Discussion Questions About Libya

Question 1

If the rebels against Qaddafi advance from their present strongholds, will the member states engaging in hostilities in Libya pursuant to UNSC Resolution 1793 1973 bomb them? I don’t think so but I think the resolution might be construed that way.

Question 2

A collapse of the Qaddafi government wouldn’t automatically create a viable new government to replace it. Protestations of Resolution 1793 1973 to the contrary notwithstanding, wouldn’t the member states engaging in hostilities against the Qaddafi government automatically become “occupying powers” under the presently prevailing laws of war with an obligation to preserve civil order in Libya until such time as the responsibility could be handed over to a new Libyan government? If not, why not?

FILED UNDER: Open Forum,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. john personna says:

    I don’t know the dynamics. I’d hope the architects (in France? Brittain?) do.

    Perhaps they hope that the ground troops are in place. Those would be the rebels.

    Perhaps they thing sans aircraft and armor those ground troops can win.

    And of course they must have some hope that those rebels will be better for Europe than Qaddafi.

  2. Herb says:

    No answers from me, just another question:

    How is the intervention in Libya any different from what we’re doing in Pakistan?

  3. john personna says:

    “How is the intervention in Libya any different from what we’re doing in Pakistan?”


    1) we are not the architect

    2) this is not done with the negotiated sanction of the Libyan government

  4. john personna says:

    (I want us out of the Predator business, but to the extent that these operations are accepted by the host government, they are just “police assistance.”)

  5. PD Shaw says:

    I read the resolution as

    (1) providing a broad grant of power (“all necessary measures”);
    (2) for a set purpose (“to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi”)
    (3) excluding a specific activity (“a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”)

    Putting them together there is a broad authorization of military power, so long as it is tied by the judgment of the participants to the goal of protecting civilians and cities. There is a strong exception for foreign occupation that in my view is the only real restraint here. (Expressio unius est exclusio alterius)

    Q1: I think the resolution authorizes bombing of the rebels, if it seen as a step necessary to protect civilians and cities. I don’t think it’s likely since the language in the resolution and the talk of the Outside Parties is not “bi-partisan.”

    Q2: I think it’s theoretically possible that the Geneva Conventions could obligate the Alliance to provide police protection under a given set of circumstances; but I think it would require boots on the ground that had been introduced, not to control or occupy territory when civil order collapsed. For example, I think if civil order collapsed as a result of rebel attacks and air strikes, I don’t think the outside powers are obligated to do so. As a practical matter, I would expect the outside powers to return to the Security Council to seek another resolution.

  6. PD Shaw says:

    Another example, I think the resolution would authorize special ops units to join up with the rebels, similar to the initial operations of the Aghanistan War. I don’t think you can consider that level of troop strength to be “occupying,” but if the “other side” fell apart, you may look at things differently.

  7. Dave Schuler says:

    Your reading is about the same as mine, PD.

  8. TG Chicago says:

    A huge difference between Libya and Pakistan: In Pakistan, we have no desire for regime change.

    Also, @Schuler: I believe you mean UN Resolution 1973, not 1793. Good post, though.

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    Thanks. Corrected.

  10. Herb says:

    Thought about it a bit more, and the Libya strikes are nothing like the Pakistan strikes. In Pakistan, we’re seeking out bad actors and trying to eliminate them. In Libya we’re using strategic airstrikes to force some kind of political settlement. Not alike at all.

  11. TG Chicago says:

    I really wish that supporters of these strikes would actually answer some of thiese questions.

    Sullivan has a post full of questions. John Cole does, too. Jeffrey Goldberg (!) does. This one from Dave Schuler is notable (and commendable) for getting into deep-weeds specifics. One of my favorites comes from James Fallows.


    And the post after Mr. Fallows — from an Italian architect who is guesting on Fallows’ blog — is also quite good. He writes one sentence that absolutely chills me.

    Why doesn’t anybody answer these questions? The tragedy of Iraq is still a recent memory (is it not?). How can we assent to another attack without envisioning an endgame?

    This is madness.

  12. AFPS - A Former Professional Soldier- says:

    Col. Muammar Khadaffi & Son said that the peaceful young protesters were high on drugs and were hallucinating.

    If this man was not a lunatic wouldn’t he have mobilized all the medical mental health professionals in his country in order for them to assist these “so called out of control people”?
    No, he did not. Instead he mobilized his security forces to gun down & kill these people who were peacefully demonstrating and asking for their freedom.

    So, coalition forces continue to drop bombs and missles on Khadaffi & Sons so they too experience what its like….. not being able to fight back, and run for cover.