THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 664 February 28 - March 6, 2010
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February 28, 2011
Niven and Barnes were over and we did a SKYPE call to Dr. Jack Cohen in England, after which we went out to lunch in a Sushi place over by Sportsman's Lodge. The last time we were in that sushi place was with Bob Gleason and George Noory and Whitney Strieber among others. This was just a working lunch. Anyway, I'm late getting started, and the column is overdue and for the first time in 30 years I am likely to be a month late on a column in that I won't have the February column posted by March. Of course in the old print days the column I finished January came out in the April issue. Ah well.
I'm working on it.
The Oscars happened yesterday, and Hollywood tried to get the attention and approval of the youngsters by putting two almost-thirty actors up as hosts. It doesn't seem to have worked too well, although everyone tried their best. Whether there are ten "best" pictures in a year is questionable, and whether there are five best sound mixer movies -- who can tell -- even more so, but there it is. Few surprises. Ortega said that the revolt of the masses means the ascendancy of those who don't aspire to much because they are pretty well satisfied with what they are, and look for the approval of others just like them. They aren't barbarians, but they don't really know the difference between civilized and barbarian, and since all ideas and concepts and cultures are equal, the notion of a "best" gets really murky.
Meanwhile there are radio ads featuring those who didn't know there were funds available to send the literacy challenged to college; they generally end with a session of counting chickens before they are hatched, a notion that the college aspirant probably never heard of. Welcome to the new age.
I call your attention to "Hidden Federal Benefits" by Gregory Rodriguez in today's LA Times. It's astonishing what the government does for us that we hadn't realized.
There's more but you get the idea. The government lets you set up "tax free" savings accounts, and by not taking the money from you it is giving you a hidden benefit.
This is a confirmation of what most have suspected all along: the liberal view of the world is that everything you own belongs to the government, which generously gives you the benefit of not taking some of it: government will determine what is best for the people by deciding who gets to keep what, and anything it didn't take you should be thankful for.
Rodriguez is a genuine liberal spokesman with the usual ideas:
Of course moral relativism is the goal of most liberal politics, but that's another story. Meanwhile be thankful for your federal benefits like not having to pay taxes on the income of your retirementsavings.
and it's time I got some work done.
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|This week:||Tuesday, March
The news is full of advice to the US on what to do about Libya. Should we send military aid to the rebels? But they say they don't need no stinking foreign help, they'll do very well on their own, thank you very much. Should we set up a "no-fly" area over Libya? The rebels say that would be OK, so long as no foreign plane lands on Libyan soil and no one operates out of Libya. Presumably that means carriers, although the Brits and French could carry out some operations from Sicily and Malta. It would be expensive. Such things always are.
Of course shooting down the aircraft of a formerly hostile which became neutral and was trying to be friendly foreign power has a rather murky status under international law. Only Great Powers can actually impose an aerial blockade. Do Great Powers have an implied right to make war on the nation which is this year the Chairman of the Human Rights commission of the United Nations? But the UN has suspended Libya's membership in that commission. So it's not too late for the US and Europe to get into the internal affairs of Libya. Who knows, there might be a bonanza in fishing in those troubled waters. Bring Gaddafi down, and there's all that lovely oil most of which is already in the hands of the rebels. We should get in there and choose sides, and support democracy and sow the Western dream.
But meanwhile the rebels are sort of in control in Tunisia, and someone is in control in Egypt, and we don't seem to know what to do about all that, either.
Today's Wall Street Journal has some interesting articles. One important column is Bret Stephens' "Is There an Arab George Washington?" Link He reminds us of something that political philosophers have always known: good government is not easily come by, revolutions generally don't result in a stable government with rule of law, and the American exception was, well, exceptional. One of our benefits was Washington, who could have been King but was content to return to his farm; and when the Articles of Confederation failed to produce a stable government with rule of law, and it looked as if chaos and old night were about to visit the Thirteen Sovereign and Independent confederated states, Washington was willing to return to power to bring about unity -- not as King or Dictator, but as the Chairman of the Convention of 1787 which, under his chairmanship, was able to draft a document of compromises acceptable to the sovereign colonies; then he became the first President of these United States -- and after two terms, went back to his farm. In his day intelligent and educated thinkers were not ashamed to thank God for blessing us with George Washington.
Of course few of the products of our expensive schools are aware of any of this. They are more likely to remember his wooden false teeth and the brandy after dinner than to have read his farewell address to an army that worshipped him.
