Free Markets, Free People

Is a “humanitarian crisis” developing in Libya?

One of the stated goals of this war on Libya has been to “avert a humanitarian crisis”.  But the Washington Post seems to believe such a crisis is now being precipitated there:

Aid organizations scrambled Wednesday to prepare for large-scale relief operations in Libya, as fears grew of a potential humanitarian crisis in a key city besieged by government forces.

International military forces on Wednesday stepped up attacks on government troops in Misurata, 131 miles east of Tripoli. The airstrikes seemed to bring a temporary respite from the fighting that had raged for six days between forces loyal to Moammar Gaddafi and rebels, as government tanks retreated from the city center.

But after nightfall, the tanks returned and resumed their attacks, according to a doctor at the city’s main hospital. “They are shelling everywhere,” he said by telephone.

Patients were being treated on the floor, medical supplies were falling short, fuel for the generator was running low, and water had been cut off, said the doctor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared retaliation by Libyan forces.

What I’d guess the coalition will learn eventually is you can’t stop what is going on in Libya from 30,000 feet, no matter how many coalition members and aircraft you use.  He who is on the ground, and controls it, determines who can be on the ground with him. 

Trying to sort “white from red” as one of the DoD briefers termed it (civilians = white/Gadhafi troops = red) is exceedingly hard, especially in an urban area.  While it may be clear that the red guys are shooting up the place, they’re mixed in with the white meaning any strike against them has a very great possibility of killing a whole bunch of civilians.

U.S. and allied warplanes on Wednesday aimed their attacks on Gaddafi’s ground forces in Misurata and other key cities but were constrained by fears that strikes in heavily built-up areas could cause civilian deaths.

“It’s an extremely complex and difficult environment,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Gerard Hueber, the chief of staff for the coalition.

So that speaks to the limits of what the present plan (pure “no-fly zone”) can accomplish, especially considering the “no boots on the ground” promise by most of the coalition members, to include the US.  Or so we’ve been told numerous times. 

International aid organizations have been unable to deliver relief goods to Misurata and other contested towns. Asked whether the U.S. military might play a role in distributing emergency relief, one American official said, “All options are on the table.” He declined to comment further.

Oh. Wait.  I thought that option was definitely off the table.  Mission creep?  Or maybe not, since no one has yet to be able to define the mission in any clear and understandable way.  Not the goals of the UN resolution – the mission of the US military committed to the war in Libya. 

~McQ

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33 Responses to Is a “humanitarian crisis” developing in Libya?

  • Have Japan covered do we?  All squared away there now?  No Humanitarian crisis I suppose.
     
    Funny, day after day after day of the Japanese video, ships laying in the middle of downtown areas, wreckage, 10′s of thousands dead, Fukushima reactors, cold weather on refugees, lack of water, lack of food….poof – crisis no more, we bombed Libya.
     
    I know where we SHOULD be focusing our energies – Libya is barely a sideshow by comparison.

    • Key concept to help you grasp this dichotomy…
       
      White man’s burden.  This is N. Africa.  It is a socialist state.
       
      Japan is Asians (overachievers), who are dominantly capitalists.  No sympathy from the Collective

      • Japan is Asians (overachievers), who are dominantly capitalists.  No sympathy from the Collective.

        That’s my impression too.

      • I’m astounded frankly – I note in reports they are saying the number of dead & missing (probably dead), is triple the number from the 1995 quake, but not a single comment about humanitarian aid, other than to note there is a shortage of water & food on store shelves, etc.
         
        WTF?
         
        Not to be crass, but Libya’s infrastructure will be largely intact when this is done, their problem is supply, and frankly a city under siege, to break it more quickly, you cut off supply and force what can only be described as a humanitarian crisis on the population to encourage the defending force to surrender the city.
         
        Japan?  They’ll be rebuilding for years, the damage in the hundreds of billions, the loss of life immense.
         
        But I guess the news cycle has moved on, Japan, old news, we’re more interested in, and it appears the President is more interested in, pretending you can blow things up from the air in another country on an ill advised pretension that you can overthrow another leader through application of air-power while claiming you aren’t trying to do that, or maybe you are, but you’re really not, what day is it?
         
        All things considered another adventure we cannot afford, and is bound for no good ending.
        Helping, we don’t know who, in order to accomplish we don’t know what, other than we think maybe when it’s over Khaddafi will be dead or gone.
         
        Wow, I’m impressed with the guys who came up with this idea.  They must have advanced degrees from expensive schools and be experienced in massively wishful delusion effective foreign policy.

