Sunday, 21 August 2011

The end in sight

As Libya’s revolutionaries approach the finish in Tripoli, here are some links to follow the fight:
EA Worldview live blog for today

More from Chris Albon and Terry Glavin.

It has been clear for a long time that the regime was doomed, in an isolated position where they could only lose strength as the revolutionaries gained support, resources, and territory. Every death caused by the regime’s unwillingness to face the inevitable has been an unnecessary waste, or would have been unnecessary had there been any realism within the regime.

I’ve had a couple of Twitter exchanges during the conflict with a young Conservative blogger called Aaron Ellis. He pitches himself as a strategic thinker and a Realist. However his crude anti-interventionist stance has caused him to be continually blinded to the strategic realities of the war in Libya.

On the 17th of March he tweeted “Things that will not happen: 1) a no-fly zone; 2) a rebel victory; 3) Cameron and Sarkozy winning the Nobel Peace Prize”.

On the same day, in response to a pro-intervention Conservative blogger, he tweeted “I'll bet you £10 the rebels will be defeated by the end of the month and Gaddafi (or his regimr) stays in power.” He then modified the bet to say “Without help, end of this month; with help, end of April (if then)”.

As late as 13 July, when it was clear even to the ADD afflicted Western press that Gadafi was running out of resources, Aaron Ellis preferred to emphasise the revolutionaries supply difficulties, tweeting “the rebels are running out of fuel and cash too”. Of course the strategic difference was that the revolutionaries had supply routes available, and had allies willing and able to supply, whereas Gadafi was losing friends and losing control of his supply lines.

There are a number of other examples of Aaron Ellis letting his opinions get way out in front of his understanding of the facts, but Twitter is a nuisance to search, so I’ll leave it there for now. There’s also his blog, Thinking Strategically, for more of such stuff, and there he attempts a response to my inconvenient reminders of his past declarations.

To be clear, the problem isn’t so much that Aaron Ellis opposes intervention, but that he sells this opposition as Realist strategic thought. It is just not possible to be a good strategist if you are unable or unwilling to comprehend strategic realities that are inconvenient to your prejudices.

Earlier post on the failure of self-declared Realists on Libya here.

Aded 22 August: Juan Cole spends some time on ten myths about the Libyan war.  He explains in some detail the mis-reporting of the war, and why the outcome should have been no surprise.

1 comment:

jams o donnell said...

I haven't delved further into his blog than the post you linked to.

Ellis seems to be a reed blowing in the wind... worse still is he what former East Germans referred to as a Wryneck (Wendehals) - an former communist that did an ideological volte face...

Opportunist? Yes

The mark of a strategic thinker? I don't think so!