The Unbiased Eye

A scientist's commentary on events and culture

Shock and Awe Lite

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Overnight, the wire services were quoting unnamed officials saying that the American military was leading the attack on Qaddafi in Libya — quite the opposite of what they’d been saying the day before about how the British and French would do the dirty work.

By mid-morning the clarity on this point turned fuzzy. I thought maybe I was losing my mind when I read the following sequence in CNN around 10 a.m.:

U.S. President Barack Obama is planning for the U.S. portion of the military action in Libya to only last for a few days.

“After that, we’ll take more of a supporting role,” said a senior administration official, who was not authorized to speak about sensitive military matters.

We all know breaking news changes rapidly. The same shift happened at Reuters, where there was a passage saying:

They said U.S. forces and planes were working with Britain, France, Canada and Italy in operation “Odyssey Dawn.” Denmark said it had four fighter planes ready to join in Sunday and was awaiting U.S. instructions.

So the official line returns to togetherness today. Cruise missiles, stealth bombers, F-15s, F-16s; the Air Force, Navy and Marines.

The tone is different, of course, in the Arab world. Al Jazeera says, “West overzealous on Libya” for its headline on its analysis by it’s senior political analyst, Marwan Bishara.

He writes after noting that the U.N. made the attack legal:

… the overzealousness of certain Western powers like Britain, France and, as of late, the US, to interpret the resolution as an open-ended use of force, is worrisome. With their long history of interference and hegemony in the region, their political and strategic motivation remains dubious at best. Likewise, their rush to use air force individually or collectively could prove morally reprehensible – even if legally justified – if they further complicate the situation on the ground.

No one can defend Qaddafi’s lethal suppression of his political (maybe tribal) foes, but shouldn’t we know where we’re going? Meanwhile, Bishara calls on the Libyans to get their act act together and seize this opportunity.

It’s perfectly clear that no Arab country is participating in the military action, although their diplomats are at all the meetings of the Western power. They are already taking a second look and Agence France-Presse reported some criticism by the Arab League of the air strikes.

The bottom line is that someone has to explain why words are enough for Bahrain and Yemen, and why protests and a deadly crackdown in Syria is worth only a whisper in the press. Governments, however, don’t often discuss their agendas with us, do they? Besides being for freedom and democracy, we have to wonder what’s on their minds.

I want to understand what the salient difference is between Libya and these other places. One fact that continues to strike me is that the Libyan opposition, though vaguely described, obviously had weapons from the beginning and shot back at Qaddafi immediately. The other is the apparent antagonism of a cross-section of Arab leaders who don’t like Qaddafi.

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Written by theunbiasedeye

March 20, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Posted in Global, Politics

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