        • The funny thing (funny “odd”) here is that Japan WILL do well, even without a lot of aid from others (which is not to say we should be callous to the needs there).  Individually, we should help.
           
          Conversely, the people in Libya MAY really require help to barely survive.  It is well-established that using starvation as a weapon in Africa is just fine (the norm).  I expect nothing better from GaDaffy.

          • Humanitarian aid.
             
            In order to do any good, has to reach the populace, which is under siege.  To deliver it, we have to lift the siege, which is not going to happen via a bombing campaign.  As scumbags throughout the world have learned, you can largely avoid American bombs by placing yourself in the living room of the people you’re oppressing.
             
            I agree with Bruce, I smell oncoming mission creep.
             
            Boots on the ground, we can’t be in the air overhead all the time.  If a No-fly zone were all that is required, we wouldn’t have needed to do Iraq a second time in 2003.
             
            We’ve just agreed to utilize what we know personally is a failed strategy for removing an unwanted government.

          • Certainly true from our lessons in Africa under Balless Bill Clinton.  I take exception to none of your points.
            Another concern; if we feed people, who are we feeding?  Would we be feeding al Qaeda?
            So, would our troopers, providing security for food distribution, be IED fodder?  The tragic elements abound…

          • IED’s and our feeding our ‘friends’
             
            Yurch – correct.  Like the Obama Presidency, the possibilities just keep getting better and better.
             
            Maybe light will dawn on MarbleHead and they’ll get the UAE to belly up with some ground forces to deliver the aid  Hard to justify killing fellow muslims with IED’s.

          • Seems to be little problem in Iraq.  Muslims killing Muslims with anything that comes to hand, in the name of terrorism to destabilize the country.  AQ is still there.
            A Muslim security force protecting food distribution would be killed with great alacrity by a ruthless faction intent on using food as a weapon.  Not.  A.  Problem.

          • Well, but of course, if they were ‘good’ Muslim’s they’d be part of Al Queda wouldn’t they.  So easy and saves Allah the problem of sorting them out.

          • http://maps.foundationcenter.org/japan/rss/

            Japan is actually getting quite a lot.  And it’s mostly the EVIL corporations that are leading the way.

    • Amazing, isn’t it, what a little light military intervention can do to a nuclear crisis?
      One minute, the world is facing nuclear meltdown armageddon to rank with – ooh, Three Mile Island at the very least, and quite possibly Chernobyl. A few (shockingly expensive) missile strikes over Benghazi and Tripoli later, though, and the Japanese nuclear crisis has all but vanished from the face of the earth.

  • Plus it seems likely that the coalition will do enough to hold the civil war to a simmering boil, but not enough to win. Over the long run, more civilians will be killed than if we went in to win at the outset or let Qadaffi alone to his butchering.

    • As I noted yesterday WRT good ol’ Mach (Machiavelli)…”when you strike a king, you must kill him”…the “civilized” notion of war has proven during the last part of the 20th Century to be a formula of getting lots of people killed, while NEVER resolving anything.
       
      I am of the school that says there should be very few rules to warfare.  You get in, kill who you need to kill VERY HARD, and get out.
       
      Warfare is one of the several areas of life that have been over-civilized, and in the process become paradoxically more deadly and less expensive in terms of toying with it.  Anybody who screws with us should know that they will die as a mathematical certainty.

      • Warfare is one of the several areas of life that have been over-civilized, and in the process become paradoxically more deadly and less expensive in terms of toying with it. Anybody who screws with us should know that they will die as a mathematical certainty.

        They need a Taste of Armageddon.

  • Mission creep?

    Was that a sly euphemism for Obama…???

  • President Reagan fired missiles on Libya in the 1980s, and named his mission Operation El Dorado Canyon, a name that “sounds like some serious desert ass kicking.”
    As for Odyssey Dawn?
    “That’s not a military operation,” Colbert said. “That’s a Carnival cruise ship.”

    if they are sending in a Carnival cruise ship, there must be.

  • How much bloood does Warmonger Obama have on his hands now?

    • Nothing he’ll lose any sleep over man.
       
      Any deaths are an annoyance as they might detract from his greatness, not a tragedy.  I look at his response to Fort Hood as my guide for how he handles other people’s deaths.

  • Humanitarian crisis? Like Somalia, where we also worked under UN auspices? What could go wrong?

     Obviously we have greater National Interests in Libya than in Japan.

