It’s been a year full of disasters, but today’s news is worse than any so far with at least 75 killed in the Christchurch earthquake and who knows how many murdered by Gaddafi and his mercenary thugs. There’s not much to say about the earthquake except to hope that many of those listed as missing turn up unharmed. Gaddafi has passed the point of no return – it’s obvious from his threats of house-by-house retribution that the people have no option but to fight it out. The only question is what the rest of the world can do to bring the inevitable end as quickly as possible and with as little bloodshed. One option would be to withdraw recognition from the Gaddafi regime, which is clearly guilty of crimes against humanity. That would be a signal to waverers that the time to switch sides away from Gaddafi is sooner rather than later.

18 thoughts on “Disasters

  1. The only question is what the rest of the world can do to bring the inevitable end as quickly as possible and with as little bloodshed.

    I’m tempted to say that a simlar revolution in the US would be the thing that would bring it all to a close. The trouble is, if the US citizens attempted it, the bloodshed in the US could be far, far higher than that in Libya.

  2. @Sam

    A no fly zone is easy for NATO to do. Also, downsizing Gaddafi’s forces with air strikes is also very easy. Will they do it? Probably not. Do they care? You wouldn’t think so if their behavior is a guide.

    Doing either or both, which would very likely cost no NATO lives, would be far more constructive than whatever they are up to in Afghanistan. Also, either or both actions would save many innocent civilian lives, and might even repair the ‘West’s’ reputation with some Islamic countries.

    If, in addition, they gave the Gaddafi regime the impression that they were about to launch a ‘shock and awe’ invasion, I am sure Gaddafi’s ‘mercenaries would decide it wasn’t worth the pay, and it would be all over without an invasion. They wouldn’t have to do it, just appear to be getting ready to do it. Interestingly for market worship theorists, if people are mercenaries, simply fighting for money, they lose all enthusiasm when they face stiff opposition. The effort reward, risk, equation determines that.

    As for the US, ‘revolution’ is too horrible to contemplate given the crazies they have in their armed forces as well as the crazies outside of those forces and the army surplus weaponry the average law abiding citizen has access to.

  3. Direct on-the-ground military intervention in another nation’s civil war is never a good idea. Secondary measures to assist de-militarising the situation might be a good idea. Good moves could include;

    (1) Withdrawal of diplomatic recognition of the Gaddafi regime (JQ above).
    (2) A UN Vote condemning the Gaddafi regime’s actions.
    (3) A no-fly zone enforcing the grounding of all Libyan military aircraft (Freelander above).
    (4) Freezing all Libyan funds in the world banking system.
    (5) Arms trade embargoes.

    We can do no better than remove all Gaddafi’s external props and then allow the people to pursue their popular overthrow of his regime. The Libyan people may install a theocracy and then live to regret it (like the Iranians) but that is their business not ours.

  4. Tthe scientific evidence appears to be good that global warming can produce or exacerbate major earthquake activity. Melting of the magnitude of the last ice age retreat appears to have caused earthquakes because of pressure reduction and removal of the sticking and damping effect of massive ice sheets on the plates underneath. Whether current melting of the Greenland and Antarctic sheet ice is extensive enough to do the same thing now may be more dubious but the “stick-slip” behaviour of some glaciers can cause local minor tremors. It is not impossible that changes in snow pack and glacier weights in NZ’s South Island as well as stick-slip behaviour could be having some triggering effects in plate slippage zones. This latter is just my lay opinion I might add.

  5. @SJ

    Yes, it is a bit odd that Americans make such a media stand on the occasion of hundreds of deaths and repression in Libya, when they supported thousands of deaths and repression through-out the Third World – (and in Indonesia guided the killings).

    The current level of American massacres of civilians in Iraq is now over 100,000, see:


    Americans and no doubt Australian troops also go ‘house to house’, ‘door to door’ to root out dissent.

    So a balanced view needs to consider the whole picture.

