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Not Even The Libyan Rebels Know Who They Are

Back when the humanitarian hawks were still selling the ‘days not weeks war’ in DC, skeptics often made the point that nobody really knew who the Libyan rebels were or what they wanted.

Going on five months into the days not weeks war, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Libyan rebels themselves don’t know who they are or what they want.  The murder of the rebel military commander by mysterious rival forces underlined the Potemkin village quality of rebel ‘institutions’.  Beneath a thin veneer of unity no deeper than the smiles on the faces of a the rebel greeters awaiting the latest foreign visitors bearing aid, a struggle for power is raging. The NYT reports that some of the early rebel organizers have called for the immediate resignations of a group including the ‘defense minister’ and the leader of a rebel militia not part of the army.

The political as well as the humanitarian costs grow, but no viable policy or strategy is forthcoming from NATO or Washington. And as the rebels bicker, the trap becomes more complex.

Clausewitz taught that war is an instrument of policy; in Libya we have something else — a war in search of a goal.  May the rebels figure out who they are, and may we figure out what we’re doing.

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