UN approves military intervention to protect Free Benghazi

The UN Security Council has approved air strikes against Gadaffi loyalist forces and the Gadaffi mercenary army as they advance on "Free Benghazi," the Libyan rebel stronghold. In response, Gadaffi told a Portuguese TV station, "This is craziness, madness, arrogance. If the world gets crazy with us we will get crazy too. We will respond. We will make their lives hell because they are making our lives hell. They will never have peace." The no-fly zone and intervention will be enforced with support from Arab League members who earlier passed a resolution calling on the UN to take action (the Arab League has always had a fraught relationship with Gadaffi, whose presence at League meetings has been marked by the aforementioned "crazy").
7.05pm ET: There's some very impressive singing in central Benghazi, accompanied by celebratory gunfire, right now, based on al-Jazeera's footage.

An al-Jazeera English reporter, Tony Birtley, later says: "I haven't been hugged by so many people since my daughter's birthday party."

7.11pm ET: US enforcement of a no-fly zone in Libya could begin by Sunday or Monday, according to anonymous US officials quoted by AP, and would involve "jet fighters, bombers and surveillance aircraft".

7.16pm ET: Italy announces it is opening its air force and naval bases in Sicily for operations against Libya - the obvious spot to base US and British jets.

The Berlusconi government may have had relatively warm relations with Libya, but Italy's Nato obligations gave it little choice but to allow other members to use its bases.

Libya resolution: UN security council air strikes vote - as it happened


  1. Ahh… we seem to have been struck by that ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times…”

  2. Great, another “humanitarian” intervention into the middle east. Can we fucking stop doing this? Sometime, any decade now?

    1. From what I’ve been hearing on the news, yes, at least three arab countries (althought not sure which) are taking part.

  3. The man is mad, obviously. . .

    no fly=no brain

    Why not transfer the waste of blood and treasure in Afghanistan to the freedom and liberty hungry in Libya?

    ‘Wait, what? Mr K. was our ally a second ago when he promised not to build those nuclear plants on his sovereign lands ~~” ‘Plus his oil is so yummy’

    Tragedy in Nihon notwithstanding: ‘Bought damn time this no fly thing.

    People die while you dither, First Class Political Humans. . .

    (of course, peeps be dyin’ erry day. . .but if you shout ‘FREEDOM!’ and turn a blind eye to those that fight for it. . .)

    Then you need to put up. or shut up.

  4. The Arab League is very important as the intervention cannot be dismissed now as a “western invasion”. It was very cautious in the case of Egypt and Tunisia, not wanting revolutions in their own states.

    Indeed it took all very long, but it is one of the rare times there is no veto in the Security Council.

    I’m sincerely hoping the situation in the middle east will generally improve. Sadly ‘the west’ has a habit of promoting corruption in foreign governments (if they weren’t corrupt they’s do what was good for their people and not what’s good for the west…)

  5. I suppose we’ll now be hearing how every atrocity that Gadaffi commits from now on is the US’s fault because they “provoked” him. See Milosovic and Saddam.

    And of course the US and British taxpayers get to foot the bill for all this as we couldn’t expect the impoverished countries of the Arab League, such as Saudi Arabia, to contribute in either money or manpower.

    1. we couldn’t expect the impoverished countries of the Arab League

      Exactly, the “Arab League” has screwed up its collective courage sufficiently to demand that Europe and the US expend some blood and treasure on its behalf.

  6. – Intervene in revolution when carnage in foreign country hits peak, don’t answer questions about former support of murderous tyrant-du-jour when he was a valued ally due to geopolitical importance/natural resources

    – Secure strategic positions in ‘liberated’ territory, carelessly try to install non-local flavor of ‘democracy’ while inflaming ancestral rifts and animosities

    – Instigate and support coups of elected government if/when democracy in liberated territory strays to ‘inconvenient’ directions

    – Prop up friendly/puppet ruler with heavy hand on population but lax resource-exporting policies

    – Demonize said ruler when he starts biting hand that feeds

    – Repeat.

  7. And we go to war again, to stop yet another delusional madman from murdering his own people.

    And again it is the same delusional madman from whom we happily took oil just a couple of months ago.

    History is not a circle, it’s a gyroscope.