And Stephens asks the right question: is there an Arab George Washington?
He does remind us of another revolution: the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon in 2005:
The entire column is worth your attention; and the lessons ought to be known to all Americans despite the miserable state of our public education.
Meanwhile it is slowly dawning on the ruling class in the media and in Washington that the Egyptian revolution may have resulted in democracy, but not necessarily civilized rule of law. It is slowly sinking in that as Lara Logan was being assaulted by 200 men for an hour before she was rescued by a few women and a platoon of soldiers, the crowd was shouting "Jew! Jew!" That incident was not lost to the Israeli government, which will have to restructure its way of life if the threat of war from Egypt is revived. But hope springs eternal, apparently. Today's Wall Street Journal also has "Assuaging Israel's Egypt Anxiety" by Andre Anciman. (Link)
Anciman, a distinguished CCNY literature teacher, opens with
Anciman notes the hostility to Israel in the Egyptian street, but his solution comes from the field of dreams:
We can all hope. Hope springs eternal, as it did on the streets of Beirut in the glory days of the Cedar Revolution -- or for that matter, on the streets of Baghdad in the days just after Saddam Hussein was sent to a spider hole. But what the Egyptians in the streets of Cairo on Victory Day dreamed may be a bit unsettling.
As I write this there are US Marines off the Shores of Tripoli. It is not clear what they will be told to do. We may be sure they will do it well.
In case my point is not clear, it is simply this: preservation of civilization is important, but it is not at all clear that we know how to construct it. Good government is a gift. We do have the means for taking out known bad guys. Some people are better in a spider hole, or dead. Having achieved that, perhaps we should understand that we probably don't know how to build something better. What we can do is see that our enemies don't last long. Gaddafi went from sending his agents to put bombs on Pan Am aircraft to trying hard not to be noticed in a single night.
The business of America is to show that a free society is possible. We are the friends of liberty everywhere, but we are the guardians only of our own, and we do not impose our ways on others: we only insist that they not try to impose their ways on us. Americans best export liberty by preserving our own.
Gaddafi has long been an enemy, and there is no reason why we should not wring his neck and let the Libyan people decide the rest, so long as they understand that their interests are better served by seeking American friendship rather than enmity. We did not do this in the First Gulf War, and we let our enemy slaughter his citizens who rose against him in response to our encouragement.
We ought not make that mistake again, just as we ought not make the mistake of trying to build Libya in an image made in Washington or at Harvard.
The Legions are good at eliminating our enemies.
March 2, 2011
Dual Processor, two cameras, thinner, longer battery life: that's what the Twitterati are saying in live coverage of Jobs' announcement of the iPad 2.
Meanwhile the world goes on. The Fleet is small and getting smaller, but the Navy is doing its best to have a presence in the Mediterranean while carrying on its missions in the rest of the world. Libya is settling down to a long war that could end in partition of this rather recently created "nation" of tribal groups in a modern and reasonably wealthy (compared to Egypt) society. Egypt is showing us rule by Mamelukes. Libya is testing rule by Janissaries. So far the rebels appear to be winning.
And Wisconsin has lost its Capitol to those who can afford to camp out and who prevent the janitors from doing their work.
Welcome to the modern world. It's time for my walk.
If you have not seen this, it's longer than it should be, but it's a pretty good picture of why technology will continue to change the future.
In my lifetime TV has gone from something shown as a coming wonder at a World's Fair to an entitlement. Indeed, the real rights of Americans (and later Europeans, and others as the wealth spreads) have increased enormously. Now we have a "right" to a level of health care that would have been considered miraculous when my children were born. When I was young, few people maintained teeth into their retirement age. Now people are beginning to outlive their teeth again, but just barely. Anyone can travel across the country in hours. Of course what technology gives, government regulates; you can travel across the land in hours, but you must make obeisance to the TSA overlords and beg their permission, which they will graciously grant once you have groveled enough. But that's another story.
The future is creating more; see what glass can do.
And the Mac iPad announcements are over, but real information on the full specs is sparse. We can wait.
I have met Jacques Barzun and Wendell Berry, and indeed Berry and I were both conferees at the Library of Congress Symposium on Science and Science Fiction (along with Sir Fred Hoyle and Gene Roddenberry among many others.) I have been reading Barzun since I discovered his Teacher in America in high school. I periodically reread it; if you haven't read it, you should. Much of it is out of date in the sense that he speaks of improving far better schools than we have now, but it is well to understand what is possible when you live in a degenerate age. What man has done, man can aspire to.
