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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 4/1/11

Napoleon's Dictum

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Message Uri Avnery
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IT WAS Napoleon who said that it is better to fight against a coalition than to fight as part of one.

Coalitions mean trouble. To conduct a successful military operation, one needs a unified command and a clear, agreed-upon aim. Both are rare in coalitions.

A coalition is composed of different countries, each of which has its own national interests and domestic political pressures. Reaching an agreement on anything needs time, which will be used by a determined enemy to his own advantage.

All this has become very apparent in the coalition war against Muammar Qaddafi.

THERE IS no way to get rid of this "eccentric" tyrant but by sheer military force. This seems to be obvious by now.

As the Hebrew joke goes, Qaddafi may be mad, but he is not crazy. He perceives the rifts in the coalition wall and is shrewd enough to exploit them. The Russians abstained in the Security Council vote -- which in effect meant voting for the resolution -- but since then have been carping about every move. Many well-meaning and experienced leftists around the world condemn everything the US and/or NATO do, whatever it is.

Some people condemn the "Libyan intervention" because there is no similar action against Bahrain or Yemen. Sure, it is a case of blatant discrimination. But that is like demanding a murderer go unpunished because other murderers are still free. Two minuses make a plus, but two murders do not become a non-murder.

Others assert that some of the coalition partners are themselves not much better than Qaddafi. So why pick on him? Well, it's he who provoked the world and stands in the way of the Arab awakening. The need to remove others must be dealt with, too, but should not in any way serve as an argument against solving the present crisis. We cannot wait for a perfect world -- it may take some time to arrive. In the meantime, let's do our best in an imperfect one.

EVERY Day that passes with Qaddafi and his thugs still there, the coalition malaise gets worse. The agreed aim of "protecting Libyan civilians" is wearing thin -- it was a polite lie from the beginning. The real aim is -- and cannot be otherwise -- the removal of the murderous tyrant, whose very existence in power is a continuous deadly menace to his people. But that was not spelled out in coalitionese.

It is clear by now that the "rebels" have no real military force. They are not a unified political movement and they have no unified political -- let alone military -- command. They will not conquer Tripoli by themselves, perhaps not even if the coalition supplies them with arms.

It is not the case of an irregular force fighting a regular army and gradually turning into an organized army itself -- as we did in 1948.

The fact that there is no rebel army to speak of may be a positive phenomenon -- it shows that there is no hidden, sinister force lurking in the wings, waiting to replace Qaddafi with another repressive regime. It is indeed a democratic, grassroots uprising.

But for the coalition, it creates a headache. What now? Leave Qaddafi, a wounded and therefore doubly dangerous animal, in his lair, ready to pounce on the rebels the moment the pressure is off? Go in and themselves do the job of removing him? Go on talking and do nothing?

One of the most hypocritical -- if not downright ridiculous -- proposals is to "negotiate" with him. Negotiate with an irrational tyrant? What about? About postponing the massacre of the rebels for six months? Creating a state which is half democratic, half brutal dictatorship?

Of course there must be negotiations -- without and after Qaddafi. Different parts of the country, different "tribes," different political forces yet to rise must negotiate about the future shape of the state, preferably under UN auspices. But with Qaddafi??

ONE ARGUMENT is that it should all be left to the Arabs. After all, it was the "Arab League" that called for a no-fly zone.

Alas, that is a sad joke.

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Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the (more...)

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