    1. “History is not a circle, it’s a gyroscope.”

      Oh, I am going to have to remember that one. I googled it, and came back with no results – is that something you came up with?

  8. the freedom and liberty hungry in Libya

    Whether they are truly “freedom and liberty hungry” has yet to
    be established.

    For example, I would be more likely to answer that in the affirmative if I knew they were in favor of freedom for Libyan girls to grow up uncircumcised, or freedom for Jews to own businesses in Libya.

    1. For example, I would be more likely to answer that in the affirmative if I knew they were in favor of freedom for Libyan girls to grow up uncircumcised

      A quick Google search shows that FGM is not usually practiced in Libya, and that there are cases only among some nomadic tribes and in communities of migrants from other parts of Africa.

  9. I worry that it’s too little too late.

    A week ago rebels had several important strongholds and the government forces were on their back foot. The rebels had a chance at winning everything. With a no-fly zone in place, they might have done exactly that, with not a single Western boot on the ground.

    Now they have nothing but Benghazi. Gadaffi’s forces are stronger and are pushing the advantage.

    So what can we do. We can send it our troops to protect Benghazi, but will we succeed in protecting a city against a madman who will have no problem launching anything he has against it? Our mission is many times harder now — with Gadaffi having the advantage, we have to protect the lives of thousands, whereas all he needs to do is get enough artillery in there to flatten it.

    And what will happen if we do succeed in protecting it? Are the rebels going to be content with Free Benghazi? Of course not. They’re going to push forward again. Will we help them? If we don’t, we’re not protecting them. If we move forward with them on the front lines, we’re an invading army.

    If the rebels don’t choose to push forward and oust Gadaffi, then Gadaffi gets to sit there, undefeated, and now our official enemy.

    Stupid foot-dragging US has made us jump into this fight at precisely the worst time, when almost any future event will turn out badly for us.

  10. You can paint it whatever color of freedom whitewash you want, it’s still the foreign invasion of a sovereign nation.

    Let countries fight their own civil wars. It’s part of every nation’s evolution, which can only be hindered by meddling foreigners. If you want to do something meaningful, work on knocking out one of the supports of tyranny – petroleum dependency, the international mercenary business, or religious fanaticism would all be good targets. You can fight those things in your own goddamn country.

    1. If you look at history, revolutions that couldn’t get outside support have tended to be especially hard-fought and bloody, whether successful or not. One has to be careful when to get involved so as to respect people’s rights to self-determination, but saying you never should is essentially saying you don’t believe in those rights. At the very least you’d expect the US, a country originally bankrolled by France, to be a little bit more generous.

  11. SamSam,

    I think Obama ‘dragging his feet’ was really smart. This way, the Arab League took the lead. The US won’t be seen as an imperial force, they’re there as support.

    Plus, I’m pretty sure that Obama was instrumental in having Russia and China not vote at the UN Security Council on the No Fly Zone.

  12. Well I see Mr Gaddhafi has already declared a unilateral cease-fire, and asked for negotiations to start.

    So far, so good!

    1. Well I see Mr Gaddhafi has already declared a unilateral cease-fire, and asked for negotiations to start.

      So far, so good!

      According to direct opposition sources and Al-Jazeera, CNN and AP reporters, after the announce of the cease-fire the Libyan Army proceeded to shell Misurata, Gharian, Zintan and Adjabiya.

      Either their coordination and communications suck or this is just an attempt to delay the no-fly zone.

    2. “declared a unilateral cease fire and asked for negotiations to start”

      Every member of the Dictator’s Club knows that properly worded statements, timed at an appropriate interval, can serve to delay U.N. action indefinitely. Thereby permitting butchery to continue at a leisurely pace.

      1. He has not “delayed” anything, he has responded to the UN no-fly zone…Mr Gaddhafi he is smart enough to change his tactics in response to the actions of others: which is something every competent soldier should assume about their adversaries.

        And he does have some support, you know: that oil money over 40 years would have juiced a lot of people, people who would not be entirely human, imho, if they were to ditch him now, and seek ” the other side”.

        1. …people like Nelson Mandela, and the ANC, for example, at a time when both that great man and his Party were labeled as “terrorists” by the Government of the USA, and were desperately in need of assistance and support.

