Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Posts Tagged ‘Libyan Uprising

Can I Open My Eyes Yet?

with 2 comments

Well, I’m back. Maybe not literally back, but back to blogging. July was a very rough month for me on a personal level, but I made it through and am a better person for it. I’m also vastly more free than I was a month ago, nothing like having options to help keep one’s perspective. And then there’s the little matter of the world going to shit. For those who are reasonably aware of what’s going on in the world, the consensus view is along the lines of  “this isn’t going to end well.” Colonialism is exacerbating our problems as a species, and has about run its course as an economic ideology. (I know, we’ve pretended since World War Two that colonialism has gone away, the exact same way that renaming the Department of War as the Department of Defence made war as a national policy go away.) Moving right along, some highlights of the ongoing madness.

Looks like Qaddafi is on his way out. He’ll probably end up in some western (IE colonial) prison with little to no chance of a fair trial, held as an example to anyone with would defy the west’s might.  On the one hand, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. On the other hand, NATO’s war on Libya was just as much a war crime as anything Qaddafi has done, and none of the leaders who ordered that will be going on trial. This is why they hate us. Not all of them, but the blatant hypocrisy and evil of the west intervening on “humanitarian” grounds when it is painfully obvious we are just seizing the moment in a blatant attempt to replace Qaddafi with a regime more pliable to western manipulation is not lost on many people in the region. Coming soon … Libyan suicide bombers. Mark my words, the western intervention in Libya will end no better than the intervention in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Speaking of which, these two are both still bloody messes with no end in sight. I don’t know what horrifies me more, the endless carnage we have unleashed, or the fawning obsequious US media pretending that there’s something noble about the deaths of Americans in these far away lands, pretending that these senseless deaths are about protecting our freedoms. Um, fighting with local tribes on the other side of the planet, is about as far away from “protecting our freedoms” as it is possible to get. Literally. This is another reason I am so pessimistic about America, so many people have bought into this, and other, virulent tripe. The rich have stolen everything, and most Americans are blaming each other or groups even more disadvantaged than they for their problems. Yes, it’s poor, gay, illegal, HIV positive, Latino immigrants that are causing all the problems!

In summation, 2011 is some sort of twisted blend of 1928 and 1938, and God only knows what’s going to happen next. And since God doesn’t exist except as a metaphysical concept, that means no one knows. And frankly, there’s tons of intelligent commentary out there on current events for those who care to look, Aljazeerah is a good start, or Haaretz, or I’m not sure what I can add to the discussion, another reason I haven’t been writing. Or having been writing on Doug’s Darkworld to be more exact. I have been working on my novel. A fictional account of a man whose life began with a childhood in a besieged city. It went downhill from there.

There’s other stuff going on in the world as well. Global warming continues apace. We’re all going to be killed by a doomsday comet in 2012. Michael Jackson is still dead. What should I write about? I dunno, I’m open to suggestions.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s a rebel tank rolling into Tripoli. That so many “historic” moments in the past century involve tanks rolling into somewhere should give us pause. They are just the armoured knights of our time, the end development of the Roman centurion. Sigh.)


Written by unitedcats

August 21, 2011 at 11:59 pm

The Libyan Uprising, a Tactical Analysis

with 4 comments

OK, thought I’d have some fun with this looking at it purely from a tactical or wargaming perspective. I’ve done a lot of wargaming, too much really. And Libya is a classic battlefield so to speak for wargames. That’s because some classic battles were fought there during World War Two, Libya was the scene of much of the fighting between Germany’s Rommel and the Afrika Korps against the British Eighth Army. It as some interesting fighting indeed, I will have to write about it some day. For now though, the lessons learnt in World War Two still apply. And the rules for fighting in Libya are thus: Only mobile (motorized) ground forces are useful, ranged weapons rule, and air power rules. (By motorized I mean that troops with trucks or some other means to get around besides walking.) In other words, Libya is the perfect battleground for modern heavily equipped troops as opposed to mountainous or jungle lands where lightly armed guerrillas can have the upper hand.

