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Libya And The Question Of Intervention

The challenge in Libya, Arab revolt, and what comes next.

Anti-government protesters during Friday prayers in Tripoli, Libya. (AP)

Pity the rebels of Libya.  They’ve paid a steep price in blood already.  Protestors and civilians, mowed down in Tripoli and beyond.  They’re up against the arm-waving Muammar Qaddafi, who seems deeply out of touch and quite willing to deploy every weapon he’s got against his own people.

This is not a jasmine revolution.  It’s ugly, desperate, and now, stumbling under the weight of tanks, artillery, and fighter jets.

Should the world, the United States, intervene?  Would that end the magic of the Arab wave?

This hour On Point, the struggle in Libya, and what to do – or not to do.

- Tom Ashbrook


Lisa Anderson, president of the American University in Cairo, Egypt. She’s author of “The State and Social Transformation in Tunisia and Libya, 1830-1990.”

Dirk Vandewalle, associate professor of government at Dartmouth.  He’s author of “A History of Modern Libya.”

Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. From 2001 to 2003, he was director of policy planning for the Department of State, where he was a principal adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell. He was also special assistant to President George H. W. Bush and senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs on the staff of the National Security Council.

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  • Cory

    1. Republicans keep telling us we are broke.

    2. We are already engaged in a 2 front war.

    3. Gadhafi has been in power for over 40 years.

    If we involve ourselves in this NOW… I don’t know how it can be for any reason other than oil. And if we involve ourselves in this, what about all the other budding revolutions in the area?

    Stay the hell out! Mind our own business! Prove me wrong about oil (please!).

    • Anonymous

      Didn’t you make the same argument about Iraq? Can you give me any proof that you were correct then?

      If not, you should try studying the past so you can better know what is coming in the future.

      • Cory

        How do any of the 3 arguments I made above apply to Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi freedom? Invading Iraq was a bad idea too, but for entirely different reasons.

        By the way, as far as being a student of history… Can you tell me historically what happens to Republics that engage in hegemony or empire?

        Finally, if oil has nothing to do with it, why didn’t we intervene when genocides were occuring in Darfur or Rwanda?

        • Brb

          Your reps, again….

    • Brb

      Of course it’s about oil, grasshopper. As Michael Moore pointed out recently, and I paraphrase, ” it’s our (the world’s) resource “.

  • Zeno

    This is a problem that is made for EU intervention. The US does not receive oil from Libya, but Europe does. The US needs to leave this provocative stance and tell the EU that the US will not become involved in another war of corporate protectionism (Exxon and Shell oil).

    If the oil companies want to hire mercenaries to protect the regime than that’s their business risk. This has NOTHING to do with US national interests.

    The EU has military fully capable of intervening in Libya to create a NO-fly zone, supply arms, or do some bombing. Why don’t they?

    Well why would they spend their money to protect their interests, when the US Congress wants the USA to pay the cost financially and politically in yet another war for corporate asset protection.

    EU it your game… the US should stay in the bleachers and watch the game play out.

    • Cory

      “The EU has military fully capable of intervening in Libya to create a NO-fly zone, supply arms, or do some bombing. Why don’t they?’

      Zeno, I think it might be that a group of nations many hundreds of years older than the US that has suffered the direct effect of two world wars may have a measure of wisdom and experience that we do not.

      • Zeno

        ..Not saying they SHOULD. But the US shouldn’t be pushing its way to the head of the line of idiots.

        • Cory


  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    This is a job for the United Nations, not us. If the UN doesn’t lead on this, what the hell good at they?

    • Fred

      You can’t be serious. The UN is the most disfunctional organization to ever exist.

      • Cory

        How about the League of Nations, Richard?

      • Anonymous

        I agree with you completely. The UN is disfunctional much like the EU. It has no authority over the countries it includes other than its ability to do some paper pushing.

        • Tom

          The US has a completely failed foreign policy. It is now up to the UN to fix all that mess. That is the future.
          America can’t even afford the oil to RUN its own military, never mind sustain its overall military spending. GW Bush ruined America.

          • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

            I agree with this although it’s not just GW Bush, it’s pretty much every American President, the Congress, and “we the people” who have a failed foreign policy.

            For what it’s worth, Robert Gates has exactly the right idea about this: if we put in a no fly zone, we will then “own” a war with this country the way we “owned” a war in Iraq, Vietnam…

            Americans don’t learn from history that Americans don’t learn from history.

