Sen. McCain: Share What You Know About Libya

April 22nd, 2011 at 4:06 pm David Frum | 22 Comments |

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Sen. John McCain in Libya urges recognition of the anti-Qaddafi rebels as the country’s legitimate government. I assume he has had more extensive discussions with the rebels than most of us. It would be a real service if he would sit down for a detailed interview with somebody knowledgeable to tell what he knows about the rebels and detail the reasons for his confidence that the rebels are not inspired by or beholden to radical Islamism.

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22 Comments so far ↓

  • valkayec

    Mr Frum, you should know by now that Sen. McCain is gung-ho on war for almost any reason. Remember Georgia?

  • Arms Merchant

    The question is, “Why is Congress AWOL on Libya?” Or can any President just start a war now and expect that Congress will be his willing poodle? I guess so.

    The whole lot of them should be tossed out on their ears. Shameful cowardice.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    “that the rebels are not inspired by or beholden to radical Islamism.” Where is the proof? Why the automatic assumption that all Muslims are inspired by or beholden to radical Islamism? Have they instituted shariah law in Benghazi? No.
    Beyond this, what choice do we have? Support Gadhafi instead? Are you saying better a genocidal sociopath with a Messiah complex is better than a chance for Democracy? Have you bothered to read any of the websites from the east? There is nothing in them about imposing Shariah law and an Islamic state. Sure, you can say they aren’t saying it now, but they can change later, but that can be said about any rebellion. The US revolution was a great success (OK, in my eyes, maybe not in the eyes of a Canadian) but the later French one was a huge disaster…your take is then no revolutions, take the tyranny?

    Here is information from their official site, in English and Arabic

    The council derives it legitimacy from the decisions of local councils set up by the revolutionary people of Libya on the 17th of February. These local councils facilitated a mechanism to manage daily life in the liberated cities and villages. The council consists of thirty one members representing the various cities of Libya from the east to the west and from the north to the south.

    The aim of the Transitional National Council is to steer Libya during the interim period that will come after its complete liberation. It will guide the country to free elections and the establishment of a constitution for Libya.

    يستمد المجلس شرعيته من قرارات المجالس المحلية التى شكلها ثوار 17 فبراير لتسيير الامور اليومية بالمدن والقرى المحررة من طاغية العصر معمر القذافى تحقيقا لمكتسبات الثورة ووصولا لتحقيق أهدافها. والمجلس يتكون من واحد وثلاثين عضوا يمثلون مختلف مدن ليبيا من شرقها الى غربها ومن شمالها الى جنوبها.

    هدف المجلس الانتقالى هو قيادة ليبيا فى الفترة الانتقاليه من بعد تحرير كامل التراب الليبي من سيطرة الطاغيه معمر القذافى الى حين إجراء انتخابات حرة ووضع دستور للدولة الليبية


    Maybe McCain is following the lead of pundits who pushed for this war, like the guy who wrote this:

    Gadhafi’s departure from power in other words is not just a requirement of humanity and decency. It’s not only justice to the people of Libya. It is also essential to American credibility and the stability of the Middle East region.

    Three guesses, and the first two don’t count. And when you wrote that you certainly had no “confidence that the rebels are not inspired by or beholden to radical Islamism.”

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Is the website, read about the members of the council, Doctors and Lawyers some with international education.
    If any criticism can be made of the council and its leadership it is how many were part of the former regime, but Libyans seem to understand few had a choice, it was either that or risk prison and death.
    They do have one member: 4. Mr. Zubeir Ahmed El-Sharif (Political Prisoners)
    One of Libya’s longest serving political prisoners, Mr. El-Sharif was arrested in 1973 for conspiracy and sentenced to 31 years in prison. He graduated from the Military Academy of Iraq in 1958 and as a member of the NTC is currently responsible for representing political prisoners.

    As to whether or not to recognize them, I say no for now. Let France, England, etc. recognize them, when the Gadhafi’s run away, are killed, or overthrown I think we want as broadbased a coalition government as possible, if we recognize Benghazi we lose whatever leverage we have to ensure that happens. It is for this reason, not any hyperbolic fears of dirty Mooslems that I disagree with McCain. We don’t want any long term civil war in Libya, we just want Gadhafi gone. We can’t allow retribution against loyalist tribes after Gadhafi goes.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Let me add, if McCain is engaging in a little psychological war, then I have no problem with it, scare the Gadhafi generals a little more, demoralize their forces, bolster the rebels, etc. though I doubt McCain is capable of such a thing it, at least, works to our advantage otherwise I am sure Gates would tell him to stfu.

    TRS, I am mystified by Frum. There are reasons not to recognize the Council, they have not been elected but are self appointed, they don’t represent the people in Misrata or the mountainous region around Az Zintan, we want to keep open our ability to ensure there are full and free elections after Gadhafi goes, etc. Yet Frum goes with the dirty Mooslem shtick. You know, even if we get all those wishes, a full and free election…what is to prevent radical Muslims winning the election fair and square? I don’t see it happening but fear of that should not mean we should say no Democracy.