It is long past time that the US recognize Barzun as a national treasure. Wendell Berry is a Kentucky farmer, and used to grow tobacco, perhaps still does. He was and is the most effective spokesman I know for the smaller is more beautiful view, and since he starts from a profoundly conservative philosophical view, it is worth paying attention to what he says. Sometimes he catches a truth in his oddly shaped net. We used to correspond, but that was in the days of paper mail.
The Supreme Court has ruled that a bunch of weird people who
parade outside military funerals proclaiming that God hates the American
military, and displaying signs saying "Thank God for dead soldiers" have the
right to do that, and the news media have the right to cover it. There is a
pretty good summary here:
The decision was 8-1, Alito dissenting, and the Chief Justice exercised his prerogative to write the decision. That pretty well settles the matter: you have the right not only to say infuriating things, but also to say them in the most sensitive of places, so long as you are not disruptive: and you cannot be sued in civil courts for offending the parents of a war hero merely because you are being offensive.
This should have considerable impact on hate speech laws; it also ought to have some effect on the suppression of majority opinion because it offends a particular minority. If the Westbro Baptist Church has the right to say "Thank God for dead soldiers" at a funeral for a dead soldier, it should be difficult to defend suppressing displays "offensive" to Muslims outside their mosques. I haven't read the decision yet, but it certainly implies that non-disruptive speech knows no bounds of context and place.
To summarize: The Westbro Baptist Church prophecies the utter destruction of the United States because it tolerates homosexuality in the military. It does so by picketing the funerals of dead soldiers. It is difficult to imagine speech more offensive.
An alleged Moslem shouting "Allah Akbar!" shot US Airmen in Germany today, but there is controversy over whether this is a terrorist action, according to White House spokesmen. The perpetrator was captured and is from Kosovo. You may or may not recall that NATO essentially took Kosovo from the Serbs and handed it to the Moslem Albanians, after which the Albanians conducted a fairly thorough ethnic cleansing of what had been a Serbian majority territory after World War I and which, prior to NATO's intervention, had never had a legal Albanian immigrant. Over time the ethnic majority in Kosovo went from Serb to Albanian. Ethnically based civil war resulted until NATO intervened.
How many White House advisors do you need to determine when a shooting is a terrorist act?
We have sown the wind.
Jane Russell, RIP
I first heard of Jane Russell in high school in about 1946 when The Outlaw was going around the theaters. Memphis Tennessee in those days had cultural censorship: The Binford Commission declared it was too lewd to be shown in our theaters. Immediately we got up a party to go see it in West Memphis, Arkansas. That required about a dollar's worth of gasoline from everyone but Freddie who had a driver's license and could borrow the family car provided that someone paid for the gasoline; another dollar each (except for Freddie) for the movie house and popcorn, and a $5 bill for the Arkansas State Trooper whose job it was to catch Tennessee teenagers coming across the Harahan Bridge and extract a $5 bill for not giving them a ticket. Sometimes you might luck out (i.e. if the cop was dealing with another traffic stop) but it was best to be prepared. I was the youngest of those asked, but it was known that I usually had a couple of bucks, and besides, my father was the manager of WHBQ and I could often get concert and movie tickets.
We went on a Friday night, got stopped just after we crossed the bridge, paid our bribe, and went to downtown West Memphis to enjoy the movie. We didn't have a beer until after we got back to Memphis, since we really didn't want a legitimate traffic stop: the toll we'd paid was more like for permission to drive young in Arkansas with a Tennessee license.
We were fairly naive -- there was no Playboy magazine in those days, and girly magazines were expensive and hard to come by -- but we had been to girly shows during the Cotton Carnival in Memphis. Binford didn't like carnivals, but Ed Crump who was city boss was either fond of them or had friends who were -- there was always a Cotton Carnival every spring and if you were smart you could figure out how to get into the adult strip tease tent show. We'd already seen Gypsy Rose Lee live by the time we saw Jane Russell in The Outlaw, but we didn't regret going to the movie. I actually remember her movies with Bob Hope better than The Outlaw, which is probably just as well.
