Free Markets, Free People
I just wanted to make that clear as we look at the Turkish jet shoot down and the fact that Turkey has invoked chapter 4 of the NATO treaty:
That is the provision that calls on NATO member countries to “consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened.” Turkey’s Islamist foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has announced that Turkey is calling for an emergency consultation of NATO members under Article 4 to consider a response to what it deems Syrian aggression.
Now the backstory, so you at least understand why this presents a possibility of NATO, and thus the US, being pulled into such an intervention (possibly willingly, I’ll get to that later). It comes from Andrew McCarty at PJ Media:
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a Sunni Islamic supremacist with longstanding ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Sunni supremacist organization. The Brotherhood is leading the mujahideen (called the “opposition” or the “rebels” by the mainstream media) that seeks to oust the Assad regime in Syria — dominated by the Alawites, a minority Shiite sect. Unsurprisingly, then, Turkey’s government has taken a very active role in abetting the Brotherhood’s operations against the Syrian regime, which have also been joined by al-Qaeda and other Sunni militants.
On Friday, a Turkish air force jet entered Syrian air space, and Assad regime forces shot it down. Turkey claims the jet “mistakenly” cruised over Syria, and that, by the time it was taken down, it was in international air space over the Mediterranean. One need carry no brief for Assad to conclude that, given the interventionist drum-beat for no-fly zones and direct military and logistical aid to the “opposition,” Syria rationally took the presence of a Turkish military aircraft in its air space as a provocation. Turkey insists it was not “spying” — that this was just an accident to which Syria overreacted. That would be a good argument if the regime were not under siege and if the Syrian and Turkish governments had not been exchanging hostile words (mostly, threats from Erdogan) for months. That, of course, is not the case.
Confused? Well don’t be. This is just another chapter in the eternal war between the Sunnis and Shiites and between the religious and secular. Turkey happens to be an Islamic Sunni enclave (some want you to believe the country is “secular” but it isn’t thanks to Erdogan) and Syria is ruled by a “secular” Shiite government which, by the way, is ideologically identical to Saddam’s Iraq. You know, the Syrian government headed by a man this US administration labeled as “a reformer” not so long ago? Well, it’s “under the bus” time for him.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia – that would be Wahhabist Saudi Arabia (Sunni) – have been arming the Syrian rebels along with who, oh yeah, the Muslim Brotherhood. And that has ended up seeing good old Al Qaeda show up on the rebel side, which apparently is fine with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Brotherhood.
The Obama administration, from its first days, has cozied up to the Muslim Brotherhood — both Brotherhood branches in the Middle East, and Brotherhood satellite organizations in the U.S., such as CAIR and the Islamic Society of North America. Obama has also been quietly supporting the Syrian mujahideen: coordinating with repressive Islamist governments in Turkey and Saudi Arabia to arm and train them, and reportedly dispatching the CIA to facilitate this effort. But it has thus far resisted calls for more overt participation — calls by pro-Brotherhood progressives in both parties for something along the lines of what Obama did in Libya, meaning: without congressional approval and toward the end of empowering virulently anti-Western Islamists.
There was no US interest in intervening in Libya but we did (we used R2P as the excuse and NATO as the tool). Syria, of course, would present orders of magnitudes more difficulty militarily. It is a much more sophisticated military power than was Libya.
The problem? Well while Obama may be reluctant to intervene alone, NATO might provide a perfect excuse/vehicle. And the benefits would be fairly obvious electorally. It would “change the subject” again. It would make him a “war time” president (yes, technically he is now, but A’stan isn’t “his” war so he doesn’t quite get the benefit public support for his continuation in office). And he could cite “treaty obligations” as a reason without having to go to Congress.
He also has the “good experience” of Libya as a sort of enticement to try the same thing again.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia make out rather well too. They get the crusaders to fight and die in their battle all so the Islamists can eventually take the prize. The US and NATO would end up fighting to help put Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood in charge in Syria.
Ironic? Uh, slightly.
