Friday, March 25, 2011

Just kind of sad...

Not much to add to the Joe Klein (and yes, I know...Joe fucking Klein! Whooda thunkit..!) piece in Slime other than a rueful shake of the head over this:
"There has been all sorts of consternation about the confusion at NATO headquarters as well. In the future, there should be none: we are NATO. Only we have the experience, equipment and logistical capability to lead a military action, even one that seems a nominally simple as a no-fly zone."
This isn't the freaking Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia we're talking about here. This is Great Britain and France; two of history's biggest military hosebeasts, for cryin'outloud. Two of the three global military monsters of the past five centuries; Godzilla and King Kong - throw in the Spanish and you've got King Ghidorah there, too.These guys wrote the damn book on bitchslapping little countries and native tribes. The appearance of a Union Jack or a Tricolor on the horizon was the first sniffle that let you know that about half your people were going to come down with a bullet-hole-shaped headachey cold.

And now this D.C. talking fathead says they can't even put together a simple punitive expedition anymore.

Klein could just be talking out his ass, mind you; the British did just fine in the Falklands thirty years ago (well, except for the whole Exocet-ship-sink-y thing), and the French...well, they don't really have any real need to do this stuff anymore, fun as it is. And I know that being the toughest of military tough guys isn't crucial to a Western nation's existence anymore.


The British and French getting slagged off on because they can't send a bunch of wing-wipers over the Third World? Even with these cool bikinis?Think of it; British grenadiers and the fierce legions of Napoleon reduced to carrying the golf-bag for the upstart Yanks. What is the world coming to?




  1. Chief,
    Is defensive the same thing as bombing other countries outside of their area of opns?

  2. Yes, NATO was a defensive alliance (until at most '99). Now it's an expedition adventure club.

    And that asshat is wrong; most NATO countries could easily lead something like a NFZ effort - even Luxembourg which has no air force. I could do it.
    Most of the planning is done in the squadrons/wings anyway; routes, call signs, frequencies, timing, need for refuelling...
    His arrogance is unbearable.

  3. jim: So far as I know NATO is just what the acronym says it is: a "treaty organization". So it can be pretty much whatever the signatories of the treaty want it to be. As I've said here before, I think Libya is in civil war and getting involved in other people's civil wars (see: Spain) is usually a Bad Idea. If the southern tier NATO nations are worried about an unstable Libya then IMO their best option would be to send lawyers, guns, and money to the TLC rebel government to help them win that civil war. The current scheme seems considerably more chancy, to me.

    SO: It's Joe Klein, so "arrogant asshole" is what he does. I'm not sure it it peeked through the heavy layer of sarcasm but I have no doubt that at the very least the professional militaries of the larger NATO nations could organize and operate this mission just fine.

    (Whether the NATO countries could manage a sensible political strategy to CONTROL the military operation is, IMO, not so certain.)

    For me, anyway, the takeaway from the Klein piece is his bland assumption that "We (the U.S.) are NATO". Klein is a remora sucking onto the shark of power. He doesn't fart unless the Washington Rules say he can. And this is what he's thinking.

    IMO the single reason this Libya business might rebound to some value for the West (other than a miraculous collapse of Gaddafi's regime and its replacement with a Jeffersonisn democracy, and that'll happen when monkeys fly out of my butt) would have been NATO doing this on their own, and showing the world at large that it is not a finger on the hand of the U.S. Clearly, what has happened so far has convinced Klien, at least (and, by inference, the rest of the D.C. insiders) the exact opposite.

    Well, THAT sucks...

  4. My two big concerns about the Libyan adventure are coming true:
    1. No end-game for the US. Nobody really want to run the NFZ so they are all explaining that they can't do it. This gets back to the Chief's hilarious little play.

    A side issue is that we're now talking about arming the rebels because they are so freaking helpless.

    2. There's nobody to replace Gaddafi even it he gets killed somehow.

    So let's look at the natural fall-out of the UN resolution:
    - A large group of civilians rises up in armed rebellion against the government of a country.

    - In the name of protecting civilians (who are armed and in rebellion against their leaders), the UN passes a no fly zone resolution.

    - Turns out that the gormless Libyan Air Force isn't what's really killing those armed civilians, it's armor and artillery. Who'd a thunk of that?

    - So we start destroying Gaddafi's armor and artillery, which IS allowed by the UN resolution

    - Turns out that a bunch of random tribal members armed with a mish-mash of light weapons and no logistical tail STILL can't handle half-way (and I DO mean half-way) competent troops. Go figure!

    - Now we're talking about arming the rebels, which is most profoundly NOT covered by the UN mandate.

