Mess! Mess! Glorious mess! 310

Obama, under the spell of the three witches, Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power, and Susan Rice (see our post, Round about the cauldron go, April 18, 2011), cannot weep enough crocodile tears for the “civilians” that America has the “responsibility to protect” in Libya, or drop enough alms into their outstretched hands. But circumspectly, adhering strictly to politically correct rules.

From Yahoo! News:

The Obama administration plans to give the Libyan opposition $25 million in non-lethal assistance in the first direct U.S. aid to the rebels after weeks of assessing their capabilities and intentions, officials said Wednesday.

Amid a debate over whether to offer the rebels broader assistance, including cash and possibly weapons and ammunition, the administration has informed Congress that President Barack Obama intends to use his so-called drawdown authority to give the opposition, led by the Transitional National Council in Benghazi, up to $25 million in surplus American goods to help protect civilians in rebel-held areas threatened by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who recommended that Obama authorize the assistance, said the aid would go to support the council and “our efforts to protect civilians and the civilian populated areas that are under threat of attack from their own government in Libya.” She said the aid “will be drawn down from items already in government stocks that correspond with the needs that we have heard from the Transitional National Council.”

The list is still being revised but now covers items such as medical supplies, uniforms, boots, tents, personal protective gear, radios and Halal meals … Most of the items are expected to come from Pentagon stocks

Initially, the administration had proposed supplying the rebels with vehicles and portable fuel storage tanks but those items were dropped from the list of potential aid on Wednesday after concerns were expressed that those could be converted into offensive military assets.

Hillary must be awfully careful not to go against the pacifist sentiments of the Democratic Party, while yet satisfying its goodie-goodie need to give cast-offs to those vulnerable “civilians”. Or “rebels”.

“This is not a blank check,” Clinton told reporters, adding that the move was consistent with the U.N. mandate that authorized international action to protect Libyan civilians and acknowledging that the opposition is in dire need of help.

Wouldn’t do a damned thing the UN didn’t approve of!

“This opposition, which has held its own against a brutal assault by the Gadhafi forces was not an organized militia,” she said. “It was not a group that had been planning to oppose the rule of Gadhafi for years. It was a spontaneous response within the context of the broader Arab spring. These are mostly business people, students, lawyers, doctors, professors who have very bravely moved to defend their communities and to call for an end to the regime in Libya.”

Oh, yes. She’s sure of that. Respectable, professional people, those civilians in dire need. Not an organized militia. Perfectly harmless, innocent. Give them the cast-offs, for the sake of Jesus!

“The Europeans” – namely Britain, France and Italy – are sending “military advisers”.

Because the military intervention by the US and Nato didn’t stop Gaddafi’s army.

From the Washington Post:

The arrival of European military advisers and U.S. uniforms is unlikely to rapidly change the trajectory of the conflict … and NATO and its Arab partners in the Libya operation continue to count on their economic and diplomatic war of attrition against Gaddafi paying off in the end.

“We are dealing with a set of imperfect options,” a senior administration official said, noting that the measure of success is not “where things stand” but “where they would have stood had we done nothing.” The NATO airstrikes and a no-fly zone enforced by NATO and Arab countries “have essentially frozen the battle space in terms of the advance of Gaddafi’s forces,” he said, and “if you work all the other levers, you can make time work against Gaddafi.”

Ah, Time. The West’s last, best weapon.

The official emphasized that Obama has no intention of sending U.S. ground forces — including noncombat military advisers — to Libya. But the administration’s attempts to firmly limit its involvement have also contributed to an image of disarray within NATO.

Only the image of disarray? Inside NATO all is harmony and sweet accord?

A senior European official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid antagonizing the Americans, said that Obama’s eagerness to turn over command of the Libyan air operation to NATO late last month, and the withdrawal of U.S. fighter planes from ground-strike missions, had undermined the strength of their united front against Gaddafi. …

The brilliant, well-informed Vice-President of the United States had an answer to that:

In a feisty response to any suggestion that the U.S. move to the back seat had undermined the NATO campaign, Vice President Biden said the alliance was perfectly capable of handling the air attack mission itself.