Point: This is not a NATO or US fight. This is something that we should stay as far from as we can.
Politics, however, will be integral to any decision made at this point, at least in the US. Domestic electoral politics. What scares me is the possibility the Obama administration may conclude it is a good idea politically to use NATO to “change the subject” and make Obama a “war time President” hoping the advantages of that situation will make the difference in November. And it wouldn’t be a unilateral decision, but instead receive bi-partisan support as Sen. McCain and other GOP members have been outspoken in their desire to intervene.
Call me paranoid but I find nothing in my analysis that’s at all infeasible or improbable. In fact, having watched this administration at work, I consider it to be a completely possible scenario.
But, one has to ask, did it?
President Obama said his formal apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the burning of Korans by U.S. troops last week has "calmed things down" after the incident sparked an outbreak of violence across the country.
"We’re not out of the woods yet," Obama said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Bob Woodruff at the White House. "But my criteria in any decision I make, getting recommendations from folks who are actually on the ground, is what is going to best protect our folks and make sure that they can accomplish their mission."
Of course, the murder of two officers by an Afghan soldier in Kabul came after the apology. And, the riot in which hand grenades were thrown at the gate Forward Outpost Fortitude wounding 7 US Special Forces soldiers did as well. Finally, today’s murder of two US soldiers by their erstwhile Afghan compatriots again comes after the apology. The apology took place on or about the 23rd of February. The 4 deaths and 7 woundings afterward.
Hardly “calmed down”. But of course, much like the “saved jobs” claim, Obama can always claim the unprovable, and as usual, he has.
This actually points to a larger and growing problem. A problem that has been exacerbated by the President announcing a withdrawal date for our combat troops. The problem? The “green on blue” fratricide such as that seen during these Koran riots.
The growing divide between Afghan soldiers and their mentors has already been stretched to the breaking point after six days of violent and deadly protests over the Koran burning that have left around 30 dead, including four U.S. troops previously killed by Afghan soldiers or men in Afghan-security-force uniforms. The burning of Korans by foreign troops on one side and the killing of foreign troops by Afghan soldiers on the other have pushed the level of alienation between the two sides to what could be an all-time high.
The Saturday murders were only the latest of at least 22 similar killings that have occurred since last April. Smith says there have been at least 35 in the past 12 months, though NATO spokesman Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson refused to confirm that number. The Wall Street Journal reports that at least 77 coalition troops have been killed in the past five years in "green on blue" incidents, with around 57 of those having taken place since early 2010. Smith is not sanguine about improving the situation, even as the allies pour more money and effort into training ever more locals. Says he: "You only ever rent an Afghan, you can’t buy one."
The Army published a study in May of 2011 that, if you read the conclusion, points to failure in regards to ever fielding a competent and able indigenous Afghan security force. The study, entitled “A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility” had this to say:
The report concludes that "the rapidly growing fratricide-murder trend committed by Afghan national security force [ANSF] personnel against NATO members" confirms the "ineffectiveness [of] our efforts in stabilizing Afghanistan, developing a legitimate and effective government, battling the insurgency, gaining the loyalty, respect and friendship of the Afghans [and] building the ANSFs into legitimate and functional organizations." The report says that these complaints and murders challenge the usefulness of the "partnering" concept. "This is all the more a paradox given [NATO's] assumption of and planned reliance [on] the [ANSF] to be able to take over the security burden before it can disengage from this grossly prolonged conflict."
Much of what is happening can be tied to the absurd notion that announcing your withdrawal well in advance will not have negative effects. Of course, the feeling of abandonment by the Afghan government and armed forces are just one of the many negative effects. And, for the less stable and easily influenced among them, it has translated itself into the murder of American soldiers who are there, ostensibly, to help the ANSF.
What the Obama administration has managed to do in its three years is completely reverse the gains of the previous years in Afghanistan, push the government of Afghanistan toward accommodation with the Taliban and condemned those American troops we leave behind to mentor the ANSF to a very dangerous role in which their lives are just as threatened by their allies as the enemy.