Lets see how this came about. Look at the map above. That’s Libya. It’s a little smaller than Mexico or about twice the size of Texas. The terrain is also shown on the map above.  IE it’s one big flat desert where vehicles can drive just about anywhere, but are completely exposed because there’s no cover. And as the map shows, the only things worth having are along the coast. So vehicles rule because moving by foot is just too damn slow when people with vehicles can just drive anywhere. And since it’s all open ground, the troops with the longer ranged weapons have an advantage. Air power rules over all because there’s no places to hide except in the cities. So fighting in World War Two went back and forth east to west in Libya several times. Now it should be noted that in World War Two if one had the manpower, time, and land mines it was possible to set up extensive fortified lines. Neither side has that luxury in the current fighting, so fortified lines aren’t a consideration.

So on the map above, the rebels hold the brown cities to the east, Qaddafi’s forces hold the green cities to the west. Misrata being the exception, it’s been besieged by Qaddafi’s forces for over a week now. At first, after his initial setbacks, Qaddafi’s tanks and motorized forces advanced rapidly to the east, reaching the gates of Benghazi, the heart of the uprising. The rebel forces were mobile, but they lacked the heavy weapons that Qaddafi’s troops had. Unlike stupid Hollywood war movies (which is to say, all Hollywood war movies,) untrained lightly armed troops fare very very poorly against anything resembling a professional army in an open fight. So Qaddafi’s forces kicked butt, and likely would have stormed Benghazi and that would have been that.

Then however, the USA intervened (I’m not even going to pretend there was anything “international” about this intervention) and quickly dominated the skies over Libya. And quickly destroyed the equipment of Qaddafi’s mobile forces. Their tanks, trucks, and artillery were sitting ducks. Reduced to foot soldiers, fleeing is pretty much Qaddafi’s troops only option. And as I type, hastily organized rebel mobile forces are now once again advancing rapidly westward towards Tripoli, where Qaddafi is holed up. Basically pickup trucks and SUVs filled with fighters and small weapons.

What happens now? I don’t see Qaddafi has any option but to retreat to Tripoli and dig in. As I explained, there’s no such thing as natural defensive lines in Libya, no rivers or mountain passes to defend. And his troops don’t have the time to build any sort of fortified line. So I would expect that in a week or so, Qaddafi will once again be back in Tripoli with rebels in control of most of the country. And that’s where it get interesting again, because Tripoli is a large city and troops dug into a large city have some considerable advantages. They are no longer at the mercy of air power or ranged weapons, so if Qaddafi is going to make a last stand, the streets of Tripoli are it.

Assuming Qaddafi’s forces remain loyal and defend Tripoli, what happens then? Well, if civilian life and damage wasn’t a problem, the rebels could simply shell and bomb the city until it surrenders. However, the rebels likely do not have the heavy artillery or warplanes to accomplish that. So the USA can either give them the weapons to do so, or bomb it themselves. Both sound like unlikely prospects to me, in fact the idea that the Libyan rebels would decide to bombard Tripoli into submission sounds dubious to me. And even Obama is not clueless enough to order US planes to bomb Tripoli flat. I hope. OK, bombing is out, the second alternative is starving the city into submission. That could take months or years, and isn’t guaranteed to work. I don’t think I’m going out on a  limb to state that the rebels are unlikely to either bombard or starve Tripoli into submission.

So what’s left? Storming the city. IE rebels charge into the city with small weapons and fight with Qaddafi’s troops. And likely without much by way of USA air support. That’s because providing air support to troops fighting in city streets pretty much means getting up close and personal with jets and especially helicopter gunships. And that puts them in range small arms, and losses would be inevitable. Again, I think it’s safe to say that Obama won’t want a repeat of Black Hawk Down, so USA close air support is out of the question. Yes, if Qaddafi’s troops dig into Tripoli the rebels will have no choice but to charge into Tripoli. Where they will be ambushed and slaughtered in droves by Qaddafi’s professional soldiers.

In other words, there may not be a happy ending here. The rebel’s best bet is that Qaddafi’s forces will be so demoralized that they will flee rather than fight. Qaddafi and a few hundred loyalists might hole up somewhere and fight to the bitter end, but even a rag tag rebel army could deal with that. If Qaddafi has enough loyalist soldiers to defend the city, the Battle of Tripoli could be an ugly thing indeed. My current thinking is that if this war isn’t over in a  week, it could drag on for months or years.

Good luck Libyan rebels, may your aim be true, your sense of justice great, and your desire for vengeance small.

