Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In any case, who was prosecuted after Kosovo?

Thanks to Phil and Flying Rodent (yes, posting here is almost entirely driven by comments, you don't expect us to work at this, do you?) we have Aaro:

@aidanskinner In any case, who was prosecuted after Kosovo?

Though I think we came in here:

David Owen advocates imposing a no-fly zone in Libya. He's right. NATO should do it now.

I'm much more sympathetic to this than Flying Rodent is. I thought much the same about Egypt a few weeks ago when it looked like Mubarak might deploy the air force against civilian protests. OTOH, I'm not at all sure it's practical and am fairly sure that it's inflammatory and dangerous. Being Mr Compromise, I'd like NATO to threaten Muammar Gaddafi with it, rather than having to go through with it. I don't like the idea of dogfights over cities, and what if we lose?

This will, I imagine become a free-for-all. Play nice, remember we have rules.

OT I just noticed from Aaro's Twitter background that his team are ordered alphabetically, which may be why he wasn't the captain. Democratic and sweet. Aww.


Anonymous bubby said...

I'd support it. Don't think there is a realistic prospect we would lose being in mind our technological edge.

2/22/2011 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Well, I imagine Libya keeps an up to date air force being an oil rich state run by a nutter and surrounded by hostiles. I don't know who they buy from. Us? Israel? China? The latter two could have superior tech. And they've got the advantage of ground anti aircraft weapons too, and I really don't know who'd come out best out of equal tech battle between ground-to-air defences and a modern fighter. Plus, depending on where this aircraft carrier is, and the co-operation of Turkey, who has the greater numbers.

Threatening to destroy their airforce, if we could do it (we probably can), may make a desperate bastard like Gaddafi use it while he can, which would be rather counter productive.

But still, in principle, and knowing that almost everything does go wrong when actually engaging the enemy (Murphy's Law plus Clausewitz), I support the idea.

2/22/2011 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

Libya have French Mirages, IIRC... (Googles) ...Ah, yes - most of creaking and decades old, if the Wiki page is half accurate.


I won't go into the practicality or utility of NATO intervention here - broadly, I think it would probably work, but there's plenty of potential for unforeseen disasters.

The best-case scenario is that the Libyans are able to topple the regime themselves, without outside interference. As a general rule though, I'd say Hope For The Best & Be Prepared For The Worst.

2/22/2011 11:13:00 AM  
Anonymous bubby said...

I am not up with with me Jane's Weekly but I am pretty certain that Libya's airforce consists of some ageing Russian and maybe Chinese fighters. There is no way Israel would have supplied Libya with weapons because for years the country led the rejectionist block opposing Israel's existence.

Ditto America.

The American made jets are light years ahead of the Libyan stock. Basically I would support a no fly zone as I supported the no fly zone over Northern Iraq in the 1990s because its doable and doesn't appear to have a serious downside in terms of the potential impact on civilians as compared to its potential benefits.

2/22/2011 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

what if we lose?

I don't think any modern, well-equipped airforce would lose to the Libyans, but I don't know so much about warplanes. The bigger danger is surely that the present situation drags on indefinitely, which could force NATO (or whoever) to take sides in an ongoing conflict, and that it might throw up a few unexpected nightmares like captured NATO pilots. Hopefully not.

As a rule, Gaddafi has always been a thoroughly nasty and loopy leader, but one with a strong sense of self-preservation. I'd say that the latter becomes less of an issue day by day, so I'd expect him to do pretty much anything within his power to avoid being expelled. He is, unfortunately, capable of much more blood-curdling atrocities than we're seeing just now.

2/22/2011 11:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

I support the idea.

Without a UN resolution? No, I'm not being flippant. I'm geninely interesed whether you regard this RtoP territory?

I don't know who they buy from.

Russia. It's mostly Mig-23s.

2/22/2011 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I did find it remarkable how many people were prepared to demand a 'no fly zone' without making the tiniest effort to suggest how it would be achieved.

At one point Aaro tweeted asking whether any coalition MPs were on Twitter calling for a no-fly zone. I suspect this was simply to make a petty political point (on Twitter, say it isn't true) but you have to wonder whether that is the best way to conduct military policy (and in practical terms, the military policy of other countries).

2/22/2011 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Ooh, Brownie, now you're asking.

Like Bubby, I supported the no-fly zone in Iraq. That seemed both practical and largely defensive -- that is, aimed at preventing violence.