Obama ought to apologize for that.
Seems to me to be much like the Gaddafi era minus Gaddafi:
Thousands of people, including women and children, are being illegally detained by rebel militias in Libya, according to a report by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Many of the prisoners are suffering torture and systematic mistreatment while being held in private jails outside the control of the country’s new government.
The document, seen by The Independent, states that while political prisoners being held by the Gaddafi regime have been released, their places have been taken by up to 7,000 new “enemies of the state”, "disappeared" in a dysfunctional system, with no recourse to the law.
Now I know the apologists for the “new” government will say this is all part of the transition from one era to the next. But in fact it is not. It is Libya. It is now completely dysfunctional, not partially. And there are no wonderful democratic traditions and institutions to pull it out of the morass either.
Instead, it has devolved into a land area in which tribal feuding is in full swing and armed militias now rule.
Ban Ki-moon also presents a grim scenario of the growing power of the armed militias that control of the streets of many towns, including those of the capital, Tripoli, and the settling of internecine feuds through gun battles resulting in deaths and injuries.
Meanwhile the lawlessness has resulted in the vast majority of the police force not being able to return to work. In the few places where they have been back on duty under experienced officers, such as Tripoli, their role has been restricted largely to directing traffic.
The scope of escalating strife, inside the country as well as the wider region, is highlighted by the caches of weapons abandoned by the regime and subsequently looted. These include shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, known as Manpads, capable of bringing down commercial airliners.
The report says that “while political prisoners held by the Gaddafi regime have been released, an estimated 7,000 detainees are currently held in prisons and makeshift detention centres, most of which are under the control of revolutionary brigades, with no access to due process in the absence of a functioning police and judiciary.”
Of particular worry was the fate of women being held for alleged links with the regime, often due to family connections, sometimes with their children locked up alongside them.
“There have also been reports of women held in detention in the absence of female guards and under male supervision, and of children detained alongside adults,” says the report.
A number of black Africans were lynched following the revolution following claims, often false, that they were hired guns for the Gaddafi regime. The city of Tawerga, mainly comprised of residents originally from sub-Saharan countries, was largely destroyed by rebel fighters from neighbouring Misrata. The port city had withstood a prolonged and brutal siege in the hands of the regime forces during which, it is claimed, fighters from Tawerga were particularly aggressive and brutal.
The report says that ”sub-Saharan Africans, in some cases accused or suspected of being mercenaries, constitute a large number of the detainees. Some detainees have reportedly been subjected to torture and ill treatment. Cases have been reported of individuals being targeted because of the colour of their skin.”
The document continues: “Tawergas are reported to have been targeted in revenge killings, or taken by armed men from their homes, checkpoints and hospitals, and some allegedly later abused or executed in detention. Members of the community have fled to various cities across Libya.”
Wonderful stuff. Just gets your freedom and liberty loving bones stirring doesn’t it? Loaded with weapons and with scores to settle, militias are now out and about carrying out whatever orders the tribal leaders have decided are necessary.
That’s democracy, right? Not to mention enough weapons looted to threaten regional security even more than it already has, many of which will most likely reach the hands of Hezbollah and Hamas.
Well done, NATO.
After months, not weeks, of a NATO bombing campaign, it appears that the regime of Libyan strong-man Moammar Gaddafi is about to end. Rebels have advanced into Tripoli, the capital, and Gaddafi is said to be cornered in his compound. When last heard from his advice to his remaining supporters was to take to the streets:
In a brief broadcast on state television, Gaddafi made what came across as a desperate plea for support. “Go out and take your weapons,” the Libyan leader said. “All of you, there should be no fear.”
But the opposite seems to be what his loyalists are doing:
But reporters traveling with rebel forces said Gaddafi’s defenses were melting away faster than had been expected. There were reports of entire units fleeing as rebels entered the capital from the south, east and west, and his supporters inside the city tearing off their uniforms, throwing down their weapons and attempting to blend into the population.