March 3, 2011
MacLife has a good summary of what's in the new iPad. The iPad 2 won't be on sale until mid March. The iPad was a game changer; the 2 is a major revision, with more memory, faster processor, and two cameras. This is not just an incremental improvement. I want one.
On August 13, 1940, known as Adlertag, Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering unleashed the Luftwaffe on southern England to begin Adlerangriff. The goal was to destroy the RAF Fighter Command and impose a no-fly zone on England. It was supposed to be over in a few days, weeks at most.
Goering's strategy was to send in his bombers, and when the RAF rose to intercept them, shoot the fighters down with German fighters operating out of France and the Low Countries. The German aircraft and pilots were considered superior to their English counterparts, but they fought at a disadvantage: they had to fly to the combat zone, and thus had less time over the target. There were some operations against Chain Home, the radar stations, and some bomber raids on Fighter Command infrastructure, but most of the German bomber attacks were against industrial targets and dockyards, and thus had no real effect on the air campaign.
Adlerangriff AKA the Battle of Britain, was the first major air war in history, and air war strategists the world over learned from it, although it took a while for the lessons to sink in and become strategic principles.
The first such principle was that you don't swat eliminate a hornet infestation by swatting one hornet at a time. If you intend to impose a no-fly zone -- AKA establish air supremacy, a condition in which you can fly and the other guy can't -- you make his air support structure the main target. Go after radars, fuel dumps, aircraft on the ground and in repair shops, maintenance crews, and all the other necessities of air operations. Since those facilities will be defended, the first order of business will be to eliminate the air defenses: anti-aircraft guns and rockets, AA munitions stores and their supply lines, and particularly radar installations.
Every senior Air Force officer knows this. McNamara didn't, or if he did it didn't sink in very well: the US air strategy in Viet Nam was essentially that of Goering in Adlerangriff. North Viet Nam operated out of three major military air fields, all located in areas near civilian airfields and large civilian populations, and all rather heavily defended by AA installations that were also deliberately planted among civilians. When the conducted air operations over North Viet Nam, the targets were selected at the highest levels, and attacks on the North Vietnamese air establishment, both airfields and ground AA assets, were generally not approved. Eventually one of the North Vietnamese airfields was allowed as a target, caused North Viet Nam to move all air assets to the other two fields; an inconvenience, but not decisive. All through the war the US lost aircraft and crew to North Viet Nam because air supremacy was never established.
The senior officers of the Air Force and air commanders of the Navy and Marines have never forgotten this. It's not clear whether Senator McCain understands the full implications: he was never actually in a plans and operations command position. In any event he is calling for a US-imposed no fly zone in Libya.
Either the first step in imposing air supremacy would be attacks on the Libyan air defense assets and support structures coupled with crippling attacks on the Libyan flight assets, and those would inevitably result in unintended collateral damage, the implications of this should be made plain the the US decision makers. Imposing no-fly on a modern state equipped with SA-4 and later Soviet surface to air missiles is not just a matter of declaring the zone and sending air patrols to enforce it. It looked like that in the later stages of no-fly in Iraq, but that was after the preliminary air supremacy was established.
Of course, since Libya has a lot of similarity in air defenses to Iran, but probably hasn't the competence in operating them, one could think of imposing no-fly on Libya as a good live fire exercise that would have minimum cost in US casualties; but that's a cynical way of looking at things. And do understand that no matter how easy it would be, it will be expensive, and given the US economy would have to be fought pretty well out of dwindling capital assets: replacing losses won't be automatic, and will add to the deficit.
Deciding whether or not it would be worth the costs is a bit a bit above my pay grade. We might thereby make friends with incoming revolutionaries who will eventually control about 2% of the world's oil supply (maybe 20% of Europe's); what that friendship will be worth in an economy experiencing sustained unemployment with rising food and fuel prices, and other signs of the kind of stagflation we experienced under Carter, needs to be examined. The US cannot do all things everywhere. We can do this for the Libyan people. The cost will be high. Gaddafi has never been our friend, and he's crazier than a hoot owl. If we intend to intervene in any Arab insurrection, this is probably the right one to be involved in.
March 4, 2011
I wonder what would happen if the US demanded of Gaddafi that he turn over Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi for trial in the US? Al-Megrahi was released from imprisonment in Scotland on compassi0nate grounds because he was supposedly dying of prostate cancer, and should be allowed to go home and die. That was some time ago, and he has miraculously recovered his health. President Obama keeps looking for terrorists to try in the regular US courts: Megrahi would seem to be a good candidate. Failure to turn him over to us for trial would be as good a casus belli as any, better than we had against Saddam Hussein after 9/11.