    I bet we force this one through and discover that the tribal people STILL can't hold their own on the field of battle (and that we are accidentally resupplying Gaddafi's troops with our weapons and ammo at the same time).

    So this leads to my final question: How long do you suppose it will take for us to get around to invading Libya (which is such a morass of tribal politics that it makes Iraq look tame?

    My guess is around 6 months.

  5. Pluto: Maybe not. Looks like if you strafe the living shit out of their Libyans eventually your Libyans can walk right in; (

    Frankly, now that we've gotten involved, I'm not all that frosted about the notion of throwing arms and mercenary trainers at the TLC lot. If they can carry on up the desert it takes away any rationale for any more U.S. involvement. Conversely, if they CAN'T, then they're so utterly fucking shambolic that it ALSO takes away any rationale for U.S. involvement; hand 'em an SGLI form and wish 'em luck with the whole civil war thing.

    The one thing I still don't see is this somehow "strengthing" Obama's domestic policy hand so that he can cut off the life support for Afghanistan. This is looking like a lose-lose; not quick and decisive enough for "Mission Accomplished", while looking, as you point out, increasingly murky down the road.

  6. Chief,
    Right on-NATO is a treaty organization , and as such was ratified by congress and became law of the land.
    Did we ratify or change that law from it's defensive charter.
    If not i contend that we are acting w/o the legality req'd to bomb any ass hole that we feel like shitting on.

  7. Chief:
    Part I

    About replacing Arab dictatorships with Jeffersonian democracies: Known unknowns seems to be the answer. Arab governments, whatever their flavor, all have a strongman/strongmen components to them. Ya can't get the Arab out of the Arabs. To be sure, the young people and the intelectuals want to break out of this rut, in order to join the modern world. Armed with the nefarious network-uncentric weapons of facebook/twitternalia (take that US army..FCS program), they can spread intel, and mass for flash mobs at the drop of a keffyeh. If you look at the makeup of these movements; they start with the young, urbanized cohorts, then add on the dispossessed, and middle classes of all ages to gain momentum . The spoil sports are of course, the legions which enjoy the succor of the despots.

    That is why US gummintcritters cannot predict the outcomes in these places. For one, they are too stupid and arrogant; they as ahistorical in background, as well.

    Perhaps the Algerian model is a plausible key model to examine. The Algerian war of liberation, had the French crackdown in Algiers crushing the pyramid like cell structure of the terror network. The collapsed it all the way to Ali La pointe. All operational personnel captured were hanged. A year later, a revolutionary movement breaks out again
    country wide, (It's bad, it's nationwide). French leader DeGaulle steps in to quash a generals' coup, and forces the military to get out of Dodge.

    Part II next.

  8. Part II.

    The resistance takes over the government. Many years later, the Salafists win an election. The old Resistance government leaders (many of them old commies), realize the danger, and cank the results. Wholesale butchery breaks out for a number of years, however government forces ultimately win.

    I think that this outcome is the best model one can hope for; but I may be too pessimistic. Jeffersonian Blah Blah, Hell we don't even have that here. Imagine, if you will 200,000 people on the Washington Mall, screaming for change, for the heads of the corporatist elite. The mob, throwing rocks, burning vehicles, forming barricades (Aux barricades, sez Marianne). Ponder, if you will, activities like the unhorsing of Gummint Cossacks, and their
    subsequent killings taking place. Crowd personnel decide to take pot shots into the ranks of policemen/armed forces critters; sounds like fun.

    How would the not so magical negro react? How would a drooling, snake-handling, God-a-fearin' Repub preznit react? Light a candle in your head .....Dugout Doug..... Bonus Army. Any records vis-a-vis numbers of protesters killed by the likes of Yemen/Syria, would be
    extinguished for all time by our authorities.

    Still, the US should take a seat during the current revolutions. Given the wretched performance of military planning/execution in our two current fuck stories; haste would decidedly make waste.

    The likes of the Desert Ox, and the pursed lipped, fey Caballero Petraeus couldn't arrange for a troup of Egytian Boy Scouts to E&E from Tahir Square, without fumbling into government lines. They could not execute an air drop of
    Gummi Puppe Fallschirmjäger over a North Carolina DZ, if their miserable, puffed up, self loving lives depended on it.

    That was a good take on Joe Klein. Remember what was said in the old days? Life magazine was for people who can't read. Slime and News-Weak were for people who can't think.

  9. @RAW:
    Your remark would be true if aimed at the Iraq invasion or the Yugoslavia Air War, but it's not correct this time.

    The North Atlantic Treaty refers to the UN, and the UNSC resolution which legalised the no fly zone means that the command of the NFZ enforcement effort is within NATO's founding document's limits.