A Tripoli-based activist said the rebels had secured the seaport, where several hundred reinforcements for the opposition had arrived by boat, and were in the process of evicting Gaddafi loyalists from the Mitiga air base on the eastern edge of the city.
There are also reports that a safe haven is or is still being negotiated for Gaddafi. South Africa has been identified as a participant in those negotiations with Zimbabwe and the Congo as two possible destinations.
Obviously Gadaffi’s reign is within hours, if not days of ending.
The question then becomes, “now what”? While this is supposedly a flowering of the Arab spring, there have been disturbing reports of Islamist radicals in leadership positions within the Rebel alliance. Additionally, there have been various councils and groups claiming leadership. Once Gadaffi is ousted and the capitol taken, the hard part begins – governing. Who or what band or group is likely to emerge as the leadership group. While there is a lot of talk about “revolutionary youth”, etc., in cases like this the most ruthless and best organized group usually take charge.
The “Twitter revolution” started by “revolutionary youth” in Egypt has since yielded to the Muslim Brotherhood – a well organized Islamist group which has seemingly reached an accommodation with the army and will apparently take power there after the next election. The secular and democratic activists have been pushed to the side.
There’s also the question of “now what” for the West. Does NATO tip its hat to the rebels and wish them good luck, or does it plan on some sort of post-Gaddafi role? France has a historic interest in Libya. Will European nations simply walk away or will they attempt to help craft a solution in Libya?
Finally, is the collapse of the Gadaffi regime a vindication of Obama’s “leading from behind” strategy? It certainly forced NATO to do more than has in quite some time and the campaign got the desired result. Does that make it a good strategy for the future, or a one-of-a-kind campaign that got lucky given the weakness of the target and the geography of the nation?
All of these questions and more will be answered in the next few weeks. One has to wonder how many of the answers will come as a surprise.
In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss concerns about Turkey, and the debt limit.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
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So, where’s the UN, NATO and R2P? I mean, this should be bad enough to get them involved given the Libya scenario:
Syrian tanks took up positions outside the city of Hama on Saturday, where tens of thousands of people took to the streets to mourn the deaths of at least 65 protesters gunned down by security forces there the day before.
But wait, there’s more:
The government’s violent crackdown against a three-month-old popular uprising continued, with helicopter gunships killing 10 people in a neighboring province and residents of Hama bracing for a military assault that would be the first on the city since the government bombed it in 1982, killing at least 10,000 people.
Wow, that was enough to get Gadhafi the full might of the UN, NATO and the US to come down on him.
What is that? Is that the sound of hypocrisy I hear in DC, Europe and the UN? Inconsistency? Or just cluelessness?
So many were treated for gunshot wounds at local hospitals that blood supplies ran low, residents said. Throughout the night, loudspeakers on mosques normally used for calls to prayer urged people to donate blood.
Yeah, this isn’t anything like our illegal war in Libya, is it?
And mission creep continues apace because, as most military experts would have told you, you can’t change a government with a “no-fly zone” and only airpower.
French and British officials said this week that they were sending more than a dozen attack helicopters to allow for more precise ground attacks, particularly around Misurata, where loyalist forces continue to fire mortars and artillery despite rebel gains and heavy air attacks.
With no troops on the ground, NATO planners and pilots acknowledge that they often cannot pinpoint the shifting battle lines in cities like Misurata. “The front lines are more scattered,” said Col. L. S. Kjoeller, who commands four Danish F-16s flying eight daily strike missions from Sigonella air base in Sicily.
Unsaid in those two paragraphs, but reported elsewhere, are that groups of special operations types will be inserted to do targeting for the helicopter attack assets. Yes, “boots on the ground”.
And why is this supposed war of days taking months if not longer? Well, they obviously underestimated their foe and overestimated their capabilities. Also, they planned for one mission and tried to execute another (no-fly and regime change) and don’t have the assets necessary to accomplish that real mission). We’re now seeing them begin to understand that they may have bitten off more than they can chew – at least as they’re presently arrayed.
Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, the overall commander of NATO forces in the Mediterranean, said from his office in Naples that the allied mission has largely achieved its goal of protecting civilians, especially in eastern Libya, and has seriously damaged the Libyan military.
“Qaddafi will never be able to turn a large army on his people again, because it’s gone,” said Admiral Locklear, noting that the air campaign has wiped out more than half of Libya’s ammunition stockpiles and cut off most supply lines to forces in the field.
But the admiral acknowledged Colonel Qaddafi’s resiliency, and said that without sustained political and economic pressure as well, “the military piece will take a very long time.”
Not really – if its mission is to establish and enforce a no-fly zone as we were told in the beginning. And as is obvious, Adm. Locklear certainly isn’t talking days or weeks anymore. He’s talking months and possibly longer. Meanwhile, British papers are reporting the war of “days not weeks”, that their present visiting guest talked them into, is in the $1 billion to 1.5 billion pound range – a cost the debt ridden country can ill afford. Makes you wonder how much longer they’re willing to wage it (even as they escalate their presence with attack helicopters).
Nice mess you’ve got there Mr. Obama. So much for being against “dumb wars”, huh?
You probably remember it – it was to have a coalition of UN members establish a no-fly zone to keep the Libyan government under Gadhafi from using aircraft to kill civilians. Right? Then it was to hit tanks and artillery that were being used to kill (or endanger) civilians.
And what did Gadhafi’s forces do? Adapted. Made it much more difficult to do by using similar vehicles as the rebels and by moving into the urban areas.
So, now where are we? Well, NATO’s having a bit of a problem. In fact, NATO has discovered what any good infantryman could have told them:
NATO Brig. Gen. Mark van Uhm said his forces have destroyed more than 40 tanks and several armored personnel carriers in Misrata. However, there’s always concern of inadvertently harming civilians in such airstrikes, he said.
"There is a limit to what can be achieved by airpower to stop fighting in a city," said van Uhm.
Ya think? I have to wonder what they expected Gadhafi’s forces to do.
So, what’s a defensive alliance chartered to come to each others defense in case another members is attacked to do? Oh, here’s a good idea:
“We need a force from NATO or the United Nations on the ground now,” committee member Nouri Abdullah Abdulati told reporters Tuesday.
Abdulati said that the Judicial Committee’s signed request had been sent to the Transitional National Council in Benghazi, the de facto capital of the opposition-controlled east, but that no reply had been received. The council, the only link between Misurata and NATO commanders, has said that it does not want foreign troops in Libya.
“We did not accept any foreign soldiers on our land. But that was before we faced the crimes of Gaddafi,” Abdulati said Tuesday. “We are asking on the basis of humanitarian and Islamic principles for someone to come and stop the killing. The whole Arab world is calling for the intervention of the West for the first time in history.”
What a deal. But here’s my question – where’s the Arab League? Surely they could send in soldiers. In the past they were able to whip up any number of Arab forces to attack Israel. What, do “rebel” Libyans fear them more than the West? Is this a case where the West is actually the lesser of two evils?
Of course now, if the West and NATO don’t respond it will be because the West chose to desert these people and let them die. And if they do help, it will only be a matter of time before the same people demanding their presence to save their bacon are demanding the infidel soldiers quit their country post haste.
In the meantime, the UK is actually considering sending in troops to escort humanitarian relief convoys to Misurata. What happens when Gadhafi forces pop one of them?
Yeah, this is looking much like a “days not weeks” campaign.
Oh, one other little quote that caught my eye:
Adm. Giampaolo Di Paola, chairman of NATO’s military committee, said that even though the military alliance’s operations have done "quite significant damage" to the Libyan regime’s heavy weaponry, what Gadhafi has left is "still considerable."
Asked if more airpower is needed, Di Paola said any "significantly additional" allied contribution would be welcome.
Any question as to what ally Di Paola is referring?
I‘d love to tell you this comes as a surprise, but it doesn’t:
Less than a month into the Libyan conflict, NATO is running short of precision bombs, highlighting the limitations of Britain, France and other European countries in sustaining even a relatively small military action over an extended period of time, according to senior NATO and U.S. officials.
