I’ve been hesitant to post another blog on Libya because I don’t have behind-the-scenes intel and didn’t want to undercut operations about which I’m no longer privy. After a couple of weeks of research from the sidelines, I’m now pretty sure that there is no coherent U.S. policy on Libya. Only stabs in the dark to placate this week’s squeaky wheel. On 4/21, the Obama administration decided to send armed predators to Libya, another paper escalation in the war that isn’t a war. That’s an absolutely perfect decision for this administration, and I’m sure they’re patting themselves on the back. It shows our European allies that we’re willing to commit our unique American technology – technology that has proven devastating to al Qaida and Taliban leadership in the Fata of Pakistan – while it alleviates any wrath from the public because no American lives will be at risk.
This situation reminds me of President Johnson’s decision to not mobilize the National Guard and Reserves for Vietnam – the theory being that doing so would cause the American public to seriously reflect on the endeavor, and possibly turn against the war. It took a few years, but that’s exactly what happened. I’m pretty sure, if we continue with the half-assed efforts underway now in Libya, we’ll have the same result again.
The armed predator sounds sexy, but in reality it’s only killing capacity is the Hellfire missile, a precision strike weapon designed to destroy individual armor. At most, since we’re by God not going to target Ghadafi, this will allow us to kill a few more tanks. In no way is this weapon system going to play a decisive role in shifting the balance of power. Once again this begs the question: What the hell is the desired end state in Libya?
Secretary of State Clinton, on the one hand, affirms the removal of Ghadafi as the goal, but then immediately follows up with the statement that such a removal isn’t in the “mandate” from the United Nations. This is the most asinine thing I have ever heard. Military objectives should ALWAYS be in line with the political goal. In Libya, we have implemented a bunch of half-assed measures that, I believe, are increasing the number of civilian deaths. That’s right; I’m asserting that the current air campaign – ostensibly in place to protect civilians – is leading to civilian deaths. And I don’t mean collateral damage as NATO mistakenly kills rebel forces. I’m talking about genuine non-combatants.
There are two ways we could swiftly end the killing of non-combatants in Libya: 1) remove Ghadafi through military action, or 2) let Ghadafi destroy the rebel forces.
By implementing our pissant no-fly zone, we have created a situation that prevents both. If we hadn’t intervened, this rebellion would be over and Ghadafi would remain soundly in power. If we went in full bore, the current so-called “kinetic military action” would be over fairly rapidly, and Ghadafi would no longer be in power. Instead, we’ve stated his removal is the goal, but have done nothing to ensure it, resulting in the current stalemate I warned about in my second blog on this subject. Then we curse about Ghadafi using cluster bombs and being generally a bad guy.
Am I saying we should take him out? No, actually I’m not. Primarily, because I’m worried about what ‘leadership’ would replace him. I’d like to think that we have some sort of secret plan in place behind-the-scenes – and that this had been thought through before committing to action. Maybe that we had found some Libyan “Thomas Jefferson” to take over. After seeing this play out, I’m fairly sure we have no idea whether the rebels are extremists or not, and we are now blindly following a path based not on helping Libya, but simply protecting the damage to our own reputation, regardless of the cost to Libyan civilians. We’re simply throwing good money after bad so we don’t look stupid. Even General Ham, Commander of Africa Command and the person who oversaw the initial operations of Odyssey Dawn, told congress he was against arming the rebels because we don’t know enough about their intentions or where the weapons would end up. What does that say about our policy? Why is removing Ghadafi a goal when we’re unwilling to trust the very people who will replace him? What on earth is the United States doing?
Luckily, we’re only wasting money at this stage. If Ghadafi shoots down a predator, who cares, right? The problem with this non-war, not playing-to-win or leaving the field strategy, is that it does have repercussions to our national security. There are reports that al Qaida is using the disarray to funnel weapons out of Libyan armories, including shoulder-fired anti-aircraft rockets. Rockets that may now be in the hands of real terrorists. I would be extremely concerned, but General Ham said that, in collaboration with regional partners, the United States would “try to take action to get them out of extremist’s hands.”
Whew…for a minute there I was worried that this whole Libya thing wasn’t well thought out.