Without a UN resolution? That's a very good question. I'm seriously torn. Pragmatically, no. But I would like defenceless Libyan civilians protected ASAP. It's hard to see how planes can be launched from the Med or Turkey (or Iraq?) without intruding on neutrals' airspace. There clearly needs to be a lot of diplomatic work before NATO could contemplate deployment.

I remain, rather tepidly, not against the idea in principle. I've no idea how it would work out, and as a blogger I'm far more free to voice my support than a politician who has to worry about the practicalities would be.

As FR says, I'd also far rather that the Libyans sort this out themselves. Being indebted to someone is a terrible burden.

2/22/2011 11:44:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

What are we actually talking about here? The Northern Iraq NFZ was a big commitment of something like 1000 crew and 50 planes to an open-ended operation aimed at controlling the Iraqi air force while leaving Saddam in power. So basically nothing like what might be relevant in Libya; Libya is an active revolution that will either have succeeded or failed by the end of the week, so anything that takes longer than a couple of days to do is irrelevant.

There are no such concentrations of NATO aeroplanes anywhere near Libya. The USS Enterprise could have carried out such an operation, but it happens to be in the Red Sea at the moment, not the Med. Failing that, it seems to me that it would take three or four days to get a squadron in place to carry out regular patrols, unless you enlisted Egypt, which might be difficult as they have one or two things keeping them busy there right now.

My guess is that by "no fly zones", we mean "bombing the Libyan Air Force's bases"; the sort of mission that could be carried out by a small group of planes starting much further away. Which is the sort of thing that has "what could possibly go wrong" written all over it; it pretty much instantly renders impossible any Egypt-style role for the Libyan armed forces, and encourages Gadaffi to get much more brutal with tanks and ground forces. So yes, this is exactly the sort of thing that people should be getting a UN resolution about before blazing away.

No fly zones are the methadone of armed intervention. They seem like a less harmful addiction, but they're only any good as part of a long term program of gving up entirely.

2/22/2011 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I most definitely support this. I like the idea of encouraging Libyan pilots to defect (this is unlikely to work as no doubt most have families).

2/22/2011 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

last night's tweetosphere was telling me that libya's aircraft were piloted by italian mercenaries, which would certainly add to the er fun if true

the ranter may have more details on this

2/22/2011 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I had noticed that all the military action is Libya was blamed on mercenaries. The infantry came from Chad, apparently. Don't think I trust this info.

As DD says, the likely short-term practical action is bomb the air-bases. And the problem with this is that a NATO country (France) supplied those planes. It's in France's and NATO's commercial interests to destroy the Libyan military in order to sell them a new one. Even when our intentions are good, they are neither pure nor simple, and open to being misunderstood.

2/22/2011 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Coventrian said...

Can I ask, who's going to protect Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani civilians who are being killed in air strikes by American war planes, helicopters and drones?

2/22/2011 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Italy's a member of Nato. It ain't gonna happen.

CChap: I'd think it very likely they were mercenaries. Libya has the money, it has a small population and Quadaffi has a long history of using mercenaries in foreign wars.

Its harder to get your own men to fire on a crowd, if only because they might fear that cousin Jim is there.

2/22/2011 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Can I ask, who's going to protect Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani civilians who are being killed in air strikes by American war planes, helicopters and drones?

I'm sure AQ have claimed this responsibility in the past...

Incidentally, are we still supposed to be pretending that AQ are a threat. They're holed up in a Pakistan cave, unable to even make videos these days.

2/22/2011 12:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

CChap: I'd think it very likely they were mercenaries. Libya has the money, it has a small population and Quadaffi has a long history of using mercenaries in foreign wars.

This is probably true of the defectors, but more than one news report last night mentioned that the Libyan Air Force is considered the most loyal of all Gaddafi's armed services. It's all relative, but I'd doubt that would be the case if it was dominated by mercenraies.

2/22/2011 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Oh I see what CC was saying. No idea about the air force. The Mirages are maintained by a French defence company, beyond that dunno.

2/22/2011 01:13:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Without a UN resolution? No, I'm not being flippant. I'm geninely interesed whether you regard this RtoP territory?

Well it would certainly be preferable to get UN authorisation. However if you couldn't depending on the the scale of the killing you could potentially intervene citing the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Perhaps I was being a little too gung ho initially. What I really should have said was that I was support it if it was demonstratably practical.

