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by
John Rosenthal

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February 24, 2011 - 4:45 am

In his last blog post, Michael Ledeen suggests that the United States should “bomb Libya” – or, more exactly, the planes comprising the Libyan air force – in order to bring an end to the bloodshed in the country. It is not clear – to me, at any rate – just how seriously Michael wants his suggestion to be taken.

But with all due respect, it strikes me that both the suggestion and the enthusiasm it has inspired are indicative of an alarming tendency for Americans to make snap judgments on foreign conflict situations based upon highly limited information coming from often highly dubious sources. If there is an intrinsic “fog of war,” as Robert McNamara famously emphasized, it is surrounded, in the meanwhile, by an even thicker “fog of media coverage” of war and other forms of conflict.

What is most astonishing as concerns the specific case of Libya is that much of the supposed information upon which Americans are relying to make their judgments comes from none other than Al-Jazeera: a media organization that only a few years ago was being widely denounced, especially by conservatives, as the propaganda arm of al-Qaeda.

Michael speculates that several NATO allies, including the Italians, would be “happy to participate” in an American-led attack. There is reason to doubt this. Since I believe Michael reads Italian, I can refer him to an interview with Foreign Minister Franco Frattini that was published in yesterday’s edition of the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

In it, Frattini emphasizes the general state of ignorance of western observers concerning the nature of the opposition to Gaddafi, and he refers, in particular, to the self-proclaimed “Islamic Emirate of East Libya.” “We do not know more [about it],” Frattini says, “But we know that they are dangerous. There are elements of al-Qaeda there. As consequence, in 2006 we decided to close the Italian consulate in Cyrenaica.” Moreover, Frattini predicts that if the current political system in Libya collapses, it will set off an “exodus of biblical proportions,” notably towards Italy and other European countries.

I can also refer Michael to Lorenzo Cremonesi’s report in the same edition of the Corriere. Cremonesi’s article makes it clear that the opposition to Gaddafi in the eastern part of the country is itself armed. Cremonesi reports seeing former soldiers and police (i.e. who have defected to the rebels) opening up “massive wooden crates containing bazookas and ammunition of all sorts of calibers.”

And, btw, the first images of protesters holding pictures of Gaddafi with Stars of David scrawled on them have also begun to appear.

(source: Al Arabiya)

John Rosenthal writes on European politics and transatlantic security issues. You can follow his work at www.trans-int.com or on Facebook here.
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