Monday, August 08, 2011

We Are So Totally Not Fucking This Thing Up

I have in my hand a piece of paper, and on it is written the Libyan National Transition Council's plan for post-Gaddafi governance, drafted with "secret" assistance from "Britain and other Western governments".  You can find the bare details here, with further details behind the paywall in the Times. [1]

Frankly, it's as nutty a plan as I could've imagined and although it stops short of calling for an assault on Tripoli using war elephants, it's still something of an eye-opener.
"The document reveals that rebel forces have little faith in their ability to topple Colonel Gaddafi, but expect the regime to crumble from within.  Despite their public rhetoric, the top secret document reveals that rebel planners conclude that a succesful advance on Tripoli is unlikely, as is the death of Colonel Gaddafi in a Nato bombing raid.  Instead they think that he is most likely to be ousted by a popular uprising or coup".  - Times, 8th August

Which is all well and good - in war, much is left in the lap of the gods and they're a lot closer to the action than I am, so maybe they're right.

On the other hand, let's also note that "And then the people will rise up in support of us and provide a Deus Ex Machina total victory" is precisely the battle plan that worked so very well for, amongst others, Bonnie Prince Charlie's military advisors in the doomed Jacobite Rebellion of 1745.  If you haven't heard much about that plan, that's probably because those guys found it hard to pen their memoirs after they'd been bayonetted through the heart or publicly hung for treason.

Alarmingly, "And then the people will rise up" also represents the entirety of the NTC's plan for securing Western Libya after the regime's fall, in that 10-15,000 rebel sympathisers in Tripoli will apparently keep the peace, backed by 5,000 "non-ideological regime security officials".  This, recall, after both French and British ministers have explicitly floated plans allowing Gaddafi and his cronies to remain in Libya after the war is over, at a time when we are still denying that regime change is our official policy.

They also lay out a series of likely outcomes for the war, with ATTPWRU regarded as "High Probability".  Also in the "Very Likely" column is "Nato attacks intensify to an unbearable level", which is a pretty bold prediction after six months of what appear to be entirely bearable Nato attacks.

In the "Medium probability" section is "International community unites, untenable diplomatic pressure on regime", a proposition which I'd put right up there with "Contact with massively advanced spacefaring alien species suddenly eliminates war as a tool of policy" in the likelihood stakes.  There's also "Enough Gaddafi family members detained or killed" which seems fair enough, if a little bit Sopranos-esque.

Meanwhile in tthe "Low probability" section is "Radicalised suicide bombings/car bombings", which is comforting coming from an organisation whose top general was just fragged to smithereens by Jihadist lunatics in extremely whiffy and suspiciously convenient circumstances. Bear in mind that this is also quite a claim to be making in a document that appears to have been drawn up with significant British input, given our track record.

Really, I don't blame the NTC for making vague and windy plans for the capture and pacification of a major capital city.  I've no doubt that the rebel forces contain many brave and committed fighters for freedom, but even if they were in a position to take Tripoli - which they aren't and probably won't be, because they're a militia and not an army of actual soldiers - some of them do have nasty inclinations towards abusing civilians and looting everything that isn't nailed down.

And so, we remain exactly where we were before this plan was published - bogged down with our fingers crossed for a non-bloodcurdling outcome.

The Times claims that this plan is targeted at high-level Gaddafi officials and the general population of Tripoli, with the message "Gaddafi has no support".  I think it might well be aimed at credulous, Times-reading westerners with the message "Yo, despite appearances, we are so totally not fucking this thing up".

You can make your own mind up about the truth of the latter statement.

1.  Paywalled, of course.  I notice that the Libyan rebels ask the Telegraph & the Times to withhold key details of this "early draft", an odd move given that more or less the whole shebang is printed on page three of the latter.  As ever when referring to the Times, I'll post relevant extracts in comments on request. 

(Post slightly edited at the start, to remove daft claim about a "Times exclusive" when Torygraph has much the same deal).

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