    Every time I read about this cluster$^*) my blood pressure spikes. I’m too old for this s#^$.

    The only thing that limiting this operation to air strikes (I think we can dispense with the fiction of ‘no-fly zone’) is accomplishing is to drag the process out, creating more misery, death, and destruction in the long run.  

  • 1. Qaddafi was a fossil and Obama breathed new life into him. Now he’ll be dangerous even after he’s dead.

    2. What an amazing coincidence that the action in Libya has fallen across the one-year anniversary of ObamaCare, an unhappy first birthday indeed. Libya, not the much more consequential, for Americans, ObamaCare disaster, has owned the news cycle.

    3. Did the community organizer organize conservatives with his predicate statements early in the month about how Qaddafi needed to go? We know that all that it takes to set the Left off on one of its chases is a few well-chosen key words. Has Obama learned how to set the right off on a chase as well?

  • Aid organizations scrambled Wednesday to prepare for large-scale relief operations in Libya, as fears grew of a potential humanitarian crisis in a key city besieged by government forces.

    Oh, sweet jeebus.  I’m having flashbacks to the early ’90s when MiniTru pounded us with these sorts of headlines with regard to Somalia.  Most of us remember how THAT ended.  Sadly, I’m pretty sure that the libs (especially the “Valkyries”* and The Dear Golfer) DON’T remember it.  All they can think is, “ZOMG!  HUMANITARIAN CRISIS ON CNN!!!  AND ON OUR WATCH!!!! WE GOTTA DO SOMETHING!!!!!  SEND IN THE MARINES TO… TO…. TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!!!”

    huxley[I]t seems likely that the coalition will do enough to hold the civil war to a simmering boil, but not enough to win. Over the long run, more civilians will be killed than if we went in to win at the outset or let Qadaffi alone to his butchering.

    Yep.  Just like Somalia.  And Iraq under the NFZ / OFF idiocy that we tried all through the ’90s.  As Ragspierre notes, war (for the western powers, anyway) has gotten too civilized: we’re so busy trying to limit “collateral damage” that we wind up causing more because the war drags on and on.

    Martin McPhillipsQaddafi was a fossil and Obama breathed new life into him. Now he’ll be dangerous even after he’s dead.

    It will be of interest to see how this plays out.  If we DON’T get rid of GaDaffy, will his stature in the region be enhanced as the great Arab leader who spat in Uncle Sam’s eye?

    Rush had a good point about all of this, too.  GaDaffy folded like a house of cards for Reagan and Bush.  To The Dear Golfer, he is defiant.  He knows an empty suit when he sees one, too.

    Finally, let’s throw this gem of idiocy into the mix.  Here we are, trying with might and main and Tomahawks to get rid of the loathesome, murderous, horrible, he’s-gotta-go-NOW dictator GaDaffy^.  Yet, A MONTH AGO, The Dear Golfer asked the Congress to INCREASE our military aid to that same maniacal despot.

    Sort of makes Rummy’s years-old handshake with Saddam pale, doesn’t it?

    —–

    (*) Seriously: this is how that twit MoDo is referring to the Hilldabeast and the other hags who allegedly goaded The Dear Golfer into doing this.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/23/opinion/23dowd.html?_r=1

    (^) Stealing that from Ragspierre.

    • You shoule bracket the question of Obama’s competency (“empty suit”). He’s not even interested in meeting a normative test of his competency. So, dwelling on that is to bite on the head fake. These people are about power and exercising it. Power is their competency.

    • I also suggested “moonpony Valkyries” for a new name for the operation.  You know, after the “ladies” advising Obama.

  • And off topic – but finally some good damn news.
     
    Texas Voter Id

  • Syria killed at least 40 protestors today in a brutal crackdown.

    So my question to Baracky is when do we launch the tomahawks at Baby Asaad?

  • UAE has a population of around 7.5 million. Qatar has less than a million. They are across the street from Iran. They won’t be sending any ground forces I think.
    But by God, the MSM can trumpet Arab involvement in the coalition. Remember, Poland was a joke, but Qatar sending fighters isn’t.

  • When Japan is rebuilt it will be beter than before. When Libya is rebuilt it will still be a miserable shithole in the desert.

  • In the first word, the first letters had to either be between JS and JZ; NS and NZ; or OA and OF. The second word could be practically anything, provided it wasn’t offensive.

    Hmmm .. anything beginning with O D would work.
    How about Obama’s D… ?
    Yes, Yes.  Operation Obama’s Doom