A Different Battlefield

by jeff douglas

Carol is speaking with Harvard University's Shashank Joshi on Libya, or, more specifically, about money for Libya.

Libyan opposition forces

Thumbnail image for anti-gadhafi6.jpgThe first meeting of the so-called Libya Contact Group in Qatar has adjourned, with the member states stating the obvious: opposition forces need more.

What is not so clear nor agreed-upon was what that "more" should be.



The Contact Group has authorized what it is calling a temporary financial mechanism which will unfreeze Libyan assets abroad, thus making funds available to the Interim Transitional National Council for the purchase of whatever it needs in the way of the self-defence, well, stuff.

Me? I automatically think of weapons, but, to be clear, there are other pressing concerns: infrastructure, such as wells, hospitals and electricity production facilities, damaged by fighting which need tending to.

But, me? I still think they mean guns.

You may ask, isn't there an arms embargo?

Kinda. Qatar, France and the UK say that UN no-fly resolution provides for 'self-defence' and they're willing to throw in a little bit more. Qatar is apparently already arming the rebels with French-made antitank weaponry and UK PM David Cameron says he's in for body armour.

Thumbnail image for anti-gadhafi3.jpgRebel forces are saying that even with all these goodies, they're still in a bad spot because of lack of training. It's a good point: a shoulder mounted surface to surface missile launcher would be worse than useless in, say, my hands. I'd probably ending up blowing up a bunch of my buddies. These additional funds (plus the tons of dough that is sure to come from oil sales) could pay for expert training from foreign mercenaries - or, as they're currently known - security consultants. Private companies could likely get around all that political gunk that would mire nations.

So now, with your Petrol dollars flowing and your Temporary Financial Mechanism cents thawed, you have the bang-bang power, and the know-how to point it in the right direction. You win, right?


Mr. Joshi cites the US led occupation of Iraq that's been going on for seven or eight years, and Afghanistan that is going on ten years. Both are humbling examples of rich, well armed, well-trained, tactically advanced forces doing a fair amount of not winning. He says, and I paraphrase -but just - that there are three factors in the victory equation:

  1. Training
  2. Tactical efficiency
  3. Doctrine

It's that third one that you just can't buy.  

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