Monday, March 28, 2011

Rapist Turkey Shoot in Libya

News flash: war is hell, even when it’s a humanitarian intervention.

It’s pretty clear, listening to today’s NPR report on Libya, that the “no fly zone” is pretty much past the “protect civilian” stage and well into the “kill Libyan soldiers” phase.

Pictures of dead Libyan soldiers seem to be relatively rare, but here’s one, courtesy of KQED:

The caption for the photo reads:

The bodies of pro-government forces littered the ground in al-Wayfiyah, 35 km West of Benghazi, after reportedly being hit by French warplanes on Sunday.

NPR’s Eric Westerveldt mentioned passing blown up Libyan army tanks, heavy equipment, and other vehicles as he followed rebel troops westward along the coast towards Sirte. 

Sirte is Colonel Gaddafi’s pampered hometown.  It has not experienced significant anti-regime unrest, so it is presumably not a rebel stronghold craving humanitarian intervention.  Instead, the attack represents the first, baby step of the rebels toward NATO-assisted conquest of western Libya.

Westerveldt also reported that Libyan troops had abandoned their uniforms and army vehicles and fled.

Sometimes, when an overextended army does this, it’s because individual soldiers are trying to retreat through hostile territory disguised as civilians to escape opposing ground troops chasing them and revenge-minded partisans behind them.

This doesn’t seem to be the case in Libya.  The threat to the soldiers from partisans—and even the ragtag rebel army in front of them—appears to be minimal.

The most likely explanation is that the soldiers realize that British, French, and possibly American warplanes are targeting Libyan army forces in order to destroy them, regardless of whether they are in ceasefire mode or trying to retreat, withdraw, regroup or whatever. 

For the West, it is a race against time—to mete out as much destruction as possible before it is clear that Gaddafi is trying to conform to the UN resolution by moving to a non-aggressive posture, thereby preserving his military and political forces, and creating awkwardness for the coalition with difficult-to-spin demonstrations of (at least temporary) reasonableness, and eliciting unwelcome international calls for cease-fire and mediation. 

The aggressive air campaign against the Libyan military seems to go beyond paving the rebel’s path to Tripoli.  It also implies that Western confidence in the fighting mettle of the rebels is limited, and the hope is that Gaddafi’s army will respond to its imminent destruction by turning on Gaddafi and deposing him, thus allowing the West to declare Mission Accomplished! and withdraw.

That seems to me to be an invitation to partition in the short term and reconquest of the east—by whatever neo-Gaddafi finds himself on time of the military pile in Tripoli in the coming weeks--in the long term.

Since we’re being told nothing about the actual objectives or ambitions for the operation—beyond the increasingly threadbare insistence that Libyan “civilians” have to be protected--I suppose my guess is as good as anybody’s.

As cognitive dissonance between the stated aim of “protecting civilians” and the actual practice of  “bombing a retreating army” and “providing air support for a rebel force in its campaign of conquest” sets in, our dedicated and talented reporters and analysts will have their work cut out for them.

My prediction is more rape horror stories like the assault on Iman al-Obeidi, the Libyan woman in Tripoli, and less pictures of dead Libyan soldiers, in order to keep the moral balance firmly tipped in favor of the West and away from Gadaffi.

Well, here’s another rape story, via al Jazeera (which appears to be in 100% lockstep with the aggressive anti-Libya policy of its owner, the Emirate of Qatar):

Several doctors [in the city of Ajdabiya] say they have found Viagra tablets and condoms in the pockets of dead pro-Gaddafi fighters, alleging that they were using rape as a weapon of war.

I don’t doubt that the rape of Iman al-Obeidi actually occurred, by the way.  Many terrible things happen during war, even if it’s called a “humanitarian intervention”.  Rape is one of them.  But accusations of rape are the most useful in dehumanizing an opponent, delegitimizing a regime, and taking the moral sting out of blowing up young men in and out of uniform.

The Guardian got a report from doctors on the other side that will probably gain little traction:

A doctor treating wounded government soldiers described hundreds of deaths, terrible injuries and collapsing morale.

In an obvious journalistic oversight, no report on whether the dead, injured, and demoralized soldiers had Viagra, condoms, or boners in their pockets.

The events along the coast road in Libya put me in mind of another series of turkey shoots—the massacre of Saddam Hussein’s forces in 1991 along Highway 8 and 80 (a.k.a. Highway of Death) after Saddam had accepted the UN resolution and agreed to withdraw from Kuwait, and the slaughter on a causeway in southern Iraq (Battle of Rumaila) after the ceasefire had been declared.

