Libya: Read This And Weep
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  • Earl of Sandwich

    It is the rules of Europe that require the opposing side to be “decapitated.” It is in Europe that the state has a monopoly on force. In contrast, in the Arab world it is striking that tribal confederacies remain potent even under supposedly totalitarian rule.
    And what evidence is there that Quaddafi’s tribe will fight street to street? So far it has been mercenaries not loyalists fighting for the hollow regime.

  • Richard F. Miller

    Anyone with the slightest knowledge of war and particularly, the U.S. experience in wars, saw this one coming.

    What’s striking here is that on the surface, Obama, a staunch critic of past U.S. wars didn’t see this coming. After all, charges of everything from “mission creep” to ever-changing objectives, to a poor correlation of war fighting means to war fighting ends have been staple (and often quite correct) criticisms of U.S. wars past.

    I wonder what persuaded him that, “This time, it’s different.” [?]

    Could it be that the difference was, that this time, he was the one who deigned to wage the war?

  • WigWag

    “There are rules in places like Libya, but they are different from the rules applied in Europe in recent centuries. The main rule when one tribe or one tribal confederacy conquers another is that the defeated party is politically, socially, economically and, often to some extent, literally decapitated. The defeat must be total, unmistakable and irreparable. That is the best way, indeed, in many cases the only way, to make sure that the rank-and-file of the defeated group will not find some way to rise up again in revenge.” (Adam Garfinkle as quoted by Walter Russell Mead)

    I’m not so sure that the rules in Libya or “places like Libya” are so different then they are in places like the United States. The way the war in Libya is being waged by the combatants and the manner in which the losers are treated by the victors puts me in mind of William Tecumseh Sherman and his march through the South in 1864. It also puts me in mind of the rationale often given for Harry Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945.

    While perhaps not quite so brutal, the Treaty of Versailles was designed to cripple Germany and it did so for a while but the results were not what the victors expected, at least in the long run.

    Perhaps those Libyans aren’t all that different than we are after all.

  • Fred

    Wig Wag to the contrary notwithstanding, Garfinckle is absolutely right. Savages are savage, hence the term. Any American plan that depends on civilized behavior from a primitive, violent, tribal honor-shame culture with a violent, fanatical religion and a centuries (in some cases millenia) long tradition of political corruption is destined to fail.

  • LarryD

    “… the result will be to further prolong the war and muddle the possibility of a definitive endpoint.”

    But this is the UN’s objective, in a nutshell, for every conflict it has had a say about. And the League of Nations before it.

    The difference about the traditional American way of war is that we recognized that breaking the enemy’s will is sufficient, if that can be achieved without annihilating the enemy, then he can be spared, and allowed to recover economically, socially, politically.

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