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Cameron Hoodwinks Uncle Sam into Another Stupid War: After Libya...Mogadishu?

Politics / UK Politics Mar 25, 2011 - 02:36 AM GMT

By: Andrew_Butter

Politics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleWhen I was confined to one of those particularly British institutions, “Public School”, one of our favourite games to relieve the tedium was to goad unpopular boys into having a fight. The trick was not to get found out.

A pattern is starting to emerge; mid-term with approval ratings in the doldrums, US Presidents are easy meat…for Public School Boys.


In the run-up to Iraq, as The Economist went on-and-on-and-on-and-on about the “urgent-necessity” of the war, and whilst in the background the music softly played “Rule Britannia” they posted an article about the great “statesmanlike” job Tony Blair was doing rationalizing the call for arms; putting a voice to the cause that George Bush was unable to verbalize. Given that he could hardly mumble words of more than two syllables or speak of anything more complicated than “Dead-or-Alive”.
 
Talk about a “Special” Relationship”, I wonder if America would have been stupid enough to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, without the clever goading by Tony Blair?

So how many fighter-bombers did the Brits deploy in their recent great spasm of “goodness”? Mm…sixteen Tornadoes and eight Typhoons…Big Deal! Although 350 “crack” SAS troops are on the ground, notwithstanding that the U.N. Resolution specifically ruled out the use of ANY ground troops….Oops!!

But as usual the real heavy lifting was done by America. This time with Tomahawks and B-2 Bombers (easy on the cluster-bombs), plus all the technology that you need to pin-point the SAM sites; and with a price-tag of $40 million a day just in “consumables”, it is inconceivable that Britain or France would have launched this enterprise without American support.

But in the war for sound-bites, which is really what matters; just like the Great Tony in his prime (Fettes), David Cameron (Eton) is being called “statesmanlike” for his masterful campaign to entice two of the most unpopular “boys” in the school into a fight.

Meanwhile we get to see the holiday snaps of American soldiers in Afghanistan hunting civilians and then displaying their trophies like dead rats. Those photos were posted in Der Spiegel but not in US or UK newspapers…I wonder why not? Talk about “protecting civilians”, perhaps the next U.N. mandated “no-fly-zone” should be in Afghanistan?

http://www.thedailybell.com/1913/US-Kill-Teams-Target-Afghan-Civilians-as-Trophies.html

What’s not discussed is the possibility that the discordant campaign where individual nations interpret the rules of engagement however they feel like it will make things worse, just as the NATO bombing in Serbia made things much worse, for the civilians.

The U.N. mandate written by the Brits is blissfully vague, “everything necessary to “protect” civilians”. You can interpret that one however you like, and of course Great Britain will follow the “rules”, except of course when it doesn’t follow the rules, as in the little detail of the “ground troops”, unless of course we can re-classify those as “human-rights-activists”….with guns.

What happened in Libya was not a “popular” uprising by “peaceful” protestors (as in Egypt). It was a breakdown of the tribal alliances that Gaddafi had managed to keep in balance to support his regime, and from the beginning the protestors were armed with ordinance looted from defecting military units.

Libya was from the beginning an artificial country, the West where Gaddafi comes from is separated from the East (Benghazi), by a thousand miles of desert; and the tribes in the East have fought the tribes in the West, for as long as anyone can remember. When the Italians controlled Libya, they built a fence down the middle, and ran the place as two countries, Cyrenaica and Tripolitania.

Now Obama is in trouble because of the pesky little detail that he is not allowed under the U.S. Constitution to go to war without getting approval from Congress, unless there is a clear threat against America. And Gaddafi has cleverly manoeuvred himself so that the spirit of Al Qaeda, the great gift that kept on giving (giving as in giving American Presidents the right to go to war without Congress), can’t be levered into the equation in this instance.

Now Obama is side-stepping that one by pushing the command of the operation onto NATO, or in fact anyone (just not America), and making it clear that America will not put troops on the ground, and one thing is certain, he won’t. The decision to go with NATO was smart, even though France is not a member and the Turks are being finicky about how the terms of the U.N. resolution should be interpreted which might put a dampener on the “creativity” of France and Britain, that can work because the US has a mandate to support NATO (without asking the permission of Congress).

Yet there is no record in the history of modern warfare, where a bombing campaign led to peace, unless it was explicitly directed at civilians and civilian infrastructure. Dresden and Hiroshima are good examples of where that did work, although the revised Geneva Conventions would now explicitly categorise those incidents as war crimes. It is highly unlikely this bombing campaign will, unless the bombers start to be creative in their rules of engagement, and start to destroy civilian infrastructure in the areas Gaddafi controls.

Best-case the western allies will use the bombing campaign to force a negotiated settlement that optimally would provide a way out for Gaddafi, his family and his entourage to leave with dignity and “retire” somewhere else (with the money they looted over 40 Years). That would need to happen quickly and would also need the establishment of an East Libya and a West Libya.

Worst case, the bombers and the sanctions will destroy the fabric of infrastructure and semblance of law and order that supports the civilian population, and the result will be degeneration into pockets of armed militias.

That’s what happened in Afghanistan after the Russians left and USA turned their back, after that it was only the cruel law of the Taliban  that could restore a semblance of law and order (evidence – they stopped opium production), before the country was again thrown into chaos (evidence – 2008 was a record year for opium production).

It’s also what happened in Somalia, and there is a good chance it will happen in Libya, although I’m sure in his memoires David Cameron will say “we are better off without Gaddafi” just like Tony said “we are better off without Saddam”, and who cares about the 500,000 civilians who died when the semblance of rule of law was removed and the country degenerated into chaos with armed militias roaming the streets settling scores.

The more bombs that are dropped, the more likely that will be the outcome. And who will suffer?

Well the civilians, as always.

By Andrew Butter

Twenty years doing market analysis and valuations for investors in the Middle East, USA, and Europe; currently writing a book about BubbleOmics. Andrew Butter is managing partner of ABMC, an investment advisory firm, based in Dubai ( hbutter@eim.ae ), that he setup in 1999, and is has been involved advising on large scale real estate investments, mainly in Dubai.

© 2011 Copyright Andrew Butter- All Rights Reserved
Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

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