Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Monday, August 22, 2011



The New York Times is reporting that Libyan rebels are holding Tripoli:

WASHINGTON — As rebel forces in Libya converged on Tripoli on Sunday, American and NATO officials cited an intensification of American aerial surveillance in and around the capital city as a major factor in helping to tilt the balance after months of steady erosion of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s military.       

The officials also said that coordination between NATO and the rebels, and among the loosely organized rebel groups themselves, had become more sophisticated and lethal in recent weeks, even though NATO’s mandate has been merely to protect civilians, not to take sides in the conflict.
NATO’s targeting grew increasingly precise, one senior NATO diplomat said, as the United States established around-the-clock surveillance over the dwindling areas that Libyan military forces still controlled, using armed Predator drones to detect, track and occasionally fire at those forces.


“NATO got smarter,” said Frederic Wehrey, a senior policy analyst with the RAND Corporation who follows Libya closely. “The strikes were better controlled. There was better coordination in avoiding collateral damage.” The rebels, while ill-trained and poorly organized even now, made the most of NATO’s direct and indirect support, becoming more effective in selecting targets and transmitting their location, using technology provided by individual NATO allies, to NATO’s targeting team in Italy.

Administration officials greeted the developments with guarded elation that the overthrow of a reviled dictator would vindicate the demands for democracy that have swept the Arab world.

A State Department’s spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, said that President Obama, who was vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, and other senior American officials were following events closely.
Privately, many officials cautioned that it could still be several days or weeks before Libya’s military collapses or Colonel Qaddafi and his inner circle abandon the fight. As Saddam Hussein and his sons did in Iraq after the American invasion in 2003, the Libyan leader could hold on and lead an insurgency from hiding even after the capital fell, the officials said.

A discussion over at Politico on President Obama's strategy in the Libyan revolution:

Jonathan Schanzer
Foundation for Defense of Democracies :

President Obama will certainly appear vindicated by the news that Tripoli has fallen. Libyans have even more reason to celebrate, now that the long war against Muammar Qadhafi appears to be nearing its end. But a bigger battle - an internecine one - may still be looming.

Darrell M. West
Vice President, Governance Studies, Brookings :

Sometimes, a patient and gradual strategy works well and that is the case with Libya. The U.S. does not always need to send in American troops to get the desired results. It took six months, but Obama’s strategy paid off.

James Carafano 
Heritage Foundation, Defense and Homeland Security :

Looking Forward

Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan - all remind there is lots of work to be done after the capital falls.

It is time to focus on what comes next.

UPDATE from Andrew Sullivan's blog:

Steve Benen is steamed by the partisan tone of McCain and Butters' statement:
Remember hearing about the "blame America first" crowd? Well, say hello to the "thank America last" crowd.
[...I]f McCain and Graham really want to complain about why “this success was so long in coming,” maybe they can talk more about their trip to Tripoli two years ago, when both McCain and Graham cozied up to Gaddafi, even visiting with him at the dictator’s home, discussing delivery of American military equipment to the Libyan regime. Both senators shook Gaddafi’s hand; McCain even bowed a little."

Libya Falling: A Less-Costly American-led Way of Waging War
By Mark Thompson

"So the U.S. was able to spearhead the imminent collapse of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya on the cheap. We launched full-fledged invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq against murderous tyrants, but elected not to do the same in Libya. Is this a new template for U.S. wars, or just an acknowledgment of a war-weary nation?

It’s a little of both, actually. President Obama, who was elected, in part, to help wind down those two post-9/11 wars, had no desire to begin a third. But he was willing to help NATO and the Arab League by providing a precision-guided attacks in the Libyan war’s first two weeks, before taking a decidedly back seat for the next five months."

Read on at Battleland.


Infidel753 said...

Sometimes the good guys win. Congratulations to the Libyans.

Dave Miller said...

while the outcome looks good at the moment, one must wonder...

Is it our policy, of view, that the US government has a right to step in and remove governments we do not like, or who are brutal against their people?

If it is, and it certainly seems so as we have done the same in both Iraq and Libya, how do we make the decision as to which countries we will help? Or, in other words, why Iraq and Libya, but not Darfur and Syria?

It is time our political leaders put forth some sort of cohesive policy that we can understand and the world can expect...

dmarks said...

One less nation governed by the tyranny of socialism. Good show, Mr. President!

Shaw Kenawe said...

The malcontented righties have been calling what happened in Libya, "Obama's war."

I wonder, if all continues to go well in Libya, will they call it "Obama's victory?"

Of course they won't. Nothing this president does meets with their approval, even when he got bin Laden, they gave Bush the credit, will they do so again?

I think Mr. Obama has been correct in not playing to the crazies on both ends of the political spectrum, but in doing what he believes is right for America.

I think he handled this in just the right way. The Libyans liberated themselves with the help from NATO. This gives more Arab countries under dictators courage to do the same.

Bravo to the Libyan rebels and good going to Mr. Obama.

Shaw Kenawe said...


The tyranny of socialism?

So the people of Norway, Sweden, Finnland, Denmark, Canada, Japan, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, and Britain, just to mention a few, all live under "tyranny?"

I'm sure they'd all be interested to hear you tell that to citizens of those countries who don't go bankrupt and even die because they have the misfortune of having a catastrophic illness like people do in this country.

That's where the real tyranny lies, my friend. The tyranny of angry rightwing people who believe that children do not deserve to be protected from catastrophic illnesses that force their families to beg for funds to cover their hospitalizations and medicines.

