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Caru On March - 25 - 2011


Apotheosis of War

I am not here to discuss costs, nor the legality of the current actions taken by President Obama, however, I will discuss the moral argument towards the end of my post. I myself have not yet decided where I stand on this issue or no, I’m just presenting an argument.

As I see it, the US faces three options with regards to Libya:

1.) Just help to enforce the no-fly zone that is currently in place and quickly hand over command to the Franco-British forces, but remain a part of the Coalition.

2.) Help the rebels to defeat Gaddafi’s forces.

3.) Exit the area and the coalition.

( I have already dismissed the option of siding with Gaddafi as it is incredibly unlikely at best.)

Option one seems reasonable, until you begin to realise the long-term implications. As a no-fly zone has no effect on Gaddfai’s ground forces, he could continue to advance and capture rebel positions, or more likely the two enemies would be locked in a stalemate with each other. The former would make the Coalition forces, and by extension the US, look weak. The latter would tie-up US assets indefinitely and distract from other important issues.

Option two is more direct, by supporting the rebels and engaging Gaddafi’s forces the main conflict would likely be over quickly. However, if this course of action is taken the US forces are almost certainly not going to pack up and leave. They’ll likely remain to support the new government. This would tie-up more US assets for possibly a longer time than option one.

Furthermore, in the aftermath of Gaddafai’s downfall this scenario could take a turn for the worse as old tribal divisions could begin to reassert themselves. The US could have another problem similar to Afghanistan on its hands.

Option three has, in my opinion, the least downsides. Sure, the US could possibly be excoriated in international circles – well, the ones the matter anyway – But, most likely the international public would understand. The US already has four wars on its hands – yes, I’m counting N. Korea and Pakistan – and it doesn’t need another.

Lastly, to address point of those in favour of intervention I shall examine the moral argument:

“The US has to intervene in Libya to prevent civilian deaths.”

A compelling and noble reason. However, I think that the reasoning isn’t as clear cut as it seems. A question must be asked:

“What course of action has the highest probability of producing the least amount of civilian deaths?”

To answer this I shall return to the options laid out above with the addition of one more.

Option one seems like a good bet, but as the conflict could drag on for months or years the number of civilian dead will grow.

Likewise, the same is true for option two.

Taking option three could very well result in a massacre, depending on what other Coalition forces do.

However, I have another idea. What if the playing field between the rebels and state forces could be levelled somewhat? Aside from supplying them with arms what could be the best parting gift that the US could give the rebel forces? What if Gaddafi just died? He is the focal point of the state. The whole regime, the army, would probably split into various factions. Gaddafi is the glue holding the Libyan government together. With the death of Gaddafi rebel forces may have a fighting chance and civilian causalities may be reduced.

I wonder if the US would be willing to supply that opportunity, sordid as it is.


“You’ve got to forget about this civilian. Whenever you drop bombs, you’re going to hit civilians.”

~Barry Goldwater


Written by Caru

I don't really have anything of note to put in here... Oh, I won a bar of chocolate once.

57 Responses so far.

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  1. Okay, let’s actually think this through.

    What is the goal in Libya? If the goal is to prevent Qaddafi from killing civilians, how does a no-fly zone accomplish that?

    (channeling Hawkeye: “Wouldn’t fly-paper work better?”)

    If the goal is preserving the oil fields, wouldn’t gassing the entire country work better? Then we can relocate them all to Greenland and deny any knowledge of what they hell they are complaining about when they wake up.

    If the goal is to remove Qaddafi, aren’t there better ways to do that? An eviction notice? Tell him he’s won a free Caribbean cruise? Have a pest control company tell him the entire country is infested with giant radioactive termites with a sweet tooth for tacky pseudo-military fashion? Hell, use a sniper, even, the CIA never needed a UN resolution or a no-fly zone to take out JFK and RFK, and they even got a budget increase out of it.

    My point is, other than the ridiculous twists and turns this discussion has taken since Day -1, is that you determine A) what the problem is you want to solve and B) what you want things to look like afterward, and then figure out the best way to get from point A to point B.

