During today’s show in the 2nd hour we talked about Libya and the prospect of Gaddafi. Unlike last week when the question was: “Will Gaddafi still be there next week?” This weeks question was: “At the end of the month where are we, civil war still on, rebels win or Gaddafi wins?
The general consensus was that the war continues. I however maintain that unless the international community acts by the end of the month Gaddafi will have won the war. In a two-hour show with other topics to deal with its harder to explain in detail, but here are my reasons:
1. There are dictators and there are dictators:
A lot of people made the mistake seeing that because Egypt fell without excessive bloodshed Libya would as well. They made the mistake of confusing an American Ally with troops trained by Americans and supplied by Americans with a lone wolf who is opposed to America. Mubarek was in fact a dictator but because of American training and American influence there were lines that he and his troops would not cross. Gaddafi is a wholly independent dictator. The only influence we had was his fear of George Bush which removed his WMD’s from the picture years ago. Anyone who thought Gaddafi was unwilling to kill his own people hasn’t followed Gaddafi.
2. Money talks:
Libya has been awash in petro dollars for decades and Gaddafi has invested it wisely, in terms of staying in power. Weapons, ammo and mercenaries are bought and paid. Additionally thanks to the use of millions of dollars spread around the international and academic community, professors who found it easy to critique the US found it even easier to make excuses for Gaddafi.
The international community has known for decades what Gaddafi is and what he does, why then the sudden desire to have him removed and the condemnation that have been ringing out? Well reason #1 is they believed he was on the way out and wanted to be sure to be on the winning side (they didn’t pay attention to item #1) but now that the winning side is not clear-cut you are hearing an awful lot of talk but very little action this is right out of Yes Minister
Part of the exchange ties down exactly what I think is going to happen:
Bernard: “What are we going to do to help them?”
Bernard: “But what if St. Georges appeals to us?”
Dick: “Then we give them every support, short of help.”
and this earlier part of the exchange explains why:
Sir Humphrey: “…facts complicate things, all that the press, the people and their elected leaders want to know is who are the goodies and who are the baddies”
Dick: “The problem is the interests of Britain nearly always involve doing deals with people the public think are the baddies…”
Sir Humphrey: “and not helping the goodies occasionally when it doesn’t help us.”
As it has become apparent that the rebels will not win an easy victory we can count on the international community to stall until they figure out who will win, then take that side.
4. The apology tour redux:
One of the side effects of the American apology tour is the determination that the US is going to stay out of the way. This more than anything else was the basis of the Nobel Peace Price for President Obama. President Bush’s push for democracy put an awful lot of people in a spot where they had to take positions on things they would rather not. The prize for President Obama was for not putting people in that awkward spot. Combine this with the president Obama’s political background (his allies are charter members of the blame America first school that considers any American military intervention as a sign of imperialism) and any kind of intervention becomes awkward. We will undoubtedly hear the “right” words from the president but it is unlikely that it will be more than that. The only possible exception is if he starts paying an excessive political price for inaction. The person here to watch is Sarah Palin. If she makes pronouncements concerning the rights and the protection of the Libyan people and they catch on, watch the White House react so the president doesn’t appear to be less of a leader than the former governor who is supposed to be not a serious political threat.
5. If you come for one of us, you come for all of us:
As the US has moved into the background, China and other nations have moved forward. China has already taken steps to make sure the Jasmine Revolution doesn’t take off of the ground. Hugo Chavez is backing Gaddafi and Iran is making noises about interference. All of these nations are dictatorships and either produce oil, control access to oil or have huge economic clout. It is in their interest for any kind of revolutionary spirit to be stopped. When it was Egypt they let it go, after all it was an American ally, but with revolts and the idea of democracy spreading the danger becomes to great to them, so presto, their oil and economic clout is used to stall or prevent intervention by the international community. (see #3).
6. Preparing for the worst:
Libya’s air force is made up of roughly 18,000 men and women, most of whom are staunch supporters of the regime. The elite military branch recruited from followers who were 100 percent loyal to the regime, and members of Gadhafi’s Gadhadfa tribe and its closely allied Magariha tribe were given preference during the selection process for recruits. They have shown a blind obedience to their commander in chief. Only a handful of pilots and officers have switched sides to join the opposition.
As for the rebels:
For now, it is also unclear just how many of the 45,000 ground troops have defected to the opposition. The fact that entire regiments have apparently deserted in eastern Libya appears to have been something that Gadhafi correctly anticipated. Gadhafi has never trusted his army, because it was primarily made up of conscripts, many of whom belonged to tribes opposed to his own. “Gadhafi has retained significant elements of the army and lost the elements he was always afraid he could lose, those affiliated with tribes he had targeted,” George Joffé, an expert on North Africa at Cambridge University, told the New York Times.
Bottom line, unless the west is able to resist the pressure or unless he is taken out personally I don’t see how Gaddafi loses this fight, declarations of republics not withstanding.
Update: In case it’s not clear, this is not what I want to happen, this is what I think will happen.