          • Anonymous

            U.S. contributions to the U.N. system were more than $6.347 billion in FY 2009. If we stopped wasting that money on politicians and spend it on drilling for oil we would be free of imported oil in no time.

    • Anonymous

      You are both right. If the UN doesn’t act, then we should defund them because they have proven themselves to be worthless too many times.

      • Cory

        Gimme a break, Branstud! You’d want to defund the UN if they cured cancer and made world peace on the same day. Your comment is really disingenuous.

        • Anonymous

          Since you are such a lover of the UN, what have they done that your are most happy with in the last year? In the last 10years?

          • Anonymous

            I’d like to hear Brandstad explain what he knows about the UN, in the past, a decade ago, yesterday. Anything much? The specific agencies of the UN? The antipoverty and anti-hunger work? The cultural programs? The ongoing and seemingly endless peacekeeping commitments?

            Maybe there ought to be a new rule for commenters: a summary, please, of information sources, the news watched/heard/read. Very often, reading through comments, one gets pretty good at spotting the repeaters of old memes — the WaPo headline, the Fox talking point, the presence or absence of references to English- and foreign-language media. This isn’t about intellectual snobbism or that overused word “elitism”: it’s about how narrow and shallow our media have become and, as a result, how narrow and shallow our own knowledge and responses to events.

          • Cory

            I don’t think the UN should exist either, I just couldn’t ignore the blatant hypocrisy in your statement. You wouldn’t support the UN regardless of circumstance.

            An international body like the UN has no point unless all it is supported by all its members. I think it is an idea that is before its time.

          • Tom

            The American GW Bush almost killed the UN with his unilateral and illegal war in Iraq. The UN is now re-building from that typical arrogance and ignorance by America. It is the USA’s fault that the UN is not as effective as it used to be. You will not have a civilized world without the UN.

          • Tom

            The American GW Bush almost killed the UN with his unilateral and illegal war in Iraq. The UN is now re-building from that typical arrogance and ignorance by America. It is the USA’s fault that the UN is not as effective as it used to be. You will not have a civilized world without the UN.

        • ThresherK

          Has the US paid the tab it’s run up at the UN? In other words, if the US started to “defund” the UN, how would the UN know?

  • SteveV

    Let’s see, “No Fly Zone”. Where have I heard this before? It appears there are some in Congress who never want to miss an opportunity to start another war. And we elect these people to run our country. Is it any wonder we’re in such a mess?

  • Kevin

    Any world leader that says he won’t relinquish power until every drop of his own peoples is spilled should be removed immediately, but it shouldn’t be the U.S. but the EU.

  • Yar

    The US should start with an apology. We must apologize for the colonial interests that carved up the middle east to the benefit of distant powers. Apologies are for the oppressor, not as much for the oppressed. We need to acknowledge that our interests have been middle east resources, not its people.

    The world is rapidly changing, by clinging to colonial ideology we are mirroring England’s contraction of world influence post maritime superiority .
    By readily accepting our past mistakes we may actually be a change agent worldwide.

    The schism in the US is that we are currently in our own struggle. Two models, a capitalistic scarcity model verses a socialistic managed safety net model that protects those on the bottom of the economic ladder. We are divided ourselves, and we are unable to see a clear resolution to decades of exploitation in the name of cheap energy.
    The US is unaware of the degree of change we must make to survive in this new world. We must reinvent our concept of economy base on energy other than fossil fuel.
    I would like to see our leaders admit that we are unsure of the way forward in Libya as we encourage the UN to act with apologies for the US empowerment of this brutal dictator.

    • Cory

      I agree with everything you said accept the part about apologizing. I think it would be a mighty accomplishment for us to simply act appropriately moving forward. Let’s not get hung up on an apology for all past wrongs by all previous generations. Can you imagine how long it would take our government to go through the process of drafting and agreeing on the wording of an apology?!

      • Tribalguitars

        How about an, “Our bad”?

    • William

      We were not involved in “carving up the middle east”. That was the UK. The only good economic and political solution for these middle east countries is to move to a modern free market economy.

      • Cory

        Look how well it is working here. Maybe the people in the mid-east aren’t interested in plutocracy, oligarchy or corporatocracy.

        • William

          We are not doing so bad even with the failed economic policy of the administration.

        • Brb

          It is working here…your personal problems do not constitute an indictment of the world at large.