    One does not just take a spin on the Wheel of Fortunate Quick Irrelevant Fixes and call it a day. By the gods, what would have happened if the Wheel had come up with “Redistrict California”? Or “Execute a Martyr”? Geez, we’d have to exhume Joe the plumber for that last one, and you know public health would never stand for that!

    Let me spell it out for you. One does not save money by spending money. One does not save lives by endangering lives. And one does not avoid military action by sending in the military.

    I still say we should have sent Congress there on a “fact-finding mission” (see “junket, noun, definition 1”). Naked, by parachute, in the middle of the night (see “plausible deniability, noun” and “garbage disposal, noun, definition 2”).

    • bito says:

      2ndClassCitizenPundit, There is much more to the UN Security Council Resolution 1973 than the “No Fly Zone.” The coalition is authorized to use what is necessary to end the armed violence by Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on the citizens of it’s country. The “no Fly Zone” is not just stopping airflights, but it is disrupting/destroying the “Command and Control”, supply routes, tanks and armored vehicles (they move- they get fired on) and beginning to allow “humanitarian” supplies in to the country.
      As KQ mentioned earlier for the President to call for the actual killing of a leader of another country is both against US law but international law. President Obama said it was time for the Egyptian President to go and did not call in air strikes on the him and he was forced to leave. The Libyan revolt started the same way as Egypt’s, an unarmed popular revolt. Quaddfi started the violence. President Obama, IMO, wants the to give the citizens of Libya the same chance.

  2. ADONAI says:

    What about choice number 4?

    We nuke that whole desert from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan

    And open a giant glass parking lot for India Disney.

  3. KQuark says:

    First list the risks and costs of putting boots on the ground.

    Bob first and foremost the UN mission is humanitarian.

    1) Lets start out that 20% of all Al Qaeda came out of the tribes in Benghazi now these tribes are praising the US for defending them instead of warring against us.

    2) Yes the objective is to protect Libyan’s civilians who oppose a dictator and that to a great extent has been achieved.

    3) The risks and costs are minuscule to the risks and costs you’re proposing in a ground war.

    4) The UN with the US is already engaged in the use of soft and hard power to end this. But of course the exact exit strategy is not composed yet. But again since the exit is relatively easy without boots on the ground it can be more flexible.

    5) So far the polls that came out show the action is supported by the American people.

    6) Yes emphatically but nothing is ever unanimous. Turkey after reservations is going to offer military support and UAE and Qatar are going to fly direct missions over Libya.

    I agree with the Powell doctrine in a ground war but I think the US is too stretched for a ground war now. People seem to be adhering to the Bush philosophy that regime change is the only end in conflicts like these. My argument against the Iraq war was that Saddam was contained and no regime change was necessary. The Kurds were running an autonomous government thanks to the no-fly zone before the second Iraq war and thanks to inspectors Iraq had no WMD. Gaddafi has already been neutered in a similar way and implementation of a partitioned state would be relatively easy.

    One big thing people besides Khirad don’t talk about much is the hundreds of thousands of refugees that would be created if the UN security council stepped in. This crisis would be destabilizing to the democratization of the whole region.

    If the UN including the US did not act now what use would it be condemning violence against citizens if under no circumstances the international community would act. Not only for humanitarian reasons but strategically and logistically the UN picked the right fight in my opinion.

    Look I don’t care about domestic politics right now. Every military option is not at the disposal of the president because of Iraq and Afghanistan. I know the people in the US always wants that leviathan type leader during war but the international community appreciates restraint. But I would argue international strategies work with less military action because the international communities ability to leverage soft power is much much greater than a single country.

    • SequimBob2 says:

      First, Caru, my apologies for diverting the discussion somewhat away from your points.

      KQuark: I think you and I are focused on different aspects of the action. I’m looking at things more from a tactical level. Many of your points are more strategic and global.

      I agree with your point that tie-downs in Iraq and Afghanistan change the equation. I was, admittedly frustrated, by the President’s no-boots-on-the-ground position because I saw that as forcelosing tactical options.

      I apologize for giving you the impression I was advocating a full-fledged ground war with lots of troops. I do think since the US chose to get involved that we ought to put advisers and Special Operations Forces on the ground and provide C-130 gunship and A10 support.

