Sunday, August 31, 2014

US Embassy in Tripoli Taken Over By Islamist Militia

 One of President Barack Hussein Obama's 'accomplishments' in the Middle East was his illegal intervention in Libya to save jihadis and al-Qaeda affiliated fighters in Benghazi when Khaddaffi and his forces were ready to wipe them out. That led to Khaddaffi's arms falling into the hands of the jihadists, deadly attacks in Algeria and Mali, the beginnings of The Islamic State ( then known as ISIS) and the creation of a failed state in Libya,where various Islamist and jihadi groups fight over power and now have a major strategic base to train, arm and recruit.

Today, the American Embassy fell into the hands of one of the militias, the Dawn of Libya a coalition of Islamist and Misrata forces took over the building. Journalists who were invited to walk through the captured building noted that most of the equipment there remained untouched.And the jihadis appear to be enjoying the swimming pool:

 The U.S, evacuated the embassy in late July as fighting broke out between the government, various jihadi militias including a a number affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) and the forces of one General Khalifa Hifter, a military commander who seeks to step into Khaddifi's shoes  and who has been trying to take over the country since May.

There's no telling how many people have died because of the President's decision to take Khaddafi out, but I guarantee you,  it's at least ten to twenty times the number of people who were killed in the Israel's defensive war in Gaza that the president was so exercised about.

Oh well, back to the golf course!

Islamic radicals take over US embassy in Tripoli


B.Poster said...

Not just Barack Obama's decision but this was a NATO operation with the other members of NATO involved. Some reports indicated France "pulled the trigger first" even before American forces or personnel became involved. In any event, once NATO got involved, it seems hardly likely that they would allow America to remain on the sidelines.

I think we are in agreement though that this was a stupid decision on our part and on the part of NATO. This especially made no sense on the part of Western European nations. After all they had perfectly good oil contracts with Khaddaffi and the former Libyan government. Why risk these for an unknown such as the new government? Also, Khaddaffi had agreed not to pursue nuclear weapons and in exchange he was removed from being targeted.

Now this might have made sense IF intelligence sources had concluded that Khaddaffi was going to fall regardless of what we did. If this is the case, NATO nations may have rushed to provide support to the side who was going to win anyway in order to maintain their "gratitude." While US intelligence is largely incompetent and cannot be trusted, perhaps the Europeans are in a better position.

If the Western Europeans did not want the Libyan operation to occur, they could have simply said no and refused to participate. They chose not to do so and instead chose to go in wholeheartedly. While the operation was one of the more foolish actions ever undertaken by major powers in world history, very respectfully it seems inaccurate to place the entire blame on team Obama or the US government.

For its part, America should withdraw from NATO. By doing so it becomes less likely for us to get pulled into things that don't advance our just interests.

Of course speaking of stupidity we've even more foolishly chosen to intricate ourselves into the Russian/Ukrainian situation. All so our strategic competitor the EU can expand its influence. The sooner we have nothing to do with such people as the Western Europeans the better!!

Rob said...

Poster, I'm afraid you're simply wrong. There was no substantial European involvement until Obama gave the orders for the US to intervene, nor would there have been.The EUrines lacked the military capacity. Even the French FL in Mali, who performed with their usual audace, esprit et courage needed US transport and logistics support to do the job.

As for it being a'NATO operation, Libya was not a NATO member nor were any European NATO nations directly involved, so there was no possible invocation of Article 5 of the NATO treaty.

In fact Obama cited 'R2P', the UN doctrine known as Responsibility to Protect as his rationale for going in.

It's his mess - he owns it.

B.Poster said...

If I'm simply wrong on this one, perhaps the media reports on this are all in error as well. According to these reports the result was a "decisive NATO victory." The coalition included up to 19 nations participating in some role. Even Canada had involvement in this. The operation was initially led by the French and the British with French forces "pulling the trigger" first as I recall the term being used.