          • Cory

            Really? Unemployment between 9 and 22% depending on what data you use and good jobs disappearing by the minute? One might argue that Chinese state capitalism is working oodles better. Not sure why you are bending this into an ad hominem attack against me, but there are a myriad of attacks available for me to make against a “college republican”. The sad thing about a college republican is that they can’t even manage to be open minded or compassionate in their youth. By the time you are 40 your heart should have the equivalent texture of beef jerky. Cheers!

  • Michael

    “Fred 21 minutes ago in reply to Richard

    You can’t be serious. The UN is the most disfunctional organization to ever exist. show more show less
    Flag Like ReplyReply ”

    The UN doesn’t work majority of the time cause we have .03% of it that can veto anything they don’t like. So it creates a two tier system with the countries with veto powers and there proxy countries not facing the same rules and laws that it imposes on others.

    Get rid of the veto power and the U.N. will start worker far better.

    • Philonous

      Get rid of the veto, and then tinhorn dictators like Gaddafi will be able to pass all kinds of treaties that will take away our rights. The U. N. is either impotent or dangerous.

      Greg Camp
      Springdale, AR

  • manoog of Providence

    Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez can step up and pop that boil on the searing soul of the Libyan nation, with a ‘rescue flight’ and ‘refuge’ for his friend Gadhafi.

    • Cory

      Of Gadhafi is such a scourge and must be removed RIGHT NOW, why did we leave him in power for the last four decades?

      • Brb

        It was your choice, Mr Voter.

        • Cory

          Not mine alone… However, I never felt compelled to remove him. I don’t need to put my nose in everyone else’s business.

  • Michael

    Will the guests also talk about the Silences by the U.S. on Saudi A. and what it just stated? It said protest are against sharia law and that it will do whatever Necessary to stop them in there minority Territories

    bbc co uk/ news/ world-middle-east-12656744

    “Its statement said security forces would use all measures to prevent any attempt to disrupt public order.”

    Similar statement as what was said in libya yet totally different responses by the WH and the SOS.

  • Tribalguitars

    The US would get a lot of future good will if they enforced a no-fly zone, and maybe “accidentally” missed and hit a Libyan tank or two. Land a few choppers, drop a few cases of AK-47s and have a few actual show them how to use them, give them the thumbs-up and take off.

    And this is from a Liberal!

  • Loay

    Morning Edition was surreal this morning. Let me see, we are outraged, outraged I tell you, by Qaddafito because he bombs civilians using his air
    force. Next news item is our long standing bombing of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan using our air forces. we have a bankrupt foreign policy. Any wonder why the rest of the world sees us as hypocrites? This is further evidence why the doctrine of Right to Protect is delegitimizing human rights law Just let the Libyans sort their own future out.

    • Brb

      Because, my friend, civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan ARE the enemy, and your assumptions are bankrupt.

      • Cory

        Ridiculous. Showing your youth and lack of seasoning, at best.

  • Zinovy Vayman, the Galilee

    It is difficult to Germanize the patchwork of ethnicities in Russia and it is close to impossible to Germanize the Arab-speaking quilt of etnhicities in Libya.
    The US were in war with Tripolitania and other area on the Barbary (Berberian) Coast 200 years ago. The results are very small.
    It is abhorrent that Germanic countries do not leave alone the Semitic populations in the Middle East…

  • William

    We should stay out of this fight and let the EU or UN do something.

    • Philonous

      In other words, let no one do nothing.

      • William

        Let them settle their own affairs and stay out of it.

  • Steve T

    We need to stay out of it! let them win their own freedom. After it’s over we then need to ASK what help we can offer.

    It’s their fight it’s their right. If I get into a fight with my brother or cousin, anyone stickin’ their noes in our fight will have to fight us both, because were going to turn on you.

  • Sean

    No the US should not get involved enough is enough and it will be blamed for crimes anyway…..We don’t need another war.

  • Rex Henry, Washington, DC

    Gates, the guy who knows what’s going on, says we shouldn’t do it. Why are we questioning him?

    • Philonous

      Because we question everyone in power. We don’t like dictators here. That’s the reason that our leaders have to listen to us.

      • Steve T

        Yea so when are they going to start.

        • Philonous

          Our politicians may be hard of hearing, but they do listen ultimately. We can throw them out at the next election, and elections do count in this country. To be sure, politicians don’t like listening, but we aren’t like Libya with Gaddafi.

          • Greenworks12

            What’s are threshold for not caring? 5.00, 7.00. 8.00$ a gallon?