      Perhaps other nations will fill the adviser and special forces role as you suggested. As I understand it, the rebel force movements have ground to a halt. Rebels in Khadafi-friendly cities are at risk. I still think this situation has the potential of getting uglier on the ground than we’ve seen thus far.

      With that, sir, I withdraw from the field. Take care.

      • KQuark says:

        Actually my apologies. I didn’t mean to imply I was trying to back you into a position. I think out loud often on this site. Frankly I’m still not totally sure what my position is yet on Libya. So far I have no big problems in the way we are cooperating with the world but obviously the situation is very much in flux. Like most of us I’m uneasy any time we use the military.

  4. Headline: Target Sues San Diego Gay Rights Group

    The {{spit}} headline: Gay Rights Group Seeks to Bankrupt Benevolent Corporation

    My headline: The Empire Strikes Back, blames Gaga


    • Chernynkaya says:

      2nd-- I actually like this story a lot! That gay rights group is making a serious difference; the story says each store gets dozens of complaints from the public. I have boycotted Target since I learned that they are RW anti-gay --was it a couple of years ago that the news came out? (Heh.) Anyway, it’s been a long time and I’m pissed because I really used to shop there all the time. Pretty soon there will be no place to shop for anything, but that’s OK since I have no money anyway.

  5. KQuark says:

    Obviously removing Gaddafi would make everything easier and clearer but I hope to God the UN comes up with something better than a one contingency strategy. There needs to be a Plan B and C, D, E as far as I’m concerned.

    Analogous to democracy a multilateral approach to using military intervention is going to be more messy. It’s still the right thing to do in my opinion. Bob talks about Obama losing credibility but I think all his credibility vanishes in the international community if he takes the go it alone philosophy.

    Oh yeah and that half arsed military approach did just fine in Kosovo bob.

    • SequimBob2 says:

      The President has a number of things right in the prosecution of this effort. He got the Arab League on board — at least at the start. He got UN and NATO participation, so he did what he could to minimize the US-invading-another-Arab-country criticism.

      The President said that Khadafi must go. When he did this, he put his credibility on the line. Given the US resources in comparison to other participant countries, militarily we are still the 800LB gorilla on this venture. I just don’t think he accomplishes much by saying, “The Canadians in charge.”

      It appears to me we are taking and failing to take military action based upon politics. The President has to take politics into consideration; I don’t. From a pure tactics standpoint — as I read the tea leaves, the Libyan rebels do not have the training, logistical support and military hardware to advance. The only thing protecting the rebels from total military defeat is “coalition” air power. I’m having trouble seeing a successful end game that fits the President’s stated timeline.

      I feel the same way about Libya as I did about the first IRAQ war. We should have gone on in to Baghdad then, but we pulled back due to political considerations. The result. We fought that war twice and we’re still in Iraq.

      As for Kosovo, I think Libya is a different tactical and military situation. Tell me how you think air power alone can bring the conflict to a close — without Khadafi accidentally ending up under a cruise missile strike. In a protracted stalemate situation, I think the rebels lose and that which we hoped to avoide (civilian casualties) will be the result.

      To be clear, I’m not advocating putting traditional ground forces on the ground, but I do think Special Forces teams would go a long way toward bringing the conflict to a speedier close. In fact, I’d be surprised if they aren’t already there.

      • KQuark says:

        Oh and c’mon about every leader said Gadaffi must go even those who did not join the conflict. So do they lose all credibility too? Again a very American centered view of the situation. Even though we are far from that point the UN does not do long military conflicts. The worse thing thing this could end up being is a UN partitioned state where thousands of lives have been saved. It’s not going to be a simmering insurgency because there is no occupation force. We have become so embroiled in our black and white notions of the world that we fail to recognize the history of UN sanctioned actions.

        The big thing Americans still don’t recognize in UN sanction actions is the enormous international pressure via soft power that the world can wield where we alone cannot. I’m sure Khirad could elaborate.

        Unlike if the US went in alone already both sides are meeting to discus a cease fire arrangement. That would never happen at this point with a unilateral action.

