What a Flawed Strategy

We’ve intervened when and where we shouldn’t have, again.  This is under a resolution that means we can’t finish the job.  If we don’t finish the job, as I noted that will be another disaster.


For realists, I would love to hear how doing nothing in Libya was going to help U.S. security interests. Having an oil-rich pariah state that could very well return to supporting terrorism and wreaking havoc in the region would be disastrous, creating Iraq part 3 and making it more likely we’d have to intervene sometime further into the future, at much greater cost and consequence. Did we not learn from the quelched Shia uprisings of 1991? Or from standing by idly (or supporting) the military coup that ended Algerian democracy in 1991? – Shadi Hamid

From where I sit, it looks like we’re moving precisely in the direction Hamid says he wants to avoid. Gaddafi is already an international pariah. If the U.S. simply adheres to the letter of the UN Resolution, which limits international action to protecting Libyan civilians but does not commit to regime change, Gaddafi may hang on, effectively partitioning Libya much as Iraq was split following the first Gulf War. In such an environment, it’s quite likely that Gaddafi will turn to terrorism to seek revenge against his rivals.

5 responses to “What a Flawed Strategy

  1. Wait, what? All the super-geniuses at Fox News have been clamoring for a no-fly zone, now it’s a bad idea?

  2. With only a no-fly zone, Qaddafi will hang on. You can’t overthrow a country through airpower alone (well, not unless you use nukes).

    Bruce, you are spot on. I suspect the administration has come to a similar conclusion, which is why the United States is more likely to take more of a support role. This is about public diplomacy, not American vital interests.

    The problem of course, is the potential for escalation.

  3. Interestingly, the US has signaled that this is not a US led intervention — we’ll support it with technology and weapons that the Europeans don’t have, but this is their operation. With our military overstretched in Afghanistan and Iraq, I doubt we’ll see the US pushing for escalation. I don’t know, I’m not ready to call this a flawed strategy, but how it turns out will have ramifications down the line!

    • What worries me is this has to be finished ( no Colonel K alive I’d say) or we’re inviting terrorism like before or worse. If Europe, the Arab League others involved don’t do so, I think the US will have to.

      It’s a little like a too big to fail guarantee. It invites risk taking believing that Uncle Sam’s always got your back.

  4. I definitely see your point. What I’d like to see is that the economic and political pressure is so great that ultimately Gaddafi loses the capacity to retain loyal support. The pressure from the ICC needs to remain intense. What I’d like to see is a message sent to dictators that holding out against the international community isn’t going to work. I guess a lot depends on the strength and staying power of the Libyan opposition forces.

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