(I’ve made a good faith effort to use the above images legally, the top image is Public Domain or close enough. The second image is a low resolution, grey scale reproduction of a Reuters image, and the third dates from World War Two and is in the Public Domain. The map of Libya is pretty basic, the size of the circles represents the population of the cities. The second image is Libya rebels with makeshift mobile forces, hey, it works as long as they don’t run into tanks or such. The third is a German long range 88mm anti-tank gun from World War Two. I chose it to illustrate the advantage long range weapons have in desert warfare. Note the 40 plus rings painted on the barrel, those are kill rings, each one represents a tank destroyed by that gun.)






Written by unitedcats

March 27, 2011 at 2:51 pm

NATO and the USA Charge Into Libya With Our Al Qaeda Allies! Go Team! Wait, What?

with 2 comments

Oh my. The situation in Libya has been progressing dramatically, so on the one hand I have been loathe to write about it. Anything I write could be superseded by developments on the ground so to speak even as I type. Granted that’s always true no matter what the topic to some extent, but when a ground war is being fought over actual territory, things can move right along. On the other hand, this is important stuff. We are talking an actual war here, and wars have a way of gripping my mind. Some people stare at traffic accidents by the side of the road with morbid fascination, I can’t stop looking at wars.

So, after a week of US bombing the Libyan rebels appearing to be advancing on Tripoli again. The US is claiming that all sorts of lives have been saved, but the US has been claiming that since 1945 and, well, we’ve sure killed a lot of people while saving lives. (Killing to save lives, that’s a future post.) And people are certainly dying in Libya, it’s a full fledged civil war at this point. I can only guess at what’s going on, and I certainly have no clue how it’s going to end, but here are a few observations.

For one thing, it’s a little odd that the USA and Al Qaeda are fighting on the same side. If we do succeed in getting rid of Qaddafi, we will once again (remember Saddam?) have destroyed one of Al Qaeda’s enemies. And we are literally fighting on their side, the rebels admit that they have contacts with Al-Qaeda and that jihadists from Iraq and elsewhere are fighting with the rebels now. I wonder what our pilots think knowing that they are providing air support to fighters who killed American GIs in Iraq and Afghanistan. See why this war is hard to figure out, it’s hard to even get the brain around that one.

Obama is taking fire from all political quarters regarding his decision to intervene in Libya. Left and  right. I’m actually surprised he isn’t taking more flak, isn’t the fact that we are fighting on Al Qaeda’s side proof he was a secret Islamic jihadist all along? Shouldn’t Glenn Beck be running with this? Maybe he is. In any event it’s nice to see voices being raised against this hastily conceived war. I’ve wondering how such a shrewd politician as Obama would so something that was going to give his domestic political enemies lots of ammunition? Could he really be doing it out of humanitarian concerns? <pause for laughter> No, my suspicion is that he calculated that the political cost of doing nothing was greater than the cost of action.

IE if Obama had stood by while Qaddafi crushed the revolt, the left would attack him for not helping save lives, and the right would attack him for being afraid to use force. This more or less means we went to war purely out of domestic political considerations. The fact that the rebels hold the bulk of Libya’s oil fields probably was discussed too. And I don’t think the intervention was thought through much more that that. I mean, we’ve already pawned it off on NATO just so the blame can be distributed.  And now we’re more or less stuck trying to do whatever it is we are trying to accomplish in Libya. And speaking of the politics of it all, I can’t help but wonder if this was some sort of “perfect storm” situation where both our enemies and our “friends” encouraged Obama to do something that they knew wouldn’t end well for the USA. Russia and China have to be thrilled, in fact anyone who is waiting for the USA to go bankrupt  has to be trilled. This new war is costing a lot of money and making a lot of enemies. Yes, it’s making us some friends, but when you’re making new enemies for every friend you make, well, it’s not much of a bargain.

And I’m also curious that like the ongoing Fukushima crisis, Americans seem almost oblivious to the fact that this war could have some terrible consequences for the USA. Qaddafi is the fellow who brought down Pan Am Flight 103 for starters. And Al Qaeda has apparently used the confusion to help themselves to some modern weapons. Wars have a way of leading to places that aren’t one anyone’s itinerary. That’s why despite my childish inclination to cheer the intervention, I still think wars are a bad idea with very few exceptions. And Libya isn’t one of them.

(The above image came from a site that claimed all its images are public domain: It’s an Australian soldier charging into a sandstorm during fighting in Libya in World War Two. The guy in the image might even still be alive. I think it’s self evident why I thought it was a great image to illustrate the US intervention in the Libyan Uprising.)



Written by unitedcats

March 26, 2011 at 9:10 pm