Gaddafi Targeted by Security Council as War Criminal (2/28) MORE NEWS (3/04)

A potentially consequential side-effect of Libya’s repression of civilian protesters is that the events there have been referred by the U.N. Security Council to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution of Colonel Gaddafi as a war criminal, for ordering the murder of civilians and other crimes against humanity.


The ICC has started a formal investigation  into possible crimes against humanity in Libya that will focus on the role of the country’s leader, Col. Gaddafi and  several of his sons and members of his inner circle, the New York Times reported March 3.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor, told the newspaper that judging by the information he had received, many more insiders from the Libyan government had defected than was publicly known. “The system appears to be breaking down,” he said.

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said he hoped that at this stage his actions could have a deterrent effect. He said he was putting senior officials in Libya — “individuals with formal or de facto authority” — on notice that they could be held responsible if forces under their command committed crimes.

Issuing an arrest warrant would probably take several months, but the prosecutor says “how an arrest order is implemented is a different challenge that will have to be addressed in due course. Right now, we must investigate the crimes, and reach those responsible.”


It would still be a largely hypothetical possibility that Gaddafi might someday end up at The Hague for trial and possible conviction as a war criminal.


Italian Draghi is New Frontrunner to Head European Central Bank (2/25)

In discussions about the next head of the European Central Bank, speculation is now focusing on Mario Draghi, Governor of the Italian Central Bank. Here is a New York Times profile of him. It is still early days in selecting a successor to Jean-Claude Trichet, who will step down next fall. But the process heated up recently when the heir-apparent, Axel Weber, suddenly resigned last month from his post as president of the Bundesbank and board member of ECB Governing Council. Explaining his unexpected step down, Weber said that he had found himself at odds – publicly -- with other ECB governors because of his hard-line stance against more stimulus measures (including ECB programs to buy the bonds of troubled eurozone countries.)  Draghi also takes a tough stance against inflation as a member of the ECB governing board. But his banking career (including a stint at Goldman Sachs) makes him something of an outsider to the banking establishment in Germany.


NEW (2/28)

The succession issue at the ECB has become urgent as a possible factor in early March at crucial EU meetings on financial reform, according to this FT columnist. He favors Draghi as the only "qualified" candidate for the job, and urges Berlin to back Draghi to show that the ECB job -- the most important policy-making position in the eurozone -- is "European" and not just "Germanic."


New "Fiscal Hawks" in Congress and a Budgetary Sacred Cow: the Pentagon

Here is a smart summary (by Dan Morgan) of the state of play as new "fiscal hawks" in Congress approach cutting into the sacred cow of the Pentagon budget.

Of course, any cuts the House proposes (including a just-passed end to the $1 billion+ alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter)  will still have to be approved by the Senate and the President before they take effect. But this is a new breeze in Washington.


Libya is Bigger Issue for EU than for U.S.

The revolt in Libya differs radically from the recent regime changes in neighboring Egypt and Tunisia, especially in its violence but also in its transatlantic ramifications and challenges. Fundamentally, Washington has always treated the Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi as a terrorist – potentially useful, but basically what Ronald Reagan called “a mad dog.” In the last decade, Washington has succeeded in its anti-terrorist agenda with Libya (at the price of ignoring human rights for Libyans themselves). As a result, the U.S. is free of entangling ties with Tripoli.


"Post-Islamic Revolution" -- Events in Egypt Analyzed by French Expert on Political Islam (02/17)

Events in Egypt confirm the recent movement in the Arab world away from belief in a theocratic Islamic state, according to Olivier Roy, an authority on political Islam. His most recent book on the subject – the ground-breaking “Holy Ignorance: When Culture and Religion Part Ways” – is available in English from the Columbia University Press. In a just-published article, he offers a magisterial analysis of developments in Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and also a larger view of the real political forces at work in the contemporary Arab and Muslim societies in the Middle East emerging without ties to jihadism or admiration for repressive Islamist regimes such as Iran and Salafism, the fundamentalist version of Islam derived Wahabism and present in radical movements in Arab countries. His perceptive insights capturing the trends at work in Egypt (and elsewhere) in a new generation of Arabs appeared in Le Monde newspaper in an article translated here by Georgio Comninos of the European Institute.