  • Traveler

    I think many people do not realize what is going on. Listening to MSM and Mullen, and looking at the eastern rebel ineffectiveness, we project “stalemate”. But that is not what seems to be happening. Looks like the NFZ is getting more done than we thought, and the rebels in the west and Misrata are far more effective. Below I encapsulate a series of selected posts from Al Jezeera. Reports a day or two later in MSM have proven the reliability of these sources:

    NightGoddess: (26 minutes ago)
    “Western mountains: the silence of the media and NATO missing in action
    April 22, 2011: a very reliable source crossing the Tunisian border to bring help to the mountains on a daily basis updated us with the following:

    Nalut freedom fighters kicked Gaddafi’s men out of Wazin, killed some, while the rest fled across the Tunisian border. The Wazin residents stayed in their houses. The freedom fighters told them, if you are not going to help, at least stand aside, and they did stand on the side watching them protect their city. Remember that Wazin is pro Gaddafi, but did stay aside and didn’t help with the battle, which was sad but expected.

    This same source also mentioned this:

    We understand the Tunisians will take those pro-Gaddafi guys up to the Northern checkpoint on the coast and turn them over to the regime, which will execute them for deserting. We don’t want that to happen, because it will discourage any more defections, so please help us try to monitor this and pressure the Tunisians to keep those guys, not turn them back over to Gaddafi to get killed.

    He then added the following:

    Gaddafi sent an envoy to the mountains, warning them that they have 3 more days to turn in their weapons or else they’ll be annihilated. Scare tactic, but they are getting scared because the situation isn’t good already, and they’re wondering if he’ll use mustard gas. We don’t want this kind of topic out in the street.

    We will keep you updated on the situation in Nalut and the Western Mountains as soon as we get more reports.”

    Gerhard Heinz (4 hours ago):
    “there are some new jets coming in today
    also the work of target teams are better day by day ,they are good teams with lokals now ,and lokals understand the proceder of airstrikes better now…”

    (3 hours ago):
    “there are operating 6 predators now
    to have a full 24hour coverage by two every time over spezial points in libya.
    every genaral or colonel have to have one eye in the air but when you see a hellfire coming ,no time to pray.
    realy good effekt on the movement of high people.
    never see the sun anymore”

    “i can tell you that two spezial tourist teams are sightseeing in misrata now .their friends from the raf are visiting their places in high frequenz and dropped gifts to daffis forces .no hiding i civilian areas any more.
    to mark the area round the southern crossing is under spezial attention since yesterday night becouse the traffic on coastal highway its also time to interupt.daffis general of the generals is a bad footballplayer and a crazy soldier he lost troops without need.. nato. thank him for help”

    (1 hour ago)
    “daffi the king of the scrabyards
    gratulation and praise him to bring down the price for steel-scrab next year
    he just open a new one in tripoli
    one in misrata
    and he want to open more tonight
    with the greatfull help of nato jets”

    Several things we can conclude here. One, the NFZ has worked, and it’s getting even more effective as targeting is coordinated. Two, the rebels are not only exceedingly brave and effective, they are also eminently sensible with respect to civilians and defectors. Scarcely the actions of Jihadists. Three, we have attained incredible skin in the game by putting together the NFZ, and this gives us unprecedented leverage. Cost us an F-15 and several hundred Tomahawks, which means stimulus here at home…

    So I would think twice before castigating McCain. Sure he is a yahoo (and a vacillating one at that), but the more the US interacts with the rebels at all levels, the better off we will be. For sure, there are some AQI folks, but they seem to be a minimal proportion (according to MSM), so what is the harm in following up?

  • TerryF98

    “Sen. McCain: Share What You Know About Libya”

    I am still waiting for McCain to tell us where Bin Laden is. During the 2007 Campaign he said “I know where Bin Laden is, I know” Please tell the CIA old geezer.

  • ScoopAway

    “I am still waiting for McCain to tell us where Bin Laden is. During the 2007 Campaign he said “I know where Bin Laden is, I know” Please tell the CIA old geezer.”

    He did know, but the old geezer has forgotten.

    Get off my lawn!


    “TRS, I am mystified by Frum.”

    I’m not.

    I wish he would have the good grace to clarify his very obvious about-face on this, and why he did it.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Traveler, the Libyan army is pulling out of Misrata, the prospect of close in air support of the drones must have spooked them, that and losing the center of the city.

    I found this hilarious: Khaled Kaim, Libya’s deputy foreign minister, has said that pro-government forces will withdraw from Misurata, leaving the tribes to deal with the rebels.

