessive and unnecessary force on the assumption that means justifies ends which seems to conflict with his own moral standards.

          That can be a dangerous trap.

          BTW, ultimately the facts on the ground of Libya and WWII might not be so different in the sense that the conflits were percipitated by the actions of despots and did lead to situations where moral imperatives and humanitarian issues were signifiant reasons to act.  But war being what is is, other stuff happens too.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 11:29:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks Ken (0+ / 0-)

      I'm still struggling with this... I mean debating with myself about how we should handle this. If I really trusted us -- by "us" I mean our leadership, civilian and military -- then I'd say quickly do something to end this. But the problem is, I DON'T trust us.  When's the last time this country used it's military force to do GOOD in the world? It's happened VERY rarely in our history... at least in the past 65 or so years.

      The one thing I was most angry about at Bill Clinton was that he stood by and did NOTHING while the slaughter was going on in Rwanda. I STILL think we could have/should have done something. But then again, knowing what I know about how we deal with "foreign interventions" around the world, I wouldn't have been suprised if we would have figured out some way to thoroughly mess up even a seemingly "easy" intervention like Rwanda.

      So... I guess what I'm saying is, is the U.S. capable of stepping in without making things even worse?

      "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media." -- Noam Chomsky

      by ratmach on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:23:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, I agree (11+ / 0-)

    but only if the other countries/allies match the U.S. in strength of numbers.  George W. Bush had a euphemism (of the willing? or something like that) to justify our presence in Iraq, which boiled down to about five men from Iceland.

  •  If you have ever (24+ / 0-)

    published a diary, Ken, that I found myself more strongly in agreement with, I cannot imagine what it was.
    There is a clear moral imperative. The time to act is now.

    This means, among other things, rendering the airfields unusable, the elimination of SAM sites, and providing rebels on the ground with the means to deal with helicopter attacks.

    Ideally, field grade military officers will be co-opted as well. I'd conjecture that last is already happening.

    Libyan Navy vessels shelling the coastline should also be sunk.

    Hopefully what remains can be dealt with by international/Arab League assets, but I believe we have the assets in place now to accomplish those initial tactical goals and take control of the skies over Libya.

    The slaughter of innocents must be stopped. This must not be allowed to continue.

    If we Stay Out thousands upon thousands will die, and tyrants everywhere will be emboldened to similar actions.

    I cannot acquiesce in that.

    Can you?

    No.

    People call me rude. I wish we all were nude. I wish there was no black and white. I wish there were no rules.

    by kestrel9000 on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 03:58:52 AM PDT

    •  thanks (14+ / 0-)

      and thanks for your support for the DFA scholarship as well

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 04:04:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Word... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, kestrel9000

        ...and Kudos to both of you.

        When it comes to preventing war (and that's already happening in Libya) there are sins of omission as well as commission.

        I fully believe resolution 1973, a rare example of UN chapter VII being invoked, represents the path of least violence.

        "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin

        by Brit on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 08:25:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, kestrel9000, HeyMikey

      The Libyan people deserve to be free. Their lives are on the line. May the no-fly zone include intervention on land and sea as well.

    •  What is so special about Libya? (0+ / 0-)

      The world is full of conflits some more bloody and of longer duration.

      Do you proscribe the same solution in all cases or is there something here that merits intervention absent elsewhere?

      In other words, what is your riteria for intervention?

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 10:34:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why don't you ask the diarist (0+ / 0-)

        instead of getting personal with me, which you seem to enjoy doing?
        I think he set forth the situation quite clearly.

        People call me rude. I wish we all were nude. I wish there was no black and white. I wish there were no rules.

        by kestrel9000 on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:15:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Chill out. (0+ / 0-)

          First if you go up-thread and check my previous comments and time stamps you will find I did ask the diarist first.

          Second, it is not posed to torment you but because I think it is importiant and since you are taking a certian position where I think it applies I am asking you for your opinion.

          You may answer or not.

          But since you do seem to be taking this personally and there seems to be some animosity from your side involved, let me put another question to you:

          Are you asking me not to post to you?

          I have no desire to get in conflicts here, I am not stalking you, and if you so desire I will refrain from posting to you.

          So please answer that, then we can keep the mods out of this.

          And if you are interested to answer my original question that is fine too, it still stands as an open question to you or anyone else here that cares to comment.

          Thanks.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 12:28:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well (0+ / 0-)
            Are you asking me not to post to you?

            I'd still like to know what was up

            here and here.....

            People call me rude. I wish we all were nude. I wish there was no black and white. I wish there were no rules.

            by kestrel9000 on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 03:00:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Go back and read those threads (0+ / 0-)

              And focus on your own remarks leading the part you linked.

              And refer to your sigline. Or your user profile.

              Bit of an attitude and apperently proud of it.

              You qouted my question but didn't answer it so I'll take that as a yes to stay on the safe side.

              Done.

              Cheers.

              What about my Daughter's future?

              by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 11:10:47 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  i would agree that if we are going to get involved (11+ / 0-)

    we need to make sure that Qaddafi is indeed deposed and that what ever ability he has to retaliate against Europe is crippled if not completely annihilated.

