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March 23, 2011

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Sue

Well, yeah, they are smarter than the average bear. Start a war and call it something else. Voila! Problem solved.

Average Bear

No, no they're not.

Thomas Collins

Liz Taylor has passed into eternity.

DebinNC

Camp Lejuene Marines are being sent to Libya. If we believe Obama, they won't go ashore wearing their boots.

Sue

Average Bear,

Sorry to offend. Trying to make a joke about how absolutely despicable they are.

gaseous, too, not even liquid.

I think that was an Ironic n,ntn.
===========

scott

Re-posting from an earlier thread because I think It's the most important story of the day, despite the Alice in Wonderland war obama started which I can't even get my head around yet. After now reading the petition (LUN) it appears Ozanne is arguing the product of the special session meeting (the votes)is voidable or the open meeting law is essentially null. He just kind of states it with no support. It seems pretty weak to me but I'm not an attorney. Maybe one of you guys can brief back your take. I have to go make the donuts.

anduril

Of course, beyond the question of CAN Obama do it is the question of SHOULD he do it. Tom Friedman makes some modest points in a fairly brief and worthwhile article: Tribes With Flags. Here's the beginning and the end:

David Kirkpatrick, the Cairo bureau chief for The Times, wrote an article from Libya on Monday that posed the key question, not only about Libya but about all the new revolutions brewing in the Arab world: “The question has hovered over the Libyan uprising from the moment the first tank commander defected to join his cousins protesting in the streets of Benghazi: Is the battle for Libya the clash of a brutal dictator against a democratic opposition, or is it fundamentally a tribal civil war?”

This is the question because there are two kinds of states in the Middle East: “real countries” with long histories in their territory and strong national identities (Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Iran); and those that might be called “tribes with flags,” or more artificial states with boundaries drawn in sharp straight lines by pens of colonial powers that have trapped inside their borders myriad tribes and sects who not only never volunteered to live together but have never fully melded into a unified family of citizens. They are Libya, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The tribes and sects that make up these more artificial states have long been held together by the iron fist of colonial powers, kings or military dictators. They have no real “citizens” in the modern sense. Democratic rotations in power are impossible because each tribe lives by the motto “rule or die” — either my tribe or sect is in power or we’re dead.

Not perfect, but pretty good. Is it prudent as a matter of foreign policy to wade into these types of imbroglios--at least to the extent that we have and with the expectations that we enter with? But then he ends with a brief reference to domestic considerations: is it prudent to be pouring so much treasure down ME ratholes, chasing the elusive wild goose of Muslim democracy, when we have serious problems here at home?

Finally, sadly, we can’t afford it. We have got to get to work on our own country. If the president is ready to take some big, hard, urgent, decisions, shouldn’t they be first about nation-building in America, not in Libya? Shouldn’t he first be forging a real energy policy that weakens all the Qaddafis and a budget policy that secures the American dream for another generation?
anduril

Steven Carter explains Why It's America's War. He's right, of course, and he offers some interesting numbers in support of that pretty obvious truth. However, I take exception to his bald statement:

The cruise-missile attacks were aimed largely at degrading Libya's antiaircraft defenses, which were considerable. As several observers have pointed out, no member of the coalition aside from the U.S. possesses the expertise and munitions to accomplish that goal. The U.S. has supplied nearly half the aircraft involved in Operation Odyssey Dawn, including the B-2 Stealth bombers that flew all the way from Missouri to join the war, and has flown the great majority of the actual combat missions. Although the Defense Department insists that this week the allies will begin to take the lead, flying most of the sorties, it is not clear whether they have the money. The U.S. spends more than 40 cents of every defense dollar spent on the face of the earth. The Libyan war is likely to cost well in excess of $1 billion a week. Nobody else can afford it. Thus, the longer the war drags on, the more likely it is to become an all-American show.

It's not at all clear to me that we CAN afford this "invade the world" parody of a foreign policy.

Danube of Thought

Congress won't do diddly.

anduril

The Telegraph has a nice, concise overview of the Euro-mess: Libya: Can Britain and France really run this conflict?

"America doesn't even want to be in Libya, and the Germans are just getting in the way, writes Con Coughlin."

So how did we allow them to drag us into this?

narciso

Ozanne is typically clueless, that's why Doyle picked him, they had three weeks notice
of a vote, it's not Walker's fault, that they
skedaddled to that town on the Illinois border, and Friedman, quoting Kirkpatrick,
isn't that the 'blind leading the blind'.

Army of Davids

Spreading the military thin.

Yemen, Oman, Bahrain.

All unstable. All put Saudi Arabia at risk.