As for Article 5, I admit to not being sure exactly how all of that works. Time permitting I will look this up. As I understand it, NATO was founded to deter against the Soviet Union and said article is invoked when one member is attacked and other members are expected to come to their aid. Since NATO seems to have moved WAY beyond its initial intent it would seem article 5 nor the requirement that Libya be a NATO member would be required to get NATO nations involved.

Once the other nations of NATO are involved, due economic and security situations its going to be very hard for POTUS not get our forces involved. For us not to cooperate with them, they could have and likely would have exacted a terrible cost on us.

We can solve this problem. The EUiines as you call them are not going to come to America and fight shoulder to shoulder with us when we are invaded, the Soviet Union no longer exists, and American forces are in no way adequate to confront Russian forces. As such, there is no rationale for us to be involved in NATO. Withdraw us forthwith and then it becomes less likely for us to get pulled into such things.

As for R2P, this is stupid on so many levels it is hard to know where to begin. Most importantly it sets a very bad precedent. I could envision major powers in the future using this same rationale against us someday.

"It's his mess - he owns it." Actually NATO and the coalition own the problem. While the actions of America and POTUS were important, they did not solely responsible for the mess nor can they solve the mess by themselves either. As for America, we cannot solve the problem. We can however mitigate against the risk of future "messes" of this magnitude by withdrawing from NATO and removing our military forces from Europe. This would make it less likely for us to get pulled into such things.

Rob said...

Poster, I think our disagreement - at least on one point- is easily resolved. There's a difference between a 'NATO operation' (or a NATO mission, the actual terminology) which is how you described it and an action in which other NATO nations happen to be involved in. And it's an important distinction.

NATO is a mutual defense treaty. It allows any signatory to the treaty to invoke Article Five in case of military aggression against it which obligates all the other members to assist it.

It was designed after WWII for two purposes, one overt and one covert. The overt one was to protect European nations against further Soviet aggression at a time when much of Europe had no defenses against them. Britain and France had been bled white by two world wars, and much of the rest of Europe was in ruins.

The covert purpose, of course was to allow the Marshall Plan to be implemented, to have European nations allow the US to have bases in their countries and to use the threat of US involvement to fend off the Soviets until Europe recovered enough to rebuild its own defenses. That last bit, unfortunately never happened but that's another story.

Libya could not have been a NATO mission for one simple reason.Libya was not a NATO member, nor had Khaddaffi attacked any NATO member. The treaty didn't apply.

Kosovo was not a NATO mission either, for the same reason although many NATO countries participated. Afghanistan is, because of the involvement of the Taliban in 9/11 and in shielding al-Qaeda. GW Bush invoked Article 5.

'Participation' of course is a real wiggle word, as you can see from AfPak.A few countries sent combat troops, but many did not, limiting their 'participation' to medical corps, instructors and civilian personnel. And even some of the countries who sent a token military force did so after places them under restrictions that pretty much eliminated them from active combat.

The intervention in Libya could not have happened and would not have happened without Barack Obama jumping into an illegal war with both feet to protect the jihadis in Benghazi. Neither Britain or France had the military capabilities to carry out any kind of significant operation against Khaddaffi or the platforms for the aircraft to do so if they did.

It was Barack's War.

So, you want us to get out of NATO and gift Eastern Europe to Russia? In that, you apparently agree with our dysfunctional president, but you're entitled.

B.Poster said...

Thank you for the clarification of NATO. In the news analysis of this, this action was very explicitly described as "NATO." Very respectfully it would seem we are proposing to allow NATO allies to shirk their responsibilities based upon technicalities.

While BHO very likely wanted to protect Jihadis, the other members of the coalition did as well. Very likely they all had their own reasons.

While Britain and France likely lack the military capability to have carried out the operations on their own, they do have the pull to influence American foreign policy through entities such as the WTO, IMF, and others. Essentially while possible for us not to cooperate with them at this point they can and likely would inflict a terrible price on us for failure to do so. Again, BHO likely wanted this. In summary, all parts were needed from the EU nations, the Arab league, the US, and a number of other participants to make this happen.