The tyranny of a loud and angry faction that wants to now repeal a health care law that served those children and adults.

Tyranny indeed.

dmarks said...

Shaw: I part company with what appears to be most Republicans, and also with the pro-Khadaffi Kucinich left and have generally sided with the President all along.

"I think he handled this in just the right way"

Generally yes. But of course in hindsight maybe fewer mistakes could have been made.

As for the tyranny of socialism, Norway etc succeed because they are actually hardly any more socialist than the US, when you look at the big picture. The countries you named are a lot less socialist than (former) Libya, Syria, North Korea, etc, and are thus hardly tyrannical.

Shaw Kenawe said...


I guess I just didn't understand your remark or how it applied to the Libyan subject.

I think I would have understood better had you just said one less nation governed by a strong-man dictator.

dmarks said...

Nothing wrong with mentioning the abhorrent political philosophy he subscribes to.

Infidel753 said...

DM: The US hardly "stepped in to remove a government". The Libyan people revolted against Qaddhafi and, when his brutality in response became intolerable, appealed for help from the West. The intervention in response has been mostly limited to air support and mostly a French-British initiative, not an American one.

If the Syrians similarly appeal for outside help, I'd support providing it. As with Qaddhafi, but even more so, we have a national interest in the end of the Asad regime.

Dmarks: Qaddhafi was not a socialist (even if he used the word) but a kleptocrat. He embezzled Libya's wealth and provided far less in the way of social services than that wealth could have paid for, if properly administered.

The countries Shaw listed are indeed socialist in that they all have universal health care and a much more generous social safety net than we do, funded through much more progressive taxes. When I advocate socialism for the US, that's what I'm talking about.

If there is tyranny in western Europe, it's the tyranny of the undemocratic European Union, which has forced country after country to adopt austerity policies in the face of already-high unemployment, prioritizing deficit reduction over job creation -- like the Republicans here.

dmarks said...

Infidel said: "DM: The US hardly "stepped in to remove a government"."

I know. It is like you are quoting me. Where did I say that? I agree with the rest of your summary. Whatever your argument is on that part, it's not with me.

"Dmarks: Qaddhafi was not a socialist (even if he used the word) but a kleptocrat."

So? That is typical socialism (a system in which the ruling elites control the means of production).

Check Wikipedia "Types of Socialism": Islamic socialism is the political ideology of Libya's Muammar al-Gaddafi, former Iraqi president Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad and of the Pakistani leader of Pakistan Peoples Party.... You can't go denying socialist leaders are socialist just because you don't like them.

"The countries Shaw listed are indeed socialist..."

Yes, but they have some limits on socialism so most of the economy remains controlled by the people, not the state.

"If there is tyranny in western Europe, it's the tyranny of the undemocratic European Union, which has forced country after country to adopt austerity policies..."

These countries have squandered so much money in an unsustainable fashion and have caused this problem themselves.

" the face of already-high unemployment, prioritizing deficit reduction over job creation -- like the Republicans here."

Both are necessary. If you want to look at which party opposes jobs creation, look at the efforts of the Obama administration to keep people from good paying jobs, jobs that Obama will likely force to go offshore due to this action.

Infidel753 said...

Dmarks: "DM" refers to Dave Miller, as is clear from the fact that I started responding to you by name two paragraphs later.

Octopus said...

Dmarks: "Check Wikipedia "Types of Socialism" ..."

There is no reputable professor teaching at an accredited university who would accept Wiki as an authoritative reference in any submitted paper. It would earn you an instant FAILING GRADE.

Your misuse of political concepts and terminology is naive and inept, especially your inability to understand the distinction between dictatorships versus modern social democracies, between forms of governance versus enacted legislation. I suggest you start where most college freshman put on their training wheels ... by reading Eugen Weber's Varieties of Fascism (1964).

Characterizing healthcare and social benefits as socialism, communism, fascism, or any kind of "ism" is bogus inasmuch as these constitute enacted legislation passed by duly elected representatives. Read: “Will of the people.” Over 80+ percent of the electorate approve of Medicare and Social Security; yet there are fringe candidates on YOUR SIDE of the political spectrum who regard these as “unconstitutional” or forms of “socialism,” a term more often used as an epithet these days than one having real meaning. Just because they say it does not make it so; and I do not appreciate when terms, which once upon a time had precise definitions, are now brandished by village idiots carrying pitchforks.

These days, it is all a matter of “identity” politics. Mitt Romney, for instance, thinks corporations are people. Oh really!! Do corporations have the right to vote? Do corporations have your health and retirement interests in mind … or merely their bottom lines? If someone from your side of political spectrum speaks the word “socialism,’ you lockstep in synchrony without forethought. Have you bothered asking yourself where these talking points come from? From voters and real people? Or from special interest fringe groups? One of these days, you should honestly ask yourself which side of your bread gets buttered.

dmarks said...

Wiki only confirms the obvious: that there are many branches of socialism, most of which are quite fascistic.

"Characterizing healthcare and social benefits as socialism, communism, fascism, or any kind of "ism" is bogus"

Social benefits are one thing. Having industry controlled by the ruling elites is another.

I favor solutions to healthcare problems which expand coverage without bringing everything into government control.

"Your misuse of political concepts and terminology is naive and inept"

It is rather well researched. and your above sentence is a mere playfround insult.

"Have you bothered asking yourself where these talking points come from?"

Of course not. I do not use talking points, or care for them. Let those obsessed with them worry about that.