Iranian involvement?

Watching oil prices.

Army of Davids

Portugal...EuroSclerotic Herpes flaring.

hattip

Oh he had the permission of the UN--they ordered him to do it. Of course it is "legal". What is wrong with you people? You act like this is a sovereign nation or something; You act like we still have the rule of law. We do are not; we do not.

Those backward notions have been overcome by our "leaders".

(BTW, "fluidity" has nothing to do with hypocrisy. The Democrats are hardly "fluid" here, they are as constant as roosters. This should not surprise. What should surprise is that such glaring wild hypocrisy and absurd doublespeak is so readily accepted by the electorate, particularly when there is so much stake.)

Cecil Turner

Biden is wrong both times. Iran was/is legitimately a threat, and bombing them (specifically their nuke production facilities) would be Constitutional. People whose opinion I respect (e.g., Instapundit, DoT) believe the Libyan adventure is Constitutional . . . but I have to disagree. It's not defensive, and there's no vital US interest involved. Moreover, if there's time to get a UN SC resolution, there's time for an emergency meeting of Congress.

Besides that, it's just stupid. If the goal was to support the rebels, we should've attacked before they got their butts kicked. If the goal was to get rid of Khadafy, we should've bombed his house (repeatedly). Now we're trying to get rid of this tar baby and (unsurprisingly) nobody wants to take it. It's hard to see how we get out of this with anything other than a black eye (and possibly a bloody nose).

Ranger

Is the battle for Libya the clash of a brutal dictator against a democratic opposition, or is it fundamentally a tribal civil war?

Why do American journalists always reduce things to such simplistic dichotomies? Where is the nuance? It will probably devolve into the latter as it drags on, but there were lots of people in Western Libya who were on board with dumpting Gaddafi in the beginning.

The tribes and sects that make up these more artificial states have long been held together by the iron fist of colonial powers, kings or military dictators. They have no real “citizens” in the modern sense. Democratic rotations in power are impossible because each tribe lives by the motto “rule or die” — either my tribe or sect is in power or we’re dead.

Who knew that Wisconsin is an "artificial state", because it certainly looks like there can't be a "democratic rotation in power" there either.

anduril

David, you forgot to mention: Saudi Arabia is unstable and has been since its founding--not all that long ago.

Ranger, leftists exhibit many of the characteristics of tribalism. In fact, one could say that Liberals encourage forms of tribalism as the foundation of their rise to power.

Danube of Thought

Biden (and Obama) will simply say this isn't a war. In this age of lawfare, they may even have a point. When Congressman Tom Campbell filed a lawsuit against the Kosovo intervention under the War Powers Resolution, the Judge Silberman of the D.C. Circuit (which upheld the dismissal of the case for lack of standing) adverted to the issue:

Appellants cannot point to any constitutional test for what is war. See, e.g.,...Holtzman v. Schlesinger (holding legality of Cambodia bombing nonjusticiable because courts lack expertise to determine import of various military actions). Instead, appellants offer a rough definition of war provided in 1994 by an Assistant Attorney General to four Senators with respect to a planned intervention in Haiti, as well as a number of law review articles each containing its own definition of war. I do not think any of these sources, however, offers a coherent test for judges to apply to the question what constitutes war, a point only accentuated by the variances, for instance, between the numerous law review articles. For that reason, I disagree with Judge Tatel's assertion that we can decide appellants' constitutional claim because it is somehow obvious in this case that our country fought a war. Baker v. Carr speaks of a case involving "a lack of judicially discoverable and manageable standards for resolving" the issue presented, not just a case the facts of which are obscure; the focus is on the standards. Even if this court knows all there is to know about the Kosovo conflict, we still do not know what standards to apply to those facts.
narciso

'In the long run,' as Keynes would put it, they are all unstable, the three Wahhabi empires, the last beginning with 1925, as to the question of Cyrenaica, and Benghazi;

Ultimately, it was annexed by the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1517 . It was part of the Tripoli Eyalet and later the Tripolitania Vilayet. Its main cities became Benghazi and Derna.

So for nearly 500 years, the area has remained the same. So lets not use that
as an excuse, there seems to be no objective
to this thing, a circumstance I suspected
last weekend.

MarkO

What?

"This command-and-control business is complicated, and we haven’t done something like this kind of on-the-fly before,” U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters in Moscow today.

anduril

Notice too that Friedman, in describing Arab societies, writes: each tribe lives by the motto “rule or die.” That Leftists encourage tribalist attitudes is apparent from this, as well: that only leftists, nor GOPers, adopt that motto.

