The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘Mission Creep’ in Libya: Cameron Won’t Rule Out Use of British Ground Troops

Posted on | April 18, 2011 | 2 Comments

The London Telegraph reports:

The Prime Minister insisted that there would be no “occupation” of Libya, but repeatedly refused to rule out short-lived ground-level operations by British forces. Mr Cameron’s words, in a television interview, led to renewed warnings of “mission creep” in Libya. . . .
It is understood that British Special Forces soldiers are already operating inside Libya and some military experts have suggested those troops could be asked to help train and lead rebel forces. . . .
Mr Cameron said that restriction had complicated the Western intervention. “Because we’ve said we’re not going to invade, we’re not going to occupy, this is more difficult in many ways,” he said.
Asked if he was categorically ruling out putting any form of British forces on the ground in the Libya, Mr Cameron replied: “What I’ve said is there is no occupying force, no invasion. The position hasn’t changed.”
Asked whether a “temporary” ground operation was possible, he said: “I’ve answered the question. We’re not occupying, we’re not invading.”
Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader, said Mr Cameron had opened up the possibility of British ground forces operating in Libya. “The PM’s words need careful interpretation. ‘Occupation’ necessarily implies large numbers of troops being in Libya for a substantial period of time,” he said.

So, no “occupation,” but perhaps some more British troops to help stiffen the rebels. My colleague Wombat complained this morning about the difficulty of figuring out the military situation in Libya based on news accounts, which are at times wildly contradictory. Yesterday, I highlighted the artillery attack on Ajdabiya by Qaddafi’s forces. Here is a very informative video report filed yesterday by Al-Jazeera:

As of this morning, according to Bloomberg News, it appears that the rebels repulsed the attack by Qaddafi’s forces and are currently holding on at Ajdabiya.

UPDATE: By the way, I was just discussing on Twitter the fact that Al-Jazeera’s reporting on the Libya war has been quite good — which isn’t an admission I enjoy making, but there has been a shortage of clear, intelligible reporting, and so I’m grateful for what there is.

Speaking of grudging admissions, the New York Times has covered itself in glory with C.J. Chivers’s reporting from Libya. Chivers actually made it into besieged Misrata, where one of his blog updates included this:

A quick note: we have a terrible satellite connection here, and that and the ongoing battle beside the building we are working in has made swift updates difficult. Please excuse the delays.

That earned Chivers “Excuse of the Week” honors, according to Thomas Ricks at Foreign Policy, who recommends Chivers for a Pulitzer. I second that commendation, and add this advice for NYT publisher Pinch Sulzberger: Fire Tom Friedman, Paul Krugman and David Brooks, and give Chivers a raise.


Comments are closed.