In yesterday's mail we had a link to an article with this title:
Scientists: Global warming to blame for big U.S. snowstorms
That prompted a relevant comment:
Let me quickly agree to that, and thank Mr. Maxwell for bringing this up. The state of science reporting in the US tends to the abysmal, and scary headlines don't help much. What we really need is more falsifiable hypotheses, and particularly more reliable data. The more data the better.
Alas, an Earth observation satellite intended to bring in more data crashed last night. The Glory spacecraft had a fairing separation error. This was the second global warming observation satellite to go down in two years. That's really unfortunate, since the great need of climate theorists is precise data. Rush Limbaugh is playing tongue in cheek with the hypothesis of conspiracy: NASA doesn't want no stinking data, because the data would contradict the AGW Climate Change theories, and AGW is needed to justify new taxes and regulations, etc.
The problem with conspiracy theories is that there are always too many people who would have to know about the conspiracy. Example: Project 75, of which I was editor in 1964, was authorized to collect everything known about ballistic missile technology. The goal was to propose new Strategic Offense Forces requirements for the year 1975, including research requirements for new technology. One outcome of Project 75 was that the critical need for a 1975 force was more accuracy at intercontinental range; that required on-board guidance for the birds; that required small on-board computers as well as better gyroscope and inertial force measurement capabilities; which resulted investment in research in large scale integrated circuits. The important point here is that Project 75 was authorized to access every related technology including propulsion and control technologies. That specifically included anything known by Foreign Technology Division at Wright Patterson AFB: which would mean that anything learned from the Roswell Incident would have to be turned over to Project 75. Since design and construction of a new SOF was the highest priority mission of the Air Force, it's hard to postulate any reason why any relevant technology would be held as a secret. What on Earth would they be saving it for? Which is why I have always said that as of 1964 there wasn't any conspiracy to hide any secret technology discoveries because I would have had to be in on it, and I wasn't. The same holds here: if NASA really wanted to sabotage two different Earth observation missions it would have to enlist the aid of people who simply wouldn't do that no matter how passionately they believe in Global Warming. I am prepared to believe there are some AGW Believers who think the cause so important they would compromise their principles to aid the cause, but not that there are enough of them in the positions required for this.
All of which is a long winded way of saying that blaming the crashes on a conspiracy is absurd, and pretending to take the conspiracy seriously is counterproductive. Alas, that doesn't change the fact that we have lost two sources of critical data.
If in fact increased CO2 levels have the effect of generating crazy weather, it's important that we know that. So far the AGW Believers have been warning us to prepare for drought; if it turns out that warming will produce floods, we need to know that. On the other hand, before we go about warning people to prepare for one or another weather or climate disaster, it would be helpful to have a more solid theory, which means the process described in Mr. Maxwell's letter, and those who are trying to do science here ought to be applauded, not made objects of ridicule.
Note, though, that the big supporters of An Inconvenient Truth are
not trying to do science, and many Believer articles assume AGW and their
principal concern is why Deniers have lost their minds. For an example, look
at how Freeman Dyson fares. I discussed this last Fall,
I wonder if this needs comment:
The Labor Relations Board also ordered the town to pay $10,000 in legal fees for the Public Employees Union.
March 5, 2011
Sir Arthur Clarke was an old and good friend. I had a standing invitation to come and visit and I could have arranged a trip to Sri Lanka while he was receiving visitors. A good appreciation of Arthur C. Clarke:
I note that the President has now ordered Gaddafi out of Libya in no uncertain terms. I hope that is well received, but there is some indication that his remarks and tone may have been more help to Gaddafi than to the rebels: apparently a number of Libyans resent being ordered to overthrow their fearless leader.
The fighting goes on, with the east attempting to build some kind of unified command in its holdings, while Gaddafi's forces seek to consolidate and reclaim the territory from Tripoli to the Tunisian border. After that there will be an eerie similarity to the old Afrika Corps battles along the Coast Road ending with the battle of Tobruk if Benghazi falls. Whether the rebels can achieve unity of command will make a lot of difference.
