In what may become a symbolic photo of the current Libyan intervention, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi was shown on Libyan state television driving in an open jeep in the midst of a coalition bombing of Tripoli, his capital.
One must allow for the fact that Qaddafi’s appearance was staged and did not take place during the bombing, but still the Libyan dictator’s swagger contrasts sharply with the extreme caution of Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah. The latter rarely leaves his bunker and is said to change his sleeping quarters nightly to avoid an attack on his person by either Israel or by his many antagonists in Lebanon.
At the NATO meeting in Berlin, of all places, the members of NATO were able to unite around a wish list hoping that Qaddafi would depart and the Libyan people would be free, but only 6 NATO countries are actually taking part in the fighting. Amongst the participants there is also dispute about the boundaries of the mission.
The only thing really multilateral about this intervention is good wishes. In an attempt to put on a united front and to mitigate the open criticism by NATO countries that are taking a more active role, the Germans were allowed to appear on the same page in terms of good wishes. Everybody wants the same thing, it’s just a question of different tactics and emphasis.
NATO’s commander also has a wish list. He needs 8 more jet flights. When was there a serious military engagement where obtaining 8 jet planes presented an obstacle? Maybe NATO should consider a telethon to raise the money.
Qadaffi may be trembling because Nicolas Sarkozy, David Cameron and Barak Obama have published a letter jointly published in the UK Time, the Washington Post and Le Figaro declaring that operations will continue until Qadaffi departs. We all depart sometimes but the timeline keeps getting longer.
Some strategists now talk of a greenhouse effect in the positive and not ozone sense. By intervening, the opposition to Qaddafi can grow and eventually reach the point where it can overthrow Qaddafi. Greenhouse gardeners usually can pick tomatoes or flowers in a year. The Libyan crop looks like it is going to be ready in maybe five years at best.
Given the dearth of real partners in the great exercise of multilateralism, the Obama administration played up its one Arab ally – Qatar. “We would not have been able, I think, to shape the kind of broad-based international coalition that includes not only our Nato members but also includes Arab states, without the emir’s leadership,” Obama told reporters after hosting Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.
“He is motivated by a belief that the Libyan people should have the rights and freedoms of all people.” The sheikh also believes in currying favor with the Islamic Republic of Iran and hosting Islamist figures. In fact, Al-Jazeera headquartered in Qatar has encouraged various revolutions but has kept mum about Iran.
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