2/22/2011 02:58:00 PM  
Anonymous dd said...

depending on the the scale of the killing you could potentially intervene citing the 1948 Genocide Convention

I think the word "potentially" here is doing the job of "counterfactually", isn't it? (I also don't really agree that the Genocide Convention does give that power - making this decision is one of the things that the UN is clearly for if it's for anything at all)

2/22/2011 03:10:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Ha ha thought you might pick me up on that and that's why I was careful in how I phrased that sentence. It's an arguable case - certainly more so than the legal basis for Iraq 2003.

2/22/2011 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Something must be done
Bombing is something
Bombing must be done

2/22/2011 05:26:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

David Fucking Owen.

Always the first to deal with dictators on the grounsd of hard-nosed pragmatism. Always the first to want to bomb them when they look like they might be losing their grip.

No greater example in British politics of sheer ego, cynicism and power-worship.

2/22/2011 10:03:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

There must be something we can do
Bombing is something we can do
There must be bombing

2/22/2011 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

Aaro's column on no-fly zones over Libya today is more reasonable than might be expected, and contains a couple of interesting snippets.

As usual, Dave's very keen to see warplanes in the air, and has little to say on who's supplying them, how they're going to get there and what, exactly, they're going to do once they're banging about over Tripoli.

Other interesting bits - on Decent enthusiasm for wars of choice:

In retrospect it is becoming clear to me what happened (when Blair got all touchy-feely with Gaddafi). The original liberal-interventionist idea was that the old, narrow concept of national self-interest was counterproductive. The lib-int demons were moments in history, such as Munich in 1938, when inaction spelt disaster. Never mind the ghost of Vietnam, the lib-ints argued, it's Rwanda and Bosnia that should haunt us... But somewhere along the way the desire to neutralise Gaddafi as a pro-terror threat, together with a quiet pessimism about change in Libya, combined to create, not wariness, but a toothy embrace, big deals and even arms sales...

I love the idea that we've been flogging weapons to Libya and sucking up their oil because, damn it, we're just so very honestly focused upon building an anti-terror alliance.

Also, is that the first time that any Decent has half-admitted that they decided to blithely blow off the risk of new Vietnams in the modern era? I believe it is.

Bonus comedy also as Dave considers Blair's pal Gaddafi and that squashed Saudi/BAE investigation...

Perhaps everyone was just exhausted by the reaction to the Iraq war, I don't know, but ambivalence had entered the soul.

You collaborated with tyrants. They pursued business interests in the face of human suffering via harsh realpolitik, but we were entered by the spirit of ambivalence, because people were very nasty about Iraq, for some unmentioned reason.

Never ungenerous with his charity for himself and his pals, that lad.

2/24/2011 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

By the way, when I said that Dave had "little" to say about the practical logistics of no-fly zones, I meant "nothing".

2/24/2011 10:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ian Birrell (former Cameron speechwriter) in the Guardian. The choicest cuts:

Clearly the United Nations must make a forceful response, condemning the regime for turning on its people with such savagery and making it clear those involved will be held responsible in the international courts. And if Nato can impose a no-fly zone then they should do so immediately – even if this means bombing the airports being used to send up planes to kill and maim innocent people. [1] There is no time for hesitation.

But then Birrell admits: "But this may not be enough to stop the bloodshed." And in the end his solution is 'a rapid intervention led by perhaps Egypt or Tunisia, whose armies have won respect in recent weeks, to winkle [2] Gaddafi out of his air base and end his appalling regime.'

I'd have thought Egypt and Tunisia's armies have enough on their plate right now.

[1] We'll just overlook the use of helicopter-gunships, shall we?

[2] Blackadder fans might immediately think of 'Operation Winkle' in Blackadder Goes Forth - perhaps Birrell's plan could be called 'Operation Baldrick'?


2/24/2011 10:45:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Perhaps everyone was just exhausted by the reaction to the Iraq war, I don't know, but ambivalence had entered the soul.

ah, the good old 'well clearly I'm in the wrong here, but in reality you're in the wrong cos you were so mean about Iraq' dodge.