    Further, Given that there is an insurgency on the ground already to do the heavy lifting, Qaddafi is killing civilians, and there is international consensus I would say that Libya is a good candidate for intervention.

    •  That implied conclusion may be a force in itself (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, koNko, HeyMikey, zett, blunami

      Gaddafi was no friend of the US before, but earlier air strikes, sanctions, and business needs seemed to restrain his behavior somewhat. Before supporting a no-fly zone, with the lessons learned from earlier attempts elsewhere, the US first needed to determine that Gaddafi could be deposed and his resources made unavailable for retaliation. Publicly supporting those in opposition to Gaddafi, and having pushed the no-fly resolution further(with suppression of Gaddafi's mercenaries in order to defend native Libyans), the US state dept and military must have already reached that conclusion.

      Now, both those in opposition to Gaddafi, and his own defenders (family, insiders and mercenaries) see the US and other powers both predicting, and committing to, Gaddafi's downfall. That realization today is likely as powerful as the planes that are still a few days out.

      Why is there a Confederate Flag flying in Afghanistan?

      by chimpy on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 08:02:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Since WW II, has the USA (5+ / 0-)

    picked the right side of a conflict/war? I can't think of one offhand, the American Government, both Republican & Democratic divisions, has systematically fouled up every single military intervention I can think of. Maybe this one will be different.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 04:49:31 AM PDT

    •  I wish I was convinced that morality... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shann, Involuntary Exile, bettync, ratmach

      was the foremost impetus for an international no-fly zone over Libya and not just an effort to control their significant oil reserves.

      Sounds cynical, I know. But I can no longer trust my government to always do the right thing... and for the right reasons.

      The history of the CIA's involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception -- Carl Bernstein

      by markthshark on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 05:48:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Korea. (0+ / 0-)

      In North Korea the prison camps are full and those not yet imprisoned are starving. The average North Korean is several inches shorter than the average South Korean, despite sharing the same gene pool. The difference is due to malnutrition. Our Korean intervention may or may not have been worth the American lives it cost, and it appears US soldiers probably committed some atrocities there. But ask South Koreans today if, all things considered, they wish we'd stayed out. I bet 99.999% of them would say no.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 10:55:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The world is full of such cases. (0+ / 0-)

        Including, obviously, the DPRK.

        Should the same remedy be applied uniformaly or is there something unique in the case of Libya that merrits this, and if so, what?

        The point of contrast being numerous cases where others have requested such things as a no fly zone to no avail, or simply been ignored and left to fend for themselves with the result of greater misery than the people of the DPRK suffer (which is a lot).

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 01:09:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  See my other comment from a minute or 2 ago. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden, koNko

          No, we can't do the same thing in all cases, and shouldn't try. For instance, North Korea has a HUGE army; invading would be a massive undertaking with massive casualties. And there's no evidence the North Koreans would welcome us. I don't wanna sound like Dick "greeted as liberators" Cheney (or was that Rumsfeld?), but there's actual footage all over the web of Libyans celebrating the UN vote last night.

          The fact knocking off some dictators is impractical doesn't mean it's impractical to knock off all dictators.

          And the fact past administrations didn't intervene where they should've (f'rinstance, Rwanda--a country about the size of Maryland, IIRC) doesn't mean future administrations should make the same mistake.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 02:15:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Kosovo, also Macedonia (0+ / 0-)

      More by being pushed into it by others than by US choice, but the US did OK in both cases.

      Sure, short list.

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:33:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I just wish we weren't embroiled in so many (9+ / 0-)

    other pointless wars.  There certainly is a genuine moral reason to do something here. But how do we sustain a third major war on top of the countless other actions that don't rise to public awareness around the world?

    I blog on healthcare issues for Tikkun Daily as Lauren Reichelt.

    by TheFatLadySings on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 04:49:42 AM PDT

    •  not sure this would be a major war (13+ / 0-)

      First, Libay's military is not all that strong

      second, much of the regular military might well turn on Qaddafi if they felt that they had sufficient cover

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 05:09:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  wrap it all up in one... (0+ / 0-)

        "The US War Against Islam." One of the defining movements of this very young century.

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

        by papicek on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:13:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It can easily look like war against Islam. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          papicek, HeyMikey, koNko

          If the US, France, And Britain provide most of the military force here, we are handing terrorists a huge opportunity to make it appear that the West is attacking an Islamic nation.

          A lot of people are figuring out how to use social media to spread a message. This can be a powerful force for good, but has the potential to be a terrible force for misinformation.

          For example, a lot of the attention to the plight of the Opposition in Libya has come through their websites and smart media organization. Since the internet is down in Libya, we know that their website organizers are not in Libya, but it looks like they are. It is very powerful. I hope it is mostly honest, because we appear to be going to war because of it.

          I hope we insist on active and visible participation from the Arab League nations in this UN action, or we are handing the terrorists a hugely powerful propaganda too. They will quickly learn how to use social media and will use it for great evil.