        Gaddafi’s the one under pressure and has no credibility not the other world leaders. We need to think about Gaddafi’s situation right now. He’s got no Western assets and sanctions against him, no usable air force, Arab nations attacking him, surrounded by a blockade, no western occupiers to rally support around, his own offensive has been summarily halted. Yet we sit in the US wringing our hands together like we are losing in Libya whatever that means anyway.

        • SequimBob2 says:

          I don’t have the impression the US is ‘wringing hands.’ We haven’t lost anything as yet, although by making the move the President is certainly more exposed politically.

          The US did not go in alone, so I’m not sure about the point you are making.

          As for the credibility issue, this President is under attack from so many directions… so I do worry about it. Allow me the privilege of worrying, OK? :-)

          • KQuark says:

            Wringing hands may not be the best way to express it but it seems like the media especially are again not reporting what is actually going on in Libya and instead looking at everything that might go wrong. They should have asked all these high paid military consultants these pitfalls before but I guess the media is part of a reactionary population.

            • KQuark says:

              Hey Bito. I was just watching that ahole Spitzer on CNN and he was doing his first segment on the “stalemate” meme. Then when a guest challenged him by saying it’s only a stalemate in our 24 hour news cycle but in reality it’s too early to even start talking about stalemate. Then Spitzer tried to wiggle we were discussing possible stalemate. Again the media is not reporting news but trying to make it.

            • bito says:

              KQ, I was watching the Pentagon daily briefing yesterday on C-Span yesterday and what was on MSNBC? Speculation on the situation in Libya by some “experts.” I have often wondered if any of them have actually read the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973?
              Have we lost all trust in the presidency (thanks to W.) that we do not give an iota of trust to President Obama?

      • KQuark says:

        Wait a minute you are changing your tune. Using Special Forces only is not the Powell Doctrine.

        Why not the SAS or the GIGN go in then?

        Why always the US?

        • SequimBob2 says:

          Not changing the tune, although I may. I’m still working through this whole thing. Anyway, I wasn’t clear. I’m not advocating infantry battalions or brigades. Sorry for the confusion. My bad.

          As for Special Forces, I’m OK with SAS. Not familiar with CIGN. I’m just sayin’ when the President said “no ground forces,” he foreclosed an option that tactically I’d like to have seen held open. Understand why he did it.

          I’m all for it not always being the US, so I agree with you on that point.

  6. escribacat says:

    Caru, Excellent analysis (and suggestion). (Are you really only 18????) I know everyone whines about the CIA but I always thought the best solution in Iraq was to just take out psycho Saddam and his psycho sons. (Probably easier said than done, but still easier than what we ended up doing). I think taking out psycho leaders such as however-the-hell-you-spell-his-name is infinitely preferable to war.

    • Caru says:

      Thanks and yes, I’m 18.

      I’m still in secondary school (high school), but that’s because I chose to do the extra transition year course. Otherwise, I’d be in college.

      I too have often wondered why they don’t go after the central military figurehead as often as they could.

  7. escribacat says:

    The idea that this is just a cheap quickie is untrue. Costs of Libya operation already piling up:


    • KQuark says:

      Yes and no. When you talk about military spending compared to other discretionary spending that’s true but when you compare the costs to what we are already spending on the military it isn’t. I doubt the pentagon is going to have to ask for any additional money because there is enough padding in the military budget for Libya already.

      They say it will cost over $1 billion altogether which is still less than one 500th of the total we spend on the military before you include spending in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      I think there are good reasons to be against this action but it’s hard to make a case about the cost if the pentagon does not ask for more funds.

      Hell we can probably fight pay for our involvement in this action just by using Gaddafi’s assets alone.

    • Khirad says:

      Rescind big oil subsidies. Problem solved.

      And I wonder how much cumulative money we’ve spent propping some of these dictators up and subsidizing their torture, just for some perspective.

      • escribacat says:

        True. I’d rather intervene on behalf of the rebels than prop up dictators (if those are the only choices). In the short run, it’s the right thing to do to end the slaughter and get rid of the tyrant. In the long run, do we make any difference? I dunno.

      • Caru says:

        That’s a good point, though oil subsidies aren’t going away any time soon.

        • Khirad says:

          I know, but I’ve just been asking for a little perspective. If this thing drags on past the 60-90 day period, then that’s a different matter.