I'm reminded of another Aaro piece, about Philippse sands:

at important moments in his arguments about the law, I find that I have ceased to care as much as he wants me to about whether this or that action is, strictly speaking, legal

2/24/2011 11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

If that's more sensible than you expected what did you expect? 50 lines of "all talk and no war makes you a bunch of damned appeasers" alongside a cartoon of Gaddafi humping Livingstone?

2/24/2011 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

To be fair, he doesn't announce that we should occupy the place and then pre-emptively denounce cries of Eh? You nutter, as literally spitting in the face of the oppressed.

Now that I think of it, Dave was a good bit less gung-ho than this in the run-up to the war, so I suppose it was wrong to expect anything that strong.

2/24/2011 12:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The two most southerly Italian air bases are respectively 560 and 320 miles from Tripoli/Mitiga. At those ranges, the Italian Tornado F3s would have something over a 2 hour time over target, less for the Eurofighters unless they were carrying a lot of external fuel or using tanker support. 4 KC767 tankers are available near Rome and a Eurofighter squadron is based at Gioia del Colle (you may remember it from Kosovo). They could move down to Catania. Fetch the NATO joint AWACS, and it's bada bing, bada boom, with the boom being the important bit.

I would presume that the announcement that the Italian southern airfields were on "maximum alert" means that some preparations along those lines were under way, not least to cover the aerial evacuation.

Whether the politics makes any sense is a different question. And I'd suspect the fact people thought the government's planes were Italian isn't a good sign. Anyway, I don't think it's possible to achieve effective aerial interdiction against arseholes.

2/24/2011 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Insofar as there is a military MO right now, it appears to be (and by golly, I could be very wrong here) 'human wave attacks of light infantry vs incompetently manned strongpoints'. I can't see how grounding the LAF is going to help this much.

There's a military case for air attacks (make strongpoint go bang) in the cause of the revolution, but the possibilities for hitting the wrong target are immense _unless_ you embed some Hereford-trained blokes with lasers very closely indeed with the human wave. Which leads to all sorts of political difficulties along the lines of 'whose revolution is it anyway?'

Let's wait and see if the commander of the Benghazi forces can scrape together some artillery, or the World Service can persuade enough of the guys in the strongpoints to frag the lieutenant, before we go off one, eh?

Chris Williams

2/24/2011 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

IIRC the Gaddafi deal was contrived so that his undertaking not to develop the nuclear weapons he wasn't developing could be held up as proof that bombing hell out of Iraq was ushering in a new era in which tyrants repent their ways, barren ground brings forth sweet pears and pomegranates in abundance, etc.

(What was going on behind the scene, fuck knows, but it shurely wasn't about trrr, unless perhaps some deal over Lockerbie.)

2/24/2011 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

And Hitchens takes up that same theme, along a line that was obviously there for the taking if only someone had the brass neck to try it: (ht Lemuel Pitkin)
Saad Eddin Ibrahim ['The best of the Egyptian "civil society" dissidents', no less] is one of the minority of Arab public intellectuals to have supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and to have believed that it might contribute to a democratic renaissance in the region. This argument will go on for a long time and can't be resolved too simplistically one way or another, [i.e. I am talking shit but please don't be so crass as to say so] partly because the liberation of Iraq can't be described as the act of its own people, and thus in a way underlines the same problem of dependency. The post-2003 democratic wave was brief and somewhat shallow, and it indirectly benefited Hamas and Hezbollah as well as the Kurds and Shiites of Iraq and the Lebanese democracy movement. But the regime-change school in America can claim a degree of vindication.

2/25/2011 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Coventrian said...

Check out this document


Which details a PR operation to promote Gaddafi in the West.



'One of the more unlikely figures to have advised a firm which has worked to burnish Libya's image and grow its economy is not registered with the Justice Department. Prominent neoconservative Richard Perle, the former Reagan-era Defense Department official and George W. Bush-era chairman of the Defense Policy Board, traveled to Libya twice in 2006 to meet with Qadhafi, and afterward briefed Vice President Dick Cheney on his visits, according to documents released by a Libyan opposition group in 2009. '

'A 2007 Monitor memo named among the prominent figures it had recruited to travel to Libya and meet with Qadhafi “as part of the Project to Enhance the Profile of Libya and Muammar Qadhafi” Perle, historian Francis Fukuyama, Princeton Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis, famous Nixon interviewer David Frost, and MIT media lab founder Nicholas Negroponte, the brother of former deputy secretary of state and director of national intelligence John Negroponte. '

2/25/2011 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Also, sitewise on-topic: shock revelation (unproofed)

2/25/2011 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

By the way, Nick's column today in the Obs is a hilarious knee-slapper, totally devoid of sense, proportion or self-awareness. Only Nick could write a column about how "the left" try to make everything about Israel for political reasons, in a column that's supposed to be about Libya.