          •  the Arab League... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bettync, koNko

            is playing to their domestic political bases. Lebanon wants help convincing Israel that gas deposits under her coastal waters belong to Lebanon, and if Israel wants to exploit this, they need to pay for it.

            Libya will probably wind up with another "president for life" after Gaddafi.

            And no matter what, we're not going to convince people who already distrust us (to put it mildly) that we mean no insult to Islam, when they see all the evidence to the contrary.

            Like MB's sig line says:

            Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

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

            by papicek on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 08:31:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  That is actually bullshit. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden

          The Iraq invasion should never have happened, and the Afghanistan invasion should've been followed by massive civilian assistance instead of occupation. So I'm no US military cheerleader. But the people oppressed by Saddam, the Taliban, and Qaddafi are mostly Muslim. Libyan Muslims were celebrating in the streets last night when they heard about the UN vote. To claim we're fighting war on "Islam" is crazy.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 10:59:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  So .... (0+ / 0-)

            Saddam was OK but Gadaffi not?

            In both cases there were partisians that requested aid to overturn despotic leaders yet you seem to take opposite positions. Why?

            In purely practial terms, Saddam was probably responsible for a greater number of tortures and deaths of his own people, certianly more misery to others if his wars with Iran and Kuwait are counted, but perhaps less terrorism (the blood drenched irony does not escape).

            What we have presented in this diary is nuanced arguement resolved by black and white moral principle that never seems to be uniformly applied, so I'm quite curious how we distinguish when such principles should be or not.

            Your thoughts?

            What about my Daughter's future?

            by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 01:26:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Cost, internal opposition, allies, occupation. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              zett, neroden, koNko

              The first big difference is cost. Iraq has a much bigger population, and Saddam had a much bigger military, than Libya under Qaddafi.

              Second: internal opposition. The Libyan internal opposition was on the verge of taking power and just needs a boost to take it over the top. The Iraqi internal opposition had been crushed under Saddam. And it appears unlikely that Libya will degenerate into the Sunni/Shiite civil war that loomed in Iraq.

              Third: allies. The coalition that helped us in Iraq didn't include any of Iraq's neighbors. But the Arab League supports us in Libya.

              Fourth: occupation. Most US casualties and expenditures have come from the occupation, not the initial invasion. I'd be surprised if we occupy Libya.

              "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

              by HeyMikey on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 02:08:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  In other words (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                HeyMikey

                Practical considerations over moral principle aka, chose your fights.

                I don't disagree; driven by moral outrage with the best intentions one can make a mess of things sometimes.

                Ironically, the US rushed headstrong into Iraq and has taken measured steps with Libya and I suppose this is because Obama has learned a lesson with his "Good War" in Afghanistan. War tends to be more of a moral greyscale painted in red ink.

                Regardsm the Arab League we an thank Germany and China for voting down on the first round and insisiting on that, and then stepping aside to abstain on the second round. I think this was a wise move that forced Arabs to take some responsibility and could prove very importiant when the dust clears.

                BTW I don't think this conflict will last much longer, Gadaffi will either take the opportunity to dave his sorry ass or get it handed to him, watch for the mercinaries to drop guns and run as the fly-bys get intense.

                Have you seen the documentary film No End in Sight?

                Highly recommended. What a fiasco.

                What about my Daughter's future?

                by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 11:02:21 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Deja vu (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Involuntary Exile, bettync, koNko

        Why Libya and not The Congo or Bahrain or hell Zimbabwe?

        Where is the debate in Congress?  What happened to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution?

        Where is Pres Obama?  Why haven't I seen him making his case for this to the American people?

        According to the NYT an official stated that we might end up offering the rebels "training".  Thats far beyond the scope of "just" a No Fly Zone.

        What will be defined as "success"?  What happens if the NFZ doesnt work?  Are we really going to let Qaddafi "win" against the UN?  Will it escalate to something else?

        How will we pay for it?  What are we prepared to sacrifice in treasure and lives?

        Also, I can kill you with my brain.

        by Puffin on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:40:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Fairly obvious answers to some, not all, Qs. (0+ / 0-)

          Why Libya and not those other places? Because Qaddafi might be toppled with minimal US involvement, while invading the Congo would be massive-the country is about the size of Western Europe, with a dispersesd population and practically no transportation infrastructure.

          Libya is huge, but mostly empty--just a few population centers.

          Bahrain is small, but the crackdown there is not nearly as bloody as Qaddafi's (yet), and the opposition there not so close to succeeding. Nor has the ruling party in Bahrain been as oppressive as Qaddafi over the long term.

          Zimbabwe--there's a current power-sharing government in office (if teetering due to Mugabe's provocations), and Mugabe is ancient--not likely to live much longer.

          The Constitutional concerns are covered by the War Powers Act, which requires Obama to report to Congress within 48 hours of US troops engaging. You may think that's not really Constitutional, but it's been law for decades.