          • Philonous

            I don’t follow your argument. The price of gasoline is a complex thing, and our politicians have little control over it.

  • Sean

    How about talking about the “Monitor group” right here in our beloved cambridge advertising for dictators!!!! Who did they take money from beside gadhaffi? We want an investigation of this criminal Monitor group!!!

  • Ellen Dibble

    Under King Idris, elected by traditional, rural population (80 percent of Libya in 1952), before oil, the country imported three times more than it exported (remind you of anything), and depended on foreign aid, and “Britain and the United States established military bases and assumed responsibility for the training of the Libyan army.” I quote Barnaby Rogerson, A Traveler’s History of Libya. Oil revenues swelled Libya’s coffers, and there became a very rich class, and in 1964 revolts against the military bases showed Idris’s isolation from his people. When Gadaffi took over, he sent the British and Americans packing. The Libyans negotiated for 51% share in any oil interests, and instead of taxing the people, the government shared out their oil income. Gadaffi created a government that was a medium path between capitalism and socialism, and his revolution offered much promise, as I read about it.
    I note Idris didn’t want his sons to take over. Page 319: “In `969 there were at least four coups being plotted against King Idris, one of which was apparently sponsored by the king himself. He had no faith in his heirs and so while all his attempts to abdicate failed, he gave private encouragement to his army chief-of-staff, Abdul Azzi el-Shehli, to seize power in a palace coup.”
    This book says that Gaddafi’s “blow delivered to the existing power structure by Qaddafi’s popular committees had begun to unwind the coherent direction of the state.” NOTA BENE: the powerful interests, those who succeeded because of oil wealth, were getting out of hand, dissatisfied. Oh, I’m learning a lot.
    Numero uno, if Senator Kerry’s idea that you don’t have to take out airfields, just crater the runways, is reasonable, it’s reasonable because those airfields were probably American made. We know the weak points.

    • Philonous

      1. We know airfields period. There aren’t cultural versions of airfields.

      2. Gaddafi and Idris sound exactly the same.

      • Ellen Dibble

        Airfields, yes. Maybe oilfields too; they “level” playing fields in ways it’s hard to imagine.

  • Zeno

    IMO the US has more than paid it tab at the UN. Its always our military that is the point of the spear. Every other country stands around grumbling about giving their token force.

  • BHA in Vermont

    We helped the rebels fighting the Russians in Afghanistan decades ago and the net result was the Taliban in power, providing a safe place for al qeada’s terrorist training camps. We are still fighting th Taliban in Afghanistan.

    I have every sympathy for the poor citizens of Libya but we have to stop interjecting ourselves into everyone’s civil wars. Those trying to overthrow Qaddafi have no political plan nor structure. We could be ‘helpful’ and make it even worse for the Libyans.

    John McCain is a war monger, he wants to provide arms to the ‘rebels’ in Libya. Thankfully he is not the president of this country.

    • Philonous

      The problem with Afghanistan is that we stopped our support once the Russians left.

  • Susan

    Where are all the “lefty” rallies against kadhaffi?

    • ThresherK

      We’re waiting for the Koch brothers to fund us. But in the meantime we’re all too busy making sure Obama’s Kenyanicity Muslimness is still covered up.

      • Brb

        We’re waiting for chuckle heads like you to develop a spine and try to beat the Tea Party in the voter’s arena rather than make snarky comments and go hide.

        • Cory

          Too bad the Tea baggers haven’t actually won anything yet.

  • http://twitter.com/planetirving Irving Steinberg

    It is almost like we are back to the diplomatic hand wringing and tut-tutting of the 1990′s while the slaughter was going on in the Balkans. The longer we vacillate, the bloodier and more protracted the outcome.

  • Anonymous

    The Arab League, OPEC & the African Union are the parties that would be most effective. With moral backing from the UN & EU/US, that could be enough for the final push.

    • Philonous

      OPEC’s only interest is enriching the autocrats. The member countries can’t even agree on how much oil to pump each year. As for the African Union, what’s that?

  • Ellen Dibble

    Qaddafi had sowed discord in North Africa, using Libyan oil money, supporting revolution there as well as elsewhere (Ireland, Palestine…), but advocating a North African union, and the upshot seems to be a lot of military support from the north African underbelly (mercenaries).
    Senator Kerry said yesterday on ABC that he expected weaponry would “find its way” into the hands of the Libyan rebels in the next few weeks (without the USA doing anything official, or the UN). I’m wondering if the western powers have links to what I’ll call the underbelly, in North Africa as well.

