Saturday, April 30, 2011

More details about the latest Gaddafi ceasefire proposal

I just finished watching an interesting Russian TV report.  According to the Russians, NATO attempted to prevent Gaddafi from airing his speech making a ceasefire proposal by bombing the TV station which was airing it (that is nothing new, just remember how NATO bombed the TV station in Belgrade into a pile of rubble or how the Israelis attempted to silence al-Manar in Beirut).  In both cases, the destruction of media outlets is, of course, a "defense of democracy and freedom against an evil freedom-hating tyrant".

To add a touch of incompetence to all that, NATO managed to miss the actual TV station in Tripoli and hit the next-door building.  I can't blame them too much, actually.  Unless the bombs are GPS equipped the most effective way to direct them is via a laser beam.  Should even a small cloud get in the way the beam on the target disappears and the previously "smart" bomb turns into a "dumb" (inertially guided) bomb.  At an incoming speed of several hundred miles per hour, even a 1-2 seconds interruption in the target illumination will result into a margin of error which can reach hundreds of meters (depending on factors such as angle, wind, speed, etc.).  Interestingly, when NATO bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade they did use GPS guided munitions; I suppose that they really did not want to miss their target..

Then there is al-Jazeera.  First, they report that Gaddafi made a ceasefire proposal, but not a word about the NATO attempt to prevent it.  Then, they indicate that NATO has no "trust" in Gaddafi and that the Alliance will only stop bombing Libya if "attacks against civilians and threat of such attacks will stop".  Yes, they did say "threats of attack".  And since the presence of Gaddafi in Libya or existence of the Libyan army constitutes, by definition, such a threat, NATO will not stop until regime change.  That, of course, was not spelled out.

Al-Jazeera then proceeded to show street interviews of resident of Benghazi categorically opposed to any peace deal.  They said that Gaddafi had lied to them for 40 years and that there is no reason to trust him.  Clearly, the decision to ignore the latest Gaddafi plan was a popular and 'democratic' one - or so would al-Jazeera have you believe anyway.

Nobody mentioned in any way that ceasefires are always reached between two sides hating and distrusting each other (why would they shoot at each other if this was not the case) and that there are many verification mechanism which make it possible to achieve a real and stable ceasefire even with a totally crazy, distrusted and hated enemy.  From a purely military point of view the mechanisms to secure such a ceasefire between parties who totally distrust each other are a no-brainer. (Korea anybody?).

Bottom line: the UNSC authorized only a no-fly zone and measures to protect civilians.  NATO and the rebels will settle for nothing else than regime change.  That quite literally puts Gaddafi in the role of victim of an international act of illegal military aggression.  One does not need to be a supporter of Gaddafi or his regime (which I am most definitely not) to understand that.

The Saker