Foreign Policy

The Libyan Rebels We "Saved" From Qaddafi Have Taken to Looting, Burning, and Beating


The New York Times' C.J. Chivers reports that Libyan rebels in the western part of the country have taken to beating Qaddafi loyalists and looting and raiding their villages: 

The looting included many businesses and at least two medical centers that, like the towns, are now deserted and bare.

Rebel fighters also beat people suspected of being loyalists and burned their homes, [Human Rights Watch] said.

Rebel officials in the mountains have played down the looting and arson in recent days. In an interview on Sunday, Col. Mukhtar Farnana, the region's senior commander, said that reprisals were not sanctioned and that he did not know any details about them.

But Human Rights Watch said the same commander shared details with its investigators and conceded that rebels had abused people suspected of being collaborators as towns changed hands.


A rebel near Qawalish on Tuesday confirmed Colonel Farnana's view, saying that the rebels had instructions not to "break anything or burn houses," but that orders ran up against the realities of waging war with a nonprofessional, quasi-military force.

"Before we liberate an area, we do have intelligence information about the people who were helping the army in the local town," said the rebel, Hatam Idris. "So we do know these people, and their homes. And when we liberate a town, we go straightaway to those homes."

The houses often have ammunition or weapons in them, he said, and often are ransacked and burned. "Some people do this individually," he said.

Chivers argues convincingly that Qaddafi's forces are worse, what with bombing civilians and executing prisoners. Then he notes that the rebels have a mixed record of treatment themselves, with some captured Qaddafi troops receiving "medical treatment in rebel hospitals and have been kept in detention centers that nongovernment organizations have been allowed to visit," while others have been beaten and "shot through the feet, either as a punishment or as a means to prevent escape."

I suppose the consolation here is that we are funding the lesser of two evils? 


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  1. It’s OK. The abuses by our “allies” are unintended consequences so it doesn’t tarnish the intent behind the mission.

    1. No one could have foreseen this.

      1. I miss Condi.

        She could not foresee anything – not a admirable trait for a NSA.

        1. “The United States is viewed less favorably in much of the Arab world today than it was during the final year of the Bush administration, and President Obama is less popular in the region than Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to a poll released today by the Arab American Institute, a nonpartisan research and advocacy group.”


          1. The part about Iran being mostly more popular than the U.S. really struck me – a lot of Arabs share a lot of mutual hatred with a lot of Persians.

    2. Where is Danny to defend all of this?

      1. He’s in the basement, with some new friend of his… I think his name is “shrek” or something. I wasn’t paying attention, as I’m busy watching my stories on TV.

    3. Loyalists following the American revolution had a rough time too. Should France have assisted the American colonies when they revolted? Hell, should they even have revolted at all? I guess we can all be good little subjects to George 3 and Mad Duck…

      Bunch of hypocrits, think you’d never seen what revolution looks like. What do you think would happen to these rebels if they lost. Fuck the loyalists, and fuck you if you have sympathy for Gaddafi and his crew.

      1. —“Should France have assisted the American colonies when they revolted?—

        France assisted the colonies for the same reason we are supporting the rebels. It was in their percieved interests to do so. They were not looking to spread liberty or freedom. It was strictly a selfish act.


        1. “France assisted the colonies for the same reason we are supporting the rebels. It was in their percieved interests to do so. They were not looking to spread liberty or freedom. It was strictly a selfish act.”

          — No “we” are assisting the muslim radicals because Barack Hussein Obama’s only consistent policy has been to support islamic terrorists and to destroy America.

          1. Lots of presidents assisted Muslim radicals and supported Islamic terrorists so Obama isn’t particularly special in that regard.

        2. ‘NTTAWWT’

          Exactly. But I’d say they WERE looking to spread liberty and freedom, as their nation was ground zero of the Enlightenment craze, and would go into full revolution mode itself a decade later. The fact that they got to spite their rival AND hopefully see some of their ideas put in to action was win-win for them.

          1. We’ve always been a war with xinsert random nation herex! How dare you traitors not support a) the liberation of a radical Islamist mass that we’ll be fighting against in ten years, b) the death of our Common Nemesis, c) the War on Terror, d) extending the Bush-Trotsky doctrine e) Obama’s Quest to be the next Herald for Galactus, f) hand jobs for Righteous arm chair warriors with nuclear titties? How can you people be so blind and not see that this serves our Great National Interest?

      2. Louis XVI’s France was strongly committed to the idea of spreading democracy and liberation from the shackles of monarchy. Sort of a mistake, in retrospect.

  2. You know, this has been a really good Reason day. Lot of good stories and active comment threads. I have managed to successfully avoid doing any work for nearly 2 1/2 hours now.

    1. That is teh awsum! Good for you! I’ve not been so successful – I’ll try harder…

    2. You lucky, lucky goldbricking piece of shit.

      1. Hey, my goldbricking is going through the roof since QE3 was floated.

        I know that was weak, but I couldn’t figure out how to tie the term “goldbricking” into a gold joke. Fuck all of you, quit judging me!

        1. Get back to work dammit!

        2. Get back to work dammit!

          1. Sounds like he really means it, Jim.

  3. This is nothing compared to what will happen in Syria if the Assad regime ever gets seriously threatened. Many Syrians who were affected by the Hama massacre have been keeping tabs on who works for the regime. If it ever falls it will make what’s going on in Lybia right now look like Vermont.

    1. Well, Libya’s biggest export is maple syrup, and Libyans say “ayup” a lot, so they’re already somewhat like Vermont.

  4. In an interview on Sunday, Col. Mukhtar Farnana, the region’s senior commander, said that reprisals were not sanctioned and that he did not know any details about them.

    He’s the Eric Holder of the rebel alliance.

  5. I suppose the consolation here is that we are funding the lesser of two evils?

    It’s the guiding principle of American politics!

    1. Don’t we usually fund both?

  6. A rebel near Qawalish on Tuesday confirmed Colonel Farnana’s view, saying that the rebels had instructions not to “break anything or burn houses,” but that orders ran up against the realities of waging war with a nonprofessional, quasi-military force.

    Now you know how SWAT commanders feel.


      1. Breathing IS resistance if I say so.

  7. This news does not surprise me. Most revolutions end badly.

  8. Why do we Americans always assume that when villains fall only the righteous will take their place?

    Did the Soviets in Afghanistan teach us nothing?

    1. “we” americans assume no such thing since we have a history of dealing w the devils we know.

  9. Isn’t that what “Hope and Change” is all about?

    1. “Hope and Chains”

      1. “(Slippery) Slope and Chains”

        1. “(Dropped) Soap and Pains”

  10. That photo looks so eerily similar to this which is from this

    1. Say what you like about Qaddafi, the man does have great uniforms. If he gets hard up for money, he can sell some of them to the Village People.
      Although there is one picture of him that mnakes him look like a hung-over apartment building doorman.

      1. I don’t know. The he’s got on (the Reason page) looks like it comes from the “Queen Elizabeth” collection to me.

        1. The Stooges had the uniform-parody down, yo:


  11. Keep in mind, the rebels are still mostly in tribal areas that were never in the Qaddafi camp.

    Wait until they get into those tribes that have always been pro-Qaddafi. Then we’ll see us some ethnic cleansing, being done by our “allies” with our equipment and, presumably, close air support. Count on it.

    1. Maybe we can send some drones to sort them out.

      1. Good idea! Anyone killed by a drone was a “bad guy”. QED. Perfect!

    2. If you ask me, that was the whole point of this affair. Foment revolution until the strong kill each other. At the end of it all you’ve got a lot less Libyans to complain when you resume taking the oil out from under them.

    3. We had to intervene to create or save a massacre.

  12. “It is well that war is so terrible – otherwise we would grow too fond of it.”

    -Robert E. Lee

    1. Hence the inventions of video games, paintball and Airsoft.

      1. Qaddafi and Obama should have Call of Duty tournament to solve this.

  13. “They warned me that if I didn’t vote for Obama, we’d end up embroiled in yet another seemingly endless military conflict, halfway around the world… and they were right!

  14. This is my surprised face. Today I’ve been et up by the cynic’s dilemma: Am I being cynical enough? It seems not.

  15. Civil wars are the nastiest of all wars. There has never been a civil war to my knowledge, including the American civil war, that didn’t involve atrocities by both sides. That makes it a bit difficult to intervene in one sides favor in a civil war and still keep your hands clean.

    1. As good a place as any to remind the “responsibility to protect” crowd:

      Foreseeable consequences are not unintended.

      You brought them into these towns; you own the atrocities.

      1. I’ve always thought there should be a stronger version of your law. Maybe Obvious consequences are intended. Something like that.

        1. That’s actually a weaker version since it applies to fewer consequences.

          1. You just keep talking, don’t you? Shut the fuck up.

        2. I’m put in mind of old (geez, what’s his name, the MIT linguist turned political philosopher, old-school lefty, come on come on) . . . crap, someone will know, or I’ll recall it as soon as I post this . . .

          Anyway, I’m not a huge fan of the guy (obviously) but he once said something that has stuck with me ever since: Irony is the term that mainstream journalists apply to the -intended- bloody outcome of an American policy.

          1. noam chomsky?

            1. Chomsky, right.

              Getting old is hell, folks.

          2. Hitler?

      2. Yes you do. And that is another reason why you shouldn’t half ass a war like this. With no one on the ground and just air power, we have no way to enforce any discipline on the ground. The same thing happened in Kosovo where we didn’t have ground forces. Before we could get people on the ground, the KLA massacred the shit out of the Serbs.

        1. both the UN & NATO had ground forces in the balkans

          1. Not in Kosovo dipshit. That is why we bombed Serbia, to get them to leave Kosovo. When the serbs left, the KLA came in and did a fair amount of killing before the US Army could get there.

            Is there anything you are not completely misinformed about?

            1. i wrote the balkans which is true.

              1. And completely irrelevant.

          2. Three Belgian grandmothers and a 90 year old Dutchman, as I recall.

            Yeah, those blue helmets did one HELL of a job in the Balkans as they were running out of town to escape the tribal conflict.

          3. Yeah, and the blue hats were running around with unloaded rifles. Which had a nasty habit of causing them to be handcuffed to lampposts while the ethnic cleansing was carried out.

            1. point is there were ground forces in theater which, in & of itself, did NOT prevent the slaughter. therefore rc dean’s “foreseeable consequences” does not apply since it assumes ground forces would have prevented the slaughter.

        2. Yes you do. And that is another reason why you shouldn’t half ass a war like this.

          I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

          1. If you are going to go to wary, you have an obligation to try and win and end the war as quickly as possible. Just randomly bombing and prolonging a war is pretty horrible.

            1. You can’t fight a war without people, and nuclear weapons are the most effective way of getting rid of them. Ergo, nukes will win the war. So long as we’re fighting a non-nuclear nation and no nuclear nations come into play against us, we’re perfectly safe.

              1. We need a new doctrine in place of MAD. Now that no power on Earth can actually execute a safe first strike on us, we should say that we’ll take out the entire continent from which a nuclear strike is attempted against the United States. We’ll call it CAD: Continental Assured Destruction.

    2. If you’re trying to keep your hands clean you’d better stay out of any war, civil or otherwise, if it’s at all possible.

      We were definitely intervening in a civil war in AFG in 2002 (remember the Northern Alliance?) and it could be argued plausibly that we were doing so in IRQ in 2003 on behalf of the Kurds and southern Shia. Your attitude seems to have changed for some reason.

      1. The fact that Afghanistan sponsored a terrorist attack on US soil and we had basically been at war with Iraq for 10 years prior to 2003 makes a big difference.

        And I never said we shouldn’t get our hands dirty. Sometimes you have to. But you had better be ready to if you are going to intervene in a civil war. And that is why you shouldn’t’ do it for humanitarian reasons.

    3. A civil war involves different parties competing for control of the same government; the American war between the states does not rise to that definition.

  16. You know who else beat and robbed the Loyalists?

    1. The American colonists?

    2. The levellers? The Rebel Alliance?

    3. Nice, too bad it wasnt at the very top of the comments, to head off these ” [EMPIRE] is so eeeevil and it supports the eeeevil Libyan rebels, who we all know are really the giant youth arm of al-qaeda” posts at the pass.

  17. Ramadan is coming up, and that’s gonna slow fighting. Maybe whichever side manages to starve less will have more momentum. This is going to last a while.

    1. Wouldn’t that benefit the rebels, because their allies aren’t bound by Ramadan?

      Also, aren’t their allowances for certain situations, like war?

      1. I thought of that, but was unsure how much of that benefit is offset by Al-Qadhafi allegedly hiring non-Muslim mercenaries. I know there are allowances for Muslims who are preggo and really sick, but I can’t verify: 1) if that’s universally accepted among the different large schools of Islamic Jurisprudence, specifically the Maliki school that dominates Libya, and 2) what the actual application is to soldiers.

    2. Didn’t someone jokingly call it Ramabomb several years ago? Might be time to bring that one back.

  18. I am shocked, I was expecting the rebels to behave like the rebels in Star Wars. I mean everyone can see how Khadaffi resembles the evil emperor.

    1. Wholesale murder of thousands of civilian clerks just to blow up a giant space station?

    2. Lucas conveniently ended the third film before all those death star chunks started falling back to Endor. Helpless furry little bastards.

      1. Yub! Yub!

      2. Yeah, that pissed me off, too. If he’d shown a few of the furry bastards get crushed, it would have been a better movie.

        1. If he had left out the little furry bastards entirely, and gone with a Wookie planet as originally planned, it would have been a better movie

          1. Agreed. As I’ve said previously, once the Empire gets its ass kicked by a bunch of Teddy Ruxpin dolls, it makes it hard to believe there was ever much of a threat.

      3. Those chunks would have mostly stayed in orbit

        1. Or been shot away from the planet. Only those which had a line of sight with Endor would have made contact.

          It’s Embrace Your Inner Geekiness Day, so I’ve an excuse.

          1. And with an atmosphere dense enough to support the kind of biosphere Endor sported, most of them would have burned up before touching ground.

  19. Qaddafi clearly needs to award himself a few more medals.

  20. So it’s like the War in Bosnia, except this time we’re on the Serbian side?

    1. Who gives a fuck about their religious poison?

      We should only help Secularists from now on. Let the believers kill each other – Darwin would approve.

        1. shrike is incapable of seeing issues in terms other than religious zealotry.

          He’s the perfect example of the old saying that when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like shrike’s skull.

  21. Has anyone else noticed the rate that governmental evil has increased since Batman went underground in the summer of 2008?

  22. Some places in the world you beatings for not resisting.

    1. No, no, no, Fist! It goes, “In Russia, you get beating for not resisting!”

      THAT’s how you do it.

      1. There, the beating gets you.

  23. We saved these Libyan assholes at a cost of $500 million or so?

    Better than the $2 trillion it cost to “save” the Iraqi assholes.

    1. Those aren’t costs because dollars aren’t money, you idiot.

      1. Elmer Ron Paul asked Bernanke if gold were money today. I cracked up.

        Bernanke had to introduce a new word to Elmer – “asset”.

        1. Actually that was a trap.

          Bernanke was saying that the Fed didn’t lose any money because the dollars were replaced with assets. He was essentially saying assets are money, or perhaps that dollars are not money, depending on your perspective.

        2. What is the difference between money and asset, shrike?

          You’d better make sure your definition doesn’t make a Euro, for example, into an asset.

          1. I’d say an asset is a store of value, which right now precludes dollars and euros from qualifying.

    2. Re: Shrike,

      We saved these Libyan assholes at a cost of $500 million or so?

      Saved them from what, shriek?

      1. Themselves. That’s what our government does.

        Or, TeH CHILLdrUNZZzzs!!!!!!!!!!11!1!!!!!1111!1!!1

    3. Your president authorized it, shrike.


    Glenn Greenwald: legalize drugs so the nanny state has more clients.

    1. I don’t really have a problem with Greenwald’s statement. Even in a Minarchy, citizens should have a positive relationship with their Government. Respect for the law is important, regardless of the size of government. Having laws which are commonly broken interferes with this.

    2. Not quite. More like “current drug laws keep anyone who uses drugs in fear of agents of the state”.

      I’m thinking of situations like a drug user going to score drugs in a park at 3 am, witnessing a murder, and being afraid to come forward with that info b/c of the reason for being at that place at that time.

  25. I suppose the consolation here is that we are funding the lesser of two evils?

    The House actually voted in the DoD appropriations bills to ban funding the rebels. Not, however, to ban all war funding.

  26. Qadaffi looks just like Richard Dreyfuss in Moon over Parador.

    Seriously, we need to stop getting involved with the Arabs. Let’s just buy their oil and bomb the crap out of them occasionally, oh, and no more than two wars at once.

  27. I can’t say I’m surprised by this or that this is any different from how most groups of people would behave. The same thing has occurred in pretty much every revolution, civil war, or whatever we’re calling this thing that has ever happened. One, of course they’re going to raid deserted hospitals and possible weapons stores. They need those supplies. Two, the desire for revenge is strong in all people. How many times in the days after the 9/11 attacks did I hear calls to nuke the middle east until it was a glass parking lot? Are you saying no Viet Cong villages were burned by Americans? I’m sure that was called tactical.