          What will be defined as success? That's probably fuzzy, and that's probably a real problem. But it's a smaller problem than Qaddafi massacring people by the thousands or tens of thousands.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:10:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Possibly because .... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          zett

          It is a UN resolution to take collective police action to which the US and other members would contribute and not a declared war between the US and Libya.

          Those are legal distintions perhaps, but importiant ones.

          And of course you may disagree; if so have at it!

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 01:35:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  If it is not so strong (0+ / 0-)

        Than why is an all-out "ruthless" response required, whatever that means?

        This in addition to the questions I raise up-thread.

        Thank You.

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 10:38:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I've been in favor of the no-fly (5+ / 0-)

    zone for several weeks now.  I don't know how "ruthless" a no-fly zone is.  After all, Kadaffi & Co. may hang on to power even with a no-fly zone in effect.

  •  One important fact that those against this action (12+ / 0-)

    seem to be ignoring is that the people of Libya asked for our help.

    Just wanted to let you know I voted for you and wish you good luck. Hope you win!

    •  I agree this is very important (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Texknight, litoralis, HeyMikey, neroden

      There's a world of difference between coming in on our own (even with UN backing) and coming at the behest of the Libyan people. I just hope we can live up to their expectations.

      •  What are those expectations? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kinak

        I thnk that is a very relevant question.

        Another would be who speaks for the Libyan people?

        Another take might be the UN is acting independantly in response to a humanitarian crisis they see (one not all) just as Ken suggested he has occasionally encountered schoolyard fights he decided to act on for reasons of his own without considering the desires of the combatants or who had what dog in the fight.

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 10:50:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  NFZ, but no occupation (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden, koNko

          They asked for a No Fly Zone and help getting humanitarian aid into the country but, of course, rejected occupation forces.

          From what I understand, the UN mandate allows basically anything except occupation. The possibility of ground troops is there (although French troops, not American, by all reports).

          As far as who "they" are, there really isn't a legitimate government on either side right now. The revolutionary council are the ones who asked, which is probably as close as we get right now.

          Folks in Benghazi looked pretty excited by the decision, so I guess we can take heart in that.

          •  I understand the terms (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kinak

            Others seem not to or to disagree with the appropriateness notably the diarist.

            Just as some here including Ken seem to frame this as a US war or US responsibility when it is actually a UN mandated action. I think that is a very importiant distintion and that Obama has played this wisely.

            I have no doubt that the facts on the ground eventially convinced the insergents that a NFZ would be helpful, but they didn't start there and seemed to be rather confident to dispose of Gadaffi in short order up to a point. Lots of young men I suppose.

            What about my Daughter's future?

            by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 11:49:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  This is true. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blunami

      And it's a good reason why the no-fly zone should've been enacted about a week earlier. I know that's when I started hearing that the rebels were asking for one.

      But the wheels of bureaucracy move a little slow. And in the end, it's better that we have UN agreement on this.

      Here's my dilemma: I don't trust us.

      A no-fly zone? Good. Humanitarian aid to the rebels? Good. Providing them with military advisers and arms? I'm okay with that too.

      I can even get behind a slight... redefinition... of what a no-fly zone entails (Obvious ground targets engaging in an offensive? Fire away.) though with our track record in Afghanistan, maybe that's NOT such a hot idea.

      Troops on the ground, as much as they might be needed to support the rebels, make me IMMENSELY uneasy. Because from there, it's a short hop to permanent bases, contractors to help a neophyte government export oil again (with a sizable cut of the profits, natch), and worldwide anger towards yet another backdoor occupation.

      Using UN Peacekeepers for this (rather than straight-up NATO troops) might soothe my nerves a little bit, but in terms of effectiveness? Their track record isn't so great either.

      Maybe it sounds a little too Federalist Society of me, but the birth of a democracy REQUIRES some growing pains. We should try to help put the rebels on equal footing with Qaddafi's thugs so it's not a one-sided slaughter, but a lot of it they SHOULD do by themselves.

      I think that's how they'd prefer it. And should they prevail? I KNOW that's how they'd prefer it.

      Regards,
      Corporate Dog

      -----
      We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

      by Corporate Dog on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 07:54:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You raise an interesting point (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bettync
        And it's a good reason why the no-fly zone should've been enacted about a week earlier. I know that's when I started hearing that the rebels were asking for one.

        Shall we intervene in wars at the drop of a hat or should there be a more deliberative proess involved.

        Because, once shooting starts wherever, there is a human cost.

        And likewise, does enlarging conflits.

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 10:54:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Bahrain has asked for our help as well.... (7+ / 0-)

      ...should the US help the Bahrain free themselves from their tyrant?

      Crackdown: Why Bahrain's Military Has Taken Over a Hospital

      http://www.time.com/...