While neither of us are fans of the policies of this president, to overstate his participation is simply not helpful in the process of coming up with real solutions to these problems. "It was Barack's war."

The US was 1/19 of the participating nations. While this is the case, the US did seem to provide most of the military and logistics support after France and Britain initiated the action. Others contributed significant money and intelligence to this such as Arab league nations. As such, a correct assessment would likely assign between 40 to 50% of the war to BHO and America and the rest the other participants.

This is a very serious problem that America CANNOT solve on its own and while America played a significant part in bringing about this situation, it is not solely responsible. To solve this will require a multi-national effort. A series of missteps by a number of powers created the current situation. It's going to take major efforts on the part of these same nations and leaders to solve this situation. Finger pointing and doing so based upon an inaccurate understanding of the situation would seem to be unhelpful. Of course seeking to pin the entire situation on America allows EU nations to shirk their responsibilities and allows them to feel really, really good about themselves. Anti-Americanism is a fun sport over there. Unfortunately feeling good does not help in the war on Jihadis.

Excellent places to start would be for America to change its current leadership. I think Western Europeans should do the same. This is up to them. With that said us getting out of NATO forthwith would make it less likely for us to get pulled into things like this in the future. Of course having a Jihadi friendly POTUS did not exactly help any either!!

B.Poster said...

"That last bit unfortunately never happened..." Truly a sad situation that it did not. In retrospect, what should have happened is the US should have set a timetable for each country for how long it would continue to station forces and have bases in their countries. I'm thinking 15 years should have been sufficient. As part of this situation, timetables such as where each nations should be militarily in 1 yr, 5 yrs, and so forth should be spelled out. Failure to meet these targets would result in the US reconsidering its obligations. Much of this agreement would likely need to be spelled out privately between American and allied governments.

This conceivably could have accomplished two things. 1.)It would have given allied nations the incentive to rebuild viable military deterrent capabilities. 2.)By making it clear that we don not desire a permanent military presence in these nations it would make it much more likely that the current level of anti-Americanism could have been avoided and we'd have much more fruitful and productive relations with these people now.

As for "gifting" Eastern Europe to Russia, if Russia wants to take it, at least conventionally, there's really nothing we can do to stop it. As for non conventional forces, at least when Russian tactical nukes are considered, they've surpassed us in this area as well.

Furthermore POTUS does not seem willing to "gift" anything at this time. He's currently taking a trip to Eastern Europe to supposedly "reassure" these allies. Also, I've seen no evidence that he wants to back down from stupidly imposing sanctions on Russia over Ukraine.

Is his heart in this? I don't know. If I've figured out we don't have a viable military option to counter Russia, then I'm sure the military commanders have as well.

Now we have European leaders saying things like "Russia is war with Europe" over Ukraine. Placing the lives of 300+ million Americans in even graver danger than they are already in over Ukraine does not seem like a good idea. I can envision us being pulled into a Libya on steroids over this. So, yes getting out of NATO would seem like a good idea to me. It might be good for Western Europe as well. As soon as they see they don't have us to back their expansionist plans they might change course. As soon as the US government no longer has NATO to act as a cover for its ridiculous ambitions, it might behave differently as well. Getting out of NATO or changing the nature of the organization at the very least would seem to be a win/win for them and us.

B.Poster said...

It wasn't his "decision" alone. A number or important people within the US government, various European governments, the Arab League and a plethora of talking head/busy body news media pundits wanted the Libyan government removed for a variety of reasons. BHO and America could not have participated in the operation without their support. Its also unlikely the other powers could have removed the Libyan government without America's support. At the very least, it would have been more difficult than it was.

Also, to imply that a decision was made and then it magically gets done seems to imply that this is somehow something that a group of people decide on in a high level meeting or two, notify other coalition participants, they just get on board, and the adversary immediately caves.