          Gaddahfi provided that support, iirc.

        2. that oil money over 40 years would have juiced a lot of people, people who would not be entirely human, imho, if they were to ditch him now, and seek ” the other side”.

          I think it would be entirely human to turn your back on someone who has shown such callous disregard for the lives of his people. You shouldn’t feel obligated to be nice to an old friend when he starts massacring hundreds of people.

          1. Well i agree such behavior would be entirely consistent with the past behavior of princes, potentates and powerful states.

            As to Gaddafi attacking his own people: it is the civilians we seek to protect, not rebel fighters – for it is on that point that my support for this operation depends.

            Just so: we ought to support and protect all peaceful civilian populations everywhere from the attack of organized armed forces.

          2. “it is the civilians we seek to protect”

            I don’t think it’s going Godwin to suggest that if we had determined to defeat Hitler while sparing 100.00 percent of the non-Nazi civilian lives in Germany and the occupied countries, the swastika might still be flying today.

            We don’t want to kill civilians as a strategy. But in a world where the bad guys often hide in schools, mosques and hospitals, civilians are going to be killed regardless.

            And it’s because America, and the world, seem unable to cope with that fact as they could in WWII, that I oppose US military involvement in Libya (and Iraq, and Afghanistan).

  13. Why was a policy of inaction considered appropriate when the Iranian people tried to rise up against their police state, but not appropriate when the Libyans do the same?

    1. Oh yes our military morality ought to operate in ignorance and despite of numbers, strengths, positions, politics.

      Don’t be silly!

    2. Indeed, if we wish to become more moral in our foreign policies, where is the protection for the Bahraini protesters?

      Those Bahraini protesters do have the support of the nearest democratic body after all, the Parliament of Iraq:


      ..who are calling for their protection.

      Where’s the NY Times on this?

      1. What the last few decades of US and UN policy has proved is that if you have (a) nukes or (b) a sufficiently large amount of oil, you can pretty much butcher your own population at will.

        I’m also wondering whether a military solution in Libya, which might result in long term disruption to that country’s oil production would be good, or bad, for the economies of the “Arab League”. Whadda you think, Canuck??

    3. Why was a policy of inaction considered appropriate when the Iranian people tried to rise up against their police state, but not appropriate when the Libyans do the same?


      1.) Iran is many times bigger, many times more important, and many times stronger than Libya, in both hard and soft power in the region. Therefore, it requires many times more strategic planning.

      2.) Iran cracked down on protests like Tiananmen, they did not start committing genocide, bombing their own cities with advanced fighter, and threaten to go to every house in every city and murder whoever is inside. And they did not threaten to blow up civilian aircraft, watercraft, and other targets in and around Iran if anyone did anything.

    4. Probably because a policy of inaction wasn’t considered inappropriate when the Iraqis didn’t try to rise up against their government. If we’re going to pretend to spread democracy, we might as well be consistent enough to help the people who actually want it.

  14. One headline reports that Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa as saying, “[Libya] takes great interest in protecting civilians.” A lolwhut? if there ever were one.

  15. Gadafe, Kadafi, Quadafi, Kahdafee, er – whatever, should try to remember what happened the last time foreign powers bombed his country.

    I do hope the US doesn’t take the dominate role in this action, but given how much stuff we have and where we have it, it probably will be us. If you’re lucky you can watch B2s come and go from Missouri to Libya. (Missouri!)

    I’m sick of the “US bad because US deal with bad leaders”. These are the same people who say “US bad because US invade Iraq”. They want it both ways.

    I had a very Machiavellian outlook with Iraq in the beginning. But I think what the recent unrest shows us, is usurping an oppressive, but stable, leader requires the populace to be hungry enough to do something about it. They are the ones who need to do the bulk of the work.

    This can be seen with how the Kurdish areas of Iraq stabilized much sooner than other areas. Perhaps support after the Kuwait war, when there was a small revolution that was crushed, would have been a better time to support a regime change.

    But anyway – we can’t police the world. We don’t really want to. It would be impossible to function in our global economy/society with out relations with less than desirable leaders.

    1. Non non non the French seem willing and able and interested- the have long done business in Libya, and probably have good info sources in that country – and my own country is sending some fighter jets, too.

