Notebook, 16 June 2011: Told you so . . .

During the ramp up, the rhetoric surrounding Qadhafi and his violent crackdown on protesters was bad enough. While I’m not even thinking about defending some of his actions, the rhetoric was demonic. Qadhafi is no worse than the al-Khalifa royal family in Bahrain, the al-Sauds, Bashar al-Assad in Syria or the regime in Khartoum. Unfortunately for him, Qadhafi had Lockerbie in his past and that sealed his fate.

While I reading that more and more Americans are having trouble with the White House’s actions regarding Libya, and while I have definite opinions about the War Powers Resolution (which I’ve been fairly strident about), this post is about the diplomatic and human fallout.

The UN Security Council voted for a no-fly zone. Resolution 1973 authorized measures to protect civilians. What nobody wanted to see was the resulting mission creep which made regime change as it’s goal, but Paris, London and Washington evidently couldn’t help themselves, and the tragedy of NATO overreach has made itself manifest much more quickly than even I anticipated.

For the second time, I read reports that the Security Council will authorize no more humanitarian missions regarding the ongoing slaughter in Syria. Back on 18 May, Colum Lynch reported:

The current dispute over Syria “is the hang over from Libya,” one council diplomat told Turtle Bay. “China and Russia feel a bit betrayed because the coalition went further than what was in the resolution. It diminished the possibility of replicating the Libya model in Yemen and Syria,” where Russia and China have blocked action.

“There is a negative vibe post-Libya in the council,” the diplomat said. “you did this in Libya and now you’re going to pay for it. It’s a pity. There is this political game of power in the council while people are being hurt on the ground.”

Now we read today that a second attempt to move the Security Council led by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé, has also fallen flat, while Deaths as fresh protests rock Syria: At least 16 killed as security forces open fire on anti-government protesters across the country:

Syrian security forces have shot dead at least 16 people, including a 16-year-old boy, during fresh anti-government protests, activists said.

The Local Co-ordination Committee, a group that documents the demonstrations, said nine people were killed in the central city of Homs, two in Harasta, a suburb of the capital Damascus, and one in the northern city of Aleppo, while a teen died in the southern village of Dael.

Fresh protests were also reported from Hama, Deraa, Der al-Zour, Jableh and other cities after morning prayers on Friday.

An activist said security forces had opened fire on protesters in the coastal city of Baniyas.

“There was intense firing to disperse the demonstrations in Baniyas and there were casualties” among the protesters, Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the London-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, told the AFP news agency.

Other activists reported that heavy machine gunfire had been heard in the Bab Tudmor area in Homs, and witnesses said security forces had dispersed a protest in Latakia.

Syrian state television reported that a policeman was killed and more than 20 were wounded when “armed groups” opened fire at them.

Six police officers were also wounded in the eastern town of Deir el-Zour when gunmen attacked a police station there, the report said.

Tensions were also reported in neighbouring Lebanon, where about 200 people protested against Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, in the northern city of Tripoli.

Al Jazeera’s Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut, the Lebanese capital, said four people were killed in clashes that broke out amid the Tripoli demonstration.

as well as another crisis brewing up in Sudan:

The Sudanese army appeared poised Thursday to launch a ground offensive in central Sudan, spiking fears of another violent crackdown on a non-Arab ethnic group.

Aid workers fleeing South Kordofan state told harrowing tales of Nuba tribesmen being gunned down in the streets of the region’s capital, Kadugli, and of women and children seeking refuge in the Nuba Mountains.

“Those coming in are saying, ‘Whenever they see you are a black person, they kill you,'” according to one aid worker who recently left the area, but asked not to be named because she hopes to return.

It’s not so much that any of this is unexpected, especially since I predicted trouble dealing with other situations would result from Nato powers’ overreach with regime change even before the policy was announced and the current ethnic cleansing in Kordofan is something I predicted over a year ago as I noted reports of the arms buildup Khartoum was undertaking. If I can see these things coming, and I’m only a sporting amateur, Washington damned well should have.

There’s simply no excuse, whatsoever, for the careless wastage of diplomatic trust and political capital required to deal honestly with other situations as they arise. None. Especially concerning the Sudan, where US and UN diplomats have invested nearly twenty years of an intense and sustained effort.

In fact, the lack of consideration for consequences in Libya borders on being criminal, and I’m sick and tired of being the only adult in the room.


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