Living In Our Own Heads. (Not So Much An Excogitation, More Of A Rambling Rant)

by Daniel Russ on April 3, 2011

Educated by cable news and US public schools our understanding of the world has to be pre-chewed, sanitized, pixelated and explained by “experts” who are all too often paid for opinion out of the Public Relations industry. Conventional wisdom about the nature of Arab societies is utterly Hollywood.

Laurence Gbagbo, Ivory Coast Dictator

The actual gritty horror of war and what it does is very thinly covered by the media and wars become matter of honor and freedom not terror or anger when you watch them covered on the screen. The notion that a civil war between two disparate groups can be won with F-15s and precision munitions was born in a public that grew up watching Desert Storm where missiles literally went down smokestacks and into windows. But Lybia is anything but a videogame war, and as I stated a few weeks ago, it’s one thing to establish a no-fly zone and bomb armor assets from the air. A real civil war however, the dirty close up fighting that marks a ground war is not something you can do from 10,000 feet.


Now the enthusiasm for a no-fly zone seems to be abating; or rather the notion that a Kosovo style bombing campaign will stop an army devoted to a corrupt dictator is evanescing. The French, Canadians, British, Norwegian and Danish air crews have taken over as a sort of NATO like ISAF in the air. On the ground, triumphant rebels have taken, lost and retaken and lost again the town of Bin Jawad and it looks like

Lybian Rebels

Ghaddafi’s forces could actually win this war. Obama was reticent to get involved with a hot war and an expensive occupation going on in two Mideast countries. And the pressure mounts to both disengage and get more entangled at the same time. On one hand, this US military has been sort of tapped out, as they say. Multiple deployments into Iraq and Afghanistan have exhausted troops, worn down equipment and added to a Defense Department budget that is spending Monopoly money to keep up the enormous military commitments the US maintains. On the other hand, there is a tremendous empathy for the people of Lybia yearning for freedom. Obama made the right call to handover air defense to allies, as we cannot go on being the world’s police force. It is likely that if the US Army doesn’t enter into the fray to arm and train rebel forces, perhaps another one of our armies will do that. I am referring to the armies the US maintains that are unaffiliated with the US Constitution. These would include the 50,000 or so special forces soldiers that defected from the actual Special Forces and joined the company now known as Xe Corporation. Or I might be referring to the unaffiliated army might be one attached to the CIA that has ignored the Constitution since its inception. There are of course many other military assets in this country; as that seems to be the only thing we buy for anyone and that’s another story on another day.


It’s odd to hear liberals cheering on the bombing of pro Ghadaffi forces. This is still war, but we are still in grave debt. Liberals should be worried. While Conservatives are winning big battles against social services, it’s not as if defunding NPR, Planned Parenthood and busting unions will somehow pay the $100 million a week tab. Not too long ago most people realized that the country is essentially an insolvent bank, but we barely blink an eye when we fire off over a hundred $1 million dollar Tomahawk Cruise missiles.

From today’s NYT by Robert F Worth

Qaddafi did not start out as a radical. When he and a group of fellow officers replaced Libya’s frail monarchy in 1969, they considered themselves youthful protégés of the Arab nationalist leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt. Qaddafi spoke of social justice, of Arab pride, of developing the country with Libya’s gift of oil wealth. Many of the people who spoke most bitterly about his rule told me they supported him heartily at first and even took to the streets after the 1969 coup to support this handsome, youthful officer. It was only years later, after Qaddafi grew frustrated with the pace of change, that his messianic and violent persona emerged. Qaddafi reprised his redistribution policies earlier this year, as the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt were gathering steam. With no warning, he appeared on Libyan state television and urged poor people to squat in a vast middle-class housing complex in Benghazi that was almost complete. The units had all been sold in advance, and their owners were furious; fights broke out as poor families flooded into the complex after the Leader’s speech. It seems very likely that Qaddafi was hoping the conflict would distract people from their protest plans.

The point of all this is that Ghadaffi is going to try and hold onto power, and he is no Boy Scout. He probably realizes that his life is essentially over if he leaves Lybia and remember that a kitty cat fights like a tiger when cornered. Especially when he has nothing to lose. He had enough wealth to finance his own army and frankly, we don’t have any idea if the next strongman won’t be worse. There is a sort of dreamlike stupidity that I see floating around our news media. To Americans the fight in Lybia is over democracy. We have no idea if the Lybians really want democracy, or simply a just and thoughtful leader leader. Many Lybians are used to living in clannish religious theocracies and are OK with all of that so long as they can live their lives. The idea that somehow everyone is yearning for democracy is uninformed. The idea that because people have had it with a dictator somehow means a better day is dawning in their governance is naïve at best. Many of today’s stable Arab demagogues just replaced previous demagogues. The irony is lost when we shake Saddam Hussein’s hand, and arm him for decades and then decide to invade and bomb his country into powder.  Irony dies when we call a brutal dictator like Hosni Mubarak a friend only because he keeps peace with Israel.

Norwegian F-16


In Lybia, Al Quaeda leadership is thriving in the chaos of revolutionary struggle. Al Quadea doesn’t really care who wins. They just want to use this opportunity to cut Lybia oil supplies to the US. So, unfortunately for the Ivory Coast population, they are not on oil and that will not receive US attention.


This war is barely being covered. It’s being talked about, but the world isn’t seeing combat on the ground. Similarly a dictator in the Ivory Coast is about to be ousted militarily, Laurence Gbagbo, and this started years. Just yesterday 800 people were killed in that conflict and we saw none of it on TV. I give it two weeks before people start conflating this conflict with Lybia, Tunisia and Egypt.


Related Posts:

Previous post:

Next post: