Military

Western Powers Have Essentially Given Up On Ousting Gaddafi

|

Remember "days, not weeks"? TIME's Bruce Crumley reports that it's unlikely Western powers will achieve the victory they promised in March (i.e. nearly five months ago): 

U.S. officials came away from recent meetings in Tunisia with Gaddafi representatives repeating demands that the colonel "must go" as a part of any resolution to the conflict. Yet even then it was becoming evident that what "go" ultimately entails may not meet the definition rebels have long advanced: of Gaddafi being forcefully driven from power, arrested, and handed over to the U.N. tribunal wanting to try him for crimes against humanity. On July 20, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé told French TV channel LCI that "one of the hypotheses that's envisioned is, indeed, that (Gaddafi) stays in Libya on the condition he very clearly leaves Libyan political life". That considerably watered down position on the criteria to end the conflict was then repeated on July 25 by British Foreign Secretary William Hague. While remaining adamant that "Gaddafi must leave power", Hague left the Libyan leader's fate beyond that open to question.

"Obviously him leaving Libya itself would be the best way of showing the Libyan people that they no longer have to live in fear of Gaddafi," Hague said Monday, prior to his meeting with Juppé in London. "But as I have said all along, this is ultimately a question for Libyans to determine."

True—sort of—though that shifted position rather glosses over a couple very significant considerations undermining hopes that the initial goal of driving Gaddafi into exile—or prison—will ever be achieved. First off, the mere fact Western allies—and especially the UK and France, who were the most gung-ho advocates for launching the air intervention—have now clearly loosened their conditions for bringing the war to an end is the direct consequence of Gaddafi and his army having withstood the combined power of NATO strikes and rebel offensives far better and longer than expected. As a result, figuring out a conflict-ending, face-saving scenario with Gaddafi still factored in has become obligatory for American and European leaders aching to find a ways of getting the costly campaign over with.

NEXT: "I need your help. I can't tell you what it is. You can never ask me about it later. And we're going to hurt some people."

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. So if we know we won’t oust Gadafi (it is won’t not can’t, we could send in ground forces and have him out in a week if we had the balls), what the fuck are we doing over there besides spending billions and randomly bombing people in hopes of prolonging a civil war?

    1. “(it is won’t not can’t, we could send in ground forces and have him out in a week if we had the balls),”

      Balls? What are these balls you speak of?

    2. If we weren’t in 100% why did we put our reputation on the line. This was a war of choice executed worse than the Iraq clusterf___. As Mom used to say ” If you’re not going to do it right, don’t do it at all.

      1. Self-censoring… You’re so cute!

        1. Trying to cut back.

          1. you could always replace clusterfuck with leopard roundup.

    3. Preventing massacres. Duh.

      1. Ah, so we have to destroy the village to save village! Now it makes sense!

        1. It takes a village to destroy the village to save the village.

          1. And outsourcing village-saving village destruction to low-bidding foreign villages is Un-American.

        2. As long as the villages are equally well-armed, it won’t be a massacre. So if Libyans continue killing each other in small border skirmishes for the next 50 years, technically we have prevented a massacre.

          1. Please, please kindly stop raping me.

            1. You were not unresponsive.

              1. THAT WHAT SHE SAID!

      2. Fall for propaganda? Duh!

        1. Sarcasm detector? Duh!

          1. Well, detector malfunctioned. Admitted.

    4. what the fuck are we doing over there besides spending billions and randomly bombing people in hopes of prolonging a civil war?

      Demonstrating the efficacy of how a change in both the nuance and definition of first premises will result in successful international actions?

  2. Obviously him leaving Libya itself would be the best way of showing the Libyan people that they no longer have to live in fear of Gaddafi

    YEah because the Western Powers will stay there forever and protect them. They won’t get bored and leave their allies to die like they did in Vietnam, Cambodia, Algeria or about a thousand other places during the Cold War.

    1. Algeria seems like a very bizarre addition to that list of examples. “Western Powers” didn’t intervene in Algeria. France had begun colonizing the area about 130 years earlier, directly ruled it as French territory for decades, and certainly didn’t leave because it got “bored” — the Fourth Republic collapsed under threat of a military coup, leading to de Gaulle taking power and then in turn nearly being assassinated or toppled by coups on a half-dozen or more occasions.

  3. I’m wondering when people will start worrying about the Libyan Peepul living in fear of the western tribes and Islamists seeking to supplant Ghaddafy?

    1. I don’t thing they will worry about that. But if I were them, I would be very worried about the paybacks that will occur after the Western Powers leave and they are stuck there alone with Gadafi or his henchman.

      1. Don’t see why the west needs to take out Qaddafi. Now that the Muslim Brotherhood is in charge of Egypt, I’m sure they, along with Hamas and Iran, will be more than willing to help their allies in eastern Libya.

  4. Little known “fun” fact: hapless third world brown people actually enjoy — yes, and even appreciate, goddammit! — being bombed into dozens upon dozens of bloody little bits, just so long as it’s The HE Whom We’ve All Been Breathlessly Awaiting sanctioning the drones in question.

    I read it on the Huffington Post, so you know it’s revealed truth.

    1. YEs, why aren’t they grateful for all the political capital Obama invested in this campaign?

  5. Mission accomplished!!!

  6. What I am opposed to is a dumb war.

  7. Dumb wars for all!

  8. Dumb wars for all!

    They go so nicely with the Vice-President, after all.

    1. The more taxes you pay, the more patriotic you are!

  9. Say what you want about Bush, but he at least did he best to win the wars he fought. Obama doesn’t even do that.

    1. Obama’s biggest concern is his war against America.

      1. Re: Mike M.

        Obama’s biggest concern is his war against America.

        Hey now, quit exaggerating. He doesn’t have a war against America! That’s silly!

        He has a war against Texas. That’s all. Just Texas.

    2. Say what you want about both Bush and Obama, but they both got the US in some dumbass wars.

      1. I know. We should have just sent the Taliban a thank you note and a subpena for 9-11

        1. The Taliban did not perpetrate 9-11.

          1. Neither did we. And look where that got us.

          2. yes they did in the sense that they sheltered and supported and refused to turn over those who did. If someone murders your wife and I let him use my house to plan it and then let him hide in my basement after the deed, I am an accessory to murder.

            1. If someone murders your wife and I let him use my house to plan it and then let him hide in my basement after the deed, I am an accessory to murder.

              So if Afghanistan is the model then the appropriate response from the police department would be to bomb your house and kill the neighbor kids?

        2. I think 2 weeks of indiscriminate carpet bombing and ten years of intelligence work would have served our purpose as well as 10 years of war and intelligence work that ended with us sending SEALs to Pakistan and capping OBL.

          1. The carpet bombing would have just killed a bunch of random people and done nothing to diminish Al Quada. And the only reason we were able kill Bin Ladin was because we ran him out of Afghanistan and had a base from which those SEALS could strike.

            Thing of the 1000s of Al Quada fighters who have died fighting us in Afghanistan and Iraq. Carpet bombing would have never gotten those guys.

            1. I don’t follow your logic here, John.

              The only reason we were able to kill Bin Laden was by running him out of a country we were at war with and had unlimited freedom of movement in, and into a country we were not at war with and had limited freedom of movement in?

              1. IF we hadn’t invaded Afghanistan, he would have sat in safety protected by the Taliban for pretty much ever. And where would we have had a base to launch an attack even if we found him? And further, even if we killed him what good would it have done if the organization was still in place and operating in Afghanistan.

                We invaded Afghanistan, drew Al Quada into a war there and in Iraq, killed thousands of their best fighters and reduced Bin ladin to a recluse living as a prisoner in a compound in Pakistan. We had already won. Killing him was just the icing on the cake.

                1. It took ten years, untold billions of dollars, countless lives and God knows wat else to ice that cake.

                  Was it worth it?

                2. We attacked New York, drew the United States into a war in Afghanistan and in Iraq, killed thousands of their best fighters and reduced the American economy to a burnt-out husk of its former self. We had already won.

                  1. War in Iraq and Afghanistan didn’t cause the economy to collapse. Over regulation and over taxing did.

        3. Wasn’t there another war Bush got us into? I seem to remember another one. Maybe it was just a dream.

          1. And last I looked we were leaving there and we actually won the damned thing. I figured since the US didn’t lose, peaceniks didn’t want to hear about that one.

            But since Iraq is over and done with, it is okay to go talk about how the war in Afghanistan is a war of aggression and so forth since there is no need to use it as the “good war” against Iraq.

            Don’t fear Tulpa. We still might lose in Afghanistan so you can relive Saigon 1975 like every good peacenik dreams of.

            1. And last I looked we were leaving there and we actually won the damned thing.

              You have a time machine? Or maybe you haven’t looked since 1991. One or the other.

              1. We are going home this fall. We no longer have combat operations there. Saddam is dead. And there is the only functioning democracy in middle east there.

                If I had told you in 2004 that is how things would turn out, you would have called me crazy. Only goal post moving “It is not perfect so we didn’t win” can cause you to call it anything but a win.

                Was it worth it? That is a different question. But there is no question we won the war.

                1. Just because I’m pro-life doesn’t mean I believe in counting unborn chickens.

                  And “no more combat operations” is not the same as leaving anyway. If we actually left that democracy would stop “functioning” pretty quickly. I do like your little diss of Israel there, though. I don’t consider Israel to be a functioning democracy either.

                2. I’m a libertarian! You can tell, because I always put, “Say what you will about Bush…” before praising whatever he did!

                  We got Osama! We wouldn’t have done that without Bush! People who don’t support 10-year wars are unpatriotic peaceniks, but I’m a libertarian!

                3. So, we fought the war to install a Shia majoritarian regime friendly to Iran and to kill Saddam?

                  I must have missed those war aims. When were they published? Was there a speech on television?

                4. If I had told you in 2004 that is how things would turn out, you would have called me crazy. Only goal post moving “It is not perfect so we didn’t win” can cause you to call it anything but a win.

                  Good point John. We consider WWII won, even though France’s policies on freedom of speech and freedom of religion aren’t as libertarian as America’s.

            2. John, as soon as we leave Iraq the place is going to turn back into a meat grinder

          2. Now that I think about it, Obama is smarter than I thought. His plan was to start a war and then lose it so people like you will feel better.

            1. “FOUR MORE YEARS! FOUR MORE YEARS!”

            2. I must hate myself or something, because I was arguing against going to war in Libya in the first place, a vain attempt to deny myself the pleasure of losing stupid wars.

    3. The wars he ordered others to fight are still going on, last I checked.

    4. John|7.27.11 @ 10:39AM|#

      Say what you want about Bush, but he at least did he best to win the wars he fought. Obama doesn’t even do that.

      Nah. Might be able to say that about Iraq, but he didn’t “did he best” in Afghanistan.

      1. Might be able to say that about Iraq, but he didn’t “did he best” in Afghanistan.

        Huh?

        We won the Afgan war in less then a month.

        It was the rebuilding peace keeping mission after that he failed at.

    5. Then why is the Taliban still around, IN FORCE, John? Why did we allow the Iraqi army to simply go home?

      Why did we trust the Pakistanis and Afghan Warlords to do the heavy lifting for us in Afghanistan?

      We half-assed those wars, and you know it. It was the Rumsfeld “fast and cheap” doctrine

  10. The hits just keep coming…another spectacular Obama succ….wait…did you say we have given up?

  11. This is American power in the age of sheeple:
    Smart bombs and dumb people.

    1. BURMA SHAVE!

      1. They prefer to call it Myanmar now.

  12. I’m shocked that a military intervention didn’t go according to plan or budget.

    Who could have predicted such a thing?

    1. But Susan Power feels better and not as guilty about Rwanda and Bosnia. And for this administration, that is what it is all about.

    2. No one has been more surprised than me!

  13. We had a pristine opportunity to rid the world of a dictator who’s been a thorn in our sides for decades.

    Only someone as inexperienced and incapable of being president as Obama could waste such an opportunity.

    1. And don’t forget we are pissing away another such opportunity in Syria. So Obama will have ended up overseeing the ouster of Mubarach (an asshole but at least a peaceful one outside his borders) and the remaining in power of Gadafy and the idiot son running Syria. Way to go BO!!

      1. Yes, we should invade Syria. That way, we can push the country even closer to Iran, just like we did with Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

        1. Yes, we should invade Syria.

          If HE so wills it.

        2. The country is Iran’s biggest ally in the world. So I think that might be a bit hard. And Pakistan is in a civil war with radical Islamists who are Suni. I thought Suni and Shia never work together? that was the talking point a few years ago. Now it is everyone loves Iran. It is amazing what peaceniks will pull out of their asses.

          And thanks for missing the point. If we were going to intervene, we should have intervened in Syria. At least that is in our interests.

          1. People who hate each other will work together if they have a common enemy, and then go back to killing each other when that enemy is defeated or withdraws. If you were as much a history buff as you claim to be you would know this.

            1. People who hate each other will work together if they have a common enemy,

              I used to think that. But people like you told me that was impossible since Saddam wasn’t an Islamist and therefore would have never worked with AlQuada. Now it is possible again since it fits your argument.

              Again, the argument is just whatever you can pull out of your ass.

              1. I don’t think it would have been impossible for them to work together, but there’s no evidence they ever did. The aQ camp that was technically in Iraq before the invasion was actually in the Kurdish sector that Saddam had no control over at the time.

                And if anything I suspect aQ was more unwilling to work with Saddam than the other way around…especially since he didn’t have much to offer at that point.

                1. Saddam had cash thanks to Oil for Food. And the sanctions regime was dying. If we hadn’t invaded he was going to be back to normal pretty soon. And oh we would still be sitting in Saudi by the thousands.

                  1. The US had no troops in Saudi in 2002.

                    The sanctions regime was only being questioned because it was considered massively expensive at the time. As it turns out it was orders of magnitude cheaper than the invasion and occupation was and is.

            2. Does this theory apply to the Sioux and the Crow?

              1. John, btw, how the hell can you confuse me with shrike as you did the other day?

                You know that he could not hold my jockstrap as a knowledgeable sports fan.

                1. I kid Mike. I kid.

              2. It applies a lot of places. But it was forgotten when people like Tulpa claimed “Saddam would never have supported terrorism because he and Al Quada hate each other”. Now it is back since it supports their “yeah we won in Iraq but Iraq and everyone else is now allied with Iran”.

                Now whether Iran is a threat or not depends on what we are talking about. Talk about Iraq and Iran is a huge monstrous evil into whose arms they have driven other countries. Talk about Iran’s nuclear program and Iran is a peaceful country that evil NeoCons are trying to start a war with.

                If it is no big deal that Iran gets nukes since they are no threat to anyone, why is Tulpa and his ilk so concerned that Iraq and Pakistan are now allegedly allied with them?

                Again, the truth doesn’t matter. All that matters is that the US is always wrong and whatever Tulpa can pull out of his sizable ass.

                1. Don’t put words in my mouth, dude.

                  And I don’t think you want to start talking about people who made predictions that didn’t come true. Your house isn’t even glass on that subject, more like plastic wrap.

                2. For all the complaining the left does about the right believing that everything is black or white, the left makes the mistakes of believing that everything is BOTH black AND white; a logically impossible position.

          2. John that post was just a string of non-sequiters.

            For the most part, Sunnis and Shia DON’T work together. The ruling family of Syria isn’t Sunni

            The one exception I can think of is Iran/Hezbollah/Hamas

    2. Gadaffi has actually been our buddy since 2005 or so. And of course look at Iraq if you want to see how a “successful” dictator removal goes.

      1. Actually, the Iraq dictator-removal was quite successful. It was the occupation and nation-building that was the clusterfuck.

        1. The appendix removal was quite successful. It was the subsequent internal bleeding and intestinal perforation that was the clusterfuck.

          1. Placing the focus on finding non-existent WMD’s, instead of addressing security concerns, has a way of turning things into a mess.

            1. You guys are really getting desperate with these excuses for the Iraq war and aftermath being a failure. The military didn’t sufficiently focus on security issues? Really? This is the best you can come up with?

              1. It’s relevant. There was zero focus on securing the country during the early stages of the war. We allowed random people to go into armory’s, and grab all sorts of guns and explosives, with out giving it a second thought.

                If we had allowed the Ba’athists to serve in government, and more importantly, keep their positions in the military, and security forces, the war in Iraq would have turned out very differently.

                1. How do you know it would have turned out differently?

                  1. One of our first actions after taking over Iraq was collecting all the guns from Iraqis. All the pro-American Iraqis complied, making them sitting ducks for terrorist attacks. Iraq is a prime example of what gun control causes.

                    1. “One of our first actions after taking over Iraq was collecting all the guns from Iraqis.”

                      That didn’t happen until May of 2003, when we implemented the policy of De-Ba’athification. The US had already been in Iraq for two months at that point.

                      My wife was one of the few Army arabic linguists in Baghdad, after the initial invasion. She had Iraqi’s approaching her daily, and providing her information about people stealing weapons, and other military hardware. She would take this intel to the Colonel she was assigned to, and the answer was the same every time – don’t worry about it, our orders are to look for WMD.

          2. Well, if you had just removed the appendix and gotten out, instead of trying to re-build every internal organ from the ground up, the internal bleeding and intestinal perforation might not have happened.

            I think we both agree on the stupidity of Iraq – I was just pointing out the US armed forces at quite good at doing what armed forces are actually intended to do.

            1. If you remove an internal organ without putting stitches in you’re going to have internal bleeding. It’s hooked up to the circulatory system.

              I agree about the military being good at destroying things and not as good at rebuilding things and/or police work though. It’s like hiring a butcher to do an appendectomy — sure he’ll do a great job cutting but that’s only half the job.

              1. After the first year, we should have pulled the military out of Iraq and sent in the Peace Corps and half our academics.

      2. Gadaffi has actually been our buddy since 2005 or so.

        It was a mistake to make him so. It was mostly the desperation to brag about some success from Iraq when troops were being killed at the tune of a handful a day.

        And of course look at Iraq if you want to see how a “successful” dictator removal goes.

        Or look at Germany and Italy in 1945 to see unsuccessful removals?
        Removing these dictators doesn’t always mean a D-Day invasion or that a sainthood candidate will follow, but what you have now is bad enough. You can cross the bridge of their successor when you get there.

  14. I hope all those dead civillians will be understanding of our good intentions.

    1. “These are the drones we’ve been waiting for!”

  15. Man I never even thought about it like that before. Wow

    http://www.web-privacy.au.tc

  16. Let me be clear. Not only have I authorized the bombing of people who committed no hostilities against us, without any congressional authorization, I have also managed to make America look weak and ineffectual in the process. Mission accomplished!

    1. What is true is, I suck at everything.

      1. Seriously, though: everything I touch turns to fail.

        1. Can someone please photoshop the iconic Shepard Fairey Obama poster, but with the word FAIL? Cuz, seriously.

  17. [::swoons::]

  18. If he hasn’t lost HufflePo, he hasn’t lost the war. [Apologies to LBJ.]

  19. And remember, the US govt now officially recognizes the rebels as the true government of Libya.

    1. Who does the Libyan govt officially recognize as the true govt of the United States?

      1. MSNBC.

  20. (Gaddafi) stays in Libya on the condition he very clearly leaves Libyan political life

    I must be still drowsy. I read that as “(Gaddafi) stays in Libya on the condition he very clearly loves his Libyan wife”.

    1. That sounds like a balanced approach to me.

  21. “days not weeks” referred to the hand-over of command. jeesch

    1. moar kool-aid moar kool-aid

    2. “Seriously, though: this is some tasty, tasty man-knob!”

  22. The governments of France or Britain will never ever admit it openly, but I wonder if the retreat from Libya has to do with the fact about the growing refugee numbers that are entering Europe because of the turmoil in North Africa.

    1. I thought the fear of a regurgee influx was what drove the Frogs and Brits to push us into the war.

      1. A not well known fact is that Qadaffi was being paid by European countries to keep the refugee influx at bay (they called it aid of course)

  23. I’m not sure replacing one fuckhead with other fuckheads is a good thing to waste lives and money on. It’s also not really worth skull-fucking the Constitution out of existence.

    But I guess that doesn’t matter anymore, since the Constitution is practically gone, and the presidency, for all intents and purposes, is a empowered monarchy.

    God save the Republic, if there be one up there in the clouds.

    1. Constitution? What is this constitution you speak of?

      Oh well, collapsing empires always provide good stories . . .

  24. Wait, so, I’m still under the impression that this is an illegal war. Did the War Powers Act thing get resolved? Does anyone care?

    1. I agree, and no, nobody cares.

    2. What, that old thing…?

  25. The last few days have brought me to wonder what things would be like if Breivik the Bold had actually killed Muslims.

    What are the odds that we’d be seeing demands in Europe and the USA to make critique of Islam illegal?

    In that light, I think we dodged a big one.

    1. Pretty sure killing the kids of the ruling party’s leaders is more likely to provoke a harsh response than pretty much anything else. So the odds wouldn’t have been good.

      1. In Norway, and among the party members, sure. I tend to think that if he had targeted Muslims the call to Do Something would be louder, more insistent, more widespread, and more dangerous.

  26. On the other hand, Congress has given up on holding Obama accountable for illegally taking us to war, so I guess it balances out, at least for him.

  27. You guys are looking at this from a “reality-based” perspective, forgetting that this is America and we are Americans and we make our own damned reality. When Americans analyze a course of action, the only variable worth considering is: “Wouldn’t it be great if this happened?”

    So we must stay the course in Libya because it really would be great if Gaddafi were gone. Just like we invaded Iraq and stay there now because it really would be great if a secular stable pro-America government replaced what they had before. And the bailouts were necessary because it would be great if the banks — um — did something good for the economy.

    And if we built a highway to the moon, that would create lots of jobs AND double as a space elevator to launch stuff into orbit for cheap. Wouldn’t that be great? Let’s build the Kansas/Sea of Tranquility Expressway!

  28. European governments are starting to recognize the rebels and Libya’s government. This September’s opening speeches at the UN General Assembly will be interesting. Who will represent Libya as the head of state there?

    1. to recognize the rebels and as Libya’s government.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.