      This is NATO action, not a USA action.

      That both China and Russia abstained from using their vetoes at the UN Security Council is still somewhat of a wonder to me: and perhaps it provides a hopeful glimmer of what the proper post-cold-war use of the UN might look like, as a model for future interventions to prevent civilian casualties.

      But those possible vetoes are still there for use in future votes; and after all, I notice that the USA itself does still use its veto, when it sees fit to.

    2. Personally, I kinda like optional spellings for names – “Be creative”, such names seem to whisper to me, whenever I am writing one out.

    3. I’m sick of the “US bad because US deal with bad leaders”. These are the same people who say “US bad because US invade Iraq”. They want it both ways.

      Is there no middle ground between actively supporting bad leaders, and invading their countries without any real reconstruction plans?

    4. Kurdistan is very much it’s own thing, the reason Kurdish areas of Iraq tend towards stability is because of this. The Kurds may not have their own state, but they are a nation. When America invaded Iraq the Ba’athist government essentially faded away to became just another faction fighting to establish a new order. In Kurdish areas there was already another governance system operating, the disorder created by the collapse of the state was thus less severe and had a relatively large and coherent organization in place to combat it.

      My point is that I don’t think you can extrapolate much from the recent history of the Kurdish in Iraq unless it is within the context of Kurdistan, stateless nations, or extralegal governance.

      1. My point in using the Kurds as an example is they actively wanted something different and fought for it. This was one of the reasons they were targeted by Saddam before. As you pointed out, they already had a level of self governance before the war.

        But they had a common goal, a level of unity and cohesion, and the willingness to ‘do the work’, which I believe are why Egypt, Libya, and hopefully others are going to have a new government.

  16. Beware of foreign entanglements -Geo Washington

    Folks in glass empires ought not fly drones
    -Future Aphorism

  17. Oh great, involvement in yet another war in that region. That’s exactly what we needed.

  18. Regardless of what you might think about yet another military operation in the Arab world, I’d refrain from referring to Gaddafi as a “madman”. He’s not mad, he’s actually an extremely intelligent person who managed to become the ruler of his own country by manipulating everyone, including “superior” foreign powers, in doing his bidding for decades. And he’s done that without gassing millions of people (well, he’s probably killed or tortured a few thousands, but mainly for practical and “rational” reasons).

    Look at what he’s done as soon as the UN resolution was passed: declaring a “theoretical” ceasefire that will no doubt be vigorously enforced… in a day or two, just enough time to get enough strategic positions around Benghazi.

    Characterizing your opponents as “mad” is just a propaganda trick.

  19. Oh, thank god. I was hoping they would do this because, of course, we, being the most moral people on the face of the planet should be judge, jury and executioner of who gets to live or die. And, since we aren’t involved in enough wars already, killing enough people yet, we should really start another shooting war with another asshole. And, since the rich bastards in the Arab League are too f’ing cowardly to do it themselves, we’ll be their hired gun. Tell me again why we have done and continue to do nothing in Darfur, or a hundred other places where innocent people are being killed by dictators? Oh yeah, Darfur has no oil. I forgot.

    We Americans must be the stupidest people on earth. I have sent very strongly worded e-mails to my congressional group telling them I want an immediate resolution forbidding the US to interfere in Libya’s CIVIL WAR.


  20. It saddens me that discussions on what countries we should be involved in never seem to mention the point on which they should start and finish: whether the people are asking us for help.

  21. I’m getting similar arguments from friends who, to be fair, are raising the issue of hypocrisy and are asking why not go after the bigger bastards instead of the easy targets.

    Except it’s not about us; it’s about the people asking–begging–for our help after risking everything and then facing the prospect of losing it all. And we have to be sure we really understand the situation, come up with a course of action that might actually lead to a solution, then get global agreement (active or tacit) for it.

    With Libya and Qaddafi, there’s never been a clearer choice. Qaddafi is a thug, pure and simple, and he was going to pass the family business–er, the country of Libya–along to his sons. Saif was always a psycho, pretty much doing what he wanted. He blagged his way through the London School of economics; aside from that, he’s no different from Uday or Qusai Hussein.

    This time we got it right.

    And those other “hard” targets just got a little easier.

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