    “The situation in Misurata will be dealt with by the tribes around Misurata and Misurata’s residents and not by the Libyan army,” Kaim told journalists late on Friday.

    “We will leave the tribes around Misrata and Misrata’s people to deal with the situation, either using force or negotiation.”

    Kaim said the Libyan army had been given an “ultimatum” to stop the rebellion in the western city, 200km east of the capital Tripoli.

    “There was an ultimatum to the Libyan army: if they cannot solve the problem in Misurata, then the people from (the neighbouring towns of) Zliten, Tarhuna, Bani Walid and Tawargha will move in and they will talk to the rebels. If they don’t surrender, then they will engage them in a fight.”

    Yes, what the army could not do, fishmongers and small shop merchants will accomplish. Of course, I don’t believe they will withdraw from Misrata, they will continue to send in special forces to terrorize civilians and shell from afar with mortar fire, but the logic of these freaks is incredible.

  • dmnolan

    “We’re all Libyans now.” Blah blah. This is the chump who allowed himself to become hag-ridden. What feedback is he reading that tells him that anyone cares what he says?

  • Traveler

    The morning news from AJ shows an even more indications of imminent collapse in Tripoli. This is major news, but nobody here seems to care. Instead, we get Darkbloom and commuter articles? Pretty fickle editorial leadership here. Odd.

  • Traveler

    More from AJ:

    Glen Parry 4 hours ago:
    “This looks to be the last of the updates going back to about 1230 BST (There may be some duplicated reports as things were coming in thick and fast with what appeared to be multiple air strikes and lots of flights in some areas):
    - Hameed Al-Faqi:
    #NATO air-strikes on a military convey going to #Sabha City from #Chad and was completely destroyed ||
    - “AlArabiya: NATO strikes north of Zintan #libya #feb17″
    - ShababLibya LPC my brother in Tripoli now says unprecedented number of planes over the city. Hard 2 estimate number but many”
    - Sammy_83 “Mercenary Update in western Mount: We have found chad, niger, mali, and even sorry to say algeria fighting us. we heard some white people russia maybe”
    - Tripoli: NATO jets flying low and explosions were heard in Bab Al Aziziya, Mansoura, Kishlaf and Gharghour apparently. #libya #feb17
    - “Grain of Salt TV (aka Alamanara) Libya Alyoum: Confirmed: Fierce fighting between Revolutionaries and AlKHeweildi Forces in Surman City || #Libya
    - Gaddafi forces reportedly shelling town of Bani Walid after reports of large protests
    - Pro-democracy fighters in al Zawiya have successfully ambushed and killed 20 mercenaries that were terrorizing the city (Mark’s comment)
    - 4th convoy trying to get to misurata through Bani Walid 4th convoy destroyed….by FF’s in Bani Walid (Mark’s comment)
    - Unconfirmed: Al-Hurra reports town of Ben Walid taken by Revolutionaries. If this is true, this is huge
    - The NTC has announced that all public toilets in Libya will now be referred to as Gaddafis from now on. (JOKE)”

    jakm 6 hours ago:
    “The withdrawal of Qaddafi’s troops from Misrata is a major milestone in the process of eliminating Qaddafi and his group. There is the psychological impact, and the technical consequences. No more talk about stalemate; the Nato strategy, coupled with the action of the ff , is working.
    The East and Syrte become unimportant, Qaddafi’s forces there are cut from Tripoli and useless and should evaporate gradually.
    The battle for Tripoli is about to begin.
    Qaddafi’s still has a lot of armor left and a few loyalists, and the ff are still under equipped and inexperienced, so I do not expect a quick end.
    But the pressure is going to build up. It is now clear to all that the regime is doomed.
    Respect to the courageous people of misrata.”

    Glen Parry 5 hours ago:
    “@ Colin (and anyone else interested)

    Very busy overnight. You’d have to go back to the start of today’s comments but I was struggling to keep up with all the journalists and reliable sources within Libya who were reporting airstrikes and the sounds of aircrat and explosions.

    - State TV went off air at about the same time as a bunker buster hit a “car park” at Bab al Aziziya (we thought NATO were trying to take out Daffis golf cart, but then, as a ll the trolls disappeared at that pooit realised that they’d gone for the call centre)

    - Strikes; described as low flying a/c a dnmassive explosions, at lots of places in the western mountains and FF attacks on Gaddafi forces

    - Misrata: Vegetable market cleared; heavy fighting but no FF fatalities, hospitla now reported to be in FF hands (it was reported that negotiations were taking place for G-farce surrender at approx. 0230 this morning)

    - Air strikes in Sirte

    - G-Farce sleeper cell attack in Adjdabiya repelled with no FF losses, NATO then destroyed the Gaddafi vehicles

    - Gaddafi attacked a village near Misrata belonging to the al Waffara tribe (may have spelled that wrong, towns folk fought back so there’s a new flashpoint near Misrata (doen’s augur well for Daffis plans to pull his army out of the city and let the local tribes take on the FFs

    - Tripoli described as a poowderkeg waiting for the chance to go off (some reports of small arms fire and TNC flags appearing all over the city)

    There’s probably more that’s happened and I’ve just not been able to recall; just woken up after not a hell of a lot of sleep.

