Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Our Libyan Allies

I had to love this summary of the Libyan situation, in the Washington Post:
Setbacks for rebels reveal the degree to which the disorganized and ill-equipped force is depending on allied airstrikes to end Gaddafi’s rule.
Or, more fully:

Even as allied strikes hammer Gaddafi’s air defenses, his ground forces have dug in within heavily populated urban areas such as Ajdabiya, and on Monday they gained ground in the western city of Misurata.

U.S. officials say the three-day-old international military intervention is intended to protect Libyan civilians, not provide support to Libya’s opposition. But Monday’s setbacks for the rebels revealed the degree to which the disorganized and ill-equipped force is depending on allied airstrikes to end Gaddafi’s 41-year rule. It also raised questions, so far unresolved, about how far coalition members are prepared to go to help Libya’s opposition. . . .

“We can’t win without the airplanes of the international community,” Farhad al-Mraibi, a 55-year-old rebel fighter, said after the retreat. “Gaddafi will kill all of us.”

Top rebel officials say the internationally enforced no-fly zone has come too late to alter the military equation on the ground. Their forces, they say, are not militarily equipped to battle Gaddafi’s superior arsenal of tanks, rocket launchers and other heavy land-based weaponry.

Our intervention to date has done nothing but delay the inevitable, and Obama and Clinton have both said publicly that we won't try to bomb Qaddifi out of power. So what are we doing? And why?

2 comments:

David said...

FWIW, I have a few thoughts on these matters at the moment:

First, based on the link you provided below ("changing the President's own mind"), it seems the decision to do this was made very quickly and largely without consulting military officials, Congress, or legal experts. It seems to have been made largely as a moral decision; I'm struck at the prominence in the discussions of an author/activist on issues of genocide. (Obviously I don't mean that the decision was or was not the moral one in principle; I mean Obama and the circle involved thought of it as a moral decision.)

Second, Obama is dealing with the same moral/political/military dilemma that has plagued the US since 1945. The national consensus since then has been, for better or worse, that the US can no longer be isolationist. What then will be our place in the world? The dilemma has been roughly the same since then, between the extreme of those who say, on the one hand, "The Soviets just conquered Poland (or whatever), and the US did nothing! Shame!" and those who say, on the other, "The US keeps troops in Germany (or wherever)! How are you then different from any other empire? Shame!"

Three, the nation's current consensus, right or wrong, seems to be that overall the US has paid relatively little price for failing to resolve this dilemma. We've maintained decades-long interventions in undecided conflicts (Germany, Korea, more recently Bosnia-Kosovo) without any real end-game in sight.

Four, speaking personally, I must confess this undecided ad hoc stance does not enrage or puzzle me deeply. I don't particularly favor this intervention in Libya, or the way they've gone about it, but I also think it has been for the best that we not resolve the overall dilemma. Philosophically-motivated types like the neocons bother me much more.

The Finder said...

I disagree with David, I do not believe that President Obama has any knowledge of what to do.

POTUS is a good speaker and can read a teleprompter, but when it comes to knowing what to do under pressure, he has proven he cannot lead.

To be a leader, one must know what is going on and have solutions to the events. POTUS has neither the leadership capabilities and seems to be in a fog when it comes to catastrophic events.

I give you an example, the Wisconsin battle regarding state workers and the Unions. He sat very quiet.

When Egypt broke out with protesters calling for Mubarak to step down, he sat very quiet.

When the protesters started in Yemeni, he sat very quiet.

He does not know what to do in a crisis. He is flying by the seat of his pants. Whomever his handlers are, they are doing are poor job of making him look good.

If you go back in history to the Kennedy era and look at the crisis situations that evolved in that era, they were handled even if there were mistakes made, they were dealt with and dealt with swiftly.

To sit silent causes more problems, now we have stepped into Libya and he is speaking out on the Libyan situation, too little too late it would seem.

I believe that there is something else going on that we have not even began to realize. We now have what 8 different areas where there are protest in the middle east and Africa. Our military is spread very thin as it is.

All of sudden every leader in the middle east is being castigated upon the alter of democracy...is that another name for resources, oil, globalization and the New World Order?