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Thread: Libyan rebels urge west to assassinate Gaddafi as his forces near Benghazi

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    Re: Libyan rebels urge west to assassinate Gaddafi as his forces near Benghazi

    Quote Originally Posted by StillBallin75 View Post
    Oh I wasn't talking about the morality of offense vs. defense, only that preemption would not be considered defense in a Clausewitzian sense...but I get the feeling you don't want to talk about concept and theory here.
    Let's talk about reality: Defensive strategies are usually unsuccessful.

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    Re: Libyan rebels urge west to assassinate Gaddafi as his forces near Benghazi

    Quote Originally Posted by StillBallin75 View Post
    I respectfully disagree and find a lot of value in Clausewitz/On War. It's tough precisely because it's comprehensive, and "war is politics by other means" might be a cliche but it's also a truism. I respect your opinion, and I have mine so I'll just leave it at that.
    The problem isn't with the interpretation, but with it's application. There's no way in hell that Clausewitz meant that politicians should be making decisions about tactics and strategy.

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    Re: Libyan rebels urge west to assassinate Gaddafi as his forces near Benghazi

    Quote Originally Posted by apdst View Post
    The problem isn't with the interpretation, but with it's application. There's no way in hell that Clausewitz meant that politicians should be making decisions about tactics and strategy.
    It really depends on how politicians are chosen. I think his wish was for an improved education system that would produce a higher proportion of strategic thinkers that would then go on to hold political office. Politicians probably shouldn't be making decisions on tactics, but they sure as hell should have a say in strategy because strategy is a means to an end, with that end being a particular political objective.

    But as for the quote, my personal interpretation is that he meant that politics and war are inherently inseparable, it's a fact of life. How a political system chooses to deal with that fact is it's own problem.
    Last edited by StillBallin75; 03-16-11 at 06:15 PM.
    Nobody who wins a war indulges in a bifurcated definition of victory. War is a political act; victory and defeat have meaning only in political terms. A country incapable of achieving its political objectives at an acceptable cost is losing the war, regardless of battlefield events.

    Bifurcating victory (e.g. winning militarily, losing politically) is a useful salve for defeated armies. The "stab in the back" narrative helped take the sting out of failure for German generals after WWI and their American counterparts after Vietnam.

    All the same, it's nonsense. To paraphrase Vince Lombardi, show me a political loser, and I'll show you a loser.
    - Colonel Paul Yingling

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    Re: Libyan rebels urge west to assassinate Gaddafi as his forces near Benghazi

    As theories, concepts, and ideals have been introduced, I'll offer a few thoughts concerning possible lessons from the Libya uprising:

    • Reliance on world organization (today the United Nations, in the post-WW I period the League of Nations) for maintaining international peace and security in the face of significant threats is futile. The body depends on the willingness of member states, with often widely diverging interests, to reach consensus. Hence in precisely the situations where consensus is most urgent e.g., addressing a major conflict, it is often most difficult to attain. Nations are rational actors. They will not cede their critical interests nor take risks/undertake sacrifices that are disproportionate to the interests they have at stake in a given issue.

    Instead, the balance of power, even as some naïve and/or idealistic academics and policy makers argue that it is irrelevant or antiquated today, remains a crucial underpinning of peace and security. So long as would-be aggressors understand that they could not achieve their desired gains at an acceptable price, they can be deterred. So long as threats are credible and would-be aggressors believe those making the threats can and will deliver, those aggressors will be deterred. In contrast, so long as would-be aggressors conclude that their targets are weak, not credible, or reliant on the good will of others (UN or states with no significant interest in a possible conflict), they will be emboldened.

    • Power matters. Early on in the Libyan revolution, when it was widely believed to be broad-based (ultimately time and facts revealed otherwise), the Gadhafi dictatorship put out feelers for its ceding power in exchange for immunity from prosecution and asset preservation. The anti-Gadhafi forces, calculating that the regime’s demise was inevitable, rejected those feelers. Today, they would almost surely leap at such an arrangement.

    But it is too late. Now that the dictatorship has concluded that foreign military intervention is unlikely and it has made significant military progress (in large part because the revolution was a much narrower uprising than it first appeared), the balance of power has shifted dramatically. As a result, the dictatorship is demanding nothing short of its maximum positions. Hence, today’s call by the UN Secretary-General’s for an immediate ceasefire will either be ignored or rejected. The Arab League’s hollow no fly zone declaration will not be a factor. Instead, the regime will push to conclude the conflict completely on its terms. Whether it fully succeeds remains to be seen, but if it does, there will be a genuine danger that the higher the cost it bore, the greater will be its retribution against those who opposed it.