The shortage of European munitions, along with the limited number of aircraft available, has raised doubts among some officials about whether the United States can continue to avoid returning to the air campaign if Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi hangs on to power for several more months.
It helps you understand how incredibly dependent on the US Europe has become.
A war – a small war – and they run out of precision munitions in a month?
No wonder they’re almost able to pay for socialism (yeah, that’s caught up with them too).
Frankly, this is unacceptable. And of course, it will likely mean one thing:
So far, the NATO commander has not requested their deployment. Several U.S. military officials said they anticipated being called back into the fight, although a senior administration official said he expected other countries to announce “in the next few days” that they would contribute aircraft equipped with the laser-guided munitions.
Why? We have munitions we can give them, right?
European arsenals of laser-guided bombs, the NATO weapon of choice in the Libyan campaign, have been quickly depleted, officials said. Although the United States has significant stockpiles, its munitions do not fit on the British- and French-made planes that have flown the bulk of the missions.
Britain and France have each contributed about 20 strike aircraft to the campaign. Belgium, Norway, Denmark and Canada have each contributed six — all of them U.S.-manufactured and compatible with U.S. weaponry.
Given this little discovery, I’d guess NATO has some standardization to do? You know, that’s why we have standard size rounds, artillery shells, etc.
You’d think they’d have thought of this before (and yes, before someone informs me, France is not a member of NATO), wouldn’t you?
Not much new to report – stalemate continues. However what we seem to be finally learning is that the so-called “rebels” aren’t organized enough to do much of anything to force the situation:
Too little is known about Libya’s rebels and they remain too fragmented for the United States to get seriously involved in organizing or training them, let alone arming them, U.S. and European officials say.
U.S. and allied intelligence agencies believe NATO’s no-fly zone and air strikes will be effective in stopping Muammar Gaddafi’s forces from killing civilians and dislodging rebels from strongholds like Benghazi, the officials say.
But the more the intelligence agencies learn about rebel forces, the more they appear to be hopelessly disorganized and incapable of coalescing in the foreseeable future.
However, that hasn’t stopped the rebels from asking for a $2 billion dollar loan from the West. They’re never too disorganized to demand money, are they? Hey, this is the Arab League’s baby – let them front any loans. Oh, and check out this photo for a little picture of the reality we’re talking about.
Meanwhile, NATO could use a few more aircraft:
Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has told a foreign ministers’ summit the alliance needs "a few more" aircraft for its mission in Libya.
Mr Rasmussen said he had received no offers from any ally at the meeting in Berlin to supply the extra warplanes, but he remained hopeful.
I’m sure he does. Of course, this situation has little if anything to do with the stated mission of NATO (a defensive pact), but it is an organization in search of a mission. One of the reasons it has to beg for other participants is there’s nothing binding about war’s of choice on NATO members and, as you might expect, a good number of them ore sitting this one out.
Finally, our leaders fight back with a NYT editorial. Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy have an op/ed there addressing Libya. This particular paragraph caught my eye:
We must never forget the reasons why the international community was obliged to act in the first place. As Libya descended into chaos with Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi attacking his own people, the Arab League called for action. The Libyan opposition called for help. And the people of Libya looked to the world in their hour of need. In an historic resolution, the United Nations Security Council authorized all necessary measures to protect the people of Libya from the attacks upon them. By responding immediately, our countries, together with an international coalition, halted the advance of Qaddafi’s forces and prevented the bloodbath that he had promised to inflict upon the citizens of the besieged city of Benghazi.
Tens of thousands of lives have been protected.
I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but think “jobs created and saved” when I read all of that monkey poo.
Meanwhile in Syria, they’re issuing instructions not to kill over 20 protesters a day because apparently that’s a threshold they know the great protectors of certain civilians will ignore. Besides, some Democrats think Assad is a reformer, and don’t forget, he hasn’t used airplanes on the protesters – yet.