    Gerhard has been pretty much vindicated in everything he’s said; he just couldn’t give a clue as to the scale of the rampiing up of activity by NATO, as have most of the regular Twitter sources that provide updates to Feb17 and Mark.”

  • Traveler

    NightGoddess 17 hours ago:
    Misrata update for Friday 22nd April
    Today we had big clashes in Misrata’s central hospital, where Gaddafi forces are still being surrounded
    We killed many of them, and the rest are still surrounded. The same goes for Bin Salah building and the vegetable market
    The forces in these buildings have been surrounded for 10 days and they have no ammo, no food and very little water
    God willing, these buildings and areas will be liberated very soon so that Tripoli street is completely cleared of forces
    Things were quiet in central Misrata today, however, Zawiyat almahgoub was bombarded heavily today (outskirts)
    It was bombarded by grad launchers, mortars etc from the early afternoon till a few minutes ago
    We also heard explosions in Qasr Ahmed (close to the port) but we’re not sure what they used. Could be grad or mortar
    Back to Tripoli street.. the youth are cleaning the street and are removing the dead decomposing bodies of Gaddafi forces
    some bodies have been there for over 10 days and we’re worrying that this may cause diseases, so we are removing the bodies and burying them. We are also checking for bombs and other booby traps, which were set up by gaddafi snipers
    We can’t do this at night because we have no electricity for over 2 months now, but we are doing our best
    And finally, I’d like to say that I saw the insurance building today from inside and hopefully videos will be uploaded soon
    It’s very clear that the mental state of these forces and snipers was extremely bad and borderline psychopathic
    Some started writing poetry, others wrote letters, and its clear from the words they used that they either started mental illnesses or they finally realized that Gaddafi threw them in a city, lied to them and abandoned them
    They finally realised that they are fighting civilians and not terrorists or AlQaeda as Gaddafi told them
    Videos will be posted (soon?) to prove this. Thanks to WefaqLibya, @freedomgroupTV and Marwan Almisrati “

  • Traveler

    Daniel 8 hours ago:

    “I’d like to know why this stalemate mantra is still being sung? I don’t see a stalemate, the goons have pulled out of Misrata, it seems they are losing control over the whole west mountains area. ”

    Entirely agree with you – in fact, rather than losing control I would say they have already lost it. This comes from Admiral Mullen saying there was a stalemate, then saying that 40% of Gadaffi forces have been destroyed – and that the process of destruction would continue. Talk about a contradiction in terms !

    Once the revolutionaries were safe in Benghazi behind air power, their eventual victory was inevitable because they were being continuously resupplied while their opponents slowly destroyed. The only risk was that the political will to maintain that air barrier would fail, but if anything it has become stronger. No chance the revolutionaries would give up – Gadaffi had made it clear what would happen to them if they did !

    While they were not very good fighters at first the Benghazi revolutionaries were able to create and maintain a sea lane supply to Misrata (with a little Nato help), enabling the brave fighters there to stop, then push back and defeat the Gadaffi forces in what will be seen as the turning point of the battle.”

  • blowtorch_bob

    I heard Gadaff is pushing hard to get Africa off the dollar and the euro (since they are printing the stuff like monopoly money) and to have its own currency. He is making people in the int’l banking cartel nervous. That is the real reason Gadaff is facing a rebellion.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    blowtorch, that is hilarious.

    I read that Zawiya is in revolt again, if that is true and the freedom fighters retake the city then it is lights out for Gadhafi, he will have a plethora of fronts to contend with, eastern, western, southern.

    If Gadhafi falls, how long for Assad? I am daily astounded at these people’s daily bravery. Death to these tyrants.

  • baw1064

    I’m willing to take the risk that the Rebels could turn out to support terrorism, given that Qaddafi is proven beyond any doubt to do so.

    Let me turn this around. Frum supports continued recognition of somebody who has killed almost 300 Americans on the grounds that the other side might contain some element of Islamism. WTF?

  • Traveler

    Glad somebody besides me is paying attention here. I think these Libyan developments have more import for the future of Islam and western interactions than any other event of recent history. Maybe I am way too hopeful, but these FFs seem to be the most fearless, yet sensible, examples of what the future could portend. Contrast these folks with the Pakistani denialist scum. Takes all sorts I guess.

  • Rob_654

    This is a guy who picked Sarah Palin for his running mate – do you really think he has any clue what is going on in the world? He is an old guy who simply does what the folks around him. I can’t even really blame him because I don’t think he has been playing with a full deck for a long time.