  • Ellen Dibble

    From my book by Rogerson, dated 2001, “In 1979 the average income was around US$8,000 and the Libyan people, for the most part, luxuraited in the care of the state driving their cars on excellent roads, playing cards with friends in cafes or watching television, football or imported films. Demeaning physical labour was, and still is, largely performed by migrant workers from the Sudan or Chad while skilled jobs are performed by Palestinians, Egyptians, Moroccans, Tunisians, Koreans and East Europeans.” (page 321).
    This reminds me of some Americans manipulation of the underclass by making them/us dependent. In some of these Arab lands, we hear about maintaining control by keeping populace dependent for necessities (health care, affordable housing, food stamps…).

    • Zinovy Vayman, the Galilee


      There are no Jews (to the best of my knowledge) working in Libya.
      Meanwhile all the Israeli Jews (5 mln) are Palestinians since they live in Palestine where 10 mln Arabs also reside. . You better use the term
      “Palestinian Arabs” or “Arabs from Palestine.”

      • Philonous

        Let’s hope that the Israelis and Palestinians come to an agreement soon, so we can stop having this debate. Israel for the Jews, Palestine for the Arabs.

        • zinovy vayman, the galilee

          No chance for that.
          The State of Israel is for Jews, Arabs, Russians, Thai, Ethiopians, Circassians, Druze and others…
          Palestine is for Jews, Arabs, Russians, Thai, Ethiopians, Circassians, Druze and others…
          And for one Spanish nun who stayed in Bethlehem (House of Bread, in Hebrew) and was accepted as a Palestinian !

      • Ellen Dibble

        My books says the Jews were expelled, as well as 300,000 Italians, and Alcohol was banned, and all Roman script on signposts… in 1969, September 2nd.
        I was quoting when I said Palestinians. I don’t take sides on that. I do know people who call themselves Palestinians, but I call myself a WASP. And other things.

  • Philonous

    I’m aware of the U.N. programs. It provides food aid, creating dependent people. It sends peacekeepers who watch armed bands killing each other. It puts Libya on the human rights council. This is good?

    Greg Camp
    Springdale, AR

  • http://twitter.com/planetirving Irving Steinberg

    This is not a game of Chess (or checkers). It is a game of Chicken!

    • Cory

      I think it is like playing “Store”.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Of Islamist militancy, crushing the militant party was tried (I’m trying to remember from my reading) in Tunisia, and led to popular unrest. In other words… I read that in the impoverished Arab lands, people have turned to Islam because of the close to perfect polity established by Mohammed at the time of the origination of Islam. People’s historical memory may be a bit distorted, but the ideal is there.

  • manoog of Providence

    we are now 40 minutes in and “no fly” has been bandied non-stop, YET the word “stinger” not once.

    Just one menacing aircraft taken out would do immense loyalty damage for or towards Muammar Qaddafi.

  • Ellen Dibble

    From Huffington Post, an article about Canvas, of Otpor, a group of Serbs who toppled Milosevic and have since used their know-how in advising other nations:
    “Popovic spoke in his office in a drab communist-style neighborhood of Belgrade where youth activists from around the world take five-day workshops on how to topple their autocrats.

    “On a wall-mounted drawing board are diagrams with arrows describing peaceful tactics by demonstrators that feature in lectures by the Serb instructors, all former members of Otpor, which means resistance in Serbian.

    “‘We tell them first to identify the pillars of power of their autocratic regimes, like the police, army and media,” Popovic said. “Then we say don’t attack those pillars, that would lead to violence, but try and draw support from inside of those pillars.’

    “He said protesters did this perfectly in Egypt, engaging with the army, which refused to crack down.

    “The Egyptians did not adopt some of Otpor’s more whimsical tactics. At the height of the Belgrade uprising, Otpor erected a giant cardboard telescope to let people watch a falling star dubbed “Slobotea,” and gave people a chance to punch a Milosevic effigy for a penny. But they used other means to ridicule Mubarak, such as waving cartoons of him cooking Egypt in a pot for over 30 years.”

    (End of quote, Google Otpor, Canvas, Serbia, revolution.)