Jane (sit on the couch or save your country)

I have Liz Taylor in the death pool!

Jane (sit on the couch or save your country)

Oh I bet we could convince Joe Biden to bring impeachment proceedings. Now how fun would that be to watch?

Dave (in MA)

Jane, what do you win?

DebinNC

"kind of on the fly"??

CBS quoting from Hillary's Diane Sawyer interview yesterday:
"Clinton also called allegations that she had been the key voice urging for the authorization of attacks on Libya "part of a storyline that needs to be corrected."
"I think it was a very thoughtful process," Clinton said, of Mr. Obama's decision to authorize the strikes. "I'm not going to characterize anyone because it was a decision that was made, and the decision speaks for itself."

She also said: "I will stay until the beginning of the next term, because I know it takes a while for people to get appointed and confirmed"..putting the kabash on Obama making her the scapegoat for Odyssey FUBAR and easing her out before she's ready.

Ranger

I do not think any of these sources, however, offers a coherent test for judges to apply to the question what constitutes war, a point only accentuated by the variances, for instance, between the numerous law review articles. For that reason, I disagree with Judge Tatel's assertion that we can decide appellants' constitutional claim because it is somehow obvious in this case that our country fought a war.

Here's an idea. Lets posit that if you are engaging in acts of war on the territory of antoher sovereign state without that state's permission, you are, de facto, at war with that state.

This results in a simple three part test that can be applied:

1. Is the United States engaged in acts of war?

2. Are those acts of war taking place on foreign sovereign territory?

3. Does the United States have the permission of the sovereign government of that territory to engage in those acts of war?

If the aswer to 1 and 2 are yes, and the answer to 3 is no, then the US is, de facto, at war with the coutnry.

anduril

Here's a site that offers a useful definition of war: "The use of violence and force between two or more states to resolve a matter of dispute." It then provides some further discussion.

Wikipedia begins its discussion: War is an openly declared state of organized violent conflict,[1][2] typified by extreme aggression, societal disruption, and high mortality.

It seems to me that we have here "an openly declared state of organized violent conflict" even if we haven't openly called it "war." There is also the matter of "undeclared" wars.

As far as I'm concerned, it's a lot like obscenity.

Porchlight

She also said: "I will stay until the beginning of the next term"

I wish she'd added "if there is a next term."

Ignatz

--For that reason, I disagree with Judge Tatel's assertion that we can decide appellants' constitutional claim because it is somehow obvious in this case that our country fought a war.--

Who doesn't love judges?
They know obscenity when they see it but a little thing like war, they can't figure that one out.

Ignatz

--As far as I'm concerned, it's a lot like obscenity.--

Heh. Should have refreshed before I posted. :)

anduril

Imitation is the sincerest...

I wish I could say I'm flattered.

Rob Crawford

Lets posit that if you are engaging in acts of war on the territory of antoher sovereign state without that state's permission, you are, de facto, at war with that state.

Not strictly true.

If a state fails to prevent a third party from mounting attacks from its territory, then the third party can be attacked without it meaning the state is being attacked.

An example would be if Mexican gangs attacked US civilians across the border. The US military could strike at the gangs without it meaning a war on Mexico.

anduril

Scott McConnell makes a very important point: Five years ago today, Walt and Mearsheimer gave Americans the vocabulary to discuss a central issue. Lack of a suitable vocabulary is a great hindrance to productive discussion. Providing that vocabulary is, in itself, a significant achievement.

Rocco

Speaking of Russia, in 2008 Russia canceled $4.5 bn of Libyan debt, mostly for oil.

Danube of Thought

Ranger, that might be a good test, but the courts have never come close to adopting it for purposes of constitutional or statutory questions about war--they simply shy away from such questions, as long as they can be resolved by the political branches and the electorate.

As a 17-year-old plebe I was in a group being lectured by a US Marine who had been at Inchon and the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War. Somebody pointed out that Truman didn't call it a war, he called it a Police Action. The Marine said "then how come he didn't send cops?"

Ranger

Victor Davis Hanson has one post that seems to sum it all up at The Corner today:

Let Us Count the Ways . . .

He lists different issues with the current non-war, and sums it up with this:

Add the above up, and I think Team Obama will find that even Democratic diehards and neocon sympathizers will soon bail, and very soon. Like it or not, to salvage this mess, the Obama administration is going to have to get rid of Qaddafi, do it very quickly, and argue that what follows is somewhat better.

Jane (sit on the couch or save your country)

Dave,

I win a Sturbridge Tea party tea shirt. Of course!

Actually it depends on who predicts the most deaths.