In thirty years, when my Grandkids ask me why I wasted so much of my life pointing and laughing at a bunch of columnists and bloggers, Nick's column would be the perfect example.

2/27/2011 02:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've just had at it.

It's one of the worst things ever written. He even seems to argue that Israel's supporters are obsessed by the Protocols, which would make a sort of sense if he was arguing in the opposite direction...Also, he doesn't mention either oil or Tony Blair in a piece about Libya in a British newspaper.

2/27/2011 02:54:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse steak with bernaise sauce said...

He does mention oil and Blair, but only briefly, and easy to miss.

While I'm here, I would like to mention the axing without warning of the Guardian Unlimited Talkboard.

Don't know if anybody who posts on AW also posted there, but anyway, after ten years, it's a cruel end to a minor internet institution for arguing with strangers about obscure political topics on the internet.

2/27/2011 04:37:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse steak with bernaise sauce said...

I think my comment was just eaten.

2/27/2011 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

It's also an article about Arab despots that doesn't use the words - United States of America. Astonishing.

2/27/2011 05:59:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

From what i can tlel on twitter, several aarowatch acolytes are pointing out that nick himself is more guilty than most of the things he's criticising - obsessive focus in coverage of the ME on Israel, lack of awareness of anything happening in north Africa, etc etc.

You know Nick's struggling when he has to dig out his well-thumbed quotations dictionary.

In any case his take on all this is quite frankly shocking - it proves that everyone in the UK hates Jews and, er, the left is bad, or something.

2/27/2011 06:34:00 PM  
Anonymous sorge said...

"But the regime-change school in America can claim a degree of vindication."
Now that's what I call hedging an assertion.

I cannot say that any UK commentator has excelled themselves with an analysis of Libyan uprising, probably because it is an unexpected event that has led writers to look back to their preferred geopolitical game plans rather than venture a new opinion. Nick is oh-so Nick, but Tariq Ali and Pilger have not done so well either. Or perhaps I am just missing someone out?

2/28/2011 07:57:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Yeah, so how good is our info about events in Libya anyway? Nick speaks of G fearing a coup, and the rebels have army equipment and soldiers on their side by all accounts. Al-J has 1 vid of a biggish crowd of maybe about 2000 visible, and more vids with Iraq-style small scattered groups chanting desultorily at apparently nothing in particular.

The uprising started in the East - is there any rival power base there? One which might be seen as more friendly to US et al than G? Does any one know anything about internal Libyan politics?

Also, G speaks of foreign powers being involved - but this is downplayed in news in favour of talk of drugs, Al-Q (if correct, G is making use of two staples of Western war propaganda there) and various other jolly japes. But G (pretty obviously) not idiot nor madman, just eccentric.

So without being forced to read ahead and espouse some theory about CIA coups, holograms aliens tee hee hee, or whatever, I just wonder exactly what is going on. It seems quite feasible that Egypt etc style mass public gatherings have been forestalled effectively, with or without arsoles (other than miilitary arsoles), which could explain the difference between Libya's mass public uprising and the previous ones. But I'm just not clear about what is actually definitely known to be going on and what is being filled in for us.


2/28/2011 10:54:00 AM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

Maybe I'm Mr Gullible but it doesn't seem that there is any other power base in Libya that US interests might have been sponsoring. Nothing compared with the "revolution-priming" that occurred in Ukraine, etc. The situation, for example, in Benghazi has looked pretty chaotic - with ad-hoc committees being set up to manage post-revolutionary affairs. So either the spooks have become a lot more subtle or it's pretty genuine.

Which is part of the problem for anti-Gaddafi forces. They are so disorganised that it's possible that Gaddafi can sit it out in Tripoli for quite some time.

2/28/2011 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Cheers gg, yeah, not trying to load those questions or making any insinuations etc - just considering one obvious possibility in the process of being generally questioning, epistemically responsible etc. FWIW it looks very much like that to me, too, on the limited evidence (and expertise) I have got hold of at the moment.