Of course the game changes if the US commits air or ground power. The Marines may yet be on the Shores of Tripoli. It is not clear who will pay for this; the US certainly hasn't the money, and when gasoline is $5/gallon most of the economic recovery will be burned up. Perhaps we could simply take the oil from Iraq? But surely that won't happen.
March 6, 2011
Air War and runways:
Kerry is now calling for a no-fly zone, but without commitment. Kerry and many pundits are saying that we don't need to take out the enemy's air defenses, we merely need to crater the runways; that wouldn't be an act of war, or something like that.
This is sufficiently confused as to make me suspect the people reporting on what Kerry said didn't get it right; I can't think that a Senator of the United States knows that little or has a staff that would let him think that way.
The realities are that cratering runways is a very temporary measure. It keeps the hornets from rising out of the nest, but only for a day or so. Filling in holes in runways to make the airfields usable again doesn't take very long; and of course cratering is utterly useless if you're trying to stop helicopters from flying. If you want to disable an air base, you take out the fuel dumps and supplies and dig the aircraft out of their revetments, burn the hangars and machine shops and equipment, and generally make a thorough mess of the place -- or, you crater the runway to prevent its use and send commandos in to take the place over without destroying it. But to think you can simply fly over dropping a few bombs and you have made a "no-fly" zone is so silly that I can't believe anyone other than a media commentator would believe it.
If you are going to impose a no-fly zone, you have to be prepared to do some shooting: and if you are going to shoot down other people's aircraft over their own territory, you will be subject to attack from air defense missiles and guns. If you're going to cruise over other people's territories looking for their aircraft to shoot down, you will be subject to attack from air defense missiles and guns. You will lose aircraft. You will lose pilots. We played that game in Viet Nam. North Viet Nam understood thoroughly that the place for your missiles, radars, and guns is in civilian neighborhoods, preferably next to hospitals and schools. When you declare a no-fly zone, the guy who can't fly gets to shoot back.
Holy cow: I just heard Kerry say that we can do no-fly by cratering runways, without attacking the air defense installations. I just heard the interview. I am astounded.
Gaddafi is arguably crazier than a hoot owl, but he's crazy like a fox. He knows that he has air defenses. He also knows that he owns part of Italy's main defense contractors, and has the latest Italian NATO defense technology. He knows he owns the banks in which his frozen assets are deposited. And he knows that long before the US imposes an effective no-fly zone, much to all of Western Libya will be converted into a rebel-free zone as we discuss what to do. If the US wants to intervene in the Libyan Civil War, the time to do that is now, and the way to do it is to bring fuel and supplies to places along the coast road and defend those supply dumps. The rebels don't think about logistics. Gaddafi does, or has people who do. The rebels don't have much in the way of logistics capabilities. Gaddafi does, at least as good a capability as, say, Italy (where Libya has major investments, holdings, and ownerships in key technology industries.
My sources tell me that Gaddafi has UAV capabilities, which means that he will know precisely where any large rebel force is going. The rebel forces are not well trained (to say the least) in either combat or logistics. They don't have battle plans: when someone acquires a weapon he heads to the front in hopes of accomplishing something. The "loyalists" meanwhile are mostly paid soldiers, with varying amounts of training; but there are fewer of them. It is about a thousand miles from the rebel eastern strongholds to Tripoli. That's along a desert road. Water and fuel is scarce.
Radio announces that the Brits are playing SAS games in Benghazi. An SAS force was landed in Benghazi to determine whether they could get hotel rooms. Gaddafi is airing a conversation between the Brit foreign office and some SAS troops. It may be that the rebel forces are getting some adult supervision. They can use it; perhaps someone can get across that if you fire your weapons into the air, you won't have ammunition to fire at the enemy when you need it. There are a lot of rebels in east Libya; it's not likely that Gaddafi can take that area back even in a long and protracted civil war. On the other hand, the current rebel leadership isn't likely to take much of western Libya without the foreign assistance that it says it does not want.
I don't deal with breaking news; and trying to ascertain the correlation of forces in Libya is difficult to impossible because the game changes by the day. Intervention by any major power will change everything. A regiment of modern armor backed up with decent logistics would be decisive. The fighting on the ground won't decide anything that can't easily be undone. The real decisions affecting Libya aren't being made in Libya.
Incidentally, the Chinese have rescued 30,000 -- that's Thirty Thousand -- Chinese citizens from Libya. A formidable accomplishment. They have done this quietly and without obvious strutting; but they have done it, and quickly. They are to be admired...
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