Austin Bay On the Libyan War

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I have long been distressed at the poor level of reporting on wars.  Most media people have no military experience and it shows in their news story which read as if a deaf person is trying to describe a symphony.  Austin Bay, a retired Army Colonel, Armor, who earned a bronze star in Iraq in 2005, and his analysis of the Libyan War is a welcome oasis in the desert in comparison.  I have been playing board war games since the early seventies, and I have long been familiar with Austin Bay, designing war games being one small part of his multifarious career.  If you want to keep abreast of military developments around the globe Strategy Page, run by wargaming legend Jim Dunnigan and Colonel Bay, is the place to go.

21 Responses to Austin Bay On the Libyan War

  • Watch The Tillman Story, a documentary of how the Army spun the fratricide death of Pat Tillman in an attempt to turn him into a national recruiting poster. Along with the phony Jessica Lynch “saga” fabricated by the Army and mass media, two of the most disgusting propaganda campaigns in military history.

    BTW, I served in the Navy and although I saw no combat, Don, I am a voracious reader of WWII history and have rarely if ever seen a non-sanitized, realistic report except for raw unscripted raw footage.

    Regarding the above, it sounds like the same bilge spewed by the White House and Pentagon. Bay’s use of the term “notorious dictatorship” comes right out of the Saddam Hussein playbook (effective demonization), which follows his introduction that the so-called “rebellion” was spawed by the “Arab Spring revolution.”

    He then with a straight face talks about the “rebels” launching “a very sophisticated operation” as we see a bunch of ragtag guys, some wearing Nike T-shirts and ball caps mounted on Toyota pickups whooping it up on their way to some remote village where no doubt NBC’s long time Pentagon stenographer Richard Engel is lurking for one of those ubiquitous on-the-scene reports about the “pro-democracy forces” sweeping the region.

    Then we get more spin with the statement that NATO entered the “conflict” to “protest the mass murder of civilians at the hands of Ghaddafi,” once again evoking images of a bloodthirsty madman rather than a head-of-state who is trying to crush an insurrection.

    Throughout the commentary, the term “rebels” is used repeatedly unlike the term “insurgents,” which was used in Iraq and elsewhere, to evoke the intended reaction on the part of the viewer — one of sympathy for them and, per corollary, by using constant adjectives such as “notorious” and “murderous” in describing Ghaddafi, painting him as the villain. In Saddam’s case, the word “brutal” was the adjective of the day,

    Near the end of the video we are told “another dictator has fallen” and “regime change has succeeded,” coinciding with a close-up of someone’s boot stomping the head of a statue (presumably Ghaddafi’s), simulating the faked pulldown of Saddam’s statue orchestrated by the CIA for the cameras and seen by millions back home in the USA as stunning visual evidence of Saddam’s unpopularity among “the people.”

    Finally, we’re told “Topping a murderous dictator is still a victory. The Libyan rebels earned their victory. That common investment of blood, toil, sweat and tears and bullets is a basis for rebuilding and modernizing their country.”

    I almost fell out of my chair when I heard Churchill’s famous words shamelessly expropriated to support this CIA-sponsored propaganda piece.

    Nowhere did we see scenes of mass looting by the “rebels,” nor can anyone seriously buy the “victory” claim given that Ghaddafi is still holed up somewhere with plenty of ammo and likely to prolong the war until death, as he has vowed.

    The U.S. backed Saddam, Ghaddafi, Mubarak and many other strongmen for years; now suddenly we’re on the “rebels” side, the side of “freedom and democracy,” yada yada. Listen to the new mantras these days and then keep in mind the following:

    “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”
    — Joseph Goebbels

  • Your comment is rubbish Joe from beginning to end. I do not have time to deal with it now as I have a busy day at the law mines awaiting me, but I will dissect your comment in detail when I have the leisure either this evening or tomorrow evening.

  • Have had it, Don. I have a thick skin.

  • I agree with Joe.

    Gaddafi was ok after he turned over his WMD’s. The your divisive, failure, job-killer-in chief and the eurozone weaklings decided Col Muammar needed to go; and the rest of North Africa needed to be turned over to AQ and the muslin bros as training areas for terror . . .

    I give Bay as much credibility as I give Andwew Bacevich a twin retired, bird colonel Armor (FART). At least Bay’s command didn’t go up in smoke.

    We need generals that, when planning for action, ask themselves “What would Generals Patton and LeMay do?” Not, order 86 staff weanies to add 155 pages to the ROE so we don’t discomfit the “enemy.”