The only thing I've seen vaguely relavnt to any outside influence is "The US is offering any kind of assistance to Libyans who might wish to consider overthrowing Colonel Gaddafi and his family," Clinton said.

Which is to say nothing - since this could mean anything or nothing, and C is not going to be broadcasting genuinely covert ops (even if privy to them) anyway.

2/28/2011 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

I think Clinton's just being opportunistic after their slow and pretty crap reaction to the events in Egypt.

Given the standing of the US and UK in the Arab world, any kind of assistance - or even perceived assistance - to a group is going to be a poison chalice.

2/28/2011 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

btw, an afterthought about earlier thread re Iraq as motivation for 'radicalisation': what about Madrid? What were all those poo-pooing the idea of any significant connection (or any fundamental explanation, or some vague analogy, etc) saying about that at the time?

2/28/2011 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Nick back in 2002 was keen on repeating a David Shayler story that the UK in the 1990s sponsored an Al Qaeda operation to overthrow Gadaffi. Shayler channeled by Nick is not the most accurate of sources, I imagine.

2/28/2011 02:05:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Nick was on PM today.

He created an enormous straw man which he then proceeded to bludgeon senseless.

Can be heard here at 24:30.

2/28/2011 08:11:00 PM  
Blogger flyingrodent said...

Dear God, it's like a chainsaw massacre at a straw appreciation night for scarecrows.

2/28/2011 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Matthew - but then Nick pre-Euston was actually not so very bad as a lazy kind of semi-investigative journalist/commentator, the kind that now competes directly with or merges with the blogosphere.

I'd forgotten about the Shayler account (pp166ff&passim) of an MI6 plot against Gaddafi (which history teaches us is not exactly crazy shit territory, after all).

When Shayler made (or attempted, pre-Wikileaks, to make) these disclosures/allegations there was no reason to regard him as unreliable, and there is not I think good reason now to think he was then unreliable.

Subsequently he was of course subjected to quite an onslaught and what must have been a pretty Kafaesque experience, inc prison for him and family and friends, and a concerted campaign of the kind of harrassment and abuse you'd expect, as well as possibly some kinds you might not.

Machon (whose inferences are often too quick or anyway her reasoning under-elaborated, but who I consider credible as a witness to straighforward facts) says - while tentatively suggesting no foul play - that while at bay and a low ebb he was befriended by some 'healer' who gave him a kind of Amazonian hallucinogen and, it appears, introduced him to some kind of vaguely cultic happy-trippy 'Rainbow' group/scene (I at any rate am not making this up!), IIRC not long before he started doing the old Messiah bit.

Shayler has also recently been featured in surreal Daily Mail photoshoots and interviews, purporting to show him, among various other things, living as a TV in a posh country cottage squat with some of his new friends. (They are on the Mail site.)

It's all disorientatingly demented - UK spook watchers may recognise this kind of weirdo mindgame shit (the sexually-related stuff, drugs, personality breakdown, very public discrediting statements) as 'consistent with', as they say, a certain kind of very thoroughgoing smear/persionality assault operation. (Or more deviously still, he staged it all under duress!)

Or he just went over the edge without being too specifically pushed in that direction. His having a breakdown of some kind was still one of the satisfactory (and jointly pretty expectable) outcomes of a sustained campaign of severe pressure, alongside with retreat into obscurity, suicide, retraction, imprisonment, perpetual flight...

(And some of these characters can be vindictive even beyond what one might consider the rationally prescribed degree of brutality when it comes to one of their own subordinates causing trouble, or even an outsider who spurns their overtures).

Excuse short discursus; point is whatever it was that happened to Shayler something definitely happened, and I am not inclined to put his earlier assertions into the category of delusion, confabulation or fraud on the grounds of his later disintegration. Nor do I think that the early testimony should be considered discredited by Machon's subsequent association with badly dressed people, some of whom have more or less apparently odd ideas (i.e. marginalisation).

I do wonder whether talk of 'Al Qaeda' is not being projected back onto the events, either through (possibly faulty) hindsight or directly of Machon's (or her editors') desire for impact. But I wouldn't extend that doubt to thinking that Shayler made the whole thing up in the first place, back when he showed every sign of being entirely sane and rational (if foolhardy).
Also: Wikileaks sparked this whole revolutionary conflag. Discuss.