“It is bizarre to suggest that NATO and the rest of the world lacks the capacity to deal with Libya — it does not,” Biden said in an interview with the Financial Times.

“Occasionally other countries lack the will,” he said, “but this is not about capacity.”

Biden said U.S. resources were better spent trying to guide Egypt’s transition toward democracy. He denied that U.S. public reluctance to become deeply involved in another conflict in the Muslim world had anything to do with Obama’s decisions.

“This is about our strategic interest and it is not based upon a situation of what can the traffic bear politically at home,” Biden said. “The traffic can bear politically more in Libya,” he said, because “everybody knows [Gaddafi] is a bad guy.”

But it’s better not to risk it, hey Joe?

But as the situation in Libya has continued without resolution, popular disapproval of the president’s handling of the situation has shot up 15 percentage points, from 34 to 49, since mid-March, shining a light on the political risks Obama faces on the issue amid a host of domestic problems, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Among political independents, disapproval jumped to 51 percent. …

Those sending advisers or other assistance to the rebel forces are doing so as individual nations, in coordination with but outside the NATO command structure.

Why would that be? Don’t tell us that NATO as a whole would not approve!

No, no, it’s not that. God or someone forbid!  It’s because, you see, the “rebels” – not to be confused with the “civilians” please – don’t want the Western help they asked for to be too obvious:

The rebels themselves are afraid of being accused by other Arab countries of having allowed ‘crusaders’ on their land,” said an Italian official who was not authorized to discuss the issue on the record.

Turns out the US administration didn’t feel too comfortable with the “rebels” at first, but it’s okay now:

Obama administration officials said their comfort level with the rebel council had grown in recent weeks, after high-level meetings with its leaders and direct contact by a U.S. diplomatic mission sent to Benghazi.

Still, you’ve gotta keep an eye on the bastards. Though God or whoever knows what we’d do if we saw something happening that made us uncomfortable again:

“Whether there are people in Libya who may have more extremist or nefarious agendas, that is something we watch very carefully,” the senior administration official said in reference to suggestions of possible al-Qaeda involvement. “We don’t believe that the organized opposition, represented by the TNC, reflects that agenda.”

So who has a bad agenda? Who are the “rebels”? Who are the needy “civilians”?

From PajamasMedia:

While the International Criminal Court has announced that it is investigating charges of war crimes against Muammar al-Gaddafi and other members of the Libyan regime, harrowing video evidence has emerged that appears to show atrocities committed by anti-Gaddafi rebels. Among other things, the footage depicts summary executions, a prisoner being lynched, the desecration of corpses, and even a beheading. The targets of the most serious abuse are frequently black African prisoners. The ultimate source of the footage appears to be rebel forces or sympathizers themselves.

(Warning: Due to the graphic nature of the videos linked below, viewer discretion is advised.)

What is probably the most harrowing of the clips depicts a public beheading. A man with a long knife can be seen alternately sawing and hacking at the neck of a man who has been suspended upside-down. The victim’s inert body is soaked in blood. The beheading takes place in front of a burnt-out building in … the main square of the rebel capital of Benghazi.

A crowd numbering at least in the hundreds cheers on the assailants. At one point, a man begins chanting “Libya Hurra!”: “Free Libya!” According to the NOS translation, someone can be heard saying, “He looks like an African.” As the principal assailant begins to saw at the victim’s neck, members of the crowd yell “Allahu Akbar!” Dozens of members of the crowd can be seen filming the proceedings with digital cameras or cell phones.

SEE THE VIDEO CLIP here. A raging mob yells for the utmost agony to be inflicted on the victim. (We loathe this savagery, but we do not for a moment imagine that the victim would not do the same to any member of the raging mob if he had the opportunity.)