    This was probably not as intended sixty years ago, but it's at most a marginal deviation in comparison to the several aggressions by the US, UK and Poland in the past.

  10. The US has been running continuous combat air operations for 20 years now. We're pretty good at it. It's not as simple as some suggest, but it's not rocket science either. Can the Brits/French/Anyone else do it too? Well, there is one way to find out.

    I'm beginning to think, though, that "leadership" will transfer off the shoulders of the US, but we'll still be heavily involved in actual operations. The plane spotters and ATC radio geeks are, for example, reporting on twitter today that a couple of AC-130's are now in theater as well as A-10's. They're reporting more aircraft coming into theater and none leaving. So I'm wondering if this "leadership" transfer is basically meaningless and is simply changing the command staffs. Time will tell.

  11. "Arab governments, whatever their flavor, all have a strongman/strongmen components to them. Ya can't get the Arab out of the Arabs."

    Well, fasteddiez, not to defend the Arabs, who seem capable of fucking up a wet dream, but when you look around, most countries are or have been some form of autocracy, oligarchy, or worse for most of history.

    The Arabs get a double helping of fuck because their "countries" are mostly European fictions haggled out less than 200 years ago and their strongmen the despot candles the Euros stuck on their cake to make the colonial party more fun.

    That said, there's a lot of things fundamentally fucked up about most Third World countries (immensely high rates of poverty and illiteracy) and somehow the Arab nations seem to manage to be more ate up than most other 3W countries. It seems like a gift.

  12. We've gotten rumours over on the Ron Paul forums that there are already ground force units prepping to go to Libya (an MEU at least if what we heard was credible). It also appears they probably are going to start handing out M-4's to Air Force personnel and turned them into security (or infantry) because of how worn out our regular units and National Guard are after nearly 11 years of continuous rotations. I don't see this ending well for the US. As for Barack Obama, he can go fuck himself for all I care. I hate hypocrites and I fucking HATE the whole Red Team/Blue Team bullshit our country has fallen into. A pox on the Military-Industrial Complex.

  13. What an interesting thought. A Libyan democracy electing "leaders" based upon the uninformed and unfocused emotions of the masses, shaped by the wealth of strongmen. Sort of a "Little America".

  14. SO,
    NATO is not a strike arm of the UN.

  15. Relevant articles from the NATO Charter:

    Article 1: The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

    Article 7: This Treaty does not affect, and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations under the Charter of the Parties which are members of the United Nations, or the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.

    NATO is not a wholly "defensive alliance," and even it were, the charter contains sufficient escape clauses to allow member states to do whatever they want. Bear in mind the US, England and France are all permanent members of the UN Security Council (see Article 7).

    Nice try, Ranger.

    FDChief: The Brits and the French in particular have gotten out of the habit of bitch slapping poor, impoverished nations. The French have pretty much left that to the US, a decision I'm fairly confident they DON'T regret, while the Brits have chosen the role as water bearer for the US in its recent excellent adventures in the Mideast, a decision I'm confident they DO regret.

  16. "SO,
    NATO is not a strike arm of the UN.
    jim "

    Jim, read the North Atlantic Treaty and see the (theoretical) relevance of the UN and its Charter to NATO. It plays a huge role even in the founding document.

  17. Most likely wishful thinking, but I've been wondering about the effect all this might have on the proverbial Arab 'Man in the street.'

    OIF and OEF clearly pushed the Man toward the
    extremists. Mightn't OOD pull the Man back to the previous level of moderation? Or even closer to the West than before?

    Middle Eastern autocrats have been facing
    increasing internal protest for some time. Not sure the definitions of strategy fit here, but ISTM that exploitation of this regional trend (assuming we are viewed as picking the right sides) could have great strategic value.

    The horse has already left the barn, so shouldn't we be thinking about how to catch up to it and hop on?



  18. JP-

    As I posted on the "Libyan Intervention" thread, if we are doing this with no implied or explicit self serving US interest, your thought that it might moderate the Arab Street's view of the West has some potential.

  19. And if we were doing this at the invitation of the TNC and under the direction of a Libyan commander (yeah, THAT'll happen...) we would look like "allies" who were actually trying to help.

    Right now we look like the same overbearing Western bastards we looked like in southwest Asia; doing what we're doing because it suits OUR purposes first, and the locals' only by way of coincidence.

    I've posted some variation of this about four times on seydlitz's post comment thread; the highhanded way the U.S. went about this will negate any value we get from any "help" we give the TNC faction, that, and the very obvious way we've ignored Yemen and Bahrain.