Stratfor On The Libyan War

Tyler Durden's picture

From George Friedman of Stratfor

The Libyan War Of 2011

The Libyan war has now begun. It pits a coalition of European powers
plus the United States, a handful of Arab states and rebels in Libya
against the Libyan government. The long-term goal, unspoken but well
understood, is regime change — displacing the government of Libyan
leader Moammar Gadhafi and replacing it with a new regime built around
the rebels.

The mission is clearer than the strategy, and that strategy can’t be
figured out from the first moves. The strategy might be the imposition
of a no-fly zone, the imposition of a no-fly zone and attacks against
Libya’s command-and-control centers, or these two plus direct ground
attacks on Gadhafi’s forces. These could also be combined with an
invasion and occupation of Libya.

The question, therefore, is not the mission but the strategy to be
pursued. How far is the coalition, or at least some of its members,
prepared to go to effect regime change and manage the consequences
following regime change? How many resources are they prepared to provide
and how long are they prepared to fight? It should be remembered that
in Iraq and Afghanistan the occupation became the heart of the war, and
regime change was merely the opening act. It is possible that the
coalition partners haven’t decided on the strategy yet, or may not be in
agreement. Let’s therefore consider the first phases of the war,
regardless of how far they are prepared to go in pursuit of the mission.

Like previous wars since 1991, this war began with a very public
buildup in which the coalition partners negotiated the basic framework,
sought international support and authorization from multinational
organizations and mobilized forces. This was done quite publicly because
the cost of secrecy (time and possible failure) was not worth what was
to be gained: surprise. Surprise matters when the enemy can mobilize
resistance. Gadhafi was trapped and has limited military capabilities,
so secrecy was unnecessary.

While all this was going on and before final decisions were made,
special operations forces were inserted in Libya on two missions. First,
to make contact with insurgent forces to prepare them for coming
events, create channels of communications and logistics and create a
post-war political framework. The second purpose was to identify targets
for attack and conduct reconnaissance of those targets that provided as
up-to-date information as possible. This, combined with air and space
reconnaissance, served as the foundations of the war. We know British
SAS operators were in Libya and suspect other countries’ special
operations forces and intelligence services were also operating there.

War commences with two sets of attacks. The first attacks are
decapitation attacks designed to destroy or isolate the national command
structure. These may also include strikes designed to kill leaders such
as Gadhafi and his sons or other senior leaders. These attacks depend
on specific intelligence on facilities, including communications,
planning and so on along with detailed information on the location of
the leadership. Attacks on buildings are carried out from the air but
not particularly with cruise missile because they are especially
accurate if the targets are slow, and buildings aren’t going anywhere.
At the same time, aircraft are orbiting out of range of air defenses
awaiting information on more mobile targets and if such is forthcoming,
they come into range and fire appropriate munitions at the target. The
type of aircraft used depends on the robustness of the air defenses, the
time available prior to attack and the munitions needed. They can range
from conventional fighters or stealth strategic aircraft like the U.S.
B-2 bomber (if the United States authorized its use). Special operations
forces might be on the ground painting the target for laser-guided
munitions, which are highly accurate but require illumination.

At the same time these attacks are under way, attacks on airfields,
fuel storage depots and the like are being targeted to ground the Libyan
air force. Air or cruise missile attacks are also being carried out on
radars of large and immobile surface-to-air (SAM) missile sites.
Simultaneously, “wild weasel” aircraft — aircraft configured for the
suppression of enemy air defenses — will be on patrol for more mobile
SAM systems to locate and destroy. This becomes a critical part of the
conflict. Being mobile, detecting these weapons systems on the ground is
complex. They engage when they want to, depending on visual perception
of opportunities. Therefore the total elimination of anti-missile
systems is in part up to the Libyans. Between mobile systems and
man-portable air-defense missiles, the threat to allied aircraft can
persist for quite a while even if Gadhafi’s forces might have difficulty
shooting anything down.

This is the part that the United States in particular and the West in
general is extremely good at. But it is the beginning of the war.
Gadhafi’s primary capabilities are conventional armor and particularly
artillery. Destroying his air force and isolating his forces will not by
itself win the war. The war is on the ground. The question is the
motivation of his troops: If they perceive that surrender is
unacceptable or personally catastrophic, they may continue to fight. At
that point the coalition must decide if it intends to engage and destroy
Gadhafi’s ground forces from the air. This can be done, but it is never
a foregone conclusion that it will work. Moreover, this is the phase at
which civilian casualties begin to mount. It is a paradox of warfare
instigated to end human suffering that the means of achieving this can
sometimes impose substantial human suffering itself. This is not merely a
theoretical statement. It is at this point at which supporters of the
war who want to end suffering may turn on the political leaders for not
ending suffering without cost. It should be remembered that Saddam
Hussein was loathed universally but those who loathed him were
frequently not willing to impose the price of overthrowing him. The
Europeans in particular are sensitive to this issue.

