'Each man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world'
-- Arthur Schopenhauer, Essays and Aphorisms

'Artists are tricky fellows sir, forever shaping the world according to some design of their own'
-- Jonathan Strange, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Monday, 21 March 2011

Mixed Signals

'Relevant questions include: Is the political objective we seek to achieve important, clearly defined and understood? Have all other nonviolent policy means failed? Will military force achieve the objective? At what cost? Have the gains and risks been analyzed? How might the situation that we seek to alter, once it is altered by force, develop further and what might be the consequences? As an example of this logical process, we can examine the assertions of those who have asked why President Bush did not order our forces on to Baghdad after we had driven the Iraqi army out of Kuwait. We must assume that the political objective of such an order would have been capturing Saddam Hussein. Even if Hussein had waited for us to enter Baghdad, and even if we had been able to capture him, what purpose would it have served?'

'We should always be skeptical when so-called experts suggest that all a particular crisis calls for is a little surgical bombing or a limited attack. When the "surgery" is over and the desired result is not obtained, a new set of experts then comes forward with talk of just a little escalation--more bombs, more men and women, more force. History has not been kind to this approach to war-making. In fact this approach has been tragic'
[excerpts from Colin Powell, 'US Forces: The Challenges Ahead', Foreign Affairs, Winter, 1992]

'I also want to be clear about what we will not be doing. The US is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya. And we are not going to use force to go beyond a well-defined goal -- specifically, the protection of civilians in Libya.'
US President Barack Obama, March 19

Too many cooks...

British Prime-Minister, Cameron, Feb 28: 'And we do not in any way rule out the use of military assets, we must not tolerate this regime using military force against its own people. In that context I have asked the Ministry of Defence and the Chief of the Defence Staff to work with our allies on plans for a military no-fly zone.'

US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates: warns against 'loose talk' of no-fly zone. 'A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya, with an attack on air defences'. And would 'require more aircraft than are on a single aircraft carrier.'

French Government Spokesman, Francois Barouin: the goal of the military action would be to 'protect the Libyan people and to allow them to go all the way in their drive for freedom, which means bringing down the Gaddafi regime'.

UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox: targetting Qaddafi, 'would potentially be a possibility'

US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates: it would be, 'unwise' to try to kill Qaddafi.

General Sir David Richards, Chief of Defence Staff, March 21, morning: Qaddafi 'absolutely not' a target.

March 21, Afternoon, UK [government sources] cited by BBC: More on the question of whether it is legal to target Col Gaddafi: British government sources have said it is legal under the UN resolution to target the Libyan leader. Sources say under the UN resolution 1973, the coalition have the power to target him if he is a threat to the civilian population of Libya. The source said the chief of the defence staff, Gen Sir David Richards, was wrong to say that it was not allowed under the UN resolution. However sources declined to say whether this meant Col Gadaffi was a target.

Amr Moussa, Sec-Gen, Arab League, March 18: 'The goal is to protect civilians first of all, and not to invade or occupy. The resolution is clear on that point' and the League has 'stressed the jamming of radar that would not allow the attacking of the civilian population'.

Amr Moussa, Sec-Gen, Arab League, March 19/20: 'What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians.'

Amr Moussa, Sec-Gen, Arab League, March 20/21: “The Arab League decisions have been announced and we are committed to them. We respect the Security Council resolution and have no contradiction with this resolution' 

US President Obama on a coalition in a single speech:
'The US has worked with our allies and partners to shape a strong international response'.
'The US is prepared to act as part of an international coalition. American leadership is essential, but that does not mean acting alone.'
'So I have taken this decision with the confidence that action is necessary, and that we will not be acting alone.'
'It is not an action that we will pursue alone. Indeed, our British and French allies, and members of the Arab League, have already committed to take a leadership role'.

Russian Prime-Minister Vladmir Putin, March 21: condemned the resolution as 'flawed'. 'It allows everything. It resembles medieval calls for crusades.' 

India: The government in New Delhi added to the criticism, saying in a statement: “India views with grave concern the continuing violence, strife and deteriorating humanitarian situation in Libya. It regrets the air strikes that are taking place. The measures adopted should mitigate and not exacerbate an already difficult situation for the people of Libya.” 

China: “regretted” the military action and respected Libya’s sovereignty. A foreign ministry statement said: “China has noted the latest developments in Libya and expresses regret over the military attacks on Libya.
“We hope Libya can restore stability as soon as possible and avoid further civilian casualties due to an escalation of armed conflict,” it added. 

Command and Control?

Gates, March 20: US will not have a 'preeminent role'.

Bulgarian PM, Borisov, March 21: 'I hope that today, NATO will take command because even the Americans insist on a European Command.' NATO hasn’t still taken the command. 'There are many mixed signals and it shows how topsy-turvy world is in making decisions. Many European politicians have very guilty conscience about being, the life and behaviour of Gaddafi years ago.'

Unnamed European Diplomat, March 21: 'France are the only ones opposed to a unified command under NATO. It is completely isolated.' 

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn: lamented that the, 'game between the coalition and NATO is undermining the whole international community.'

Liam Fox, March 20, interview with BBC: 'Some of our allies have been worried that this is, this might not be the best way to get Arab participation in the coalition'.

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