Apparently, prior to a ceasefire, enemy forces are only protected from attack if they are surrendering, stated compliance with a UN resolution notwithstanding.  It was therefore possible to construe Saddam’s withdrawal from Kuwait along Highways 8 and 80 as a “regrouping” for purposes of ordering the assault, something the Libyan military might remember.

There was a concerted U.S, effort to minimize the reported human cost of the attacks on Highways 8 and 80, making the claim that most Iraqi troops abandoned their equipment and were able to flee for their lives in the desert.

Anyway, those rapists had it—“it” being a continuous ten hour attack by US aircraft—coming, according to Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf:

The first reason why we bombed the highway coming north out of Kuwait is because there was a great deal of military equipment on that highway, and I had given orders to all my commanders that I wanted every piece of Iraqi equipment that we possibly could destroy. Secondly, this was not a bunch of innocent people just trying to make their way back across the border to Iraq. This was a bunch of rapists, murderers and thugs who had raped and pillaged downtown Kuwait City and now were trying to get out of the country before they were caught.

If, as the official version states, only 800 to 1000 people were killed on the two roads, then photojournalist Peter Turnley was able to photograph an awful lot of them.

View his full photo essay here.

The so-called Battle of Rumaila, which occurred under the command of Major General Barry McCaffrey after the ceasefire and was reported by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker  is harder to justify and perhaps for that reason is little discussed today.

Also, there apparently aren’t any pictures.

General McCaffrey led the 24th Infantry Division into Iraq in the first Gulf War.  It was a short war without a lot of fighting and of limited value in burnishing the military resume (McCaffrey's division reported 8 deaths in the conflict, perhaps half of which were friendly fire).  The implication that I drew from Hersh’s article is that McCaffrey wanted to have something to show for the deployment of his highly-trained division in Iraq: action, trophies, and renown. 

McCaffrey, by the way, came out of the war reasonably well (despite an investigation of his conduct at Rumaila), served as Clinton’s drug czar, and is visible on the teevee today as a military affairs analyst for NBC and MSNBC laboring to make sure that no political capital accrues to President Obama through his Libyan display of militant manliness.

Wikipedia provides some detail on Rumaila:

Iraqi Republican Guards were engaged while attempting to reach and cross the Lake Hammar causeway and escape northward toward Baghdad. Most of the five-mile-long Iraqi caravan of more than 600 vehicles was first boxed into a "kill zone" and then in the course of the next five hours systematically devastated by Hellfire missiles from AH-64 Apache  attack helicopters, indirect artillery fire, and eventually direct fire from arriving armored ground forces, which met no meaningful resistance   The attack continued until the trapped vehicles were destroyed, including at least 39 tanks and 52 other armored vehicles from the elite 1st Armored Division "Hammurabi". McCaffrey reported the elimination of 187 armored vehicles, 43 artillery systems and over 400 trucks. ... A bus with women and children was also reportedly destroyed by a missile, which later troubled many U.S. soldiers.  The battle was one-sided and desperate attempts by some Iraqis to return fire were almost completely ineffective, as during the engagement only one U.S. soldier was injured and two U.S. armored vehicles were lost (an M2 Bradley fighting vehicle and an M1 Abrams tank). A number of Iraqi survivors were taken prisoner, many others fled on foot and swam to safety.

One would speculate that, on one level, the Iraq massacres were perpetrated to prevent Saddam from extracting his army from Kuwait in a relatively intact state so he could fight another day; also, to shake the loyalty of his army and people and make a coup more possible.

The third reason is one that is more difficult to accept.

Soldiers—at least officers--like to fight because it gives them a chance to kill people, “blood” their less experienced troops and commanders with a baptism of fire, and advance their careers. 

Advocates of humanitarian intervention might do well to recall that next time they promote one of these adventures.

Friday, March 25, 2011

“Destroy Them In the Name of the Moon”

                     The Great Awakening Gets Closer to China

I have an article up at Asia Times that’s a bit more torn from the headlines than usual:  Syrian sauce for the Chinese gander.

My ongoing interest in writing about Syria as the authoritarian Middle Eastern analog to China dovetailed with the explosion of protests in the southern Syrian town of Daraa.

So the piece covers the challenge to China’s “stability is good” political platform from an example that I think the Chinese government finds is uncomfortably close to home.

My takeaway is that “stability” has little attraction to people under authoritarian rule today.  They want to be participants, not spectators; they want to share in the empowerment and the possibilities; in other words, they want instability.  They don’t want to be ordered to sit on their hands and told they enjoy it.