Extraneus

Is attacking and killing people and destroying critical infrastructure an "act of war," or could it be some other act?

Dave (in MA)

Oh, I thought you were talking about the Howie Carr Death Pool.

Jane (sit on the couch or save your country)

Naw, the You Too COngress death pool.

Janet

Who knew that Wisconsin is an "artificial state", because it certainly looks like there can't be a "democratic rotation in power" there either.

Great point Ranger.

Ranger, leftists exhibit many of the characteristics of tribalism. In fact, one could say that Liberals encourage forms of tribalism as the foundation of their rise to power.

and Anduril.

hit and run

TM:
Obviously, Vice President Biden can't lead an impeachment effort against his boss.


Now the chances of impeachment are roughly the equivalent of Obama releasing his long form birth certificate -- but -- let's play along for fun.

Let's see...

Obama
Biden
Boehner(!)
Daniel Inouye
Hillary
Timothy Geithner
Bob Gates
Eric Holder

PD

Why do American journalists always reduce things to such simplistic dichotomies?

Because they're liars, and they're just not that smart?

Janet

Scott Brown in the news.

"US Senator Scott Brown opposes a House Republican plan to cut all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the womens’ health service provider, and today urged budget negotiators to reach a compromise.

“I support family planning and health services for women,”..."

I wonder how much of his own money he gives to PP?
Why can't leftists fund their own "charities"? They always want taxpayers to pay for their crap....& the RINOs are too afraid to cut them off.

hit and run

DoT:
Biden (and Obama) will simply say this isn't a war.

Well. In their defense,Obama inherited two wars and ended both of them . . . in favor of overseas contingency operations to combat man-caused-disaster-causers.

PD

"I'm not going to characterize anyone because it was a decision that was made, and the decision speaks for itself."

Sheesh. That's like the way Hillary would answer questions she'd never adequately answered during the campaign, by saying, "I think the American people know very well where I stand on that." Basically, "I'm not going to answer that, and I'm going to imply you shouldn't even be asking the question because the answer is apparent."

Ranger

"I'm not going to characterize anyone because it was a decision that was made, and the decision speaks for itself."

To me it reads more like: Well, if it looks like dithering to you, then I agree, and if it looks like deep, thoughtful consideration to you, then I agree.

Ignatz

--I wish I could say I'm flattered.--

I wish you could too.

Danube of Thought

The inanimate "decision" actively speaks for itself; the human making of the decision must be discussed in the passive voice.

Some call this kind of thing bullshit.

Porchlight

In this case I think Hillary is saying, in typical bureaucratese, "Hey, what can I say, it was out of my hands. Look at these idiots I'm working for."

Not that I would necessarily trust her to make better decisions had it been left up to her, but it's clear she's trying to distance herself from the operation.

Ann

If our military is under foreign command are they still covered by our laws?

Could they be tried under international laws?

Cecil Turner

I think VDH has it right:

Like it or not, to salvage this mess, the Obama administration is going to have to get rid of Qaddafi, do it very quickly, and argue that what follows is somewhat better.
The obvious center of gravity for pro-Khadafy forces is the good Colonel himself. Getting rid of him is one of the few ways we can come out of this with a win. Unfortunately it appears there's a difference of opinion between us and the Brits on this one, and we're on the wrong side:
Gates said: "I think that it's important that we operate within the mandate of the UN security council resolution. This is a very diverse coalition and the one thing that there is common agreement on are the terms set forth in the security council resolution.
This is all very reminiscent of Gen Zinni's after-action brief on Somalia (short version: he was ordered by Clinton to "marginalize" Aideed . . . his response [AFAIR]: "I don't know how to 'marginalize' someone; but I can kill him if you want him dead"). Gates's statement is also typical of a non-operator when talking about military force. You can't "protect civilians" with airstrikes, it's purely an offensive capability. And if you're reluctant to use it effectively, you ought not start.

Danube of Thought

I think that it's important that we operate within the mandate of the UN security council resolution

Why the hell is that important, and when did it become so? What is important is that we act in the security interest of the United States, and the commander-in-chief has a duty to do just that. In this instance he could start by enunciating precisely what he understands that interest to be.

it appears there's a difference of opinion between us and the Brits on this one

It now appears that there's also a difference of opinion amongst the Brits themselves.

Please excuse the repeated lapse into obscenity, but this is what's known as a clusterfuck. And it's a clusterfuck with lethal ordnance flying around.

narciso

I'm beginning to figure out why the Tories were out of power, for a dozen years,

maryrose

DOT:
You have described it perfectly. Now even Hillary is doing a Pontius Pilate routine and trying to wash her hands of this debacle.
Obama keeps downplaying the scenario so he won't get blamed when it all blows up in his face. He'a already lined up his scapegoats and I think Hillary has put aprotective shield around herself. She's not taking the fall for Bozo's ineptitude.

