I guess my blog isn’t as well read as it should be, since everyone involved in the attack against Libya is acting surprised at the initial results. The Arab League endorsed a no-fly zone without realizing it meant attacking Libya, and the Obama administration is desperately trying to keep from choosing sides when the coalition in the fight has already chosen.
Today the Arab League, after watching 112 tomahawk cruise missiles slam into Libya, started getting a little antsy, saying, “What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the shelling of more civilians.”
What the hell did they think was going to happen? We’d simply tell Ghadafi not to fly anywhere? So now they’re re-thinking their support for the whole endeavor, which will definitely make us look like crusading marauders if they pull out. Then what will we do? Continue to strike? Or tell Ghadafi, “Sorry about that. It’s your show now”.
Well, I guess that really depends on what Operation Odyssey Dawn’s end state is supposed to be. Does anyone know? In a valiant attempt at staying neutral, the Obama administration has stated that the sole purpose of the military action is to keep Ghadafi from harming civilians. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has even stated that the entire thing could end in a quagmire stalemate, with Ghadafi still in power. Senator Kerry went further, saying that removing Ghadafi wasn’t “licensed” by the UN (like we went to the UN for permission to sell beer), and thus is not the objective. Is that what we wanted? A perpetual no-fly zone for the foreseeable future? Do we want the eastern part of Libya to become an autonomous region, a la Kurdistan, with coalition air power protecting them in perpetuity? Not if you talk to our valued coalition partners, France and Britain, who unequivocally stated that the objective is Ghadafi’s removal, and apparently have started targeting Ghadafi’s residences with missile strikes. So which is it? Secure the civilian population or remove Ghadafi? I don’t think even the members of the coalition know.
How is this is going to play out? Let’s say the Arab League pulls its support. Will the United States continue to back the coalition, with a stated goal of removing Ghadafi – after we said that wasn’t an objective? What do we do if he throws up his hands and says “You win…Unilateral ceasefire from me”? Are we going to start offensively hitting targets? In effect, becoming the air support for the rebel forces? If so, how is the U.S. going to do that, when it has overtly stated that it only wants to remain for a few days, and has no interest whatsoever in introducing ground troops. Just what the hell does the United States expect from this action, beyond the stated goal of “not letting Libyan air power fly”? That’s not a policy goal, it’s a tactical measure. This half way, want to throw some missiles but don’t have the stomach for the fight, crap is precisely what we did in Sudan and Afghanistan in 1998, and it got the U.S. nowhere.
This ‘adventure’ into Libya is one of the most ill-conceived, poorly coordinated efforts that has ever come out of the United Nations, a body famous for ill-conceived, poorly-coordinated policy. Especially when other leaders in the region are committing the same types of atrocities, such as Saleh, the president of Yemen, who just killed 56 civilians with sniper fire. Are we going to attack Yemen next? While France and others are screaming for Ghadafi’s removal, I haven’t heard a single statement about whom or what sort of government would replace him. Does anyone have any idea at all? Does anyone care?
One thing’s for sure – I was wrong about the Obama administration understanding we can’t simply walk away after causing Ghadafi’s fall. Apparently we can – and will.