Deal near: NATO to take control of war "time-limited, scope-limited military action" in Libya; Update: U.S. looking for legal loophole to arm Libyan rebels

“Time-limited, scope-limited military action” is the euphemism du jour, incidentally, thanks to White House press secretary Jay Carney. We started with “war,” we segued to “intervention,” we pit-stopped at “kinetic military action,” and now we’ve arrived here. Reminds me of George Carlin’s old bit about how the terminology of “shellshock” grew over the years, euphemistic syllable by syllable, into what we know today as “post-traumatic stress disorder.” It sounds so much … cleaner (and, in the present case, more legal).

Anyway, good news: After a week of hesitation, our new TLSLMA is about to become a BFD for NATO.

NATO appeared on Thursday to move closer to assuming command of the military operation in Libya when Turkey’s foreign minister was quoted as saying an agreement has been reached…

“The coalition that was formed following the Paris meeting will abandon the mission and hand it over entirely to a single command system under NATO,” Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted as saying by Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency…

Turkey’s government had insisted that any NATO mission, including the no-fly zone, must be restricted to protecting civilians, enforcing the arms embargo and providing humanitarian aid.

Davutoglu had said Wednesday that his country would not agree to a “framework that goes beyond this.” But Turkey also said it would contribute four frigates and one submarine to the NATO naval force that patrolling off Libya’s coast to enforce a U.N. arms embargo. Two frigates had reached the Libyan coast while two others were on their way.

The Turkish parliament approved the country’s participation earlier today, shortly after prime minister/Islamist demagogue Recep Tayyip Erdogan casually offered this bon mot at a press conference about his NATO allies: “I wish that those who only see oil, gold mines and underground treasures when they look in that direction [of Libya], would see the region through glasses of conscience from now on.” If you’re wondering why Turkey would sign onto a mission they’d been stalling on for days, it’s not because they’re suddenly gung ho to take out Qaddafi. On the contrary, only by having NATO in charge will the Turks retain some sort of veto power in case the west decides to escalate the mission to regime change. Quote:

Ankara insisted NATO should have sole control of Libya operations to prevent offensive operations that could harm civilians or a divided command where NATO was in charge of enforcing a U.N.-mandated no-fly zone while coalition planes continued to bomb Libyan forces

Daniel Keohane of the European Union Institute for Security Studies said it was vital to clarify the aim of military action, noting that while the EU and the United States say Gaddafi must go, the U.N. resolution did not authorize regime change.

“It’s about imposing the no-fly zone and to protect civilians by all necessary means,” he said. “The problem is that some people in Turkey and some of the European countries like Germany worry it may become about regime change.”

By consolidating the entire mission under NATO, Turkey makes it harder for the U.S., France, or Britain to break away and go after Qaddafi, which is beyond the scope of the UN resolution. And of course Obama will approve the new arrangement anyway, even though it increases the risk of a stalemate on the ground, because it gets him off the hook politically at home. He said we’d be handing over control of the mission quickly, and gosh darn it, he was right. So I’ll pose the same question that I posed to you yesterday: What happens now if the rebels really are too inept and undisciplined to make headway against the regime without greater offensive support from western air power? Supposedly they have only 1,000 or so trained men; retired Air Force Gen. Charles Horner, writing in today’s WSJ, insists that Qaddafi can be beaten through airstrikes, but we’ll have to ramp things up to do it — which is precisely what Turkey is trying to prevent by NATOizing the operation. And even if Qaddafi somehow topples, that’s the easy part. Afterwards comes the agonizing decision about what the west should do when his loyalists inevitably start looking for revenge. Exit quotation from Steven Metz of the U.S. Army War College: “[I]t’s difficult for me to imagine a scenario where this conflict doesn’t drag on and produce a persistent insurgency.”

Update: Wait until Turkey realizes that our time-limited, scope-limited military action isn’t as time-limited or scope-limited as they thought.

Paragraph 4 of [the UN] resolution provides sweeping authority to U.N. member states “to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970, to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.” The notwithstanding clause, which was proposed by the United States, provides for an unspecified exemption from the embargo, according to diplomats…

Council diplomats say [Susan] Rice gave no hint that the clause would be used as a pretext to arm the rebels. “The clear perception of the large majority of the council is that it would not open the door to arming the rebels,” the council diplomat said…

U.N. diplomats say the exemption would technically provide a legal basis for limited supplies of weapons to rebels, as long as they could make the case that they were needed to forestall a government attack against civilian targets. But they warned that it could poison the U.S. relationship with other council members, who may feel they have been misled about the intent of the language.

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Jazz Shaw 12:01 PM on November 30, 2022