The question then becomes the extent to which this remains an air
operation, as Kosovo was, or becomes a ground operation. Kosovo is the
ideal, but Gadhafi is not Slobodan Milosevic and he may not feel he has
anywhere to go if he surrenders. For him the fight may be existential,
whereas for Milosevic it was not. He and his followers may resist. This
is the great unknown. The choice here is to maintain air operations for
an extended period of time without clear results, or invade. This raises
the question of whose troops would invade. Egypt appears ready but
there is long animosity between the two countries, and its actions might
not be viewed as liberation. The Europeans could do so. It is difficult
to imagine Obama adopting a third war in Muslim world as his own. This
is where the coalition is really tested.

If there is an invasion, it is likely to succeed. The question then
becomes whether Gadhafi’s forces move into opposition and insurgency.
This again depends on morale but also on behavior. The Americans forced
an insurgency in Iraq by putting the Baathists into an untenable
position. In Afghanistan the Taliban gave up formal power without having
been decisively defeated. They regrouped, reformed and returned. It is
not known to us what Gadhafi can do or not do. It is clear that it is
the major unknown.

The problem in Iraq was not the special operations forces. It was not
in the decapitation strikes or suppression of enemy air defenses. It
was not in the defeat of the Iraqi army on the ground. It was in the
occupation, when the enemy reformed and imposed an insurgency on the
United States that it found extraordinarily difficult to deal with.

Therefore the successes of the coming day will tell us nothing. Even
if Gadhafi surrenders or is killed, even if no invasion is necessary
save a small occupation force to aid the insurgents, the possibility of
an insurgency is there. We will not know if there will be an insurgency
until after it begins. Therefore, the only thing that would be
surprising about this phase of the operation is if it failed.

The decision has been made that the mission is regime change in
Libya. The strategic sequence is the routine buildup to war since 1991,
this time with a heavier European component. The early days will go
extremely well but will not define whether or not the war is successful.
The test will come if a war designed to stop human suffering begins to
inflict human suffering. That is when the difficult political decisions
have to be made and when we will find out whether the strategy, the
mission and the political will fully match up.

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asdasmos's picture

I am still trying to determine the specific benefactors of all the destabalization.

taraxias's picture

has that guy ever heard of demand destruction?

asdasmos's picture

Sorry, but I do not consider Alex Jones the Guru on much of anything. Some of the things he says may be correct, but I do not look to him for info. What about the one thing he does not speak of?

mogul rider's picture

We're all bilderbergers - didn't ya know. Yet he tries to sell you survival food from some shithouse in Alabama. Interesting dichotomy



burncycl's picture

I agree. Alex Jones is psyops. Some of what he says is true, because that is how psyops is successful. By playing on true information and disinformation.

But, it's still a part of the component of: "Pay attention to my right, while I move with my left."

Hook Line and Sphincter's picture

Ultimately irrelevant whether he is psyops or not. I thank the lying, deceitful, omissions of mainstream everyday for elucidating the appropriate contrast that leads to truth... whether it's relative or absolute.

Ted Celeste's picture

+1. These criticisms about AJ seem hollow and disingenuous.


I just got home from running errands.  During that time I saw two homeless guys - one I bought shoes for and another I bought food for.  Is this going to change the world?  Fuck and no.

Without media like ZH and AJ, I doubt I'd be at this place in life: I'd be just another ass-clown, thinking I was making it in this system.  Instead, thanks to media like this, I'm now an ass-clown who understands how corrupt this system is, and sees many people hurting as a result of it.


We all have the power to change things for the better.  Whatever you find most egregious about what's going on in the world, you can do your small part to make a change.

Selah's picture


I'm not sure, but it probably rhymes with JPM/GS.


Oh regional Indian's picture

As a smart guy said here earlier someday, perhaps it rhymes with Wraths-child.


dark pools of soros's picture

so Germany has joined the BRICs with the no vote.  Will the G'BRICs be the next axis of evil once they all ditch the dollar??

Oh regional Indian's picture

Dark, sad to report that the I in BRIC is now sadly in the love-death grip of Good Old Uncle Sam on one side and Dear Israel on the other. Largest arms importer in the world. India is one giant puppet. We will do nothing to displease our masters.


cosmictrainwreck's picture

b-but, b-but, but you have to defend yourselves from those aggressive, hostile, maniacal Pakistanis next door, don'tcha? If you were not properly armed, they might take over Kashmir

Oh regional Indian's picture

Wish there was an emoticon for a wry grin.

The theater of the absurd, the land of the blind, one eyed king with no clothes....etc.


francis_sawyer's picture

In the land of no clothes, the man with the largest one eyed monster gets to be king...