  • Mac

    The biggest catalyst might be to offer amnesty to any government or military officials that defect. Distasteful? Yes, but it would help accelerate the end of the regime

    West Union, IA

    • Ellen Dibble

      On how Qaddafi dealt with the old regime. After the bloodless coup (remember his predecessor had been trying to abdicate or get himself overthrown, page 318-319, A Traveller’s History of North Africa, by Rogerson: “There were no executions, summary or otherwise, although members of the old regime were sent off to prison in conditions that ex-prime minister Baboush described as luxurious. The old constitution was overturned and power concentrated in the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), which was composed of 12 of Qaddafi’s closest conspirators amongst the Free Unionist Officers.”
      … (page 321) “By January 1976… Jamahiriya, the latter word coined by Qaddafi, translates as ‘rule of the masses.’ Profit sharing was to replace wages, multiple property ownership was prohibited, and the main import dealerships, larger retail shops and grocery distribution were all nationalized.”
      Yep, that would deal with oil money have created an overly rich elite and plenty of cronyism that would need to be overthrown. The book continues:
      “What flawed the system was the RCC’s undisputed control of all vital concerns such as the oil industry, the army and internal security.”
      Ooh-la-la. And do you suppose the West would want to wrench some of that control out of the hands of a dictator? But do you suppose virtually all Libyans with any heft in that society would have their piece of that pie the RCC created? Who would want distribution according to the old system that favored the old cronies rather than the new? Who of all those getting $8,000 a year from the government (whatever it is now) would want to risk the establishment of a new order?
      Both the dependents and the elites would want status quo.

  • Ellen Dibble

    They’re asking about Gadaffi’s weaponry. He achieved power by a military coup, so he did not want much of an army. “Coordination problems,” being Gadaffi’s objective. Unlike in Egypt. A coordinated army could counter him. But he does have lots of chips to call in from his revolution-provoking investments in northern Africa. The individuals manning his tanks and planes probably have a fair reason to think that “missing” on a bombing raid is a good idea. See the sea by Tobruk, Benghazi, is called Gulf of Bomba.

  • Isernia

    I have read that Italy is the prime supporter of Libyan arms. Your guest mentions old weaponry from Russia and more modern ones from France, but seemed not to know the Italian role in such matters.

  • Jim in Omaha

    Former VP Cheney developed an close relationship with Muammar Qaddafi during his time in office, holding the Libyan leader up as an example of a former adversary of ours turned into a relatively good guy due to the wonderful policies pursued by Bush/Cheney. Perhaps Cheney could visit his good friend and try to persuade him to do the right thing.

    • Cory

      Maybe Dick could take him hunting.

      • Brb

        Maybe Bill could take him Monica.

        • Cory

          I know you prefer Dick to slick Willy.

  • Philonous

    The autocrats can dig in, but the people always outnumber the leader and his thugs. The only question is whether the people have the will to toss out the bad rulers.

    Greg Camp
    Springdale, AR

  • Bill

    I always thought that I made a mistake when I did not try to implement my idea on the internet just after 9/11. I thought that if we set up a website to donate for a bounty for Osama bin Laden’s head that there would easily have been billions of dollars donated and with that amount of money someone near him would have taken him out in a few days.

  • Awabouri

    The best way to help the libyan people at this point is to recognize the Transitional Council in The East and declare the illegitimacy of Gaddafi’s regime. This council is the body that represents the Libyan people today not Gaddafi. It is so sad to see most of the Arab countries watching and not even issuing any statements to support the Libyan people.

  • Paul T

    I disagree with you host that libya does not represent big enough national security concern for the US. It is imperative for the US to support this movement for the simple reason that US needs to project an image of alignment with the democratic forces otherwise it will jeopardize its relations with the future governments that will be in charge. If Israel is to be protected you have to make nice with countries that surround it. The US will have very little credibility and will face a diplomatic dead end if it stands aside and let Ghadafi slaughter his own people. And this needs not be done in any overt way. Think back to how many despotic regimes were supported in very secret ways in central america. Surely some of those same methods could be used to lend a hand to desperate people with more honorable intentions.

    • Anonymous

      The problem is, Paul, that both sides are right on this. Morally, we should help the movement against Qaddafi. Politically, militarily, and economically, we should not.

      The NYTimes had a good report this morning on the alternatives to going in there. Hospital ship. Supplies dropped in. Creation of a no-fly zone, for example, is far more complicated than most of us imagine:

      “The destruction of Libyan air-defense radars and missile batteries would be required, perhaps using missiles launched from submarines or warships. A vast fleet of tankers would be needed to refuel warplanes. Search-and-rescue teams trained in land and sea operations would be on hand in case a plane went down.