      It was supposed to be a routine trip from Sitra, a poor Shi'ite neighborhood here in Bahrain. On Tuesday an ambulance loaded with two paramedics, a doctor and critical patients was on its way to Salmaniya Medical Center, the island-nation's largest hospital, when it was stopped by a group of 20 government soldiers. According to one of the paramedics, all passengers were ordered out of the car, the injured thrown onto the street. The paramedic was forced to kneel on all fours while they took turns kicking his head from side to side. The female doctor was commanded to strip, "so that we all may see your body." When she refused, they beat her.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. http://www1.hamiltonproject.org/es/hamilton/hamilton_hp.htm

      by PatriciaVa on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 08:43:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Honestly? Yes. But the US government (0+ / 0-)

        is on the side of the tyrant in Bahrain, so that won't happen.

        Qaddafi isolated himself by a long series of insane actions.  Unfortunately other regional tyrants haven't.

        Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

        by neroden on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 01:35:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  More accurately (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bettync

      They were aginst it before they were for it with some in each camp.

      So, in such situations, what is the criteria to act?

      If some Palistinians ask for a no fly zone should the US support that?

      It has been the case for years.

      One on many examples that could be cited but a good one given the fact the West was for demoracy for Palistinians before they were against it not obtaining the result they expeted.

      BTW, I am citing this example for the purpose of illustration only not to start an I/P flame war that drags this diary off-topic so request anyone so inclined to please not do it. The issue is what criteria justifies actions.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 10:45:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Qadaffi Is A Tyrant Who Kills Own People (7+ / 0-)

    We would be on the right side of history for a change. It should be a true multi-nation effort.

    If one tyrant can be brutal to his people seeking liberation from his depredation, how much will that encourage others to suppress the aspirations of their own people?

    Action is the antidote to despair---Joan Baez

    by frandor55 on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 05:28:19 AM PDT

    •  In all cases in all conflicts? (0+ / 0-)

      Qadaffi is hardly unique.

      In other words, what is the criteria to act.

      And does the "Pottery Barn Rule" beyond a certian point?

      Because lots of pettery gets broken in any case.

      Interested in your thoughts as simple or complex as you like.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 10:58:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  correction... (0+ / 0-)

        And does the "Pottery Barn Rule" APPLY beyond a certian point?

        The underlying pont being that such interventions do not always work-out as planned and with the best (or whatever) intentions, the outcomes may actually be worse directly or indirectly.

        Citation: Afghanistan

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 01:42:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Has the US Government (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kinak

    EVER wrestled with the questions you pose?

    It is not capable of such nuanced thinking.

    And even if the American people are solidly against this action, what does it matter? We are a long, long way from Vietnam.

    When Rawanda happened, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that what is right does not matter.

    realpolitik casts a long shadow, and it withers the living things it touches.

    For what it's worth, though, I agree with you.

    •  Not sure I agree. (0+ / 0-)

      The US did not rush into either World Wars and I do believe the decisions were quite nuanced until given a hard shove by events.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:00:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  One word for you: Iraq. nt (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koNko
        •  Indeed. (0+ / 0-)

          And hence the multitude of questions I am asking on this thread.

          But I do think there is a significant contrast between how the US actually avoided pressure to enter either world war until it was given a hard push and Iraq.

          Historically, the US has, at times, been capable of acting with great contraint. Not so much in the past 60 years, but occasionally.

          And given the incompetence of the Bush administration in it's elective war, had he been President at the previous times the US might have started those wars and the results might have been much different.

          Generally we are on the same wavelength here.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Sat Mar 19, 2011 at 11:40:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bettync, Sparhawk, koNko

    I fully understand your position, and agree with most of it.  My problem with this discussion is, where do we draw the line?  Should we go after the North Korean problem next?  How do we make those decisions?  Tallying the death of innocents score?  I wonder if that way of deciding, how many innocents have been killed,  couldn't be used at some point for attacking the US.  I know, we were killing the innocent so more innocent wouldn't be killed.  But do they know that?

    I truly think that this is a moment for stepping carefully.  Ruthlessness may be a way for breaking up school fights, but it can be mistaken in so many ways when using bombs and weapons that kill indiscriminately.  I think you would have a problem with the school district if you accidentally killed a few bystanders while breaking up the lunch room fight.

    Or you may do the ruthless fight break-up so well that it becomes what you do.  Wandering the halls breaking up fights.  Maybe other teachers will start calling you when there is a fight in their classroom.  And for all the good you do every day,  your reputation may only be that you were really good at taking out bullies because you didn't let concerns about the consequences get in the way.

    Fools are the teachers of the wise. It is foolish to disrespect one's teachers. - Old Man

    by A Voice on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 05:30:09 AM PDT

  •  I respect your opinions (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ORDem, BigAlinWashSt, koNko

    but I completely disagree with your conclusion here.

  •  Benghazi Cheers No-Fly Zone (8+ / 0-)

    AJE has been required viewing for anyone interested in Libya revolt.

    Action is the antidote to despair---Joan Baez

    by frandor55 on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 05:36:34 AM PDT

    •  Yes. AJE has done a good job. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      frandor55, cpresley, neroden

      AJE has tried to report accurately. I have never used Al Jazeera as a media source before, but I will from now on. They have worked to give factual coverage, and not simply repeat unsubstantiated claims from either side.

