NATO’s Plan B: Send More Guns

April 24th, 2011 at 9:39 am | 10 Comments |

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After a trip to Benghazi, Senator John McCain is calling for increased assistance for the Libyan rebels. Much of the new weaponry for the rebels will merely counter the West’s own efforts in building up Qaddafi’s forces. The West’s humanitarian intervention in Libya is already resorting to a familiar gameplan: send more weapons.

In a recent piece for the Daily Mail, Stephen Glover asked: “How can we be so blindly stupid as to sell arms to despots then bleat about democracy?” Showcasing primarily Britain’s complicity in selling weapons to the likes of Qadaffi and Zimbabawe’s “democratically elected” despot, Robert Mugabe, his question is perfectly valid.

The Sunday Times reported in 2009 that “Tony Blair helped to secure defence contracts worth £350m and the promise of more as part of the deal with Libya that allowed the Lockerbie bomber to return home.” – Adding that Blair had no authority to release someone who had been convicted (Lockerbie bomber, Megrahi).

The sad fact is that amongst internationally competing rivals, the “real world’s” historic reliance upon “spheres of influence,” “special relationships,” and “balance of power” (preferably a dominating balance) continues. So deals with the devil continue.

At the end of the day, noble doctrines like “Responsibility to Protect” – employed by the UN in the West’s Libya intervention – are really exercises in noble rhetoric. The UN Security Council may continue passing “R2P” resolutions for cases like Libya. But needlessly so.

Under Article 8 of the UN Convention on Genocide, “Any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide…”

Which means that intervention could have occurred in Rwanda…or Cambodia against the Khmer Rouge back in the 1970s – as indeed, the Vietnamese did in 1979. The fact is, however, that no great power wanted to get caught in a Hutu-Tutsi quagmire deep in Africa  — “a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing” as Chamberlain said after Munich.   Or in Bosnia. So everyone kept looking away, deliberately avoiding use of the “genocide” word, And so on up to Darfur.

The adoption of the “responsibility to protect” doctrine by the UN in 2005 was a chest thumping opportunity to make up for failures to protect against genocide – authorized by the UN Genocide Convention in December, 1948. That’s progress?

In any event, the likes of Qadaffi and Mugabe will at some point be history. They are also pipsqueaks in power. But what if China decides upon genocide for its’ Islamic Uighur people in Xinjiang. Chances are any intervening power(s) will themselves prove to be pipsqueaks.

Will there be more R2P interventions as in Libya and the Cote d’Ivoire? Don’t count on it. In 2000, Kofi Annan famously said “The days of a coup…of manipulating elections are over.” when Laurent Gbagbo – recently R2P’d out of office – himself overthrew General Guei.

Approximately 275 military coups occurred between 1946 and 1970 in 59 countries. Since “The Millenium,” there have been coups in Ecuador and Fiji (2000), Guinea (2008), and Honduras (2009); attempted coups in Venezuela (2002), Equatorial Guinea (2004), Chad (2004/06), Madagascar (2006), and political instability in Bangladesh and the Philippines.

The days of the coup, it seems, are not quite over. Libya’s rebels will get the weapons they need, as will others…

Recent Posts by Peter Beeching

10 Comments so far ↓

  • Traveler

    From the Libya Live Blog on AJ, it seems as if arms would help. The FFs are low on ammo, and have to get it from the retreating loyalists:

    This is a call from a frontline Libyan freedom fighter seated at the Tripoli gates (west gate) in Ajdabia.
    Q. HOW ARE YOUR SUPPLY LINES ? Are the military suppling the FF ok?
    We have a real shortage of bullets and guns.
    We are trying to get them from Gadaffi forces.
    We have no choice.
    If we had the supplies we would be further ahead.
    We are really short, this is why we are not moving so fast.
    If we had the miltary supplies we would be ok.
    We need this.

    If we had secure military supplies we would be in Tripoli by now.
    We really need help for the guns.
    Gadaffi guns are not like our guns.
    Only we need something to get gadaffi out as soon as possible.
    If Gadaffi stays here longer he will kill all our people soon.
    We are only 4 million here he will kill all our generations.
    We need him out of Libya.”

    And apparently, now using poison gas(mustard?)

    Gadafffi is using bombs with the thing you find in the snakes.
    I dont know the same thing like in the snake.
    He is using grads.You know the big bombs.
    When you smell it or touch it.
    If you smell it your neck will get so fat. (swollen).
    if you touch it your body so fat. (swollen).