The article also includes a go-round on the Libyan military intervention that puts me out of step with quite a few liberal commentators inside and outside of China.

I’m an anti-war type of the “military humanitarian intervention is to humanitarian intervention as military music is to music” stripe.

And by any objective measure, the decision-making involved in entering the war was ridiculous and dishonest, and the spin disgorged and absorbed is up to Iraq War standards.

I was listening to the radio and learned from a Politico correspondent that the Obama administration was briefing Congress that intervention was needed to forestall a massacre in Benghazi that might claim 50,000 to 100,000 lives.

That’s a bit of a stretch, since the most reliable count of deaths in the conflict to date is 2,000, including 500 Gaddafi men.  Even the notoriously spin-happy rebels only claimed 8,000 deaths.

Today’s news is, for a confirmed cynic, the icing on the cake. 

NATO is taking over the no-fly-zone, now that the Libyan air force, according to the British, “no longer exists”.  Our brave allies, the UAE, can safely patrol the empty skies of Libya in the 12 shiny new jets that will arrive “in the coming days”.  Qatar will also send 4 planes “over the weekend”.

There would seem to be precious little to occupy NATO.  But it’s hunkering down for a 90-day operation.

Those who voted for the UN no-fly-zone resolution might be surprised to know it also authorized, at least in the eyes of France, a “no-drive-zone” that seems to extend beyond the “protect the civilians” mandate . 

In the best fog o’ war tradition, it still isn’t completely clear if NATO unified command will be running the whole Libya show by taking over the no-fly-zone operations, or whether the French can still plunk ground targets whenever they feel like it.

Liberal interventionist cheerleaders like Juan Cole (who has taken to referring to the anti-Gaddafi elements as “liberation forces”) obviously have little clue about who or what the insurgents are, but don’t want to be on the wrong (Gaddafi) side of history and are hoping for the best.

If ignorance is bliss for Cole, who is a Middle East expert reasonably close to the scene, it must be absolute ecstasy for Chinese bloggers viewing events 9000 miles away through the lens of their ideals, hopes, and fantasies.

In my article, I note that two top liberal Chinese bloggers, Great River and Han Han are all-in on Libyan intervention.  With direct criticism of the Chinese government off-limits, there’s the unavoidable (and I suspect intentional) implication that these preferences would extend to the Chinese scene in similar circumstances.

As a commenter on one of  threads wrote, “After Libya, they can go after North Korea, and then...”

It’s up to the Chinese government to make the case that getting bombed by the French is not the gateway to democratic bliss.  Wonder how they’ll do.

Han Han’s brief post concludes:


Friends ask my perspective.  I say, my perspective is very simple.  There are no “internal affairs” [i.e. internal activities protected from outside interference by notions of sovereignty—ed.] for tyrants, and butchers should be attacked and annihilated.

Yesterday by coincidence was the biggest moon in 19 years.

No matter who it is, no matter for what reason, destroy them in the name of the moon.

As I learned on a journey through the tubes of the Internet, “Destroy them in the name of the moon” is a reworking of the catchphrase of the Japanese anime heroine Sailor Moon.

Sailor Moon is a hugely popular girl-power epic centered on a schoolgirl who finds out she is the incarnation of some moon bunny on a crusade to stamp out evil.

Take it away, Wikipedia:

The protagonist of Sailor Moon, Usagi Tsukino, an ordinary ditzy middle-school girl—or so she thinks—discovers a talking cat named Luna, who reveals Usagi's identity as "Sailor Moon," a special warrior with the destiny of saving the planet Earth, and later the entire galaxy. Usagi must now find the moon princess and protect Earth from a series of villains, beginning with the Dark Kingdom that had appeared once before, long ago, and destroyed the kingdom of the moon.

The characters in Sailor Moon awaken members of the court of the kingdom of the moon, and the people dedicated to protecting it; when the dark nemesis attacked the kingdom, the Queen sent the Moon Princess, her guardians and advisors, and her true love into the future to be reborn. As Usagi and Luna battle evil and search for the Moon Princess, they meet the other Sailor Senshi, incarnations of the Moon Princess' protectors, and the mysterious Tuxedo Mask.

As the series progresses, Usagi and her friends learn more and more about the enemies they face and the evil force that directs them...

More and more and more...