          But as to the cost of flying fighters even on exercises on American air bases? That’s already more expensive than most people would probably be aware.

          I knew I was surprised when I saw the price tag for a stadium flyover here once. And the airbase is literally in town!

          The big cost of this were the Tomahawks (another hometown product). If it ends there, if I recall the no-fly over Iraq was 700 million a year -- and that was a whole lot cheaper than invading the country.

          Maybe we’re stretched and that’s why this is different, but I keep praying that other countries step up regardless -- especially the $60 billion arms deal, including F-15s, we’re doing with the Saudis.

          Quite frankly, we’ve done most of what I wanted already, and I don’t want any mission creep on this -- except maybe taking out Gaddafi if the opportunity presents itself.

          • escribacat says:

            Khirad, I think the whole exercise is pointless if they don’t take Gaddafi out.

            • Khirad says:

              Other than that, the only other option is a breakaway state.

              Everyone is hoping for cracks in the military in Western Libya, which can be hard to come by when traitors or those refusing to shoot are themselves shot on the spot.

            • Caru says:

              I wholeheartedly agree.

  8. Chernynkaya says:

    I am against this operation. We have no clear objectives. It’s very possible that this operation will NOT end in regime change. In fact, regime change is very decidedly not the objective here. The U.S. government and British government have made it very clear that after this no fly zone, the political future of Libya will be in its people’s hands… how will that happen? Personally, I would like to just eliminate Gaddafi, but the same thing happened with Saddam--who knows where he is? And the surgical strikes are never as easy as they make it sound--civilians always get killed. To find him will involve ground troops.

    I would feel better about this if it could be compared to Bosnia, but the difference is that in Bosnia, there were competent rebels in that civil war, so air strikes and coordination with the ground troops could work. That doesn’t seem to be the case with these rebels--they need much more support. I think we should provide them with weapons, if they know how to use them.

    I heard conflicting reports last night that the NATO forces are taking over the operation, and if so that’s good. But it’s not so easy to hand over-- a military spokesman I heard said that it’s not as easy as “a handshake somewhere” — it involves handing over intelligence, coordination and logistics, communications… lots of details. Which is not to say it won’t be done, just that it takes more than a day.

    • KQuark says:

      I respect your position but it’s not mine.

      I’m fine with the stated objective of just saving as many citizen’s lives as possible. If the UN has to partition Libya to end a stalemate so be it. That’s really what the UN did in Bosnia.

      Actually Bosnia really had no cohesive rebel effort for a while so I don’t see that difference at all. You have to remember America entered Bosnia late so that’s where your perspective may start.

      When did a humanitarian objective not become a valid objective for progressives? We could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives in Rwanda and Sudan with no regime change. All the people were looking for there were safe havens.

      Frankly I think people have bought into a more right leaning mentality when regime change has to be an objective of any intervention. You can have a successful partition as an end to a UN sanctioned conflict and NK and SK are the best example.

      Of course NATO and the other countries fighting this conflict need to coordinate better but c’mon it’s been a week and if the UN waited any longer even a partition would be impossible.

      As far as deliberate decapitation of a head of government goes it’s outright illegal. But it seems like ends justify the means philosophy is winning out in this debate so far.

    • Khirad says:

      How much do you really buy regime change *nod, nod, wink, wink* isn’t the objective?

      Unless the Brits missed the mark by a wide margin when they hit Gaddafi’s compound.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        I think it was a hail Mary strike. NATO forces must know he wouldn’t be hanging around the palace--heck, it’s been struck before. I’m sure they’d be happy if he were dead, but that’s not the same as actively going after him. Realistically, he has GOT to be um, made gone. He’s not going to reform himself is he? And the big question, obviously, is who takes his place.

        • Khirad says:

          Oh yes, it was a Hail Mary, but one done to get him, is my point. There was no other strategic target there. Thus the *nod, nod, wink, wink* -- it’s not regime change. After all, that’s not allowed *wink*.

      • escribacat says:

        Khirad, Has Gaddafi or son been seen since that bombing? Do we know they are still alive?