A military operation like the Libyan operation was/is very complex and would be needing vast support within foreign governments and other stakeholders. In other words, not something someone just makes a decision on and then it gets done. Also, while POTUS is powerful others are not going to automatically get on board simply because he says so.

Sorry about multiple posts but this situation had many authors and many participants. To single out one, while beneficial for partisian political purposes, does NOT help solve the problem. I'm NOT a fan of this POTUS's foreign or domestic policies and as such I am NOT defending him.

Any solution to this situation is going to require a robust effort by multiple nations. Since I don't think such an effort is forthcoming and even if other nations pledged such an effort, I don't trust them. This applies especially to Western and Eastern European nations. POTUS, his team, and the US government would be well advised not to trust them either.

(Given the NSA situation, it seems at some point someone realized we cannot trust these people. Unfortunately with the exposure of the program we are likely back to being blind, deaf, and dumb with regards to these people now.) For the foreseeable future, any relations with Western or Eastern Europe should be limited strictly to trade and a "needs only" basis. In other words treat them like neighbors to be respected but not trusted. Given their past nature towards us, benign hostility might even be in order towards them in some cases. In other words, you don't want them in your house or near your family!!

As for Libya, we cannot solve it and we are unlikely to get the assistance that would be needed to solve it, its probably best to let Libya alone to pursue its interests as long as they are non threatening to us. If there are certain individuals or groups that we can help who have been impacted by our ill advised decision to take part in this actions, then by all means we should do so but ultimately we can only guarantee our own liberty and security. We cannot guarantee that for others. It make even less sense to attempt the impossible when these "others" do not bear us positive will!!

Rob said...

Poster...of course it's Barack's War. He's the president, isn't he? If he had said no thanks, none of what's going on in Libya now would have happened, along with a lot of other bad stuff in places like Syria,Iraq ,Mali, Algeria and the Sinai.

Is he some kind of mindless robot? C'mon.

As for why the UK and France were so interested,I'm surprised you don't know, since you visit here regularly.

After the Obama Administration signaled that releasing the Lockerbie bomber was OK, the Brits and the French and Italy signed lucrative oil agreements with Khaddaffi. That money basically covered the cash settlement Khaddaffi paid out to the Lockerbie families, and then same.Tony Blair, then an ex-Brit PM made it happen for a nice 'commission.'

When the rebellion happened, in the beginning Khaddafi's forces were losing, so the perfidious EUrines rushed to make new oil agreements with the rebels.

Moamar Khaddafi was pretty outspoken about how he felt about that, and made it clear that if he won, the EUrines weren't going to get any more Libyan oil.

When his forces regrouped and began to drive the jihadis back to Benghazi, that's when the EUrines began lobbying Obama to do something. Of course, our president had his own motives.

Do a search on my site under 'Libya' and you should find ample references and a decent explanation.

B.Poster said...

"Of course it's Barack's war..." It's NATO's war of which the US is one member of the organization. As I've pointed out, such mischaracterizations help with partisan politics but they don't help to solve real world problems.

If he simply says no thanks, the EU nations likely go in anyway and they bring tremendous economic pressure and withhold cooperation on any number of national security issues with us in order to try and bring POTUS and the US government in line. While he's not a mindless robot, his power is limited when it comes to this sort of thing. It would require ENORMOUS character to stand up to the EU nations in this situation. Complicating matters is he wanted to go in for his on reasons as did various officials in the US government and various talking head/busy body pundits.

"When the Obama Administration signaled..." with all due respect Britain, France, and others do not wait around for signals from POTUS or any other US official. They act in their own interests. When nations do this it is generally understood. That is except when America and Israel do it, as they held to a higher and different standard.

What they did was they wanted oil contracts with Libya. Libya at the time had plenty to sell and was an up and coming power. The US was/is a declining power. The Europeans quite correctly assessed the situation that there would be little to no down side to angering the Americans and plenty of upside to releasing the Lockerbie bombers. In short, BHO can "signal" all he wants. If his signals run contrary to what EU nations think suits their interests, they are going to ignore him, stick a finger in his proverbial eye, or tell him to go pound sand. In this case, they likely were on the same page anyway. In any event, they are NOT going to look for his signal when doing something like that.