      “The fleet of aircraft needed for such a mission would easily reach into the hundreds. Given the size of such a mission, it would be expected that American and NATO bases in Europe would be used, and that an American aircraft carrier would be positioned off Libya.”

      And that’s just a no-fly zone!

      • Paul T

        I am completely in agreement with you. There should be no direct support. But subsidized arms shipments by using third or forth parties is possible. It was done for years and the Libya shares many thousands of miles of border with several countries. Getting arms and other supplies to the rebels is entirely and completely possible. An additional problem is also that if we do not do it the Chinese will or quite possibly are doing so now. Given their growing influence in all regions of Africa our reluctance to help will cost us massively in economic terms as well.

        • Anonymous

          Agreed, Paul. Whatever we do, we need to broaden our ideas (today, not tomorrow!) about how best to assist these movements. They’re pushing east, and if we go on doing what we’ve done in the past, we’re toast. This is a time when we need a wholly competent, professional intelligence service. But, um…

      • geffe

        That’s an act of war. Taking out the air-defense radars and missile batteries by the US alone would be a foolish thing. Being that Europe has more at stake here, and Italy in particular, it seems to me that NATO is the one who should be doing this.

        I’m sick of the US being the worlds police.

    • Cory

      So Paul, why have we done nothing about Gahdafi for the past 42 years? Hasn’t he ALWAYS been a tinhorn dictator who abuses human rights?

      • young college Republican

        Because your duly elected representatives chose not to.

        • Cory

          Government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Right?

  • Bruce Guindon

    I think Libya is what it is and will resolve itself in Qaddafi favor unless the international community steps in however I’m more interested in the battle that rages in Wisconsin for the soul of America. Time to keep the spot light and the media focused on the real news

  • Michael

    Again for Mccain, (I wish Onpoint pointed this out)

    US Republican Senator John McCain praised Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi for his peacemaking role in Africa and said Congress would support expanding ties, Libyan state news agency Jana said on Friday

    “Senator McCain and the delegation with him expressed their deep happiness to meet the leader and praised him for his wisdom and strategic vision to tackle issues of concern to the world and his efforts to sustain peace and stability in Africa,” Jana said.

    Dated less than two years ago,


  • Michael

    “Philonous Today 10:11 AM in reply to Michael

    Get rid of the veto, and then tinhorn dictators like Gaddafi will be able to pass all kinds of treaties that will take away our rights. The U. N. is either impotent or dangerous.”

    I disagree, it would allow the UNSC to actually function, instead of watered down Security resolutions(cause 1 of the 5 veto powers have a finanical/economic/political) stake in not doing so it be by majority vote.

    Remember even the current resolution was watered down by the U.S. in regards to Merc’s due to the fear that Merc’s in other country(afganstian/iraq would face charges for there actions)

    Can you explain how such a tinform dictator could pass a such treaties that take away american rights? Since the UNSC would be a up or down vote meaning if he did he face some type of action, or why others countries would engage in such knowing that it’s parent protector cannot waterdown the UNSC actions?

  • Tom

    The US has a completely failed foreign policy. It is now up to the UN to fix all that mess.
    America can’t even afford the oil to RUN its own military, never mind sustain its overall military spending. GW Bush ruined America’s ability to act responsibly around the world.

  • Trond

    I don’t believe the US should intervene in Libya – the Libyan people don’t want that. HOWEVER, I do think the UN and world governments have failed since Rwanda in not setting clear guidelines for external intervention within a sovereign nation. There should be clearer guidelines for taking action. Such as in the Balkans, where other nations could have bombed military storage area’s before they were plundered and the weapons scattered. Or in Libya, international guidelines where the national military leadership knows they risk imminent intervention if attacks on civilians continue.

  • HM Bright

    Harry Bright, Spokane, WA: e-hmbwrite@peoplepc.com .

    This AM listening on public radio locallly:

    Regarding the Libyan thing: Has anyone else a thought for the US intertests to once again give support to the Taliban folks in Afghanistan, as the US did in aiding and abetting them against the
    Russian presence in “Talibania”? With the popular support of the
    well-considered free world behind them it might well be, that they
    the Talibanites, could immediately be converted to be our allly once more, by this united front.
    In this second round between US and the Taliban, there could be a sweet-heart arrangement; maybe that “Jasmine” thing bandied about on the program so that the old feathers of conflict will be smoothed out in a concerted effort to eliminate the Libyan boogy-man of this hour. Thus you can see, perhaps, how this would all play out to benefit all, except China, who underwrites America’s total finances we are given to think, and a whole new set of alliances will be galvanized to whip the bad guys. It should also be seen how this all would benefit America’s “fly-in-the-petrol-ointment dilemma just now, if only China would finance us with openended credits to get the job done. You Think?

