By: Alf, Katie, Jessica, Rachel, and Anne
Last week, five bloggers set out to test what would happen if each of us watched a different TV news show with a different political slant for three consecutive nights and then came together to write about what is happening in Libya based only on what we learned through our separate news channels. The TV news shows included in our experiment were: BBC, Russia Today, Al Jazeera, CNN, and the Colbert Report. Using a PiratePad, we collaboratively wrote the following piece. The result is this, perhaps perceptive, perhaps puzzling, post. Enjoy!
“Turd Sandwich” in Libya: What’s In this Thing?
There is not a lot of information to indicate that anyone connected with the current situation in Libya knows what the US is doing and why the US is doing it in Libya and not anywhere else. When your Commander In Chief calls the operation a “turd sandwich,” someone repeats this to a reporter, and the best everyone else can come up with is “kinetic activity” that is a “time-limited, scope limited military action in concert with our military partners,” you’re in pretty deep turd.
This should be a progressive poster child for a war. The U.N. likes it! We’ll let our allies do most of the work! Evil, rich dictator! But the limited available information about what we are doing and why is worrisome. At times it seems we are supporting rebels that literally shoot their rockets in the wrong direction-although this is not confirmed! Some reports say that what caused the airstrike “oopsie” was an infiltration from Gadaffi’s troops into enemy territory, while others do say that rebel shots were fired not at the aircraft but at the air in celebration. That said, despite bad weather setbacks in identifying targets for our airstrikes, the NATO coalition has succeeded in reducing Gaddafi’s military capabilities by about 25% (source: top US military official Adm Mike Mullen). It’s a victory — kind of: The ratio rebel soldier, Gadaffi, is still around. In other rebel strongholds, rebels have continued to make advances and then retreats. This should not be a surprise. The lack of organization in the rebel group should make us wonder why NATO was so quick to support them. Some of the videos give a pretty pathetic image: people standing around stripped tanks looking around, not knowing what to do.
We’re intervening here to stop a government from further violating human rights. –## definitely not disorganized. At least not the military. Look at the change in military strategy, which has transitioned from using large tank convoys to moblle units. People have abused Obama for being overly pragmatic and not all that inspiring when admitting that we can’t always intervene in places where bad things happen but we could here so it’s good we did. Obama’s forthrightness is admirable, but what he’s saying sucks. If we’re going to put conditions on our moral responsibility, why intervene here at all? The answer is because we couldn’t do nothing and save any face at all. It’s just kind of depressing.
At least Libya’s diplomats are taking a more direct, less waffling stance: Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa resigned and then fled to the UK, choosing to get out of the situation even though he was running right into the arms of the local governments, who really, really wanted to question him about the Lockerbie Bombing. Furthermore, the lines of communication between Gadaffi forces and rebel forces have been opened, even if both parties do not trust each other.
The CIA’s involvement is unnerving, however. It seems likely that its involvement will cause more rather than less of a negative impact. And when your former ambassador doesn’t know better than to take an interview with Stephen Colbert, there’s no hope for your defected politicians. Obama got pushed into something icky, messy, and hard to swallow. And he knows it. This feels a little better than having a blind crusader at the helm, but honestly, not all that much.
What about the rest of the world? France has said that it is ready to arm the rebels. The Russians, on the other hand, are staying firm on the UN resolution that the aim is to protect the population, not to arm it.
“I’m a Rebel, Who Are You?”- A Look at Humanitarian Intervention and the Rebels of Libya
The issues looming around humanitarian intervention never come down to what is right or what is wrong. Interventions of this magnitude tend to be sticky, and muddled– President Clinton could tell anyone that firsthand. In the case of Libya, the political players involved are countless, violent and non-violent alike.
So who are the rebels? There are a string of answers to that question. Ideals are conflicting within the “rebel group” because much to the international community’s dismay, radical Islamists, tribalists, royalists and secular middle class Western influence activists have very different ideals for political stability. And yet Ali Al-Essawi, leader of the Libya Transitional National Council seems to think differently. He seems to suggest that there is Anti-Gaddafi and Pro-Gaddafi, and that’s the end of it. And apparently there’s an urgency to spread the word: “This is a fight against Gaddafi, not each other.”
Removing danger, in the case of Libya, often begins with a dangerous resolution. The logic that has been utilized in the history of humanitarian intervention has been “use force to end force.” And NATO has done so thus far. Yet the implementation of the UN resolution on Libya has been a poorly executed farce with no substantial foresight. With Iraq and Afghanistan in our foreground, don’t we know that humanitarian intervention does not finish with the removal of the danger it intends to target? There is unfortunately so much entailed in the process and that is what seems to be vague in the United States’s position in Libya. The resolution was passed by 10 countries and abstained by 5, including China, Russia India, Brazil and Germany.
This should be apparent to the powers engaging in warfare in Libya because these are the same powers waging war in Afghanistan. There seems to be a lack of foresight in regard to political resolution. What the future holds for Libya seems to be a full-blown civil war. Radical Islamists engaged in the “rebel” fight are the individuals who have battle experience. This military resolution may precipitate a conflict of interests and a battle between rebel groups, once all in favor of an anti-Gaddafi regime.
As we move forward, “I’m a Rebel” may not mean much to Libyan individuals who are aboard the anti-Gaddafi bandwagon. The country’s political path looks murky while its violent future seems bright.