A second clip depicts a black African prisoner being aggressively questioned and beaten. The man is alleged to be a pro-Gaddafi mercenary. Extracts from the footage have been broadcast on both the Libyan state television Al-Libya and on Al-Jazeera. More complete “raw footage,” which is available on YouTube, shows the beating continuing even after the man is lying face down on the ground, the surrounding concrete splattered with his blood. By way of photographs and identity papers, a video from an unknown source on YouTube identifies the victim as a Libyan citizen and a regular member of the Libyan army. [Link provided – go to the article to see it, and descriptions, with links to more video clips, of more horrors.]

Similar footage of rebels demanding a confession from an alleged black African mercenary has also been shown on Western television. It should be noted that even just the mere exposure of a prisoner to “public curiosity” constitutes a violation of the Geneva Conventions – to say nothing of acts of intimidation and abuse or the outright lynching that appears to be documented in the above clip. …

At first glance, it might seem odd that the rebels would document their own atrocities. But given all the indications that the eastern Libyan heartland of the rebellion is a bastion of jihadist militancy, it is in fact not so odd. It is standard jihadist procedure to film beheadings and other sorts of atrocities committed against captured enemy soldiers and hostages.

Meanwhile, Gaddafi’s capability is swelling with mercenaries and materiel not only from Africa but also from China, Russia, and Europe.

From DebkaFile:

Both of Libya’s fighting camps are taking delivery of a surging influx of weapons shipments and military personnel – each hoping to use the extra aid for breaking the military standoff in its own favor …  The British, French and Italian military officers bound for rebel headquarters in Benghazi are part of a package that includes arms and military equipment from the US, Britain, France, Italy and Qatar.

On the other side of the Libyan divide, China, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Serbia are keeping the pro-Qaddafi camp’s arsenals stocked with new hardware along with combat personnel from Eastern Europe and the former Yugoslavia. …

From mid-March, hundreds of “volunteers” professional soldiers ranking from colonel down to corporal – have joined the army loyal to Qaddafi. …

One group says it is in Libya for unfinished business with the West, especially the United States, for their role in the Bosnia and Kosovo conflicts.

China is helping him with arms, mostly through African neighbors, and intelligence on NATO strikes  …

The NATO bombardment of a large ammunition dump near Tripoli on April 14 aimed at destroying the latest Chinese arms shipments. …

[There are]  four major difficulties still confronting the next, intensified, round of Western coalition operations in Libya:

1. Pushing Qaddafi too hard could split NATO between West and East European members [not to mention Turkey’s angry refusal to participate – JB].

2. The alliance is short of fighter-bombers for blasting the arms convoys destined for government forces in western Libya, and lacks the precision bombs and missiles for these attacks. These shortages have forced NATO to limit its air strikes for now.

3. It is not clear that UN Security Council resolutions provide a mandate for this kind of attack. The Russians criticize the Western alliance almost daily for exceeding its mandate.

4. In view of this criticism, Washington, London, Paris and Rome are careful to label their war aid to Libyan rebels as “non-lethal military aid” and the military personnel helping them “military advisers” – raising memories of the euphemisms used in previous wars.

The trouble is that all the additional military assistance the West is laying on is barely enough … to maintain the current stalemate against the Qaddafi regime’s boosted capabilities – certainly not sufficient to tip the scales of the war.

Qaddafi holds one major advantage: His army can absorb [trained, experienced] foreign assistance [mercenaries] without delay …  whereas Western aid drops into a pit of uncertainty with regard to the rebel groups and their chiefs. The military advisers arriving in Benghazi first need to guide the opposition’s steps in fighting Qaddafi’s forces, then form the rebels into military units and teach them how to use the weapons they are receiving.

It could take months for regular rebel units to take shape under the direction of British, French and Italian military personnel who, too, are not necessarily working in harness.

And we’ve just heard (from Fox news) that Obama will send armed predator drones for use in Libya. So the US is rejoining the armed intervention after all, Joe? What will your pacifist base say to that, Obama and Hillary?

The cauldron bubbles.