14 April 2011
Weakness or Cunning?
In the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 the Zulus at the Battle of Isandlwana handed the British a humiliating defeat by annihilating the main body of the British invasion force. The outcome of the battle won the Zulus undying glory just as it spelt doom for the Zulu Empire. Having suffered such a blow to its prestige, London upgraded the importance of the war in its schemes and resolved to invest as much resources into the fight as needed to prevail and restore its standing. Thus the very decisiveness of the victory of the Zulus at Isandlwana in the end worked to the detriment of their ultimate war aims.
In the present day, in Libya, there seems to be little danger of a decisive battle or of anything else particularly dramatic. For a while now the fighting has consisted of miniscule and rag-tag opposition forces slowly ceding ground to equally puny government forces. As Patrick Buchanan has noted this has so far been a conflict in which eight people killed constitute "heavy fighting".
Question is, is Gaddafi indeed so weak that he can not quickly and decisively beat the opposition? Or is he purposely choosing to fight with one hand tied behind his back? It would make certain sense for him to do so. Anything dramatic would get TV play and increase the media profile of the war. This in turn would increase the amount of prestige at stake in its outcome, making it more important for the intervening powers to see him overthrown. Keeping the war boring however helps war fatigue set in, making it more difficult for advocates of increased foreign involvement to get their way, all the while his forces slowly advance.