End of the Beginning

15 08 2011

Sorry (again) for the long gap. I had a flat tire, my mother died, the cat was sick, I had to have emergency surgery, and I took a vow of silence.

Ok, maybe not. Would you believe my computer suddenly decided that it was a good day to die? A day or two after I wrote my last post, my formerly state-of-the-art six-year-old beep box achieved sentience and ran amok- assuming you substitute “frying the motherboard because the cooling fan on the video card gave up the ghost” for everything before this. After several attempts to replace various components to resurrect the computer failed expensively, I tossed the bloody thing and bought a new desktop. I generally dislike purchasing systems from big-box stores, but a cow-orker clued me in on a sweet system at the local Worst Purchase. To make a short story long, I got a system enormously better in every way than my old one for about $150 less, and all I had to do was take it home and plug it in.

Sadly, the antiquated wireless router I’d been using without trouble with the old box was not compatible with the new operating system, which fact I only discovered after wasting considerable time speaking with profoundly unhelpful tech support people in Bangladesh. At my wits end, I dug through the operating system and found a couple of clues which led to to  yet another evening trip to Least Vend for a router from this decade. After loading the appropriate files from the various storage media to which they’d fortunately been transferred before the old computer became an ex-computer, I have finally returned to the etherwebs.

Thrilling tale, eh?

On to more substantial things. Remember Libya? Largish country in north Africa, known for its malevolent despots, a metric butt-load of interesting ancient history, and something else … oh, yeah! A particularly uncivil war.

Most of the US appears to have lost interest, since more “important” news have long since eclipsed the matter from the headlines. Oh, there will be the odd mention in an off-hand, afterthought sort of way on one or two media outlets once a week or so, but such things as missing white girls, redneck stripper fugitives, and the nefarious antics of our political class are apparently much more important to the average American.

The rebels have managed to get recognized as the legitimate government of Libya by a significant number of countries (the US among ’em) while continuing to demonstrate a profound unwillingness to learn from their military mistakes. Mind you, this recognition is a major advance diplomatically, but it has very little effect where it matters most- on the ground in Libya. In this area, Ghaddafi is still managing to stay on top … for a given value of “on top”. Despite the Brother Leader’s monopoly on trained military personnel with more-or-less modern equipment, he has been unable to use this enormous asset to his advantage because anything that looks even remotely like heavy military equipment keeps getting smithereened by modern aircraft operated by professional military personnel. In my opinion, about the only thing keeping the rebels from giving the entire Ghaddafi family the Benny the Moose treatment is the rebels themselves.

Even after several months of learning the hard way that enthusiasm and a Kalashnikov aren’t enough to successfully tangle with well-trained and equipped troops, the Libyan rebels keep repeating the same mistakes. They’ll make a series of advances against government forces and capture/liberate towns, villages, and other strategic points with little strategic planning beyond, “We’re going to Tripoli“. Ghaddafi’s troops give the rebels attackers a bloody nose and fall back to prepared positions. When the brave and enthusiastic rebel fighters charge bravely and enthusiastically after the retreating government forces, they get bravely and enthusiastically stalled out in the open by trained soldiers behind fortifications, and then they get bravely and enthusiastically shredded by artillery. The rebels haven’t yet managed to develop the unit discipline necessary to cope with these vanilla-simple tactics, so the survivors retreat. The government troops then re-take the ground they had just lost. Some of those strategic points have been captured and liberated a half-dozen times by both sides.

The tide may actually be turning, however. The rebels have recently started trying to operate strategically. In lieu of merely charging headlong at any government forces they happen to locate, rebel forces have begun taking (and holding) real estate of actual strategic value- cutting Ghaddafi off from key roads and oil-producing areas. Either someone on the rebel side has been paying attention, or some “advisory personnel” from one of the countries friendly to the rebels have been giving some rational advice which is actually being listened to.

Assuming the rebels can develop some discipline and retain control of strategic points for long enough, Uncle Muamar and his flunkies may be in for a short drop to the end of a rope. Presumably, his military leaders can see where this is heading. I wonder how long it will take for one or more senior military personnel among the government forces start negotiating with the rebels to be allowed to go into exile in exchange for Ghaddafi’s corpse.

It isn’t the beginning of the end, but it might be the end of the beginning. I hope so, anyway. It will probably take a couple of generations for Libya to recover from this revolution. If the rebels manage to get rid of their loonie Leader, their sacrifices so far might not have been in vain. There’s been entirely too much death and destruction already.

Current status: I have returned!

Current music: In a Big Country by Big Country

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