  • Joelseph in Columbus

    It’s an unfortunate situation the U.S. finds itself in, between the “rock” of a desire and stated mission to assist in the battle for freedom and democracy in support of a defenseless revolution of a nation’s people, and the “hard place” of our difficult lessons learned from Iraq. We’ve spread our forces so thin and made so many bad decisions towards military interventions in the past decade that American popular opinion is now skittish towards commiting our forces towards what our true mission as the defenders of freedom should be.

    • Cory

      I don’t recall anywhere in the constitution or the declaration of independence the stated goal of develping democracy in other nations. I don’t agree with the assumption at all. On the contrary, this country pre WWII had a long tradition of minding our own business.

      • young college Republican

        Or providing/forcing medical care for all citizens…right?

        • Cory

          Isn’t that covered by “promoting the general wellfare”, my young padawan?

  • me

    you have the robot opera at the Libya link…can you fix it?

  • Scblume

    Link fixed – thanks so much

  • Lawrence

    I heard that the opposition (rebel) forces fighting in Libya are in some cases being directed by the Muslim Brotherhood. This came to me via today’s interview on Fresh Air with two former CIA agents. Can you verify this? If it is true, what are the ramifications of this? So the big question is, who is NATO/US supporting if they impose a no-fly zone over Libya?

  • Jenjen

    When talking about “europe” intervining, be clear that europe is not a country, and europe doesnt have an army! Please dont perpetuate the confusion i hear so much inthe US that Europe is a country under a single government!!

  • Callardjim

    no fly zones are part of a larger concept called strategic control that was introduced in the late 19902 at a conference at Harvard. It is one of many activities that are better defined as “overwatch” activities that allow the president and the NSC to anticipate and be ready to act. It’s primary purpose is to use all of our capabilities to influence with more credibility and less risk. It needs to be compared to the debacles we are involved in over the last ten years that project mass–blood and tresure that do not achieve our political objectives. Haas is right history does not help us.

    But we have Ksovo..where an over watch activity stopped ethnic cleansing and created the conditions for the overthrow of Milosevic. The most important fact being that the local people overthrow and put Milosevic at the Hague.

    Limited ends and getting the balance right in suing the different tools of diplomacy is an art form.

    The next step is a direct feed from our intel assets to Al Jazari and CNN…Transparency builds the narrative that destroys Khadafi

  • Anonymous

    Hey Tom Ashbrook and friends, have you been following the Jasmine revolution in China over the last few weeks? It’s absolutely fascinating

  • Anonymous

    Some times I wonder where do the guests get their info, last nite program one the Guest was saying that Iran and Syrian have killed tens of thousands of their people. I tried to find out when that happened I couldn’t. So , I am asking you, is NPR another mouth piece for state of Israel.

  • hilary stookey

    Such new technology has allowed us astonishingly to communicate intimately with those right on the front line of battle. In real time, we can hear their cries, their fears. There have been moments when the video coverage from their cellphones show they are running away.. we see the concrete below… we see the blood. Doesn’t this advantage to gaining such extraordinary access, also put a moral dilemma in front of us? At what point do we become complicit in the carnage through lack of action?

  • Hank12

    A surgical strike might be easier than a no fly zone. Why not use cruise missiles and whatever resources are used to take out air defenses to bomb runways, planes and air facilities. Maybe there are good technical reasons this can’t be done. Seems like it would be less risky than a no fly zone and might obtain a large fraction of the same result.

    We should help the rebels in a way that is consistent with what they are asking for and in their best interest. That is the best chance of getting a government that isn’t hostile to the US in the future but more importantly the right thing to do ethically.

    Support could boast the morale of the Rebels and weaken morale of the loyalist.

    A resolution for a no fly zone is not likely to get support from countries trying to keep the lid on their own rebellions.

  • Hrgeor485

    We ae involved anf hat’s more we may have influence the events that are happeningThere doesn’tseem much doubt about that. What would the area be like if we had not invaded iraq?Whter we like it or not we have changed the area.Do we know what we are doing?????????????

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