Sunday, April 21, 2019

Moon Over Tripoli

Eight years ago we had quite a conversation around this joint (as well as some amusement, if such a thing can be had about people killing and dying...) about the goin's on in the North African desert.

What surprised me at the time was that a handful of the barstaff here - principally our long-gone and lamented seydlitz - were in favor of the military intervention (he makes the case in the comments here, and laid out his case in more expansive terms here) and had hopes that giving Gadaffi his conge' would mean better times for Libya and, by inference, for the southern Mediterranean rim.

Well...that didn't work out very well. Libya has, since 2011, devolved into a semi- (or completely, depending on your definition) failed state. So far as I can tell there is a "government" in the old capital of Tripoli, but this "government" is, in most parts of the country, purely notional and those parts are in the best post-colonial, post-dictatorial tradition swarming with outlaws, rebels, armed insurgents, rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers and Methodists.

Among these goofs is one of those ridiculously-comic-self-parodying-but-still-murderous caudillos of the Moon Over Parador variety who calls himself Field Marshal Khalifa Belqasim Haftar (or Hifter). This joker was tapped by the "government" to run the shambolic Libyan Army back in 2014 and has, as you'd expect from someone who dresses up like this -
- declared himself Grand High Mufti Emperor For Life (or something) and has been prosecuting the civil war against the "government".

Having been involved in this rotating clusterfuck eight years ago and seen the worthlessness of the expense of cash and high explosive you'd think that the United States would have the good sense to stay out of this goat rodeo and, almost surprisingly, that was the case until last Friday. The official position was the Libya's problems are Libya's, which seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable position for the US to take.

But I had not reckoned with the Very Stable Genius in the Oval Office, who Friday blarted out his love and support for this Haftar jamoke: "The President recognized Field Marshal Hifter’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system.”

The "democratic system" nonsense is utter crap, of course. This goon wants to be Field-Marshal-President-for-Life, and that's the most Trumpy thing about him; Orange Foolius luuuurves him some dictators, and this dude is just the latest in the long string of jackbooted lovers the tangerine-hued shitgibbon has taken.

The only good news? It doesn't appear that the US will waste any actual blood and treasure on backing the Alfonse Simms of Tobruk.
But, still...how the hell do you run a country with a doofus like this at the wheel?

26 comments:

  1. Well, a good start would be to limit the defence budget to less than the amount spent by the next two countries combined. It would be a huge cut (over 50%) thus freeing up a lot of money for other, more important activities. It would also limit the amount of damage the USA could do abroad.

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    1. Did you do calculations? Egypt wastes much of its wealth on its military.

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    2. In 2018, after the USA top two are China and Saudi Arabia. Followed by Russia, India, UK and France.

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    3. Well, the context is a post about Libya. Libya's military spending according to Worldbank was lower than Egypt's in the last documented year (2014):
      https://data.worldbank.org/share/widget?indicators=MS.MIL.XPND.CD&locations=LY-EG

      So there would be no 50+% cut by your rule in the case of Libya.

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  2. I think Sven's point wasn't absolute but relative; Egypt spends less but also has much less GNP, so it's relatively more wasteful.

    I agree that the ridiculously bloated "defense" budget should be slashed. But I'm not so sure that fewer resources would mean less farkling about. Remember that the young US ran around invading Mexico and Cuba and the PI and being a nuisance in it's own hemisphere with very little in the way of warbucks.

    I think Andy Bachevich might be right in the it's not that the money leads to the stupidity, but the stupidity - the idea that "war works" and that more rubble = less trouble leads to wars and funding wars. It's the "Washington Rules"; the consensus that the U.S. needs to fiddlefuck with other people's problems "just in case".

    This is a perfect example. Certainly there are Islamic groups in Libya. One of the main reasons Trumpy did this is his pal al-Sisi hates that the Muslim Brotherhood is being busy in Libya. But, frankly, the Libyan takfiris are Egypt's problem, not ours. The evidence in hand is that a Muslim Brotherhood Egypt would be no more "trouble" than one run by the military and their oligarchs. The notion that the US "needs" to bother with some wanna-be Franco running around the Libyan desert is ridiculous. Joe and Molly American are more likely to be struck by a meteor than injured in a Libyan Islamic attack...

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  3. I miss old Seydlitz. Much of his postings and comments on other matters were spot on. But I admit on Libya he was dead wrong. It was a European thing. Living and working in Portugal for so many years he was in tune with that. How much did Portugal depend on Libyan oil I wondered at the time. The US should never have been sucked into that.

    Was Lang also supportive of that adventure? I don't recall. But during the run-up to the 2016 election he and his cohorts over there seemed to blame Hillary for personally sticking a dagger up Qaddafi's rectum. Flip=flopping is OKIYAR it seems.

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    1. I always enjoyed his work, though often in a "that's interesting, now how does that apply to the real world" kind of way; his strategic thinking always seemed way above my pay-grade. He was always insightful, though, which is why I was surprised when he went all-in on a Libyan intervention.

      Lang was in favor, too, but IIRC it was about the same time that he started to go off the rails into his conspiracy-theory, Democrats-are-the-real-Al-Qaeda phase. I haven't visited his site in ages simply because he was so freakish then. I should peek back in and see if he has calmed down.

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    2. He is pissed at pom-pom and the mousetashe. But still seems to love commander bone-spurs. Why he warms up to a draftdodger who spent the Viet-Nam years fighting VD in Manhattan highrises instead of VC in the Central Highlands is a mystery to me.