3/01/2011 01:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

"The only thing I've seen vaguely relavnt to any outside influence is "The US is offering any kind of assistance to Libyans who might wish to consider overthrowing Colonel Gaddafi and his family," Clinton said."

There is this from a Honduras blog:


Seems quite tenuous.

I did see whichever BBC journalist it was that was first into eastern Libya declare that the Libyan people wanted a US (that precise) invasion (despite barely being in the country a day).

Anyway, back more directly on topic:

* Not to endorse it, but couldn't a no-fly zone be coordinated from here:


* I'm not entirely sure why people bring up NATO over this. NATO has no authority to act except in collective self-defence as I understand it.

3/01/2011 04:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Kosovo was a NATO op, precisely because they couldn't get it through the Security Council. Which brings us back to the quote this started with.

3/01/2011 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Phil- For that matter they wouldn't have got Piano Solo, Piazza Fontana, Peteano, Piazza della Loggia or Bologna past the security council, either, I wouldn't a thought.


Alex - I did see whichever BBC journalist it was that was first into eastern Libya declare that the Libyan people wanted a US (that precise) invasion (despite barely being in the country a day).

exactly - that's a large part of my problem - the narrative is so predictably predetermined that I don't have much faith in any of these people engaging so much as 1/6 gill of independence or critical skills. Especially since giving them a bulletproof vest has basically the same effect as giving a five year 2 iced buns and a pint of Sunny Delight.


& Mr Duty Administrator - there is a lovely long, link-laden comment sitting in your spam tray - if you would be so kind?

3/01/2011 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger the management said...

I've authorised the comment, if it was the one about David Shayler.

Off topic, this post and its comments thread, taken together, pretty much eliminated the last morsel of doubt in my mind as to whether I wanted to discuss with its author either the Workers' Revolutionary Party or Arthur Koestler.

3/01/2011 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Yeah that was it, fwiw. cheers. Though I suspect this one may go the same way.

Talking of old HP posts, had a quick look at those from just after the Madrid bombing. In one at least, admin1 is finding it difficult to toe the 'this is not a tactical bombing' line.

Thing is, he right that the Socialists were on course for a win before the bombing, which may indeed tend to support the thesis that this was not an attempt (by a well-informed tactician) to change the election results in favour of the anti-war opposition.

But the trouble is that the timing makes it pretty difficult to see it as unconnected with the election.

But then admin1 also endorses Timothy Garton Ash's premature announcement of a European 9/11, in which the penumbral Garton Ash seems both to accept that the bombing was, unless an ETA operation,a response to Iraq (and even by then I think it was pretty widely understood that it was indeed not ETA.)

But then Ash suggests (wrongly) that the bombing will, far from hardening opposition to the war, have pretty much the opposite effect. Perhaps from an Atlanticist stance it did seem reasonable to expect that this would provide a 9/11-like blank cheque for aggression:

If Aznar's government is being singled out for joining what al-Qaida calls the "Crusader-Zionist alliance" in the Iraq war, the lesson to be learned in this moment is not that no European government should ever participate in any action in the Muslim world for fear of reprisals...

Americans will doubtless be saying, in a metaphor so tired that it sends me to sleep, that this is a "wake-up call" for Europe. And so it is. Let's be honest: we in Europe slumbered peacefully for too long after America's 9/11.

But immediately after that, an odd passage:

But part of a European solidarity in response to such barbarism is also to say to the United States - and to say with one voice - where Washington is going wrong in its war on terror.

If you want to know where it's going wrong, you should read...David Frum and Richard Perle...As part of its strategy to win the war on terror, Frum and Perle argue, the United States should stop supporting "a more closely integrated Europe" and "force European governments to choose between Paris and Washington". European governments like the Spanish one, that is, currently among Washington's closest allies.

Not sure what to make of that.

(Hp also quoted the egregious Kamm on this topic, seemingly failing to notice, as does Kamm, that his killer quote from UBL fails miserably to prove his point that Their message is directed not to us (“adopt different policies!”) but to their followers (“kill the infidels!”)., because of the inconvenient inclusion of the final 7 words:

"We -- with God's help -- call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths, and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan's U.S. troops and the devil's supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson.")

3/01/2011 09:19:00 PM  
Anonymous hellblazer said...

Sorry to continue being OT, but having followed BB's link, can I ask a sincere question: who the fuck is Michael Ezra, other than "some bloke who think slagging off socialist parties automatically wins every debate"?