Byte Me's picture



but he's French w. beret and double chin.

(Isn't it time that you crossed Chandrasekar's other limit so that you can come back and tell us what's happening there?)

falak pema's picture

It will be the axis of the "No dollar". Whether that makes them 'axis of evil' is a question of determining who is the pot and who is the kettle...before the New Slanging Match begins...of 'Pot' calling 'Kettle' black. Shades of Pol Pot in the air...

iinthesky's picture

Barry Obama Soetoro told the world that we are going in to Libya to stop a tyrannical government from killing civilians and we are accomplishing this goal by killing the civilians first before their government can get to them. A plan this brilliant can only be hatched by the mind of The Bernank!

AnAnonymous's picture

Get the update: armed people killed by Gadafi's regular army: civilians, armed people killed by Western armies: illegal combatants.

The Alarmist's picture

Gee, I wonder how we would have felt if Europe & Russia had imposed a no fly zone over the US after Waco.


asdasmos's picture

Thank you for narrowing it down.

New_Meat's picture


given all of the fubar int'l stuff, imho--no yet revealed playa' - Ned

High Plains Drifter's picture

Who are the benefactors? Oh come now sir. Its the first day of Purim.

Who was that here on this blog, going around saying beware the days of Purim? Whoever said that was right.

Freddie's picture

Rothschild's armies replacing their old puppet with a new puppet.  They have to keep THEIR spice moving and their slaves working.

ibjamming's picture

"I am still trying to determine the specific benefactors of all the destabalization."


Easy...the current regimes are charging us too much for that precious oil...we need new ones in there who will charge us less.  Or, as an excuse to just "take it all away".  The rabble will be easier to defend the oil facilities than a "government".  Muslims have overcharged us and held the oil over us for too long.  Maybe Obama was placed into the presidency, given the "peace prize" as a distraction...lull the Muzzies into thinking THEY were winning?

Jack Sheet's picture

Could it be that "beneficiaries" or the phrase "cui bono" (to whose benefit) is meant here rather than "benefactors" (those who performs a good deed). Sorry to be pedantic.

Arch Duke Ferdinand's picture

""I am still trying to determine the specific benefactors of all the destabalization.""

When in doubt, go to War

Why "War is merely the continuation of politics by other means."

"It is political suicide for politicians in the west to make the necessary cuts in government expenditures....

Golden monkey's picture

Interesting to see the US spend billions of dollars to get rid of a dictator, when a sniper and a 42 cents bullet can do the job.

taraxias's picture

it's telling what spin can accomplish

chinaguy's picture

good bullets are a buck a throw

New_Meat's picture

fricken' inflation! ;-) - Ned

Ray1968's picture

The CIA could have dropped him like a bag of potatoes.

This is more than just getting rid of him. Which is why this has the potential to really backfire on us.

Mesquite's picture

And something else I do not understand..

110 Tomahawks..for 20 targets..along the coast..?

They can put one of those babys into a conference

table on the 13th floor..

Guess that's good for Ratheon (and Ag.)..

Oh well..Maybe it's to rotate the stock

(missles, that is..)

What does it all mean's picture


The tomahawks are not going to fire themselves, are they?

There is so much we don't know... but I think Gaddafi knows that he can be killed easily, that I totally agree.  

For one, what is the right English spelling for his name?  Dude, Voldemort?


CitizenPete's picture

42 cents?  There must be a good sale at again. Must be a  corrosive round. 

Golden monkey's picture

Reload, bitchez

(we mean your own -silver-#bullets)


High Plains Drifter's picture

Its all about killing, death , and destruction, but most of all its about the continuing campaign of revenge..........

TBT or not TBT's picture

Tell me where you can get .338 Lapua AMAX ammo for less than five bucks per.

ibjamming's picture

Who want's to SAVE taxpayer money?  Campain "contributers" NEED their cut!

baconator3000's picture

Here comes the SCUDS

gordengeko's picture

Probably just a coincidence Bush started the Iraq war on 3-19 back in '03.

High Plains Drifter's picture

No accident. It is a mystery of numerology wrapped in a riddle. Only those who choose to see it can see it.  There is power in the spiritual darkness for those who want it and search for it as it has been for thousands of years in the mystery schools. Somewhere in some old European castle they toasted lucifer, the light bearer,  and drank human blood last night at midnight to celebrate their new war.  No way you say?  I believe it  happens but only in the highest echelons of power in this world.

Ahmeexnal's picture

That "old European castle" where they toasted St. Peter's basilica.

High Plains Drifter's picture

That's one of them. Gee, can you tell me how that big remodel job was funded back then?  Ha ha .........

AnAnonymous's picture

 the mystery schools


Christianity is a mystery school.