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    3. I still read Lang - he's all over the map. He was, after all, a Hillary supporter, but he's bought into several lines of conspiracy thinking, primarily that anything Russia does in Ukraine and Syria is basically good. He questions anything bad they do and entertains all kinds of conspiracy theories that would implicate the US or western powers.

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    4. Lang wasn't all well in his upper chamber by 2010 already.

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    5. Yeah, he was already a little off the rails at that point. I did drop over there and it looks like he's gone full wingnut, all-in for the Orange King. Sad to see the guy going all Fox-news-grandpa, he had some intelligent takes on Middle Eastern geopolitics back in the Oughts.

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    6. There appears to be a pattern to me:
      https://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.com/2016/04/thinking-on-military-affairs-and-going.html

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    7. Lind! Wow, now THERE's a blast from the past; I'd totally forgotten that guy. Yeah, he started out as a sort of just-a-little-outside-the-box critic of the Western COIN obsession and the Middle Eastern cabinet wars and went utterly ga-ga on the subject of "Third Generation Warfare", IIRC. His stuff got utterly unreadable ads he got more obsessive about his 3GW idee fixee.

      I'm still kind of curious whether Lang still has any sort of worthwhile insights into Middle Eastern politics/military/intelligence affairs. He just posted a fairly decent summary of the problems with the Bolton/Pompeo Iran "strategy" But it seems like he's so far gone into his culture-war rabbit hole - just from a cursory scroll through his site it looks like it's primarily wrapped up in several things; FOX/Trump addiction/hating on Democrats, and some sort of religious fervor.

      So maybe he's a "children's advisory" sort of read...

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  4. O/T but filed under the "WTF?" category, it appears that the Sri Lanka attacks are being attributed to some sort of local takfiri jihadi group. I'm kind of baffled; Muslims are a fairly tiny minority in Sri Lanka, and mostly Tamil. So are Christians. What does this get these jokers?

    In a weird way I could see them attacking Sinhalese Buddhist targets - get the Sinhalese majority to crack down on the local Tamil Muslims as a way to fire up the larger Muslim world. But Christians? Hunh?

    Any ideas on what this was about..?

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  5. The Tamil Tigers used coordinated suicide bombers. It was one of their signature techniques. Of course, the Tamils were defeated only ten years ago and so their re-emergence would be a decade ahead of schedule. I am sure that the Sri Lankan government will blame *anyone* but the Tigers.

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  6. Supposedly there's already a local takfiri group that has claimed these, and, of course, whatever is left of the Islamic State wants a piece of them, too.

    I guess I could see this if it seemed more likely to inflame the West for more crusading. It certainly has the usual wingnut suspects foaming at the mouth, but those idiots are lost causes to begin with. But the problem is what any real estate salesperson would tell you; location, location, location. Sri Lanka isn't France, so there's no hook for the Christopaths to hang their usual war on; few white people were victims and the whole thing seems very far away.

    If, on the other hand, it was meant to have a local effect, why Christians? The Sinhalese Buddhists could probably give a shit. You'd think attacks on some Buddhist shrines on a day when they were jam-packed would have been more effective in riling up the majority.

    I'll never figure out religious nuts, I guess.

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  7. Haven't followed Libya for quite some time - things change too fast and it's a shit-show. I do remember Haftar and, like in a lot of these situations, has jumped sides over the years.

    As far as Trumps call, I'm like "meh." There's nothing we or the UN can do diplomatically. We should just isolate the place like Escape From New York and wait until someone finally takes control.

    I, too, was really surprised that Seydlitz supported this effort. I do miss having him here, he did change my thinking in a number of positive ways.

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    1. The reality that we're useless in Libya would make any sensible politician STFU.

      Oh, wait, I'll come in again...

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    2. I guess that excludes all US politicians then. Ours cannot help but to meddle.

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  8. Off topic:

    1] I note that Seydlitz recently commented on Lang's blog.

    2] Terrorist Christopher Hasson who reportedly plotted to assassinate Nancy Peolsi, Maxine Waters, and some Supreme Court Justices is to be released from detention. Is this the new AG at work????

    3] A Trump supporter from Rhode Island arrested for threatening to murder and then chow down on a college professor who had advocated for women's rights. He emailed the prof to say he was going to “rip every limb from your body and eat it, piece by piece”; “savor” your “innards” and “You will have your face ripped off and eaten by me, personally”. He will probably get released like Lieutenant Hasson.

    4] Trump spent a "significant portion" of his meeting with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey complaining that he was losing followers. Plus he has been complaining to some of his subordinates that Obama has more twitter followers than him. He can't seem to understand it since he claims he himself is the Tweet-Meister.

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  9. Another off topic post.

    Did Trump, Bolton, Abrams and Pompeo just get played for fools?

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    1. It doesn't matter much who rules Venezuela any more.
      What matters most for Venezuela is when will be able to ramp up oil exports again and when will it get a well-done monetary reform.

      Whether the government is controlled by the white descendants of Spaniards (the wealthy elite) or by the poorer brown people may matter again in the 2030's.

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    2. That is a very broad brush you are swinging. I hope that Venezuelans themselves are given the opportunity to decide if you are correct.

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    3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs

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    4. Distribution matters. An oil-exporting Venezuela does not necessarily help out the poor. Look at Venezuela of 30 years ago. This is a major reason that Chavez came to power.

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    5. Well, without oil they can't afford the imports. And any government with enough oil money would want to stabilise itself by avoiding famine.

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