    If you touch the bomb you get fat.
    Only smell it.
    It smells like propane so strong.
    More strong then propane or gas. When we breath it
    the neck it will close and we have to get them to the
    hospital so fast.
    After if we touch any of the pieces of the bomb it will make our
    leg or arm so fat.”

    However, from other posts, it seems as if not only Misrata, but also Zawiya and Beni Walid have fallen. The rebellion is now already stating in Tripoli, with scattered firefights happening. So while it seems as if supplying arms would help, by the time they arrive it may well be over.

  • Bunker555

    “The Sunday Times reported in 2009 that “Tony Blair helped to secure defence contracts worth £350m and the promise of more as part of the deal with Libya that allowed the Lockerbie bomber to return home.” – Adding that Blair had no authority to release someone who had been convicted (Lockerbie bomber, Megrahi).”

    Faux News needs a Prime Minister urgently. They have judge, governor, speaker, …………..

  • Peter B

    Good afternoon, Bunker555. Yes, we knew/know that – and in fact, made reference to same in my piece – also referencing the original story under the blue type – click on it and it comes up. But my piece was, regrettably, not about that – it was about the reality of power’s too often amoral nature.
    Thanks. PB

  • valkayec

    the reality of power’s too often amoral nature.

    Speaking of this, have you read the new National Strategic Narrative written by two senior officers on the Joint Chiefs of Staff? These two officers, using the pseudonym of Mr. Y, state that the old national security strategy of containment, as laid out in the 1947 National Security Act, not longer applies to this modern era and a new strategy is needed to confront the challenges of the 21st Century.

    Their message is powerful and right on target. It should be read by everyone.

    From the Foreign Policy Magazine on the essay:

    “The narrative argues that the United States is fundamentally getting it wrong when it comes to setting its priorities, particularly with regard to the budget and how Americans as a nation use their resources more broadly. The report says Americans are overreacting to Islamic extremism, underinvesting in their youth, and failing to embrace the sense of competition and opportunity that made America a world power. The United States has been increasingly consumed by seeing the world through the lens of threat, while failing to understand that influence, competitiveness, and innovation are the key to advancing American interests in the modern world.

    Courageously, the authors make the case that America continues to rely far too heavily on its military as the primary tool for how it engages the world. Instead of simply pumping more and more dollars into defense, the narrative argues:

    By investing energy, talent, and dollars now in the education and training of young Americans — the scientists, statesmen, industrialists, farmers, inventors, educators, clergy, artists, service members, and parents, of tomorrow — we are truly investing in our ability to successfully compete in, and influence, the strategic environment of the future. Our first investment priority, then, is intellectual capital and a sustainable infrastructure of education, health and social services to provide for the continuing development and growth of America’s youth.

    Yet, it is investments in America’s long-term human resources that have come under the fiercest attack in the current budget environment. As the United States tries to compete with China, India, and the European Union, does it make sense to have almost doubled the Pentagon budget in the last decade while slashing education budgets across the country?”

    It’s available as a download from CNN’s GPS site or from Foreign Policy Magazine:,0&hidecomments=yes

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Traveler, I would not be quite so sanguine. Gadhafi is shelling Misrata heavily since he no longer has to worry about killing his own soldiers on Tripoli street. I simply don’t know if it is a change in tactics, simply level the city then move in or if he is truly being driven out.

    I understand the rationale not to heavily arm the rebels, we want to punish Gadhafi’s forces enough that they get rid of Gadhafi and then a ceasefire can be brought about however Gadhafi seems to have some bizarre hold on a significant block of people (terror or loyalty, who knows) that maybe they need to be defeated on the ground from the west and we would then have to convince the rebels to bypass Sirte to relieve Misrata. Tricky business but at this point something we have to consider. Anyway, when the rebels win we will be tripping over ourselves to sell them weapons, use the assets seized from Gadhafi to pay for the weapons, 30 billion would buy a helluva lot.

  • Rob_654

    Do we really know who these “rebels” are?

    Didn’t we arm “rebels” in a country called “Afghanistan” when they were fighting another country that we didn’t like so much?

    How did that ever turn out?

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      I wish there was some round up these commercial infiltrators and ship them off to some war zone to fend for themselves…where they would learn the value of democracy as being superior to their sleazy selfish cynical mindset.