Friday, February 25, 2011

The Tripoli breadlift

Western imagination has failed spectacularly in north Africa. It's pathetic, whether it's Tunisia (where a prominent French politician wanted to train more effective thugs to put down the rebellion of ordinary people) or in Egypt where there was NATO bleating about "orderly transitions," to Libya, blah, blah blah.

Now, prominent Western politicians are demanding deeds not words in Libya. The French UN ambassador has frankly stated that military solutions are out of the question, on account of the disastrous experience in Bosnia.

I think "western" governments are short of imagination, David Cameron being a prominent example, a guy who thinks it reasonable to sell arms in the Middle East several days after popular uprisings against governments who suppress them using arms made in Britain. I think Cameron should get drunk, dress up in "full Buller rig", trash a London restaurant, then appear on television in the ruins to deliver a rambling monologue on the white man's burden.

One of course could nuke Tripoli, or at least send in cruise missiles to the "brother leader" compound. There are better solutions.

1. Create field hospitals and refugee camps in Tunisia and Egypt, on an industrial scale. One doesn't want of course to re-create Shatila and Sabra.

2. Carpet bread bombing. Fill up fabulous C-130's with bread, and conduct relentless low level bread bombing of Tripoli. I'm not sure what kind of loaf is aerodynamically optimal, but maybe it doesn't matter. People can get by on bread and water for some considerable time. The sight of waves of C-130's delivering bread will be immensely cheering.

3. Parachute milk drops. Milk is less aerodynamically stable than bread. One needs parachutes. In World War 2, the Germans apparently used canisters that opened automatically after landing, releasing supplies. That was 70 years ago.

4. Body armour drops. The fearless Libyans who demonstrate against the regime are completely without weapons. They could use a little Kevlar.

5. Memory stick drops. Libyans have computers. Drop millions of memory sticks with useful news and information.

People are always fighting the last war.