Ranger

Hot Air links to this Tapper post:

President Obama Redefines the Term "Exit Strategy"

In an interview with Univision Tuesday, President Obama re-defined the term “exit strategy,” and said our exit strategy in Libya would begin this week.

“The exit strategy will be executed this week,” President Obama said, “in the sense that we will be pulling back from our much more active efforts to shape the environment. We will still be in a support role. We will be supplying jamming, intelligence and other assets unique to us."

Planes in the air? Ships in the Mediterranean? Intelligence being provided? Doesn’t sound like an exit strategy at all.

What it does recall is Lewis Carroll.

"'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."

...

Porchlight

In an interview with Univision Tuesday, President Obama re-defined the term “exit strategy,” and said our exit strategy in Libya would begin this week.


In an interview with Univision? Did I read that correctly?

Suppose he gets out on a Presidential podium in view of the American people and the rest of the world and says this sh*t. Would that be too much to ask?

Sue

Would that be too much to ask?

Why yes, yes it would.

sbw

Ranger: Why do American journalists always reduce things to such simplistic dichotomies?

Well, there are good newspapers and bad newspapers...

Ranger

Well, there are good newspapers and bad newspapers...

Posted by: sbw | March 23, 2011 at 01:01 PM

Fair enough.

Threadkiller

Pontius POTUS Pilate

Thomas Collins

Obama's comments on Operation Odyssey Dawn are the basketball equivalent of the point guard urging the substitutes and the cheerleaders to take over directing the offense.

 centralcal

Operation Odyssey Dawn

ooda loop without the A? Was somebody in the Administration being cutesy pooh when they named this thing? It is a loop, alright - as in loopy.

Porchlight

TC,

This point guard would never do such a thing:

Danube of Thought

"An example would be if Mexican gangs attacked US civilians across the border. The US military could strike at the gangs without it meaning a war on Mexico."

Recall General Pershing's expedition into Mexico in pursuit of Villa.

anduril

I would point out that the analysis that Friedman offers is neither simplistic nor does it, strictly speaking, draw a "dichotomy." A dichotomy--from a Greek root meaning "two"--implies an either/or choice. There's nothing wrong with a dichotomy if it fits the facts, but Friedman in fact qualifies his analysis with the word "fundamentally," thus implying that, while the situation may be in important respects dichotomous, other subordinate factors may be at work.

But without getting into the subordinate and more speculative issues, lets take a closer look at the tribal factors involved. In the linked article by David Kirkpatrick we learn the following:

The eastern region around Benghazi had always been a hotbed of opposition to the colonel, in part because tribes there had enjoyed the favoritism of the former king, Idriss I, whom the colonel overthrew, while he in turn favored the tribes of the central and western coast.

When the uprising came, many of the most significant defectors — including Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes, the rebel army head and a former interior minister — were members of the eastern tribes.

...

Though many of the people who flocked to the growing cities continued to identify closely by tribe, they now live mixed together. Many from eastern tribes now live in western Tripoli, and tens of thousands of members of the predominantly western tribes, Warfalla and Tarhuna, which form the core of Colonel Qaddafi’s support, now live in Benghazi and last weekend staged a major public demonstration there calling on their western cousins to join the revolt.

So we learn at least two important things from this: 1) that the opposition has centered around Eastern tribes. 2) We also learn that many Easterners now live in the West (and vice versa). There's a clue there, and it applies directly to a Ranger observation:

there were lots of people in Western Libya who were on board with dumpting Gaddafi in the beginning.

Having read Friedman and Kirkpatrick, are we surprised that "lots of people" in Western Libyan should be in favor of dumping Gaddafi? No, because we know that "many Easterners (the "hotbed of opposition to the colonel") now live in the West."

It all makes sense, and there is nothing simplistic about this analysis. The tribes now live in a more intermingled urban setting than previously, but as we know from Iraq--with its much longer history of urbanization--tribal loyalties don't necessarily die with urbanizatin and physical juxtaposition of tribes. This is good journalism and should be commended.

MarkO

Black Jack is not in on this mission.

Strawman Cometh
The US military could strike at the gangs without it meaning a war on Mexico

Make it so, #1

anduril

"This point guard" has trouble figuring out which team she's playing for:

Palin, who was wearing a large Star of David, told Danon that she had flags of Israel "on my desk, in my home, all over the place" and that she would carry around a flag she bought in Israel. (h/t Powerline)
Ranger

"An example would be if Mexican gangs attacked US civilians across the border. The US military could strike at the gangs without it meaning a war on Mexico."