  6. @Chris Warren

    You are right. The West is hypocritical about these issues. I always advocate staying out of foreign adventures and other nations’ civil wars.

    There is however, the greater realpolitik issue which I don’t know the solution for other than unavoidable all-out war. If the M.E. became totally unstable and Iran (perhaps backed covertly by Russia and/or China) began to conquer it and take over all the M.E. oil fields could we stand back? Or would we be obliged to treat Iran like 1939 Germany?

  7. The Christchurch earthquake is awful and truly frightening but at least the New Zealand nation will work together with friends like Australia to rebuild. Kiwis are a people who are resilient and self reliant although the second quake in so few months will definitely dent those qualities.

    The Libyan people seem to have few friends and are on their own unless their is a change of approach by major powers. Hearing the cry of a doctor in Tripoli on the radio for international support is probably a voice in the wilderness until citizens of other nations have been taken out as Gaddafi is known to be brutal and unpredictable in his approach. Two Australian citizens, who were in Libyan jails have been taken to unknown places. There is no doubt that foreign nationals will be used as hostages if western powers flex their muscles.

  8. @Ikonoclast

    I agree with Ikonoclast on this. By all means let there be embargos and humanitarian relief/supply (perhaps via opposition-held territory) but it’s a dangerous precedent, even in the case of a regime as egregious as that of Gaddafi, to allow that kind of foreign intervention.

    It’s possible that the airforce might defect to the opposition in toto — certainly if they think the regime may not survive this would be sensible. In those circumstances, a no-fly zone would be counterproductive and taint the new regime.

  9. @Fran Barlow
    I don’t have a strong view here. Did you hear about the bomber crew that bailed out and let their plane crash rather than carrying out their mission to bomb Benghazi? Very encouraging. However, if it seemed that the air force had swung in behind the government, and was prepared to fight to the end, a no-fly zone would be appropriate.

  10. @Fran Barlow

    It would have been even better if they had turned around and bombed Gaddafi before flying on to Malta.

    It would be a mistake for NATO to intervene on the ground. However, bombing Gaddafi and looking like they might intervene would provide support for the protestors, probably increase defections from Gaddafi, and would likely lead to fewer innocent lives lost. As it is, there is still a chance that Gaddafi could come out on top which would result in an even greater blood bath than is currently taking place.

    I also agree with the comments by Chris Warren. Self serving, rather than humanitarian, is too often a better description of the West’s foreign policy of ‘assistance’. The ‘good guys’ are always ‘good’ regardless of what they do. Sort of like a cowboy movie.

  11. Came across a link to this comment from Feb 14 today.

    Question: if Iraq hadn’t been invaded back then, would we be seeing the same kind of thing in Baghdad as we saw in Cairo yesterday? I don’t think you can definitively say yes. If revolutions were predictable, they wouldn’t happen at all. But it seems equally impossible to say that it couldn’t have happened in the light of events over the last two months. Of course, between 2003 and whenever it did happen the Iraqis would have had to put up with Saddam. But given what they’ve had to put up with since then that would not necessarily have been the worst option.

    It’s a difficult question.

  12. @SJ

    That’s a very good question.

    Problem though, after the first Gulf War there was insurrection. However, without support unarmed or lightly armed insurrection is difficult against heavily armed soldiers. The limiting factor then is how much mass murder those with the heavy weapons are willing to inflict. Saddam Hussein and his men demonstrated quite a capacity for mass murder. Gaddafi seems to have that capacity and his ‘mercenaries’ have nothing to lose as long as they don’t face real opposition.

    That is why I support NATO giving air cover and downsizing Gaddafi’s ‘assets’. Without that or significant defections Gaddafi may remain and the number of casualties even if he is removed will be horrendous.

  13. Reading this, leads one to feel that America (and the world economic system) is based on torture and the values our politicians are denouncing now;

    US Torture .

    But then there is also the issues of British conduct in Colonial Africa, India, Australia, and European powers in China, Middle East, South America, and Pacific.

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