Also, at this time, as I understand it, a situation had been achieved whereby Libya agreed to give up WMD and cease support for Al Qaeda and other international terrorists. The Lockerbie exchange could have been part of the deal. In summary, Libya=up and coming power (at the time), America=declining power. In real politic such deals may actually make sense for the EU and perhaps for America. Lying about the real reasons was/is not appreciated.

"When the rebellion happened in the beginning..." this part never really made much sense to me and is still confusing. Even I working alone with only a pc could figure out that the rebels did not have the depth to defeat a force like Khaddaffi's. It seems inconceivable that EU nations intelligence services who have vastly more resources than I do could not figure this out. So basically why sacrifice perfectly good oil deals and violate agreements you made for an unknown like the rebels?

Of course if the analysis indicated that Khaddaffi's forces were going to fall, then this would have changed the calculus. Perhaps Khaddaffi's forces were going to fall with or without outside intervention and the outside intervention by NATO sped up the process. While it seems unlikely, it is plausible.

When Khaddaffi's forces regrouped, this is when the pressure for us to jump in heated up in earnest. If POTUS says no thanks, the EU likely gets in anyway either via direct military action or uses proxies. Maybe things end up better or worse. There is no way to know. Very likely things end up worse and we would end up involved any way due to the entangling alliances with these people.

If the EU nations say no thanks to POTUS wishes to get involved, he loses all cover of an international operation and things likely don't go forward. If they do, then America really does own it all by itself and we'd most definitely be no better off than we are now with regards to this and perhaps worse.

B.Poster said...

I try to read your commentaries every day and am pretty sure I've read everything you've written on Libya. All of your commentaries are very insightful. Very respectfully where I think you sometimes err is you overestimate American capabilities, underestimate the capabilities of adversaries and potential adversaries, overestimate our ability to influence other nations, underestimate the influence they have over us, overestimate our ability to harm them, and underestimate their ability to harm us. It is also very possible that I err. In any event, please continue the excellent work!!

I do believe there is a lesson to learn in this for those willing to learn it. During Libya as with Iraq and Afghanistan before it we and our coalition partners failed to provide adequate security for the populace in the aftermath. There simply were not enough "boots on the ground" and in many cases these "boots" did not have the same interests we have/had and in other cases were not properly vetted. Also, we've had massive intelligence failures that have yet to be seriously addressed. Unfortunately most it seems would rather play partisan politics than learn these lessons.

Please be clear this POTUS is unworthy of respect and deserves nothing but contempt for his record in regards to foreign and domestic policy. In the unlikely event he is to be impeached or arrested, he would certainly be worthy of such an outcome. NOTHING I've written here is meant to defend this man, his team, or the US government.

Bottom line the Libyan intervention has many authors and participants. To be sure, BHO's is not nominal nor insignificant but to place the entire burden or responsibility of the situation on him seems to represent an incomplete understanding of the situation.

America and BHO did not complete this problem alone nor can we solve it alone. Any type of comprehensive solution will require a massive effort on the part of us and our "allies." Unfortunately we have less ability now than we did at the time and the EU nations are NOT trustworthy. As such, I'd be reluctant to trust them or to risk undermining our sovergin rights on any issue pertaining to them.

As such, I don't see any comprehensive solution forthcoming that we can play a constructive role in solving this. Perhaps we can do some things around the margins. Perhaps if there is someone or a group who has been harmed because of our folly we can make amends by offering them asylum or something to this effect. It's not a big thing but it is perhaps a small way we can make amends and in time we can improve our country. As stated before, a great place to start would be getting out of NATO forthwith!! Perhaps a bit off topic but maybe that large Islamic population in Western Europe played a role in the eagerness of EU nations to involve themselves and us in this. Instead of "Barack's war," "40 to 50% Barack's war" is probably more accurate but this still makes him and America a very big participant!!