Sailor Moon is a media juggernaut: 50 chapters of  manga, 200 episodes of anime, live action film and stage musical depictions, 5000 items of licensed merch including video games, allegedly over 3 million fan sites.  The anime conquered the Asian world (though it faltered in the U.S., supposedly because of weak promotion) and was very popular in China.  The Sailor Moon vibe is apparently also an influence on Zack Snyder’s epic insane asylum/strip joint/video game/sword, sorcery, and mini-gun mash-up, Sucker Punch, which opens today.

When preparing to do battle with the “Monster of the Day” or some other villain, Sailor Moon strikes what the Wikipedia contributor characterizes as her “pre-battle taunt pose, an iconic symbol throughout the series” and declares, "In the name of the moon, I shall punish you!"


In the Chinese version, Sailor Moon’s schoolmarmish catchphrase became the more resounding, “我要代表月亮,消灭你们.”: “In the name of the moon, I shall destroy you!”

When Han Han invokes the phrase, he’s talking about the forces of righteousness inflicting heavenly justice on dictators.

I know you want to see Sailor Moon in her “iconic, pre-battle taunt pose”, so here it is, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Moon picture from

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

China and Libya...and Corn and Ethanol

In the last couple weeks, I’ve had two articles up at Asia Times.

The March 19 piece, China embroiled in a Libyan muddle, correctly predicted that China—despite its abhorrence of foreign intervention--would not vote against the Libya no-fly-zone because of its desire to stay on the good side of Saudi Arabia.  (The piece was completed and submitted before the UNSC vote.  The editors at Asia Times kindly added a couple paragraphs to the opening of the piece to update it.)  So I can pat myself on the back for that. 

As I describe in the piece, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah detests Colonel Gaddafi for numerous insults and outrages directed at the kingdom, including an assassination attempt on Abdullah allegedly orchestrated by Libyan intelligence in 2003.

The Arab League endorsement of a Libyan no-fly-zone was born of idealism, panic, and near universal disgust with Gaddafi.  But a key factor in the tone and content of the resolution, I believe, was the prior declaration of the Saudi Arabia-dominated Gulf Co-operation Council that Gaddafi’s regime had forfeited its legitimacy, the rebels should be engaged, and a no-fly-zone should be imposed.

My article received a nice notice in the New York Times Magazine blog, The 6th Floor, to whit:

The Arab side in all this has been fascinating (and well described in The Asia Times by Peter Lee).

It is ironic that an article written by a China guy for a publication called Asia Times is considered to be a good source for understanding the Arab side of the equation, but there it is.

Ah, to an ex-New Yorker like me, the whiff of NYT newsprint is intoxicating, albeit virtual and at third hand..

Yes, I know, the New York Times Magazine is not the New York Times.  It’s better than the New York Times, since the magazine’s Sunday crosswords have provided me with hours of wholesome and uplifting entertainment often absent from the Grey Lady’s diplomatic and foreign policy reporting, and it has never, to my knowledge, published Judith Miller.

And I know it’s the blog of the New York Times Magazine, not the magazine itself. But I’ll bookmark it anyway.

Speaking of bookmarks, it’s time to update your Laura Rozen bookmark again.  The Internet’s premier diplomatic reporter has left Politico and has a new blog at Yahoo! News entitled The Envoy.

My previous week’s piece at Asia Times is entitled China’s ethanol binge and corn hangover.

I’m rather proud of that piece because it takes a subject that’s considered rather boring and does not rate any headline space in general interest publications—Chinese agricultural and ethanol policy—and manages to make some interesting and important points about the worldwide ethanol insanity, China’s fraught rural policy, and the dire and unexpected consequences of dodgy agricultural policy in China for world food prices.

There is no subject too ordinary to yield insight to the inquiring mind, I suppose.

Fly away, little bird.  HLL RIP 1927-2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The T Word

The New York Times Misuses and Misremembers the Definition of Torture.

Three BBC correspondents were treated horribly in Libya  by Khadafi forces.  They were beaten, hooded, and subjected to mock executions.

The New York Times headlined its report 3 BBC Journalists Report Being Tortured in Libya.

It's noteworthy, and not in a good way, that the Gray Lady got it wrong.

By international treaty--the Convention Against Torture--"torture" is severe mistreatment applied for the purpose of extracting a confession: "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession."

The purpose of the treaty is to remove physical and mental mistreatment from the menu of permitted prosecutorial techniques, and discourage the formation of a state justice apparatus reliant upon extorted and often false testimony.

The BBC journalists were beaten and terrorized in order to intimidate them, not to extract a confession.

What they endured was "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment"--mistreatment that is specifically exempted from the Convention Against Torture. 

