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March 30, 2011
A Brief Century of LibyaBy Greyhawk
If you want to better understand Libya's current civil war - beyond Qaddafi is a bad man but some of the people fighting him might be al Qaeda but preventing genocide is a good thing but isn't this what we were doing in Iraq and why isn't Obama doing more for the anti-dictator protesters in Syria, Iran and Wisconsin? - read on. What follows is history, of course - but it's not the boring kind of history. It's the sort that involves explosions, empires, military conquest, airpower, guerrilla warfare, subterfuge, switching sides (the enemy of my enemy is my friend), and ... er...
On second thought, maybe it's not history after all. Maybe it's current events.
Let's begin our story exactly 100 years ago:
The short version: In 1911 Italy - sensing weakness at the edges of the Ottoman Empire (and noticing a lot of apparently available map space between British Egypt and French Algeria that was also conveniently located just across the Med from Italy) - went to war in North Africa. It wasn't quite the cakewalk they expected, but the shooting war that began in September that year concluded with the first Treaty of Lauserne just one year later, granting Italy the Ottoman provinces of Tripolitania, Fezzan, and Cyrenaica.
World War One erupted less than two years later. Italy picked the right side in that conflict, and was able to keep its colonies after its conclusion. Not surprisingly, the Italians encountered resistance to their rule (an insurgency, even, most notably from troublesome residents of Cyrenaica), but by 1934 (under Mussolini) had effectively crushed it, and united the provinces ("emirates," if you prefer) as "Libya" - a classical (Egyptian/Greek/Roman)-era name.
But then Italy picked the wrong side in World War Two. After some initial difficulties with Rommel the British swept out of Egypt and through Libya. They brought with them the last of the "rebel leaders" - the Emir of Cyrenaica - who had been living in exile in Egypt. In 1951 he became Idris I, the first and only (U.N. approved) King of Libya. (Initially the United Kingdom of Libya - composed of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan.)
At that time "Libya's biggest source of income was from scrap metal salvaged from its World War Two battlefields. There were no known natural resources--even Libya's sand was inadequate for glassmaking." But in 1959 oil was discovered there, and the economy changed overnight. Ten years later, when an aged King Idris left the country for medical treatment, Libyan army officers under the leadership of Muammar al-Gaddafi staged a coup. His subsequent 42-year reign is among the longest - and easily the most contentious - of any world leader in recent history. (In spite of a few other uses of strategic airpower - and other assets - against him.)
More recently, he seemed to be attempting to improve his image (and maintain something of a lower profile). However, in February 2011 protests against his regime erupted in eastern Libya. (Or Cyrenaica, if you prefer.)
This ends the short version of the story, which by definition lacks all the interesting details. Those can be provided in other short stories to follow...
Posted by Greyhawk / March 30, 2011 11:14 AM | Permalink
(...and points east.) Oh my! There might be CIA agents and MI6 and SAS and lions and tigers and bears (but no US military forces) on the ground in Libya and we might arm the rebels and some might be al Qaedies and maybe we aren't just protecting civil... Read More
It's a classic cartoon. Unfortunately, it's also an illustration of the planning for our excellent Libya operation. Back to that in a moment, first a note from the Telegraph:Libyan army forces unleashed a remorseless barrage of tank fire and artillery... Read More
Unbelievable! You might cry. Of course it is. (If it wasn't, it wouldn't be deniable.) But that doesn't matter. You're along for the ride... I keep coming back to this cartoon.... I suppose I should explain it. Lets start at the beginning (or at least,... Read More
- wrap 'em in plastic and they'll never touch ground:The armed forces, numbering no more than 1,000, would be deployed to secure the delivery of aid supplies, would not be engaged in a combat role but would be authorised to fight if they or their human... Read More
If you'd bet me a dollar at the beginning of this year that the United States would jump into another country's civil war based in part on a domino theory argument I'd have taken that bet. I'd owe you a dollar now - but before I handed it over I'd con... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
I like having visitors to my house. I hope you are entertained. I fight for your right to free speech, and am thrilled when you exercise said rights here. Comments and e-mails are welcome, but all such communication is to be assumed to be 1)the original work of any who initiate said communication and 2)the property of the Mudville Gazette, with free use granted thereto for publication in electronic or written form. If you do NOT wish to have your message posted, write "CONFIDENTIAL" in the subject line of your email.
Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com