    • Although ambiguity can facilitate diplomacy e.g., make it easier for parties to navigate differences, it can be destructive during crises. Although I believe the U.S. approach of refraining from direct military intervention in Libya is the right one given the lack of a compelling national interest, among other factors, the ambiguity created by mixed messages coming out of Washington has probably exacerbated things.

    First, it has sowed expectations that the U.S. would ultimately intervene if things turned against the anti-Gadhafi forces. That almost certainly led to those forces taking a more rigid stance than would otherwise have been the case. The Arab League’s no fly zone declaration—hollow because none of the Arab League members are willing to commit, much less have committed even a single aircraft to enforcement—rests, in part, on the idea that its declaration would trigger U.S. intervention. Therefore, even as the Arab League possesses vastly superior air power compared to Gadhafi’s forces, it has chosen to delegate all the risk of its declaration to the U.S. and/or NATO. U.S. ambiguity has been interpreted as hesitation by the Gadhafi dictatorship. As a result, further U.S. efforts to deter the regime will likely be perceived as lacking credibility and they will be ignored. Had the initial U.S. position that the Gadhafi dictatorship step down been backed by arms deliveries to the anti-Gadhafi forces early on, the regime would have been left to worry that a lack of responsiveness on its part could lead to even greater U.S. efforts. Hence, in the face of credible U.S. commitment and calculations of further U.S. commitment, the regime might have chosen an alternative path.

    • Nations with shared interests will join together if they perceive a threat. That the unrest in Bahrain increasingly appeared to pose a threat to many of the other Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) members, specifically the ability of their own governments to survive, led to a collective decision by those states to honor Bahrain’s call for help. That the move is incompatible with U.S. ideals or desires is irrelevant. The U.S. should have offered immediate mediation that would have been aimed at achieving a compromise that would address some of the protesters’ demands while assuring the survival of a reliable government. Given the large U.S. naval base in Manama, such an offer should have been a “no brainer.” It was not forthcoming. Bahrain’s government felt abandoned, and perhaps with justification. In the face of a situation over which it had lost control, Bahrain’s government acted rationally in appealing to other GCC members for help. The GCC members acted rationally to address a perceived threat to their own critical interests in reasserting a measure of certainty over the evolving chaos.

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    Re: Libyan rebels urge west to assassinate Gaddafi as his forces near Benghazi

    Quote Originally Posted by StillBallin75 View Post
    But as for the quote, my personal interpretation is that he meant that politics and war are inherently inseparable, it's a fact of life. How a political system chooses to deal with that fact is it's own problem.
    I always saw it as simply stating that kings and kaisers have war at their disposal to enforce their policies. That war is simply another tool in the politician's tool box to reach his agenda. This is why I believe it to be outdated. We live in different times. We no longer live under monarchs and serve the political agenda of the "soveriegn." When people use the expression today, it let's our diplomats and politicians off the hook for their failures. This expression only works for dictators. Mubarak discovered that he didn't have this tool in his tool box anymore. Gaddafi had discovered that his tools are broken and unreliable. It's just a term that serves the past. It made sense to the situation of the monarch and dictator. It's just not that simple in democracies where people run governments and are supposed to find ways to avert war. Tripping into one or last resorting into one is a sure sign of their failure.

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    Re: Libyan rebels urge west to assassinate Gaddafi as his forces near Benghazi

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    As theories, concepts, and ideals have been introduced, I'll offer a few thoughts concerning possible lessons from the Libya uprising:

    • Reliance on world organization (today the United Nations, in the post-WW I period the League of Nations) for maintaining international peace and security in the face of significant threats is futile. The body depends on the willingness of member states, with often widely diverging interests, to reach consensus. Hence in precisely the situations where consensus is most urgent e.g., addressing a major conflict, it is often most difficult to attain. Nations are rational actors. They will not cede their critical interests nor take risks/undertake sacrifices that are disproportionate to the interests they have at stake in a given issue.

    Instead, the balance of power, even as some naïve and/or idealistic academics and policy makers argue that it is irrelevant or antiquated today, remains a crucial underpinning of peace and security. So long as would-be aggressors understand that they could not achieve their desired gains at an acceptable price, they can be deterred. So long as threats are credible and would-be aggressors believe those making the threats can and will deliver, those aggressors will be deterred. In contrast, so long as would-be aggressors conclude that their targets are weak, not credible, or reliant on the good will of others (UN or states with no significant interest in a possible conflict), they will be emboldened.

