Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

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You Might Have Missed: Libya Edition

by Micah Zenko
August 25, 2011

A man holds a weapon and a Kingdom of Libya flag as people gather near the courthouse in Benghazi on August 22, 2011 (Esam Al-Fetori/Courtesy Reuters).

–Joby Warrick and Scott Wilson, “U.S. Presses Libyan Rebels to Preserve Order,” Washington Post, August, 22, 2011.

“’This is precisely the way that we had been saying the strategy was suppose to work,’ said Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.”

–Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, “Graham and McCain on the End of Qadaffi Regime in Libya,” joint statement, August 22, 2011.

“Americans can be proud of the role our country has played in helping to defeat Qaddafi, but we regret that this success was so long in coming due to the failure of the United States to employ the full weight of our airpower.” (3PA: A remarkable statement from Sen. Graham who in early April offered perhaps the best burden-sharing quote ever: “”When we call[ed] for a no-fly zone, we didn’t mean our planes.”)

–David Owen, “We Have Proved in Libya that Intervention Can Still Work,” London Daily Telegraph, August 23, 2011.

“[Libyan rebels] success represents a vindication of the NATO strategy, and provides a template for the toppling of despots in Syria and elsewhere.”

“We have also set a precedent: that intervention can and does work.”

–Anne Applebaum, “Let Libya Take Charge of Its Revolution,” Washington Post, August 23, 2011.

“The Libyan revolution needn’t end in civil war. But there is no guarantee that it won’t.” (3PA: The situation in Libya from early March until last week was a “civil war.” As Stanford University political scientist, James Fearon wrote in 2006: “Civil war refers to a violent conflict between organized groups within a country that are fighting over control of the government, one side’s separatist goals, or some divisive government policy.” The Libyan civil war began on March 5, when the Benghazi-based Transitional National Council declared itself the legitimate power of the country, and called for the “the termination of the dictatorial regime.”  Read here for the “Founding Statement of the Interim Transitional National Council (TNC).”)

–Stephen Fidler and Alistair MacDonald, “Europeans Retreat on Defense Spending,” Wall Street Journal, August 24, 2011.

“If you’re not able to deploy troops beyond your borders, then you can’t exert influence internationally, and then that gap will be filled by emerging powers that don’t necessarily share your values and thinking.”

–U.S. Department of State, Patterns of Global Terrorism: 2010, Middle East and North Africa Overview, August 18, 2011.

“The Libyan government continued to demonstrate a strong and active commitment to combating terrorist organizations and violent extremism through bilateral and regional counterterrorism and security cooperation, particularly on the issue of foreign fighter flow to Iraq. Domestically, the Government of Libya has continued implementation of a counter-radicalization program focused on rehabilitating former Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) leaders and members, as well as other Libyans formerly involved with extremist organizations. Regionally, Libya remained a counterterrorism ally and worked with neighboring countries to counter and respond to terrorist threats stemming from al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other extremist groups.” (3PA: With Qaddafi out of power, do you think Libya’s counterterrorism cooperation with the United States will be better, same, or worse?)

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  • Posted by Matt

    It is no special doctrine, clearly if you deny an enemy air supremacy and have air supremacy with indigenous forces you can defeat the conventional phase of the process. It is how it ends that counts, and NATO made a lot of predictable mistakes. Done properly major combat operations are over in a month and a clean ending to it.

    That was the only reason I supported intervention early because it was low drag.

    After that it was to stop a massacre in Benghazi and then tie it off, which was going to happen anyway when momentum changes to Qaddafi forces.

    But with air power and indigenous forces and the right moment you can kick out a dictator in a month of major combat operations. But what it is all about is managing blow back. If you cannot negate the blow back don’t do it.

    And that means quick and clean, but each situation is different and you have to manage all those complex factors so it can be done quickly.

    It is messy this one. Basically it oops Libya has just exploded, do we let him kill them or change the regime, broker a deal. Was Libya a target no, was regime change cast over Libya no. Same as Egypt collateral damage, it is all about managing the blow back, the army in Egypt manage it, in Libya Younes becomes PM democratically elected some freedom for people and putting the Army in charge, so it does not fall apart.

    If Libya was a pregnancy it would be called a mistake.

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