  • Don’t know enough about Libya or Ghaddafi (also seen it spelled with a Q) to say whether the “spin” is accurate or not, but it is hard to deny the spin is there. Maybe he was a murderous dictator, maybe not. You can’t deny that some spin is going, though, by use of the terminology above.

  • A general observation at the outset. I posted this video because Colonel Bay gives an excellent military analysis of the war in Libya, something lacking in news coverage of the war. That none of the commenters chose to address this aspect of his video speaks volumes about the military illiteracy I hope this video, as the first of a new series here on TAC, helps to combat.

    T. Shaw, your comparison of Colonel Bay to Bacevich merely indicates that you are deeply ignorant of Colonel Bay. They are diametrically opposed, Go to his blog and read some of his posts please before you make another massively ill-informed comment on this thread.

    http://austinbay.net/wordpress/

  • Don, allow me to temper but not retract my comments by saying that some of what Bay said was insightful. No doubt he has excellent sources in the military and elsewhere and I wouldn’t discount everything he says just because some things in the video struck me as carefully crafted propaganda. I’ll click on your link and read some more.

  • “Watch The Tillman Story, a documentary of how the Army spun the fratricide death of Pat Tillman in an attempt to turn him into a national recruiting poster. Along with the phony Jessica Lynch “saga” fabricated by the Army and mass media, two of the most disgusting propaganda campaigns in military history.”

    What this had to do with the video beats me Joe. I guess you were just in full rant mode. Jessica Lynch was a creation of the media, which, on partial reports, ran with the story. The true heroes of the Jessica Lynch story were the men who successfully rescued her and who received scant press coverage, as have most of the heroes of the War on Terror, and their have been many of them. We don’t deserve such men and women but we get them anyway.

    In regard to Pat Tillman, their was an initial attempt by his unit and immediate superiors to hush up that he died as a result of friendly fire, something that happens in every war. Within a month of his death the Army, after an investigation, told his family the true story. A criminal investigation was initiated Paranoid nuts on the left and the paleocon right have attempted to pass this CYA of some members of the Army into a vast conspiracy with accusations that Tillman was deliberately murdered. Such accusations are completely baseless and say more about the accusers than the Army.

  • “Don, allow me to temper but not retract my comments by saying that some of what Bay said was insightful. No doubt he has excellent sources in the military and elsewhere and I wouldn’t discount everything he says just because some things in the video struck me as carefully crafted propaganda. I’ll click on your link and read some more.”

    Thank you Joe. The video was not put up to say “Rah, rah, war in Libya!” but rather as an analysis of the conflict from a military expert I highly respect. I hold no brief for the rebels, since I do not think that anyone knows which of the various factions will come out on top. I do like the fact that the Butcher of Lockerbie is apparently nearing the end of his 42 year reign. More on this tomorrow after I have rested after a very long day and am in a better humor.

  • Don, the Tillman and Lynch episodes are quite relevant inasmuch as they reveal the depths of deception and duplicity our government will go to to avoid telling the truth. Tillman was whitewashed, a scapegoat was found (a retired Army general who wound up losing a star) and the higher-ups including Rumsfeld and the top brass weaseled their way out by saying “I can’t recall” 89 times before a congressional “investigation’ that proved to be a total farce.

    Charges that Tillman was “deliberately murdered” may be baseless (we’ll probably never know), but his death was officially attributed to “friendly fire,” an oxymoron if there ever was once, and it has NEVER been satisfactory explained why, as conspicuous as he was in uniform, he was targeted by his fellow soldiers. Lastly but importantly, Tillman turned against the war and actually had lined up a meeting with Noam Chomsky that never came off. I’m not buying into any conspiracy theories but the whole mess stinks to high heaven. The Tillman family, to their credit, never claimed their son was a hero, as the Army did, and simply wanted the facts. They have still to get them.

  • Don, I promised to read the Bay blog objectively as I, too, am crabby right now and not exactly in top thinking form. : )

  • It has been my observation that Colonel Bey is one of the best analysts around.

    And that video is the best summary of military opertions in Libya, no matter what one thinks of of the politcs.

  • Don

    Way back in the Grenada Operation I noticed how the quality of the press converge declied after the press was allowed in.

    The American Press is possibly the only one in the world whose coverage improves under military censorship. This I not good how can they fulfill a fourth exte function if they have no clue about what they are covering?d

  • Hank, the basic problem is that most reporters simply are completely clueless about military operations. They almost all have no prior military service, did not take military history classes, in the unlikely event any were available, while they were in college, and obviously have done zero study on their own. Fortunately there are a precious few independent reporters, like Michael Yon, who are doing their best to make up for the useless coverage of the Mainstream media.

    http://www.michaelyon-online.com/

  • Ditto: I expect reporters to know nothing. They are generally clueless about the workings of most of that on which they “report.”