        • Khirad says:

          Yes, Gaddafi has given a speech since. But there’s still a rumor that Khamis, the one with the elite brigade is dead. God I hope that’s true. That would be a pretty big setback.

          • escribacat says:

            Is Khamis the one who was on TV so much last week? (The one who hired Beyonce for a private showing, or whatever the hell it was).

            • Khirad says:

              No, that’s the Michael Corleone of the family, Saif.


              Although one answer has been given in all this. For a long time their had been a bitter feud over who would succeed Mo-Mo between Saif and Moatassem (intelligence).

              That once primary intrigue of Libya has long since been overshadowed though.

              The other two are Saadi and Khamis (rivals in their own right), both who command elite units. Taking those two out would in itself be a blow, as their units are loyal to the Gaddafi family specifically.

        • Chernynkaya says:

          In a spidey-hole??

    • escribacat says:

      Cher — even if there is a regime change, who is to say the new regime will be any better than the old one? Reports are coming out of Egypt now that the military commanders in charge there are turning out to be just as ruthless as Mubarek.

      • Khirad says:

        But elections are slated and amendments approved.

        Still too early to tell there. Tunisia still looks promising.

        And when it comes to guys like Milošević, Saddam, Khamenei, etc. I hate to beg the question, but can it really get that much worse?

        • Caru says:

          Well, yes. There have been hundreds of far worse tyrants than them, but I get your point.

          • Khirad says:

            I get that the Shah was replaced by Khomeini, Batista by Castro, and so on but I still think there’s a gradation scale and special class of dictators where it can’t help but get swung back, even a little. Mubarak killed up to around 200 (in the uprising), Gaddafi may be nearing 10,000. In Egypt, the fear is that history will repeat itself, and Tantawi or another will add his name to the list of Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak. As deflating and crushing to hopes as that would be, Mubarak was still nowhere near the same class as say, the Saudi Royals.

            Call it a tyranny spectrum.

            Now the Mongols, they had some serious tyrants! Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler and Kim Jong-il are blushing in hell next to a few of those Khans.

      • Chernynkaya says:

        E’cat, yes, there’s that too.

  9. Khirad says:

    The latest I’ve heard, Ajdabiya is split in half, and once in urban warfare, the playing field is leveled -- Gaddafi tanks risking shelling their own troops when firing on the city center. The rebels couldn’t even make it to Ajdabiya before the no-fly to have that chance.

    We still don’t know if the rebels can do it though -- to march on Tripoli.

    I’m easily the biggest cheerleader for the no-fly zone on this site putting me at odds with many, if not most of the liberal media as the reluctant hawk.

    But, that’s not to say I don’t have all the concerns you’ve expressed. This could easily lose my support if it escalates, or America isn’t able to extricate itself from it leadership role by virtue of it position of superior firepower capabilities.

    Should a stalemate solidify, internationally recognize a Nuovo Cyrenaica -- an Eastern Libya state with provisional capital Benghazi, and supply them with arms. This, too, comes with its own problems, and cannot last without a sustained no-fly zone. But with it, they can conceivably get the oil spigot flowing again and pay for their own Army.

    How can we be sure what replaces Gaddafi will be better?

    We can’t. But by god, Maghreb al-Qaeda has already expressed solidarity with Gaddafi against the “Colonial Crusaders” -- and other than that, I’m willing to take the chance Gaddafi is replaced by someone better.

    • Mightywoof says:

      You’re not the only cheer leader for this effort Khirad -- I am as well. I think what we all forget is that without this intervention there would have been a blood bath -- Qhadaffi has no compunction in wholesale slaughter of his own people. He would have bombed them, fired on them with tanks and if anybody was left he would have lined them up and shot them after a nice piece of torturing I’m sure.

      We also forget that the rebels were begging for assistance -- not on the ground, but for protection from Q’s planes and tanks.

      From what I understand, President Obama’s startegy was many-fold:

      1. No engagement without international approval, both from the UN and, more importantly, from the ME states themselves. The Arab League was fairly quick in agreeing to a no-fly zone and, armed with that, the UN was next with an amazing abstention from both Russia and China (although Germany surprised me)

      2. Military engagement would not be US led -- the Libyans have to own their revolution. If this was imposed from the outside it would have no legitimacy -- and even less legitimacy if the imposer was the US (sorry -- but the US is not yet liked yet alone loved in the ME).