    • Power matters. Early on in the Libyan revolution, when it was widely believed to be broad-based (ultimately time and facts revealed otherwise), the Gadhafi dictatorship put out feelers for its ceding power in exchange for immunity from prosecution and asset preservation. The anti-Gadhafi forces, calculating that the regime’s demise was inevitable, rejected those feelers. Today, they would almost surely leap at such an arrangement.

    But it is too late. Now that the dictatorship has concluded that foreign military intervention is unlikely and it has made significant military progress (in large part because the revolution was a much narrower uprising than it first appeared), the balance of power has shifted dramatically. As a result, the dictatorship is demanding nothing short of its maximum positions. Hence, today’s call by the UN Secretary-General’s for an immediate ceasefire will either be ignored or rejected. The Arab League’s hollow no fly zone declaration will not be a factor. Instead, the regime will push to conclude the conflict completely on its terms. Whether it fully succeeds remains to be seen, but if it does, there will be a genuine danger that the higher the cost it bore, the greater will be its retribution against those who opposed it.

    • Although ambiguity can facilitate diplomacy e.g., make it easier for parties to navigate differences, it can be destructive during crises. Although I believe the U.S. approach of refraining from direct military intervention in Libya is the right one given the lack of a compelling national interest, among other factors, the ambiguity created by mixed messages coming out of Washington has probably exacerbated things.

    First, it has sowed expectations that the U.S. would ultimately intervene if things turned against the anti-Gadhafi forces. That almost certainly led to those forces taking a more rigid stance than would otherwise have been the case. The Arab League’s no fly zone declaration—hollow because none of the Arab League members are willing to commit, much less have committed even a single aircraft to enforcement—rests, in part, on the idea that its declaration would trigger U.S. intervention. Therefore, even as the Arab League possesses vastly superior air power compared to Gadhafi’s forces, it has chosen to delegate all the risk of its declaration to the U.S. and/or NATO. U.S. ambiguity has been interpreted as hesitation by the Gadhafi dictatorship. As a result, further U.S. efforts to deter the regime will likely be perceived as lacking credibility and they will be ignored. Had the initial U.S. position that the Gadhafi dictatorship step down been backed by arms deliveries to the anti-Gadhafi forces early on, the regime would have been left to worry that a lack of responsiveness on its part could lead to even greater U.S. efforts. Hence, in the face of credible U.S. commitment and calculations of further U.S. commitment, the regime might have chosen an alternative path.

    • Nations with shared interests will join together if they perceive a threat. That the unrest in Bahrain increasingly appeared to pose a threat to many of the other Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) members, specifically the ability of their own governments to survive, led to a collective decision by those states to honor Bahrain’s call for help. That the move is incompatible with U.S. ideals or desires is irrelevant. The U.S. should have offered immediate mediation that would have been aimed at achieving a compromise that would address some of the protesters’ demands while assuring the survival of a reliable government. Given the large U.S. naval base in Manama, such an offer should have been a “no brainer.” It was not forthcoming. Bahrain’s government felt abandoned, and perhaps with justification. In the face of a situation over which it had lost control, Bahrain’s government acted rationally in appealing to other GCC members for help. The GCC members acted rationally to address a perceived threat to their own critical interests in reasserting a measure of certainty over the evolving chaos.
    Well stated. But there is significant national interest in Libya. It's the same interest that ties all of these nations together. Until we stop seeking tangible objects to make this problem simple, we will continue to encourage desperation and thusly religious terror. Despite some people's eagerness to remain simple, it is no longer about oil, cotton, computer chips, coffee beans, whatever. It's about the human soul. We are supposed to be the good guys. We are not Saayid Qutb's scapegoat to explain away his civilization's woes despite the ignorance of this civilization celebrating it. We are not God's enemy. We are not the ultimate reason their civilization fails. What we do do though is hinder their ability to dig themselves out. When it came to Mubarak, we simply waited until the power leaned away from him to declare our position. How safe and cowardly was that? When it comes to Libya, we sit and watch even as many of them have asked for help. How cowardly is that? When it came to the Shi'ite and the Kurd in Iraq (90s), we concerned ourselves with ensuring that the brutal Sunni maintained the throne for "stability's" sake. And in regards to Bahrain, the Sunni of Saudi Arabia have merely gone to ensure the continuation of a fellow Sunni tribesman over the Shia. It's never about the people. It's always about the Sunni tribe.