Recall General Pershing's expedition into Mexico in pursuit of Villa.

Posted by: Danube of Thought | March 23, 2011 at 01:37 PM

Well, I would say that any time you send your army into another countries territories without their permission you are, de facto, at war with that country. If the two countries, for what ever local political reasons, choose not to acknowledge that fact, it doesn't change the basic facts of the situation. Since Villa was also technically in rebelion against the government of Mexico at that time, one could argue that we had tacit, if not explicite approval from the Mexican government to try and chase him down. That doesn't change the fact that without the explicite permision of the Mexican government, sending US troops into Mexico was an act of war against Mexico, and I would argue created a de facto state of war between the two states, even if neither one chose to treat it that way.

Cecil Turner

That doesn't change the fact that without the explicite permision of the Mexican government, sending US troops into Mexico was an act of war against Mexico . . .

I think that's somehwat arguable. It wouldn't be, however, if instead of attacking Pancho Villa and his men, we were attacking government troops sent to arrest him. Which would be a much better parallel to what we're doing in Libya.

Dave (in MA)

1:41 reminds me that I need to figure out how to install the droolulator on linux.

Rob Crawford

Well, I would say that any time you send your army into another countries territories without their permission you are, de facto, at war with that country.

I can't find the details, but there was a time when anti-British Irish, based in the US, were attacking British interests in Canada. The US government couldn't/wouldn't do anything about it -- I recall this was the early 1800s and they were somewhere along the Great Lakes -- so the British took it into their own hands.

It wasn't what led to the War of 1812. The US government sucked it up and moved along.

Why?

Because the theory is that a government MUST maintain its monopoly on the use of force originating from its own territories. We couldn't/wouldn't, so we couldn't get bitchy about the British handling it.

In the modern world, it's not a theory that's given the respect it deserves. We treat every chaotic backwater as if it's as well-ordered a society as Britain, with the result that we can't do crap about the Taliban/al'Qaeda/other jihadis hiding out in the "tribal areas" of Pakistan, or the pirates in Somalia, or any of a hundred other rotten spots, including parts of Mexico.

Rob Crawford

Hmmm... sirens going off and what sounds remarkably like hail on the roof of the building. No sign from security or anyone else that there's a reason to worry, though. Think I'm going to spend the afternoon under my desk...

Ranger

Having read Friedman and Kirkpatrick, are we surprised that "lots of people" in Western Libyan should be in favor of dumping Gaddafi? No, because we know that "many Easterners (the "hotbed of opposition to the colonel") now live in the West."

Of course we have no evidence that it was only the easterners in Western Libya that watned to dump Gaddafi. So, what this ammounts to is an effort to sustain the theory that the conflict in Libya is just a tribal conflict without any actual evidence. In fact, unless the easterners in Western Libya are now, in fact, the majority in most of the urban centers there, the broad based rejection of Gaddafi's rule in those towns would seem to argue against the strictly tribal nature of the conflict.

The evidence of the popular uprising in the western part of Libya would suggest just the opposite. Easterners and westerners in Western Libya actually overcame tribal alligences to agree that dumping Gaddafi was a good idea.

Danube of Thought

Rob, my recollection is that the British sent a pre-emptive strike into US territoy to put a stop to that activity, and Daniel Webster defended as an exercise of the inherent power of a sovereign. Some recalled that event in support of the action against Saddam in Iraq.

The Mexican situation was quite ambiguous. in addition to skirmishes with the Villistas, Pershing also had engagements with Mexican federal troop sinvolving loss of life on both sides. Finally the Mexican president declared that any further southward movement by Pershing would be taken as an act of war.

Ranger, for the purposes that you and I consider relevant, I would make the same argument you're making. But it's an argument that has never carried the day in US courts.

Sara (Pal2Pal)

If a foreign power started lobbing 130 cruise missiles into New York City or some other American city, would we consider ourselves under an attack and that the missiles represented an overt act of war against us? Yes we would, so why isn't it considered an act of war when we do it to another country?

Danube of Thought

I should add that beyond a shadow of a doubt, under every historical standard of international law the US has committed an act of war against Libya.

Ranger

But it's an argument that has never carried the day in US courts.

Posted by: Danube of Thought | March 23, 2011 at 02:15 PM

I do understand that issue. At this point I think the only value of the War Powers Act is to serve as the possible foundation an impeachment if a president chose to wage a war without getting congressional approval (though that would probably only happen if the president in question happened to lose the war in question).