      Nick Robertson and Ben Wedeman for CNN have been great, too. They have not tried to sensationalize the story, and have taken risks to give us solid facts from a dangerous location. Ben has left the country, but Nick Robertson is still in Tripoli. I hope he stays safe.

  •  I am going to try and phrase (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bettync, cheerio2, lotlizard, PatriciaVa, koNko

    this so it doesn't come off like I am some uncaring ass.

    1) Why does it always require us to lead on these things.

    2) The Arab League wrung it's hands for days but made not move one. Except asking for others to do it.

    3) A no fly-zone is not going to do it. A no fly zone does not stop the tanks or the artillery. A no fly zone does not stop the Hind attack helicopters. So to be effective there will have to bombings or ground attacks. And these always go so well.

    4) While France et al couch this as a humanitarian gesture. You and I both know it's the oil.

    And I want someone any one in power to come out and tell us what our involvement is going to be.

    In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

    by jsfox on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 05:38:12 AM PDT

    •  Arab League (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      exterris, Actbriniel, lotlizard, neroden

      The Arab League was waiting for UN approval (and backup) but Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Yemen are thought to be on board. Which makes for strange bedfellows when the first two are involved in repressing revolt in Bahrain.

      What waits to be seen of course, is the relative involvement of each nation. So far the only number I've seen is for Denmark's involvement (four fighters), so I'd hesitate to say anyone is slacking just yet.

      I understand your concern, though. We don't want another "Coalition of the Willing."

    •  Ah (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PeterHug, neroden
      A no fly zone does not stop the Hind attack helicopters.

      But these damn sure do.

      Ask the Russians.

      People call me rude. I wish we all were nude. I wish there was no black and white. I wish there were no rules.

      by kestrel9000 on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 07:04:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Which either (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kestrel9000

        requires troops on the ground, forbidden by the UN resolution, or supplying the Libyan Rebels with with them, assuming they they will know how to effectively use.

        In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof.

        by jsfox on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 07:10:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You do not sound like an ass. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cheerio2, koNko, Loge

      This diary is a good place to ask questions and express thoughts.

      It is a very confusing situation.

    •  Tipped for raising questions. (0+ / 0-)

      I think the (ultimately) black and white framing of the issues, and the facts of the situation practially demand questions be asked.

      If that makes you an ass, I think I just made myself 10x Ass whatever that is. A heard of asses?

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:10:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, we're not leading. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden

      Or we're more like co-leading.

      I would like for us to have intervened sooner. But it looks like Obama is serious about multilateralism.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:15:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ruthless (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    frandor55, Kinak, bettync, lotlizard, koNko

    connotes unfocused, borderless, indiscriminate lashing out of rage.

    i want us to be surgical, pinpointed, calculated.

    "wanting to be free yourself means wanting that others be free.” ...

    by stolen water on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 05:43:41 AM PDT

  •  Thanks once again teacherken (5+ / 0-)

    I'm so torn about using our forces (selfishly because my son is an EOD in the Army) to police the world, but this is just a moral imperative.  For once, we need to help those that have asked for our help and stop the slaughter of so many innocents.

    In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves. " - Buddha Shakyamuni

    by Actbriniel on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 05:46:01 AM PDT

  •  I hope we protect the innocent without agenda. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh, koNko

    So far, there has not been a slaughter of civilians in Libya. For some reason, Qadaffi has chosen to move cautiously. Maybe the economic sanctions have hurt more than we realize and he has not wanted to push the West too far. Maybe he does not want to upset the Libyan tribes and military who remain loyal to him. I don't think he has suddenly turned into a sweet guy, but he has not been using the full power of his weaponry. So far.

    I hope we move military assents into place quickly, to show that the UN resolution is serious. But if Libya complies with the demands of the UN, it would be very wrong to attack anyway in order to push a regime change. If we push this old lion into a corner, and show that the West does not intend to give him any way out, he will kill a lot of innocent people.

    This morning the Lybian government is saying that they will comply with the UN, and have expressed willingness for peace talks with the Opposition. I hope we will truly put the lives of the Libyan people as our first priority.

    •  And yet. (0+ / 0-)

      Mr Cohen suggests in 3 years we will come to regret rushing in with all guns blazing.

      Or whatever "ruthless" means.

      Because Bosnia and Libya are obviously the same.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:14:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Correction (0+ / 0-)

        Forgot one little word:

        "... we will come to regret NOT rushing in ..."

        I swear I didn't do that on purpose to demonstrate the foolishness of wreckless haste.

        Promise.

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:17:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  added the Recommended tag (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bettync, kestrel9000

    hope you don't mind.  This is a diary I hope stays on the list all day.

    In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves. " - Buddha Shakyamuni

    by Actbriniel on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 05:53:16 AM PDT

  •  I asked the same questions after Rwanda... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HeyMikey, koNko

    How? Why? What could we have done differently? You read my diary about Rwanda, I still remember the comment with the Pavane that you posted there.

    The case for intervention was never clearer than in Rwanda, and my opinion on this hasn't changed. Something should have been attempted.

    The case for intervention today rests on shifting sands compared to what we knew was contemplated then. And we now have a decade's worth of experience with US/Nato military interventions which we didn't have back in 1994.

    But let's rid the world of the Gaddafi regime, by all means.

    Then onto Bahrain, huh?

    Republished by the Foreign Relations Group.

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

    by papicek on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:01:50 AM PDT

    •  May I invite you (0+ / 0-)

      To answer the questions I posted to the Tip Jar?

      They are open questions about criteria for action, etc.

      Expressed my own general orientation at the end, but I genuinely invite debating the questions raised because I belive these situations are not so easy to call and the deisions to at often seem to be selected or influanced for reasons other than moral or humanitarian reasons.

      Or to put it simply, "what is special anbout Libya?"

      Good choice for your group. Seems to be a gold rush happening here lately.  And to think a Front Pager once told me to bug-off and go back to where I came from because I supported someone taking the site to task for ignoring the 2008 terrorist siege in India.

      LOL ....

      Photobucket

      Progress.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:39:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Update (6+ / 0-)

    Latest from the BBC
    "Libya's Foreign Minister says his country is committed to accept the UN Security Council resolution, and so has decided an immediate ceasefire and the stopping of all military operations."

    This is the first action required under the resolution:

        “Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

        “1.   Demands the immediate establishment of a ceasefire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians;

    PTSD, don't leave 'Nam without it.

    by BOHICA on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:06:34 AM PDT

    •  the regime has says (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HeyMikey

      they haven't been firing upon civilians.

      "wanting to be free yourself means wanting that others be free.” ...

      by stolen water on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:13:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Qaddafi is smart. (0+ / 0-)

        If he stops firing now, he has a chance of holding onto his office and the territory he's recaptured, which he can govern with the secret police. Half a Libya is better than none.

        The questions are whether the rebels will regroup and attack Qaddafi, and if so whether we will provide them air cover. Only against Qaddafi's planes? Or will we use our aircraft to attack his tanks, artillery, etc.?

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:18:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  also says, rather. (0+ / 0-)

    "wanting to be free yourself means wanting that others be free.” ...

    by stolen water on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:13:37 AM PDT

  •  The cost of inaction (5+ / 0-)

    The fact that the rebels asked for a No Fly Zone (and not an occupation force, as reflected in the UN resolution) makes a world of difference here.

    Eventually, Qaddafi will be out of power, whether we help depose him or not. If the international community turned its back on the Libyan people now, do we expect them to forget that?

    If we'll give weapons to Bahrain and Mubarak but not them, why shouldn't they hate us? If we'll "liberate" Iraq unasked but not join them in their time of need, why shouldn't they hate us? If we shout "DEMOCRACY!" from the rooftops but not help theirs in it's infancy, why shouldn't they hate us?

    It's possible we'll still screw this up or, perhaps worse, lose and leave Qaddafi in power. There will be terrible costs, but can we afford not to pay them?

    Can we afford to teach generations of Libyans that the West are contemptible hypocrites? Can we afford to abandon any of the budding democracies in the Middle East and North Africa? Can we afford to let Qaddafi crush his citizens and this new-found revolutionary spirit?

    Can we afford the cost of inaction?

  •  I agree wholeheartedly with your stance. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kestrel9000, HeyMikey

    The only way to spare the population of Bengazi and the rest of Libya is to destroy Gaddafi's forces in the east. All of his planes, helicopters, artillery, tanks and naval forces must be taken out.

    I suspect that this largely mercenary army will abandon their armor and run once they are attacked in force from the air.

    Excellent diary.

    Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. - Albert Einstein

    by OIL GUY on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 06:29:49 AM PDT

    •  And perhaps a reason (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OIL GUY

      To take this step by step instead of by "Ruthless" whatever (strangely unspecified by Mr. Cohen).

      I suspect you may be right that rented guns get droped in the sand pretty quickly, and that Gaddafi may love his own sorry ass more than going down in flames as a People's Hero if given an exit.

      You cannot trust anything he says.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:47:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sub-saharan Africans in Libya matter too. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, neroden

    The UN has expressed fears about the security of sub-saharan migrant workers in Libya since the conflict began, but this has not gotten news coverage outside of media in Africa. Since Qadaffi is known to use some soldiers from sub-saharan African nations, all people with black skin are suspicious to the Opposition. Many have come into Lybia to find work and are too poor to get out of the country. These people have been chased and killed by the Opposition, and it is not even reported in our news.

    I hope the UN will make some effort to get these people out of the country. They are forced into military service by one side and hacked to pieces by the other side. And they are not even mentioned by our news.

    •  Good point. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Loge, neroden

      I had posted an item about this a couple of weeks back.

      One of my concerns about Libya is what happens next, I'd hope not war, and the insergents seem to be uniting, but we shouldn't discount the possibility that others won't turn this into a mess for their own reasons and innocent bystanders getting the worst of it.

      I'm asking a lot of open questions here but one thing I believe is that if the UN is going to interve, it better be prepared to go a step futher if it turn into civil war or a reasonable facsimile.