Apparently as long as government incentives to abuse prisoners to extract confessions were removed, the governments that signed the Convention were unwilling to provide the same protections against abuse to detainees if it was motivated by the perceived needs for prison discipline, or as a simple exercise in recreational sadism.

It's also the kind of treatment that is applied ad nauseum in US-run detention facilities overseas.

Bradley Manning is being tortured: he is being mistreated in order to compel him to confess and, presumably, implicate Julian Assange.

The New York Times hasn't deemed it fit to characterize the conditions of Bradley Manning's detention as "torture".

Maybe that's why it's so sloppy with its use of the term.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Counterpunch on the Egyptian Revolution

Counterpunch has a remarkable wrap-up of the Egyptian Revolution, courtesy of one Esam El-Amin, that goes beyond self-congratulating and self-justifying spin to deliver just-the-facts-ma'am reporting of what happened, combined with trenchant analysis.

Here's the link to When Egypt's Revolution Was at the Crossroads.

Here's a taste:

February 2: Displaying Courage and Steadfastness in The Battle of the Camel

Once Mubarak lost control of his security apparatus and could not rely on his military, he turned to his third and last circle of protection, his political party, the NDP. But for the past five years he had turned the day-to-day management of the party to his son, Gamal.

On Jan. 29, Gamal convened the major political figures and business tycoons of the NDP to devise a plan to end the sit-in and the demonstrations in Tahrir Square. They had a two-track plan. Mubarak would give a speech, on Feb. 1 that would draw sympathy, as he recalled his service to his country for over six decades while pledging to oversee major reforms. In the speech, he promised not to seek re-election, to leave in September and die in Egypt.

This ploy actually made inroads within many segments of society and threatened to split the opposition. The small pro-government “loyal opposition” actually welcomed the speech, while the youth rejected it out-of-hand.

But Gamal’s second maneuver backfired badly. He was hoping that by splitting the opposition through his father’s speech, he could finish off the remainder through direct attacks in Tahrir Square. By the morning of Feb. 2, he sent a few thousand people demonstrating in support of his father, led by some famous actors and sports figures.

Around 2 PM that day, the unexpected and brutal attacks by the goons of the NPD was in full force, but was faced with stiff resistance by the protesters. For sixteen hours the demonstrators in the Tahrir Square were attacked by clubs, knives, horses, camels, Molotov cocktails, and live ammunition ...Dozens lost their lives while thousands were injured.

At certain crucial moments, this wild idea, whose objective was to empty Tahrir Square, might have succeeded, especially as the protesters were under siege by midnight and being pushed outside the square. While the protesters were pleading with the army to intervene and protect them, it stayed true to its promise of remaining neutral.

It was thousands of members of the MB that descended on the Tahrir Square (estimates range from three to five thousand), led by major MB figures, El-Erian, Mohammad El-Biltagy, and Safwat Hegazy, that broke the siege, fighting and pushing back the NDP attackers for the entire night. By dawn, the battle of the Camel, as it is now dubbed in Egypt, had fizzled and Tahrir remained firmly in the hands of the revolutionaries.

All youth and opposition groups have since acknowledged that if it were not for the courage and skill of the MB, the outcome of the attacks might have been different.

Monday, March 07, 2011

China's Jasmine Headache

These could have been the best of times for China.

China's probity, sobriety, and responsibility during the financial crisis made for a highly favorable contrast with the United States.

The U.S. has compounded the irresponsible behavior of the Bush years, both militarily and financially, with a significant abdication of its obligations as the world's only superpower and custodian of the world's reserve currency.  In this context, America's harping on the shortcomings of China are little more than a self-delusive attempt to recapture the glories of past decades, while distracting American citizens from the epic, serial failures of America's elites.

While the economy cries out for more stimulus, U.S. Republicans have seized control of the political discourse by shifting the focus from the profound challenges of regulating international markets in derivatives that seem virtually unregulatable.  To please their political (and contributor) base, they have reframed American economic anxieties in terms of the straw man of federal and state budget deficits.  Instead of advocating policies of political and fiscal forbearance, they are promoting ruinous but politically expedient deflationary policies, insisting that governments balance their budgets and turn their backs on the deficit spending measures that offer the best chance of escape from the economic morass.

It also rather amazing that, as the indigenous revolutionary wave across the Arab world repudiates the "democracy from abroad" formulation that lured the United States into the Iraq quagmire, Western politicians are proposing the same nostrums for Libya--sanctions, no fly zones, sanctions, the threat of humanitarian intervention, creation of a secessionist haven, and using Saudi Arabia as a front for US regional petroleum, diplomatic, and military priorities--that teed up the Iraq invasion.