    They need to confine themselves to asking questions and videotaping or writing down answers.

    That “business model” went out the window years ago. Too often the truth would get in the way of the agenda.

  • Bay’s commentary seems to fit pretty well with what is generally understood and is similar to George Friedman of Stratfor. On the surface of things, I agree with what has been presented – Gadaffi as a ruthless dictator and international paria, but nevertheless generous to his own people – that is, his own tribal group. It is tribalism in Libya which is the “now” problem, and the “Arab Spring” caption, to my mind, is premature and probably false. In a year or so we may know how things really are going to be.

    The deeper issue is why NATO came in on the side of the rebels, a largely unknow ragtag bunch – initially, anyway. There have been issues raised WRT Libya’s financial manouverings, undermining the western banks and the US dollar with the setting up of an independent African Bank. Is this a reality? Time may tell. But it would be interesting to know whether or not the claims that Libya was completely debt free, and the various other claims that underpinned NATO’s entrance on the side of the rebels. All is not always as it seems, aside from “creative journalism”.

  • Bay’s use of the term “notorious dictatorship” comes right out of the Saddam Hussein playbook (effective demonization)…
    Joe Green

    (1) “Notorious dictatorship” is a truthful description of Ghaddafi’s rule in Libya.
    (2) Can’t demonize a demon, Joe.

    He (Austin Bay) then with a straight face talks about the “rebels” launching “a very sophisticated operation” as we see a bunch of ragtag guys, some wearing Nike T-shirts and ball caps mounted on Toyota pickups…

    (3) When operating on a shoestring as Strategy Page is, you go with the open-source video you have not the video you’d like to have.
    (4) It was their strategy and tactics that made it “a very sophisticated operation,” not their clothing or vehicles.

    Then we get more spin… evoking images of a bloodthirsty madman rather than a head-of-state who is trying to crush an insurrection.

    (5) Ghaddafi is “a bloodthirsty madman,” Joe. And with the words “dictorship” and “rebels” that you quibbled about earlier, Austin Bay has already established (for the attentive viewers, anyway) that Ghaddafi is “a head-of-state who is trying to crush an insurrection.”

    Throughout the commentary, the term “rebels” is used repeatedly unlike the term “insurgents,” which was used in Iraq…

    (6) “Rebels” is an accurate label for the Libyans attempting to overthrow the decades-long Ghaddafi regime that has been ruling Libya. In Iran, the fighters labeled “insurgents” were not attempting to overthrow an established government.

    I almost fell out of my chair when I heard Churchill’s famous words shamelessly expropriated to support this CIA-sponsored propaganda piece.

    (7) I will accept that you occasionally have trouble keeping your balance, Joe.
    (8) Where’s your evidence that Austin Bay’s work is a “CIA-sponsored propaganda piece”?

    The U.S. backed Saddam, Ghaddafi, Mubarak and many other strongmen for years…

    (9) For years, the alternatives to Mubarak were worse.
    (10) The U.S. did not “back” Saddam or Ghaddafi.

    …now suddenly we’re on the “rebels” side

    (11) Now suddenly the U.S. has alternatives it did not have before.

    Listen to the new mantras these days and then keep in mind the following:

    “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly – it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”
    — Joseph Goebbels

    “USA bad” is the point you keep repeating over and over, Joe.

  • Micha, i see. Muslim radicals are better than Mubarak. Rumsfeld never shook Saddam’s hand, the U.S. never helped Iraq fight Iran, and furthermore there is a Santa Claus.
    I understand. Everything my government tells me is truthful. I get it. The CIA had no role whatsoever in any “rebellion” in any foreign country.

    Thanks for disabusing me of my skepticism. I now will accept everything that comes from the White House and Pentagon as gospel. I will now take the word of a “retired colonel” because, having earned a Bronze Star, he can’t possibly be wrong on any account.

    Appreciate the clarity, Micha. Good guys wear white, bad guys black. USA good, other guys bad. I got it. Thank you.

  • You never can tell. Regime changes may generate worse (terror/jihad enablers) regimes than the SOB’s they replace. The Arab has no democratic institutions or traditions or infrastructures.

    You gotta make the most of it. These crappy, little wars are the only wars we have.

  • You gotta make the most of it. These crappy, little wars are the only wars we have,

    Shaw, the implication is that a crappy big war would be preferable. : )

  • Right. I served a while in SAC: “Peace is our profession.”

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