With Barack Obama kicking off his re-election campaign this week, he will no doubt seek plenty of endorsements in the coming months to make the case for a second term. My guess is that Obama won’t mention this one. The White House confirmed the receipt of a weird, rambling, and at times incoherent letter fr0m Moammar Gaddafi asking President Obama to please stop bombing his military — and wishes him good luck in the next election:
Qaddafi appealed in a letter to President Barack Obama to halt the NATO operation to protect opponents of his regime. The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, implores Obama to stop what he called an “unjust war against a small people of a developing country.” …
“You are a man who has enough courage to annul a wrong and mistaken action,” Qaddafi wrote in the letter that was sent to the State Department and forwarded immediately to the White House, according to a U.S. official who had seen the letter. “I am sure that you are able to shoulder the responsibility for that.””To serving world peace … Friendship between our peoples … and for the sake of economic, and security cooperation against terror, you are in a position to keep NATO off the Libyan affair for good,” Qaddafi wrote.
If that wasn’t enough of an appeal to Obama’s friendship, Gaddafi decided to cover all his bases. Usually, though, friends and “sons” know each other’s names:
“Our dear son, Excellency, Baraka Hussein Abu oumama, your intervention is the name of the U.S.A. is a must, so that Nato would withdraw finally from the Libyan affair,” Qaddafi wrote. “Libya should be left to Libyans within the African union frame.” …
“We have been hurt more morally (than) physically because of what had happened against us in both deeds and words by you,” he wrote. “Despite all this you will always remain our son whatever happened. We still pray that you continue to be president of the U.S.A. We Endeavour and hope that you will gain victory in the new election campaigne.”
Needless to say, Obama wasn’t taking the bait. The White House used the occasion to reiterate its previous position on intervention, which is that Gaddafi’s forces had to stop firing on civilians and pull back from the cities they threaten. Thus far, there seems to be little chance of that happening, or of Gaddafi pressing his advantage further, either. In fact, the Washington Post today reported that the situation has become enough of a stalemate that we are already having to consider a de facto partition:
But as weeks stretch into months and progress on the battlefield stalls, this rebel-held area of Libya is settling into its status as a de facto separate state.
Since the February uprising that ended Gaddafi’s rule here, schools and many businesses have remained closed. But police are back on the streets, hospitals are functioning and shops are slowly reopening. Behind the scenes, opposition leaders are feverishly courting international partners as they work to set up a political and economic system for a period of division that some quietly admit may stretch on indefinitely.
A tanker arrived in the rebel-held port of Tobruk on Tuesday to load oil for export, the first time that has happened in nearly three weeks. Although it is unclear whether the rebels will be able to export enough oil to keep the east afloat economically, the tanker’s arrival marked a symbolic step in the rebels’ journey from accidental revolutionaries to governors and statesmen.
And if that becomes the case, then NATO will have to impose its will for months to keep the conflict at a stalemate:
For the United States and other Western powers, the rebel efforts to build the rudiments of a nation in eastern Libya reflect the reality of a military stalemate — one in which NATO could be ensnared for months or more.
That’s true even if the West maintains its effort with a no-fly zone, an effort that appears to be flagging already. Any withdrawal will mean a Gaddafi-led “invasion” of the eastern region and an end to the partition, unless and until the eastern rebellion can build a military capable of defending against the most recent version of Tripolitania. That will take years, if possible at all, and won’t happen without the kind of massive arms sales from the West that are currently barred under the UN resolution authorizing the NFZ.
NATO will be tied to Libya for years unless the Gaddafis suddenly die or call it quits. From the letter — at least as much of it as one can make sense — surrender doesn’t appear to be on Gaddafi’s mind.