Monday, March 28, 2011

Libya's Rebels?

John Lee Anderson reports from Benghazi, "Who Are the Rebels?":

Three of the world’s great armies have suddenly conspired to support a group of people in the coastal cities and towns of Libya, known, vaguely, as “the rebels.” Last month, Muammar Qaddafi, who combines a phantasmagorical sense of reality with an unbounded capacity for terror, appeared on television to say that the rebels were nothing more than Al Qaeda extremists, addled by hallucinogens slipped into their milk and NescafĂ©. President Obama, who is torn between the imperatives of rescuing Libyan innocents from slaughter and not falling into yet another prolonged war, described the same rebels rather differently: “people who are seeking a better way of life.”

During weeks of reporting in Benghazi and along the chaotic, shifting front line, I’ve spent a great deal of time with these volunteers. The hard core of the fighters has been the shabab—the young people whose protests in mid-February sparked the uprising. They range from street toughs to university students (many in computer science, engineering, or medicine), and have been joined by unemployed hipsters and middle-aged mechanics, merchants, and storekeepers. There is a contingent of workers for foreign companies: oil and maritime engineers, construction supervisors, translators. There are former soldiers, their gunstocks painted red, green, and black—the suddenly ubiquitous colors of the pre-Qaddafi Libyan flag.

And there are a few bearded religious men, more disciplined than the others, who appear intent on fighting at the dangerous tip of the advancing lines. It seems unlikely, however, that they represent Al Qaeda. I saw prayers being held on the front line at Ras Lanuf, but most of the fighters did not attend. One zealous-looking fighter at Brega acknowledged that he was a jihadi—a veteran of the Iraq war—but said that he welcomed U.S. involvement in Libya, because Qaddafi was a kafir, an unbeliever...

Be sure to read the whole thing, although it's worth appending the conclusion here:
In Benghazi, an influential businessman named Sami Bubtaina expressed a common sentiment: “We want democracy. We want good schools, we want a free media, an end to corruption, a private sector that can help build this nation, and a parliament to get rid of whoever, whenever, we want.” These are honorable aims. But to expect that they will be achieved easily is to deny the cost of decades of insanity, terror, and the deliberate eradication of civil society.

Reading this, it's clearly an extremely fluid situation in Libya, and intense caution is warranted. Thus, I woudn't quibble much with David Horowitz's latest commentary, "
Ominous Signals on Libya: A Response to Andrew Sullivan." No doubt the administration's been caught off guard. Not only have goals been left vague, but should ground troops be deployed, President Obama will have purposely deceived the nation. Most of all, folks like Horowitz worry that extremists will come to power, and an Islamist front could eventually span the region from Tripoli to the West Bank. Andrew Sullivan doesn't care. He's got an epic Obama man-crush going and wants Obama to out-cowboy G.W. Bush on military intervention. But there are differences. Rick Moran builds on Horowitz's analysis, putting things into progressive perspective: "Libya and the Soros Doctrine." And the morally bankrupt Juan Cole does yeoman's work in sitiuating Libya as the center of ideological battle against "evil" conservatives in the Horowitzian mold, whether neoconservative or not: "An Open Letter to the Left on Libya." Add on top of these the freak paleocons at American Conservative and Conservative Times and folks can get an idea of how complicated the politics of foreign policy are at present. As always, my standard remains the expansion of freedom around the world. I may differ from Horowitz and Rick Moran on the immediate tactical agenda, but my friends on the right join me in battle against the progressives, who support the rebels now, and would continue to support Libya should it become, after a change of regimes, a North African front against the U.S. and Israel.


Dave C said...

All I know they aren't the Star Wars type of Rebels Alliance.

dave in boca said...

Jon Lee Anderson is perhaps the New Yorker's best writer about far-out situations, particularly in out-of-the-way hellholes in sub-Saharan Africa and all sorts of deformations of human nature in a political form. I want the monster Qaddafi gone and if it took a kick in the pants from Hillarious to jump-start the moral leper's conscience, such as it is, then so be it. If it fails, sadly some brave young Americans will die and the upside is that this Indonesian Imbecile will be ousted in 2012. If it succeeds, the Benghazi area of Libya has always been more civilized than the Tripolipolitan west.

Red Phillips said...

Hey, Dr. Douglas, your boy Mark Levin is getting his a** handed to him in his debate with Tom Woods. Perhaps, given all the book learnin' you've had, you can help him out. Here was Woods' simple challenge to Levin.

"Let’s get to the primary sources. Mark Levin, here is my challenge to you. I want you to find me one Federalist, during the entire period in which the Constitution was pending, who argued that the president could launch non-defensive wars without consulting Congress. To make it easy on you, you may cite any Federalist speaking in any of the ratification conventions in any of the states, or in a public lecture, or in a newspaper article – whatever. One Federalist who took your position. I want his name and the exact quotation."

Levin has so far failed to step up. Maybe you could help spare him further embarrassment and find one measly quote he can use. I know you interventionists like to stick together, so I thought I'd give you this heads up. One of your fellow interventionists is getting a brutal public intellectual beatdown so I know that can't be good for the cause. See if you can help him out. I’m really starting to feel a little sorry for him. He’s picked a fight he is obviously intellectually ill-equipped to win, and he needs some help.


Red Phillips

Reaganite Independent said...

I think he already regrets sticking his beak in... soon as his the polls didnt' bring a war rally.

All Gaddafi has to do was wear done Obama's paper thin resolve while preventing rag tag 20-somethings from overrunning Triploli for a few weeks- and he already knows we won't put any boots on the ground.

When you're a guy willing to shell protesters with naval guns and kill anybody who looks at you wrong, piece of cake facing down this smiley plastic mannequin Obama.

Illuminating post sir, linked at RR

Obam's Razor: 

"What's the Most RADICAL Explanation for Recent US Action in Libya...?"