Category Archives: Libya

The Libyan Consulate

Clearly this a tragic situation.

If Romney and other conservatives ultimately think that it is critical ultimately that we use force against some one in the Mid-East, at the least I think we should  try to make that response surgical and focused on those responsible.

The previous administration, or at least parts of it, I think basically believed that it was important to ‘show the Muslim world who was boss’ after the 9/11 of 2001.  To do so:  start and win a war against a Mid-Eastern country.  I’m not sure it mattered who, as long as we showed we were strong and not to be trifled with. 

Hence we attacked a nation nominally to disarm it of weapons it proved not to even have.  To a lot of those most critical of the Obama administration, I don’t think this mattered, we showed we were not to be messed with; the Muslims hate us and we need to show them they still have to fear us, and by God we did; or so the Bush administration hoped.  I’d  characterize that response as blunt with abundant collateral damage to innocent by standers that may have spawned a new generation of terrorists.

In fact, 9 years later, it isn’t clear to me that we’ve cowed our enemies and potential enemies given this tragic incident.  So has Obama’s charm offensive failed or the earlier attempt to intimidate the entire mid-east? 

I’m inclined to think this is at least partially blow-back from our use of force rather than failure by the Obama administration.  In the end we likely shouldn’t let this go unanswered, but I hope we at least make the response focused on bringing the actual perpetrators to justice, not just punishing Muslims and the Mid-East in general.  Whatever we do, I don’t think it should be an act in the emotions of the moment, or that exaggerates what force can accomplish.


Speaking Honestly

We usually see this as a good thing in theory, but not always in practice.

When James Clapper said "“over the longer term, that the regime will prevail” regarding Libya rebels versus the government of Gadhafi, he was mostly condemned for doing so.  I think that was a mistake and we may pay for it in the long term.

We have aligned our selves with a small scale rebellion, that may be preferred to the current Libyan government, but one threshold question had to be:  Can these rebels win, without massive outside support?  It is looking more and more like the answer is and was no.

In discouraging, plain talk about reality in Libya we’ve enabled the promotion of this ill advised military action.  So it seems to me.



President Nixon began the process of disengagement from Vietnam (that continued for years) by supposedly substituting South Vietnamese troop for US troops.  I think that Vietnamization is happening in Libya, but in a different way.

U.S. Predators Carry Out Two Strikes in Libya



U.S. Predator drones struck their first targets in Libya over the weekend, military officials said.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization said a Predator strike hit a multiple-rocket launcher near the Libyan city Misrata at 11:00 GMT on Saturday, or 7:00 a.m. Eastern time. The NATO announcement said multiple rocket-launcher systems have been used to attack civilians in Misrata.

Capt. Darryn James, a Pentagon spokesman, disclosed the strike on Saturday but provided few details. NATO said Sunday that a second strike took place at 8:40 p.m. GMT Saturday.

Although the U.S. had said it would step back from an offensive role in the Libya mission, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday the U.S. would provide two unmanned Predator drones around the clock to strike targets.

U.S. Predators Carry Out Two Strikes in Libya – WSJ.pdf

This is feeling more and more like Vietnam to me.  I strongly object to the war in Iraq, though I supported it for a long time.  That said, at least we could see we were jumping into a major military action from the start.  I think most didn’t realize how long and difficult a conflict it would be and the rational for it provided to be bogus to a large degree.

Libya is evolving more like Vietnam.  We’re that frog being slowly brought to a boil in a a slowly but inexorably escalating war.  This was supposed to be a matter of weeks.  Well its been weeks already, and now were providing drone strikes.  When do we send in advisors??  That’s like just a matter time I fear.  The conflict is being ratched up to dull opposition to it.

Vietnam gradually escalated over about a five year period.  At first it was advisors, then more and more troops, more bombing, incursions into Cambodia and secretly into Laos.  I think many of the intention even in that terribel war were good, but I don’t think much of a case can be made now with the benefits of long hindsight that that war was wise.  I fear Libya is following that model.

Bainbridge: I honestly don’t understand Obama’s Libya policy

via I honestly don’t understand Obama’s Libya policy.

He says:

I honestly don’t get it. Obama starts an undeclared war without Congressional approval, spends a few hundred million dollars, because Qaddafi was about to smash the rebels outside of Benghazi. Then after a couple of weeks, he has the US effectively pull its fighters and bombers out of the war, turning tail and running. With the US out of the picture, Qaddafi is again smashing the rebels. So how is all this helping?

Meanwhile, there’s a bloody civil war going on in the Ivory Coast, violent repression of protests in Syria, Yemen trembling on the brink of something bad, and the US does nothing.

Whatever happened to the Powell doctrine? If we’re going to make war on Qadaffi, do it right, kill him, take out his senior staff, and get out. Otherwise, stay out. This sort of half-hearted nonsense, however, seems the worst of all worlds.

I think the hope was that we could leverage a small role for US forces to prime the pump for Europe or others to do the heavy lifting, that would lead to a negotiated end the Qadaffi government.  So far though its not clear that is happening.

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.

You gotta kill that bear now !

Assuming we are part of airstrikes against libya, we better realize in a little, means in all the way.  Ghaddafi is a monster.  That’s clear.  But honestly I felt we should stay out.  This was becoming somewhat painful as rebels are brutally attacked, and one thinks of what will happen to them if and when Ghaddafi regains control of all of Libya.

So why would we stay out?  We’re badly overextended militarily already, mostly in Muslim nations.  While we may help take down a monster here its not at all clear that the rebels in the end may not  behave a lot like him, especially in an area as tribal as Libya is.  The consequences of intervention are anything but clear.  In the end western intervention will certainly be used against those we support in the sense of calling them foreign puppets.  Finally what happens if we lose the stomach to see this through to a new government in Libya?

That will be disastrous in at least two ways.  We will have just made the libyan government (the bear) mad but not have killed it.    This may have blowback in a more bloody suppression of our allies, who will have the taint of foreign support.  Second, that angry bear may lash out with increased terrorist activity in Europe, and maybe even here in the US.

But the die is caste now.  I hope the President and the US public see this to a conclusion.