      3. Once the no-fly zone was established, the other parties to the alliance (NATO and the ME states) would take over

      4. Mr. Obama also believes in diplomacy being used and this is what he will work on -- freezing of assets, embargoes on whatever Q wants to do, starve the bugger out.

      Yes there will be civilian casualties, it’s unavoidable -- I’m not a heartless bastard -- I just think that doing nothing would bring even bigger casualties and Q would still be there.

      Whatever happens, if the revolution succeeds it is not up to us -- any of us -- to decide who will be in charge. Once the Libyans have made up their minds (does self-determination ring any bells) then we, as individual nations, can make up our minds as to how we will treat with the new Libya.

      Sorry -- this second-guessing about what if this happens or what if that happens sometimes drives me nuts -- what will happen is what will happen and other than giving the rebels some breathing space that’s all that will happen -- the Libyans will decide their own fate. As long as your President is Mr. Obama, I really don’t believe that America needs worry about being embroiled in one conflict after another every time a dictator rears his/her ugly head ……. at least, that’s my read on your President. Khirad’s correct -- this was a unique confluence.

    • escribacat says:

      I’m still of two minds on this one, Khirad…but leaning against at this point. I don’t like the idea that the world just stands by while some tyrant slaughters his people. However I just don’t see an end to it all. After Kadafi, what then? After Libya, what then? We can’t fix the world. It’s just too screwed up. And we’ve got our own problems. On the other hand…I truly despise people who see some horror or injustice in their own neighborhood or town and just turn away and say “It’s not my problem.” This is a quandary.

      • Khirad says:

        I don’t buy the what next thing argument. This was a unique confluence of Arab, European and American agreement. They all thought Gaddafi had to go. You won’t see this happen again soon.

        • escribacat says:

          Which brings up the question…why not? Why Libya, but why not Yemen next? Or Syria or Jordan or Bahrain? I know a lot of folks have already said it’s because of the oil, which makes this intervention a lot less admirable. Ack. I don’t know. I’d make a terrible president.

  10. SequimBob2 says:

    Caru: Thank you for publishing this. Like you, I share your uncertainty about the course of action we have taken. Popular opinion seems to be on the side of having taken the action — for humanitarian reasons. And it may turn out to have been the right thing to do, but I’m skeptical. Murphy’s law is alive and well in all military conflicts.

    What I am 100% certain about is that this half-assed military approach (air campaign only) that we’re taking is a really bad idea. If countries could win wars from the air, they wouldn’t spend all that money on armies.)

    The President seems to want to keep a two-arm-length distance from the engagement. That may work in politics (although I doubt it), but it doesn’t work on the battlefield. Where’s the Powell Doctrine when we need it?

    Wars are easy to get into, notoriously hard to get out of — and even harder to control. But unlike Poker, if we’re not all-in, we are not likely to be successful.

    I suspect one casualty of this latest war will be President Obama’s credibility. The paper veneer that we’re not pulling the strings on this war already has a few holes in it. And this nonsense about not targeting Khadafi. He’s a military commander thus he’s a target and the President went so far as to say he had to go. So, if we’re going to do this, let’s go do it. No half measures.

    • KQuark says:

      Let me get this clear do you advocate boots on the ground if that’s what it takes?

      • SequimBob2 says:

        KQuark: Nice to hear from you. I’m a devotee of the Powell Doctrine. This probably comes from my being Viet Nam era vet. Here’s the doctrine: “[w]hen a nation is engaging in war, every resource and tool should be used to achieve decisive force against the enemy, minimizing US casualties and ending the conflict quickly by forcing the weaker force to capitulate.”

        As I mentioned previously, I’m not sure that the President made the right decision in going in. Having made it, however, I believe we should put boots on the ground -- no half measures. Having said this, here are my as-yet unanswered questions (also part of the Powell Doctrine:

        -- What US vital national security interest threatened?
        -- Do we have a clear attainable objective?
        -- Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
        -- Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
        -- Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
        -- Is the action supported by the American people?
        -- Do we have genuine broad international support?

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