Ignatz

--Easterners and westerners in Western Libya actually overcame tribal alligences to agree that dumping Gaddafi was a good idea.--

The problem always is though, what happens after the object that unites the disparate tribes is gone?
It's usually pretty bloody and best avoided by anyone fortunate enough not to be a native.

Rob Crawford

Sara, since we're trying to remove the recognized (not to say legitimate) government of Libya, it's no doubt we're at war with them.

Ranger

And another 12 hours has passed, so we have another administration official saying something completely different (via Hot Air):

Speaking during a visit to Cairo, Gates said the UN Security Council resolution that authorised a no-fly zone was “not time-limited” and that it was unrealistic to expect military action to be over in a matter of weeks.

“So I think that there is no current timeline in terms of when it might end,” Gates told reporters. …

“I think there are any number of possible outcomes here and no one is in a position to predict them,” he said.

So this is now officially a war without a plan and without a goal.

Uncle BigBad

Ranger

. . . and without an end.

Danube of Thought

"Sara, since we're trying to remove the recognized (not to say legitimate) government of Libya, it's no doubt we're at war with them."

Hey, wait a minute. It's my understanding that our "policy" is that he should go, but that that particular policy goal is expressly excluded from our military objectves. So it follows that...

Ah hell.

Ranger

And to think that it was the moonbats mantra that the Republicans wanted perpetual war.

Extraneus

There aren't enough crows in the world for those bastards to eat.

clarice

Tu, tut..you want a plan , you want a goal, you want authorization of the action..that's so old hat. Teh Won is above all that, ask ValJar.

hit and run

I know Obama can right what seems to be a flailing effort here . . . because he ran a really big and unprecedented campaign.

And the other reason I know that his flailing doesn't prove that his lack of executive experience prior to becoming president will be his undoing is that he had the judgment to oppose the Iraq war or contingency operation or innocent civilian protection program back in 2002 on the streets of Chicago,and that took real guts what with his constituents being a bunch of bloodthirsty neocons and all.

It's not flailing anyway. It's staying above the fray. The last thing you want in a president who sends troops to war or commits the military to a forward-leaning posture of activity or issues a strongly worded operation name or whatever is that he get too involved.

PD

In an interview with Univision? Did I read that correctly?

He's interviewed with Univision before. And if he was still in South America at the time, Univision's a logical network for an interview.

Melinda Romanoff

Exactly, Clarice.

matt

Our "leadership" is clearly out to lunch (launch) on the Libya affair. They are doing their best to hide in the background, somehow thinking that nobody thinks we're really there. The internal logic of our policy is quite stupefying.

Obama is trying to be an international man of mystery while wearing clown shoes and a funny hat. Gates has stumbled back and forth several times now, while Hillary mouths the new "new" policy of the day. The media is utterly confused and our own pilots are firing upon the people we're supposed to be helping. How can anyone expect to understand the goals and limits when none are stated?

On the other side of the Pond, it would seem that everyone is doing their best to avoid responsibility for anything. Assassination? regime change? canape, anyone?

The fog of contingency operations just keeps getting thicker and thicker.

anduril

The evidence of the popular uprising in the western part of Libya would suggest just the opposite. Easterners and westerners in Western Libya actually overcame tribal alligences to agree that dumping Gaddafi was a good idea.

If you have specific evidence regarding inter-tribal politics on the ground, feel free to share it. From what I've read that specifically addresses these issues the reality is rather different.

Let's start with Libyan demographics. In any tribal based society tribal alliances are fluid. Libya's tribal structure is quite complex, as Wikipedia documents:

Tribal groups

Libyan society is to a large extent structured along tribal lines, with more than 20 major Arabized Berber tribal groups. The major tribal groups of Libya are:[1]

Tripolitania: Warfalla, Tarhona, Al-Fwatir, Awlad Busayf, Al-Zintan, Al-Rijban.
Cyrenaica: Al-Awagir, Al-Abaydat, Drasa, Al-Barasa, Al-Fawakhir, Al-Zuwayya, Al-Majabra.
Syrte: Al-Qaddadfa, Al-Magarha, Al-Magharba, Al-Riyyah, Al-Haraba, Al-Zuwaid, Al-Guwaid.
Fezzan: Al-Hutman, Al-Hassawna; Toubou, Tuareg.
Al-Kufra: Al-Zuwayya; Toubou.

In terms of total population, the overwhelming majority of these tribal people are Arabized--the importance of that will become apparent in a moment.