America, it seems, has learned nothing, wants to learn nothing, and perhaps even thinks that trying to learn something from the events of the last ten years would be profoundly dangerous to America's self-esteem as the world's political, economic, and moral leader.

China had some reason to gloat.  And it was prepared to gloat. 

However, in the words of my most recent piece in Asia Times, thanks to events in the Middle East, China is not in the position of being able to watch in bemusement as America drove its political and economic Hoovermobile off a cliff while flipping off China with the twin fingers of Freedom and Democracy.

As its response to the Arab revolutions reveals, China's authoritarian model is also not well-equipped to deal with the reality of dissent and dissatisfaction that are not neatly and reliably sterilized by economic growth.

There's a ghost in the machine, a craving for human dignity that can only be assuaged by a sense of political agency.

In a piece I wrote for Asia Times last week, Smelling salts for China's Jasmine dream, I propose that China has probably overestimated the popular toleration for authoritarianism, especially when it comes in the highly unpopular form of princeling rule that appears to be a dangerously unavoidable adjunct of authoritarianism.

In this week's piece, Denial also flows through China, I address the limits of a "growth is good" strategy that assumes that satisfaction with economic gains will trump political dissatisfaction. 

I posit that China is whistling past the graveyard, counting on a show of official concern to paper over popular dissatisfaction with the government while it continues to place its bets on economic growth as the wellspring of its legitimacy.

The next step for the CCP could be straight out of the authoritarian-rule cookbook: managed multi-party democracy along the lines of the Russian model.

That means power concentrated in the executive branch, multi-party elections for an emasculated legislature, and cultivation of well-financed, conservative, pro-nationalist parties to contest the democratic space with dissenting political forces. 

But for the time being, the ideal of a harmonious social model based on national progress under the unitary leadership of a beloved government is too seductive for the Chinese to discard in favor of the sordid realities of Western-style democratic bickering.

Here's an example of old-fashioned patriotic propaganda from Xinhua that may soon become an exercise in nostalgia.  It also describes the rather impressive execution of a large-scale evacuation.

China's Libya evacuation highlights People-First nature of government
BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhua) -- After nine days of emergency evacuations and with no thought for the expense, China had plucked more than 35,000 citizens from the chaos in Libya by Wednesday.

The effort has proven to be a decisive success in China's largest-scale overseas evacuation since the birth of new China in 1949.

The massive, orderly and extraordinarily efficient evacuation is widely regarded as a vivid reflection of the Chinese government's motto of "putting people first and running the government in the interest of the people."

Thanks to the swift action of the Chinese government and timely orders issued by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, the evacuation has been conducted in such a way that all-out efforts were mobilized to complete the mission.

That effort became especially important after thousands of Chinese nationals in the troubled North African country were robbed and a dozen were wounded as they tried to flee the violence.

The swift evacuation also benefited from China's growing national power and equally important, the advantage of the socialist system enabling the whole country to mobilize all of the necessary resources needed for an arduous mission.

The evacuation of more than 35,000 people from Libya is undoubtedly a huge and complex mission. From government organs to the Navy and Air Force, to overseas embassies and civil aviation authorities, the Chinese government mobilized all that was needed to withdraw its citizens from the volatile country by air, sea and land.

The evacuation shows that the Chinese government has paid more and more attention to the safety and interests of the grassroots Chinese.

Since the evacuation from the riots in East Timor in 2006, the Chinese government has rolled out dozens of overseas evacuation operations, extending timely rescues to tens of thousands Chinese nationals trapped in danger.

The current operation pursues the same course, but its scale, difficulty and efficiency are so outstanding that it can serve as a new milestone in China's overseas rescue history.

The success cannot be achieved without hard efforts made by the government at various levels, without solidarity or the strong will of the evacuees, or without the self-giving help offered by numerous Chinese compatriots.

The success in evacuation, which displays the traditional Chinese merits of solidarity, unwavering will and self-courage, also strengthened the rallying force of the whole country and the national pride of overseas Chinese.

"Welcome home!" When hearing the greeting from You Quan, deputy secretary-general of the State Council, upon their arrival at the airport in Beijing, many evacuees burst into tears.

At this very minute, all the overseas Chinese would keep in mind: though thousands of miles apart, China -- a prosperous, stable and strong homeland -- is always their safe haven linking them by hearts.