(I should explain that I don't read HP, but have occasionally read blog posts by people who participate there or have/had some sympathies with them on some issues.)

Based on his tedious flourishes on AW threads, he comes over as a tool. Is he at least a tool with previous background or expertise that makes his contrary opinions/jibes worth re-reading?

3/02/2011 10:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Dave Weeden said...

Michael Ezra is nothing less than the saviour of MANkind. Were it not for him, radical feminists could realise their cunning plans to put all men on the moon and open the Tour de France to marine life forms.

Not only do they exaggerate rape statistics (case in point, ME found one feminist researcher added 15 to 12 and got 27!) they claim that getting a woman hopelessly drunk in order to have sex is as bad as raping her! It's all a WRP plot and only Michael Ezra sees the hand of Gerry Healy in the shooting of Andy Warhol.

3/02/2011 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger the management said...

I don't know who he is and to be honest I don't care much (other than to note that he's probably not the "mysterious Kampala tycoon" who a google search on that name turns up. I'm perfectly content to take what he says on the internet as I find it and respond if I feel like doing so. These days usually I don't.

3/02/2011 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Ceiling cat halp me, I've had to go and poke Michael Ezra again. This comment by Barry Deutsch which was too long for Harry's Place is nothing short of superb. But then, in its own way, so was Michael's tweet.

3/02/2011 04:36:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

That Michael Ezra post is interesting, not least because it finally seems to have convinced Brownie that 'something is up' with the website he usually advocates so passionately.

what's most interesting is that more or less all Michael Ezra's posts on there, and in fact most posts on there in general, follow the 'ageing cranky obsessive shouting at the radio/someone he saw speak but didn't challenge in the flesh/something he saw on youtube' model like that one.

At least, as CC says, it demonstrates once and for all what kind of bloke Mr Ezra is, and whether this blog should devote any time to him.

am also a 'fan' of this tweet from Ezra:

If a man spoke about teenage boys the way Eve Ensler speaks about teenage girls, he might be apprehended as a suspected paedophile.

3/03/2011 09:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't get Ezra at all. He's obviously a deeply nasty man in terms of the targets he picks. He has reasonable skills of reading comprehension.

But he doesn't seem to realise that if you concede a point to one of your critics when faced with some evidence, it's bad form to them go on making the point. Is he delusional or what? I demand a better class of Decent opponent!

On Brownie: you know, I think that he's some way along the road to a reasonable position. Saying 'HP is flawed' on AW comments is easy and can be discounted to an extent, but saying 'HP is flawed' on HP comments tends to confirm that he means it. So kudos to him.

Chris Williams

Chris Williams

3/04/2011 08:48:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

He has reasonable skills of reading comprehension. But he doesn't seem to realise

anything, really. He's just a perma-troll; a bitter old man lashing out at people he's decided he dislikes prior to actually reading anything they write. He's also a typical Decent Philistine to boot.

quite frankly, they're welcome to him (bonus points for HP contributors now using 'retard' as a term of abuse). It's yet more evidence that Decency is all about what it opposes as opposed to what it supports; thus we get hardline, right-wing obsessive cranks like Ezra and Kamm alongside fairly reasonable people like Brownie.

3/04/2011 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm having fun on HP comments, for once.

Chris Williams

3/04/2011 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps too much fun. Arguing with Ezra is a bit like drawing the one-legged man as your first-round opponent in the arse-kicking contest.

Chris Williams

3/04/2011 01:41:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

it's barely even arguing, really; he is genuinely incapable of that, i think. I'm not sure what purpose he thinks his posts on here, or on there, actually serve.

3/04/2011 01:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keeps him off the streets. Me too, alas, and it's a nice day. I think I might call it quits and go for a bike ride

Chris Williams

3/04/2011 01:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Asteri said...

I feel like defending Michael Ezra (a little anyway), however daft his possitions may be, compared to the usual rabble on HP he seems to behave a lot more reasonably while he has been pretty civilised over here, and not many people really deserve to be compared to the loathsome hack that is Kamm.

3/05/2011 12:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to endorse it, but couldn't a no-fly zone be coordinated from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Gibraltar

No. It's 1,083 miles from Tripoli. Even a one-off raid would require a lot of air-to-air refuelling. Maintaining a permanent patrol would be out of the question.

3/05/2011 06:22:00 PM  

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