Rob said...

Poster, just a few points I'd like to mention.

1) Once again - Neither Britain or France had the money or the military capabilities available to carry out any kind of significant operation against Khaddaffi or the platforms for the aircraft to do so if they did.

The UK doesn't even have the ability to participate in air strikes against Islamic State and had officially said 'we pass.'

They barely have a military anymore.

'Platforms' means the bases and/or aircraft carriers to support enough planes to make a difference. Without Obama's participation, nada,nichevo,zero. It would not have happened. And as I've explained, this was NOT a NATO operation as the treaty could not have been invoked.

Respectfully, I also find your idea that the UK and France could somehow 'pressure' Obama into making a decision to be highly questionable. He did it because he wanted to.

And BTW, you might have noticed there isn't all that much strategic coordination between America and the UK and/or France these days. They simply don't have much military firepower to contribute.

2) Do a little research and you'll find that Khaddaffi never supported al-Qaeda. In fact, he considered them a threat to his regime and was supplying our CIA with valuable intel on AQIM so they could be taken out.

Khaddaffi essentially retired from the terrorism biz after Reagan did a protracted strike on Tripoli that almost killed him.

And he gave up his nuclear program, which was a lot further advanced than we realized after Saddam was captured in a hole in Iraq during the Bush Administration. He was afraid he'd be next.

BTW, here's something for you to consider. The US took out Khaddaffi after he'd voluntarily given up his nukes was helping us with AQIM and was no threat to us whatsoever.

Don't think that lesson was lost on other actors in the region, like Iran.

B.Poster said...

Without the US military to supply the "heavy lifting" the Libyan military intervention likely does not happen, without the pressure applied by the EU nations the operation likely does not happen, without the EU/NATO nations supplying support in some fashion to support the operation it likely does not come to fruition, without various talking head pundits pushing for it the operation likely does not happen, and without POTUS's desire to contribute the operation likely does not come to fruition. They all played a role.

Even Canada somehow thought the operation worthwhile so much that they made a contribution. Contributions of any type are not to be taken lightly as they are necessary to a military operation and they place the nation participating at risk as they become a target of the nation the military action is directed against.

EU nations routinely use pressure via "soft power" against the US and since there is no possibility of the US using "hard power" to confront them, this is very effective for them. Even if "hard power" were used against them by us, they'd counter with sanctions and since we are unable to yield an oil weapon as Russia can, we'd be much more vunerable to this type of pressure. So, yes, EU pressure likely played a part. With that said POTUS did want to go along with misguided operation which likely mitigated this pressure. Even if he did not want to go along only about 1/100 men at best would have had the character to resist the kind of pressure that would have/was brought to bear.

The media analysts refer to this as a NATO operation, the government officials refer to this as a "NATO"/"Coalition" operation. I suppose we can use a technicality to say it was not. Bottom line the operation had significant diplomatic and political support from a number of places. without the operation could not have happened. The EU/NATO very easily could have passed on this. Instead they took the lead with the US following behind to do the so called "heavy lifting." If they pass, we likely pass and if we pass they likely pass. We are all in this one together. Hopefully constructive solutions can be found to the problems at hand. Unfortunately I have no confidence in either European or American leaders on this or just about anything else.

The last five paragraphs are spot on. I'm aware of this but thanks for bringing this up for readers who may not be. I'd add though that fear of "being next" by itself is likely not sufficient. It's entirely plausible, I think, that the Lockerbie deal was agreed to in order to solidify cooperation and the right time was waited for in order to pull the trigger on the deal.

And I'm sure you're right about this not being lost on other actors. Frankly, Democracies like America are unstable as the governments are subject to rapid change. Unfortunately I'd be reluctant to make any kind of agreement with America right now if I'm a foreign leader because 1.)the current leadership is untrustworthy, and 2.)even if worthwhile agreements could be made and we could trust current leadership to uphold the agreements, the leadership is subject to change with the next election cycle!!