Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Libyan Motives

FLG noticed that Chris Petersen, over at Through a Glass Darkly, seems a bit perplexed by the international community's (IC) rush to see the Colonel in Libya gone.

He writes:
The best that I can surmise is that the IC has always been nervous that Qaddafi might backslide to his former ways so that when the rebels looked like they were going to achieve a quick victory the IC jumped at the opportunity to back the group that they believed would quickly topple Qaddafi. But it soon became clear that the rebels were not going to achieve victory on their own. Worse still, it looked as if Qaddafi would be successful in crushing the rebellion. This probability I believe made the IC quick to intervene. Why? Because they realized that if Qaddafi regained complete control of his country he wouldn't forget how quickly the IC abandoned him. From Qaddafi's point of view there would no longer be any incentive for him not to support (and conduct) terrorism, to pursue WMDs, to completely renationalize Libya's oil, to return to a harsh position against Israel, etc. In other words, Qaddafi's foreign policy would once again become troublesome, if not more so. Of course, the ostensible reason the IC decided to militarily intervene in the Libyan civil war is because of a human rights issue, namely, Qaddafi's brutal crackdown of protesters (clearly they weren't going to secure a UN resolution otherwise hence the requisite human rights language). But I don't believe it's the real reason. Though it was denied again and again, even by President Obama, the goal has always been regime change. Because again, I think they realized their folly and in order to ensure Qaddafi wouldn't return to power and once again become a menace to them the IC decided to intervene in the conflict. To sum up, the fear of a return of a Pre-Lockerbie Bombing Qaddafi is the principal reason why the IC wants Qaddafi gone and not because he was in violation of the UN's human rights charter.

FLG looked at this a bit differently. Basically, in FLG's view, the IC didn't drive this so much as the UK and France. The UK and France have, over the years and to greater and lesser extents, carried water for/turned a blind eye toward the Libyans. The most obvious examples that come to mind are banning the US from using French airspace during the '86 bombing, the UK pressuring Scotland to release the Lockerbie bomber, and generally allowing the sons to cavort around London and Paris, including allowing Saif to earn a PhD from the London School of Economics.

Now, they did this because of the oil, but they rationalised by saying Qaddafi had reformed himself. When it became clear that he hadn't and was going to hang onto power by any means necessary, including large amounts of violence, then they couldn't abide by their rationalisation any longer.

Anyway, so it was the UK and France. They then got acquiescence from Russia and China because they realised, correctly, that the Brits and French would have a hell of a problem projecting power even across the Med. So, it would be no big deal. Any resolution wouldn't really ahve teeth. Where Russia and China miscalculated, FLG thinks, is that they assumed the US would act rationally -- no real strategic interest, already fighting two wars, economic problems at home -- and wouldn't get involved. They were wrong.

Regardless of the outcome, FLG still maintains the US shouldn't have gotten involved. As far as he's concerned, taking action against Syria makes more sense and we haven't even hinted at that. (Just to be clear, however, FLG isn't in favor of taking action in Syria either.)

To summarise:
FLG sees this entire intervention as the result of the UK and France being embarrassed about being taken for suckers by a crazy mad man and his offspring.


Anonymous said...

never underestimate the role of embarrassment in world affairs. dave.s.

Chris Petersen said...

Your analysis is probably spot on though I'm still astonished at how quickly events evolved and what appeared to me at least to be a lack of stringent reflection on the part of the IC in regards to the revolution in Libya.

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