For historical reasons (and possibly other reasons, as well) the Libyan conflict has settled down to an East - West conflict. Gaddafi had to first overcome insurgent elements in the West before, with his base consolidated, he could take the offensive. What were those insurgent elements within Gaddafi's western base? Large numbers of individuals from tribes based in the east, for starters. However, this article explains the source and nature of Western Libyan disaffection:

Libya's Berbers join the revolution in fight to reclaim ancient identity

Mountain tribes in the west, also called Amazigh, unite with opposition after decades of Gaddafi repressing their identity

So, yes, there were elements in Western Libya who were disaffected from Gaddafi's regime, and it should not be surprising that in a fluid situation Berber tribes (a very small minority) should make common cause with Arabized tribes, predominantly from the East. To illustrate the complexity of such tribal politics, other Berber groups such as the Tuareg remain loyal to Gaddafi and provide significant strength to his armed forces (militia, army, whatever way you want to characterize it). Here's a nice map of the ethnic/tribal breakdown:

You can get a larger size through the Demographics of Libya article.

Take a look at the map. The small orange areas in the NW corner are the Berber areas that revolted against Gaddafi. You can see how small it is compared to the large swathes of Arabized tribal territory, including all the major urban areas. You can also see that the Berber territory is very limited, and their population is as well. They do predominate in one coastal town, but Gaddafi's forces defeated them fairly quickly, since these Berber tribes are small and relatively weak (yes, in tribal societies the smaller and weaker tribes are the ones that get oppressed and thus have grievances). I suspect that the situation initially looked much worse than it really was for Gaddafi simply because there was a lot of confusion and Gaddafi's loyalists had to retrench to take stock of the situation before taking the offensive. Those Gaddafi loyalists were largely drawn from Arabized tribes in the West, along with Tuaregs and immigrant mercenaries. Once the Berbers were swept aside it came down to a struggle between Arabized tribes, and Gaddafi's were winning until Obama blundered in.

And that leads to the drawback in these tribal based rebellions: tribal warriors lose their effectiveness outside their own areas. Those Berber rebels in the far West would have been very unwelcome in other areas, like Tripoli. So their support would not have been very effective in the long run, not only because their their base was small but also because they would have been relatively ineffective outside their home territory. Therefore, it wasn't so much a matter of overcoming tribal allegiances--far from it, since the revolt was tribal based in the first place--but of shifting alliances AMONG tribes against a common source of grievance: Gaddafi. But the revolt never gained sufficient traction beyond their tribal bases and Gaddafi's tribal base in the West has proven decisively stronger, although I don't doubt the revolt had Gaddafi worried for a week or so.

Melinda Romanoff

matt-

Doug Feith has an excellent piece up in the WSJ's opinion pages that covers it from another angle.

Very sneaky tranzi stuff.

Porchlight

PD, my point was not that he shouldn't be doing interviews with Univision, but that an interview with Univision is not an appropriate venue in which to discuss the details of the exit strategy in Libya when he hasn't yet bothered to address the country and the world in a formal Presidential setting and tell us what the hell it is he thinks he's doing wrt Libya in the first place.

After he takes care of that little perfunctory detail, he can discuss the topic in any interview he likes.

PD

Porchlight, all that is true, except that he is a citizen of the world. There's is no "special relationship" with the American people.

Would that it were not so, I agree.

Sara (Pal2Pal)

On the other side of the Pond, it would seem that everyone is doing their best to avoid responsibility for anything.

Everyone involved seems to be avoiding the fact that they are involved. Their message is all over the map and if they can't even coordinate a message, how am I supposed to have faith that they can coordinate a military operation? I can't and the gigantic lump in the pit of my stomach is indicative of the fear I have with this incompetent at the helm as C-i-C.

I not only don't have any confidence in Obomba as a leader, I cannot trust anything he or his minions say, which just adds to my fear and the loathing that fear generates in me.

I'm still trying to get my mind around the idea that an American president would even consider having our troops under the command of a French steering committee. Unfreakinbelievable!

clarice

was thinking of how to write this week up for the column and frankly I'm still at a loss. I have never seen such an amateur hour operation and the entire Western world is involved in it. we merry band are like medieval monks in some remote abbey surrounded by ignorant peasants and cutthroats.

Sara (Pal2Pal)

Porchlight, all that is true, except that he is a citizen of the world. There's is no "special relationship" with the American people.

Well he better start being a citizen of the United States of America and be satisfied with being a "person of the world."

Porchlight

There's is no "special relationship" with the American people.

Heh, so true, PD. I keep forgetting.

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Wilson/Plame