    I’m just saying these things are par for the course, not that any actual atrocities are excusable. And obviously we never should have been involved and should withdraw all troops immediately.

  28. Did you say Lybians? Oh, I thought you said Labians.

  29. Off Topic…..drugs.html

    Best Reason for the Left to legalize drugs

    1. The best part is this comment from a proudly conservative drug-warrior, worried about all the people who will be getting stoned and then causing social chaos:

      “There can be no freedom without order and control.”

      Think about that. This is the statist (right-wing version) mind. There can be no freedom without control.

  30. Gee, we never did anything like this in our revolution. We never poured scalding tar over anyone and rolled them in feathers. We never subjected them to painful and humilating torture. Nope, we were much more civilized than that.

    1. Well you sugarfree’d that all to hell. Try again, would you?

  31. I suppose the consolation here is that we are funding the lesser of two evils?

    It’s what we did with Lend-Lease.

    1. We funded the most murderous dictator in the history of the Earth and that’s the lesser evil?

      1. Yes. Said murderous dictator was a craven coward who only attacked the weak. The Other Guy was perfectly happy to attack both the weak and the strong.

        1. I was correcting Kolohe–the guy killed millions more human beings, whether weak or strong, millions more were dead at his hands.

          1. And he wasn’t threatening our core interests at the time, like You Know Who.

      2. Sadly, that’s probably correct. The communists acted more or less within a framework of logic; you could “work with them” and somewhat understand their motivations and actions. Those actions were still horrible beyond measure, don’t get me wrong. But the Party was ultimately bigger than one man, and none of the premiers afterward were as crazy or wielded as much personal power as Stalin did (in the USSR).

        Hitler, OTOH, seems to have been moving from mildly crazy to foaming-at-the-mouth, and willing to lash out at anyone and everyone, even if it made no fucking sense. Much harder to control, much harder to keep contained over the long run.

        That’s just my theory.

  32. If wars were settled by deciding who has the coolest uniforms, Kadafi would be king of the world.

    1. None of that silk fatigue crap that Castro sports.

  33. What’s the problem? It’s not like the US treats their POWs better.

  34. Barry… Barry… why didn’t you learn?

    1. I should’a warned him, but it’s funnier that he went ahead and did it anyway. Heh.

  35. How would you self-righteous lot act, if you had been under Statist domination for 4 decades, some real miserable Statist shit. And then one day its on- you and you friends are finally gonna take it to the Man, after he guns down a few hundred of your mensch in cold blood.

    What do you do when you come across the bootlickers who loyally pushed the Statist agenda? The people directly responsible for allowing the Head Statist to maintain his repression over YOUR life and property. And they aren’t the least bit sorry. And they have threatened to kill every last one of you if they should prevail.

    And you lot are getting upset because some of ’em are getting shot in the feet? And that appears the be the most extreme thing Chivers can report?

    Damn gimme a break ya all girls.

    1. hybris isn’t pretty.

    2. Yeah, cause those rebels really want freedom and liberty for all and none of that statist domination!

    3. I’m not upset. I’m just not concerned with what happens between and among Arabs/Muslims/Other Pious Tribalists, and don’t want to see American lives and resources sacrificed for what will inevitably be a savage score-settling.


  36. I have always supported the people, in this case the looting, raping rebels. Kaddafi has always been an awful, looting, raping tyrant, so he has to go. I must save Afrika! I insist!

  37. We did this all the time in the Cold War–we made some big moral and strategic mistakes in the Cold War on stuff like this, but the consolation was–we did win the Cold War! …which as consolations go, isn’t so bad.

    “I suppose the consolation here is that we are funding the lesser of two evils?”

    What exactly do you mean by “funding”? Have we cut any checks to the rebels? I could have missed something, but this is the first I’ve heard of that.

    And the consolation here–if there is one–is that we’re siding with a popular uprising against a vicious dictator–a vicious dictator whose demise would almost certainly mean bad things for Al Qaeda and company.

    Half of Al Qaeda’s whole justification for its existence is as opposition to vicious dictators in the Arab world–once the dictators are gone, they’re gonna have to come up with a new advertising campaign.

    Meanwhile, God forbid we do what’s in our own best interest–if it means some nasty people get a leg up too–is that what I’m supposed to think?

    How childish would I have to be to think that? If you think we shouldn’t do what’s in our best interest–unless it’s only helping nice people?

    Well somebody made a YouTube just for you! Watch and learn…

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