      Humans, regretably, are tribal animals and Libya is no exeption.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:54:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Are the anti-Gaddafi forces pro-American? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kareylou, bettync

    My concern is that we don't fully know whether the would-be new leaders of Libya would be sympathetic to American interests.

    •  Good Washington Post Story (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HeyMikey, neroden

      I am not clever enough to learn how to change a long link into a short link.... but if you are willing to do a little "Googling", there is a good article by Leila Fadel in The Washington Post issue of March 14. It is titled, "Two fighters, shoulder to shoulder, show the diversity of the Libyan Rebel forces."

      The article really made me think, because one of the rebels had fought against U.S. soldiers as an insurgent in Iraq.

    •  Should the question be (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      neroden

      Are they pro UN?

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:55:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That is the only way using violence to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fidel, HeyMikey

    solve a problem works.  You have to be willing to be more violent than everyone else in the fight or your not going to win.  Which is usually why using violence to solve a problem doesn't work.

    •  Violence (0+ / 0-)

      Gaddafi has shown that he is in this to win it.

      That is why we have congress to declare war...which hasn't been used since WWII.

      This isn't something that will be done in a week.
      How long were we in Bosnia...the "good" war.

  •  George Washington would have said no to this. (0+ / 0-)

    Pretty sure of that, especially if he'd seen what the US has done in the last hundred years.

    S.A.W. 2011 STOP ALL WARS "The Global War on Terror is a fabrication to justify imperialism."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 08:15:45 AM PDT

  •  Just so we recall what "ruthless" can mean here. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bettync

    It seems there's an argument in here that good intentions absolve ourselves in advance for the destruction of innocent life like this:
        Pakistan: Calls for revenge after US drones kill 40
    Apparently, we are "ruthless" now, so we need not shed even a single tear nor bat a single eyelash nor lose a moment of sleep when things like this happen.

    On balance I favor intervention in Libya. I won't sign on for the "ruthless" part. The world is already filled with enough callousness toward innocent suffering and loss of life.

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

    by lotlizard on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 08:34:30 AM PDT

  •  Theres always lots of reasons to join War (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Loge

    and always a war to join. We as a country are drowning in the blood of wars, another may just be the nail in our own coffin.

  •  So what are we doing about Bahrain? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk

    Saudi forces are now within Bahrain, under Gulf Cooperation Council authority (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Oman & Qatar - HQ in Saudi Arabia), helping the monarchy violently repress protest.  Unlike Libya under Gaddafi, the Saudi government, the Bahraini government and the rest of the GCC are all our allies.  Amnesty International has verified the use of American ammunition in attacks on protesters.  Apache helicopters (a Boeing product) have been used to drive protesters from Pearl Square.  We have also supplied Bahrain's security sector with between $5 & $18 million/year since 2006 - money that may have been used on Apaches.  Has anybody heard whether we plan on doing anything about the actions of our allies - with equipment made and probably financed by us?

  •  Watching Bosnia unfold was (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden

    appalling and infuriating, what they were doing was obvious, and that they wouldn't stop until they were stopped was equally obvious. My grandfather flew B-24's over Europe and bombed Nazis engaged in the same sort of genocide. My first impulse when Bosnia started was to plan two bombing runs; the first carpet bombing a military target, preferably full of soldiers, and the second dropping leaflets reading, 'We can talk or we can fight, talking's easier. You choose.'

    This is the same, half measures only prolong the suffering and make more victims. Either we supply the anti-Kaddafy forces and allow them the materiale to carry the fight on their own, or we go in and crush the head of the snake and let them finish it.

    Does anyone know the Egyptian military's current stance regarding the Libyan revolution? Why aren't they helping? Or are they? Couldn't we offer support and materiale through them?

    Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

    by FarWestGirl on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 10:51:45 AM PDT

  •  "A short, decisive war." (0+ / 0-)
    The belief in the possibility of a short decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions.

    Robert Lynd (1879-1949)

    Despite this, I'm with teacherken--the tragedies inherent in acting appear to be smaller than the tragedies inherent in not acting. There's no good option here, only bad and worse ones.

    We should try to protect the Libyan rebels.

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 11:23:22 AM PDT

    •  Then what happens? (0+ / 0-)

      And what happens after that?

      I wonder if we can protect the rebels with a no fly zone -- let them take the lead in deposing Qaddafi.  In other words, Cohen does a good job of weighing the pros and cons of intervention, but is his premise wrong?  Unlike Rwanda or Bosnia, active intervention might be neither necessary to depose Qaddafi, nor sufficient to prevent human tragedy.

      "This world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind[.]" -- Robert F. Kennedy

      by Loge on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 12:32:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know. But I do know... (0+ / 0-)

        ...what happens if we do nothing. And that's Qaddafi kills a whole lot of innocent people who are willing to put their lives on the line for stuff we claim to like--democracy, freedom of expression--and then Qaddafi stays in power.

        Given that alternative, a roll of the dice is the way to go. Even though it's a roll of the dice.

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 01:57:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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