    We can argue all day that we don't prevent them from changing to the better. After all, we would have done nothing to stop the uprisings in Egypt in the 1990s either. But we would have a hard time arguing that we helped them at this point. And if things go south in all these rebelling countries, the religious fallout will seek that traditional Sayyid Qutb medicine. We have a duty. It is in our national long term security interests to see them through their transition as peacefully as possible. After all, European colonialism and Cold War prescriptions didn't come without consequences. Throughout this history, these people have asked for democracy off and on. Where their leaders (and outside influence) has failed them, God has picked up the banner.
    Last edited by MSgt; 03-16-11 at 06:45 PM.

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    Re: Libyan rebels urge west to assassinate Gaddafi as his forces near Benghazi

    I say let the Arab world sort out this mess.

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    Re: Libyan rebels urge west to assassinate Gaddafi as his forces near Benghazi

    This lack of reaction by the US, because of a vacillating, prevaricating and pusillanimous walking scumbag of a President will go down as a markerpost in the record of history. On one hand this aberration of a girlie-man takes full credit for the troop withdrawal committed to by Little Georgie-boy Bush in Iraq, the same guy who got us into Iraq whilst committing the same error that Bush did in continuing his propping up of the criminal Karzai in another nation-building venture that is NOW HIS and HIS ALONE. Nation-building in a land of primitive cave dwellers and tribal warlords committed to trafficking in hard drug raw material. A nation state barely existing as such with no concept of personal freedoms to be propped up as a venture in democracy. Sheer idiocy!

    Enter Libya, a nation ruled by a quite literal madman, wherein a large segment of the people, likely inspired by what they saw in Egypt, revolted against the madman despot. If we truly believe all the pontificating we do about freedom we should have immediately announced that we would enforce a no-fly zone and started airlifting equipment of all sorts to the rebels to encourage them. Reagan tried to kill this nut knowing what a destabilizing force he could be. We should have finished the job. The useless UNindicted co-conspirators at the UN, stymied in any attempt to do anything constructive by that same old commie unity of Russia and China in the Security Council is hapless and hopeless and we should secede and evict the bastards from New York and level that building and replace it with a halfway house for homeless vets. Then we could start a treaty organization of democratic nations who would pledge and be willing to commit to a mutual defense of each other if any were to come under direct attack. That's how you deal with nations who think war is the way to go. That is the only type of world peace organization we should be a part of. A mutual defense pact with NO gray areas.
    Last edited by doctorhugo; 03-16-11 at 06:46 PM.
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    Re: Libyan rebels urge west to assassinate Gaddafi as his forces near Benghazi

    Why should America shed any more blood for Muslims? They hate our guts and always will.

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    Re: Libyan rebels urge west to assassinate Gaddafi as his forces near Benghazi

    Quote Originally Posted by MSgt View Post
    And in regards to Bahrain, the Sunni of Saudi Arabia have merely gone to ensure the continuation of a fellow Sunni tribesman over the Shia. It's never about the people. It's always about the Sunni tribe.
    Unfortunately, in that region, tribal/ethnic/religious distinctions matter greatly Both the Shia and Sunni seek to dominate at the expense of the other. When it comes to political power, each views politics through a zero-sum prism: that one's gain can only be achieved at the other's expense. In proto-democratic Iraq, the country has shifted from a Sunni dictator to a government that is largely by, of, and for the Shia, frequently to the detriment of the country's Sunni and Kurdish minorities. Even if the present government in Bahrain were toppled, one would more than likely see a continuation of illiberal rule with the only major factor being a change in who holds power. There might also be a risk that the common factors that tie the Shia together could lead to Iran's gaining an opportunity in a Shia-led Bahrain to further project its growing regional power.

    Tribal, ethnic, religious identities are so basic, that education and information cannot readily change the provincial worldviews that result from such identities. Instead, one has to rely on longer-term evolutionary developments. Hence, IMO, a U.S. offer to mediate a compromise that would accommodate the most basic needs of Bahrain's Shia majority population, but permit the current government to survive albeit with somewhat broader representation would have been constructive. Over time, a better coexistence experience among the country's two peoples could evolve. Perhaps, down the road, that might lead to an evolution whereby the royal family's power became more symbolic or, at least, narrower and a more representative government's authority grew larger. The U.S. took the worst possible course. It offered the Shia words but not substance. It offered no assurance whatsoever that Bahrain's government's reliability e.g., in hosting a major U.S. naval base, would be given consideration by the U.S. It left the Saudis to wonder anew whether the U.S. is a reliable partner. Not surprisingly, the GCC states made the logical decision to intervene in a fashion they viewed was appropriate given their interests. As a result, Bahrain's disaffected Shia may gain little and the underlying differences will likely fester. At the same time, Bahrain's government will have less incentive to offer some substantive concessions.

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