There Is No Plan

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Libya – Where Do We Go From Here?

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About 200km east of the Egypt-Libya border begins the Qattara Depression, a vast low-lying stretch of desert banked by steep cliffs to the North. It’s essentially an impassable, virtually uninhabited world of soft, sinking sand, brittle salt-lakes, and sucking swamps. During WW2 it was regarded as a no-mans land through which any heavy vehicle would disappear into the abyss. Essentially once you were in you’d be lucky to get out.

It’s a useful metaphor for NATO’s involvement in Libya. Four months after our glorious entry in that nasty little desert dogfight, it’s starting to look like we wandered into a military and diplomatic equivalent of the Qattara Depression. By now, it’s beginning to become painfully clear that unless the “Rebels” get real lucky, we’re looking at a massive stalemate. Reports of successful bombing runs by NATO jets have reduced to a trickle. Gaddafi has almost completely adapted to not having air-superiority. Indeed his shift to non-uniformed forces operating out of pick-ups and covered Katusha trucks pretty much leaves NATO air support blind to who is and who isn’t a bad guy. NATO frequently get it wrong and their propaganda war takes a big hit every time.

It helps Gaddafi that the Rebels are essentially militarily useless. They’re poorly equipped, have little or no training, little or no command cohesion, break quickly under fire, and do minimal damage. And each time they fail to make any real headway they shore up the Gaddafi regime, which seems to be showing remarkable longevity under assault, its morale seemingly very high. To make matters worse, NATO has shown little or no interest in sending in advisors to help build up the rebels. Turning around that rabble would be near impossible, and Europe, not exactly settled just now, would start whining – rightly – about mission creep.

NATO’s last ditch effort was to wish the problem away with cash. By recognizing the rebels ‘transitional council’ and handing them access to a big chunk of Gaddafi’s stash they’re basically hoping that the Libyans will organize, energize, and use the money to oust Gaddafi. History tells us that when a large group of disorganized, fragmented guys in a never democratic desert country get a boat-load of money, things don’t end well.

Which leaves NATO in an awkward spot. Do they halt airstrikes and negotiate with Gaddafi? That may be out of the question. Not only would they be handing him a huge victory, but the ICC indictment hanging over the Colonel would be a good enough reason to tell NATO to sit and stew.

And just to make matters a little worse, Syria’s body count seems to rising even higher than Libya’s, and all we’re doing there is messing around with a few offshore bank accounts.

Finally, Italy has a debt crisis brewing, and the desperation to avoid a refugee crisis would have been better served by keeping Gaddafi in the hot-seat rather than bombing the bejesus out of his compound every night.

It all boils down to a very simple thought. Before you let the neo-con blood rush to your head, have a think about the consequences. Another six months of this and we’re going to own a problem that we really want nothing to do with.

Is this a mess or what?


Written by coolrebel

July 18, 2011 at 5:51 am

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