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The No-Fly Zone Decision

[ Posted Monday, March 14th, 2011 – 17:11 PDT ]

The world's opinion-makers, in both government and media, seem to have settled on the idea that imposing a "no-fly zone" over Libya would be a good idea for all concerned. Not everyone has jumped on this bandwagon yet, but it seems to be the most popular option under discussion by those advocating "doing something" about the situation in Libya. But would a no-fly zone really change the dynamic all that much? Even if it had been imposed two weeks ago, would it have achieved any real goal? These are hard questions to answer, but anyone advocating a no-fly zone (especially one largely imposed by the U.S. military) really does need to at least consider them.

Put aside the global politics of the situation, and assume for the sake of argument that all the relevant international bodies backed the no-fly zone (the U.N., N.A.T.O., regional organizations such as the Arab League). This is far from where we currently stand, since China and Russia have their own ideas about when the international community should intervene in situations like the one in Libya (remember Tiananmen Square?). But assume for now that all the international groups gave the no-fly zone a green light.

The first thing that would happen, most likely, is that a U.S. aircraft carrier would position itself off Libya's shore. A swift attack would follow, on the radars and air defense capability Libya possesses. To "own the skies" you have to wipe out not only the missiles on the ground, but also the "eyes" (radars) which are capable of tracking your flights. This may also coincide with pre-emptive strikes against the airfields themselves (bombing the runways so they cannot be used), and against the planes in the hangars (again, so they cannot be used). Any Libyan planes which rose to defend against this attack would also be fair game, of course.

I have every confidence that the United States military is fully capable of success in such an attack. Within hours, we could wipe out the radars, anti-aircraft batteries and missiles, airfields, and (if we chose) a goodly portion of the Libyan Air Force's planes and helicopters. And that this would -- both militarily and psychologically -- be a huge victory over Ghaddafi's forces. But, even having said that, would it truly change much of anything on the ground? Even if it had happened two weeks ago?

The Libyan Air Force is pretty limited, and even though they do have hundreds of combat aircraft, nobody really knows how many of them are functional. A swift and decisive attack would likely cripple their ability to do much of anything, especially if American warplanes were ready to shoot them down if they tried. So, again, for the sake of argument, let's just assume that what the British call a "short, sharp shock" would be completely successful, and take the Libyan Air Force out of the picture. Would the situation on the ground be any different for the rebels?

Most of the fighting, so far, has been on the ground. The weapon of choice for Ghaddafi so far seems to be tanks and heavy artillery. It is true that bombs have been dropped, but mostly on weapons depots and other tactical targets, rather than directly on combatants. Libyan warships have also reportedly been used (for shelling, one assumes), but the brunt of the fighting has so far seemed to be urban warfare by machine guns, artillery, and tanks. A no-fly zone wouldn't change this calculus at all. The forces loyal to Ghaddafi would have to fight without any air cover at all, but since the rebels have no air power to begin with, this would be a setback for the Ghaddafi forces -- but not an overwhelming one. They've been using their air power in such a limited way so far (at least, from available reports) that the removal of this option would not seriously impact their ability to achieve their military goals (retaking ground the rebels occupy).

There would be an initial demoralizing aspect to imposing a no-fly zone, of course. The Libyan people would be able to see, as Obama said recently, "the noose being tightened" around Ghaddafi. It's pretty hard to ignore airfields being bombed, after all. In the best case scenario, this would lead to massive defections from the Libyan military to the rebel forces, as they realize they're in a losing battle with the rest of the world. However, you can't build a war plan around only the best case scenario. If Ghaddafi and the military loyalists dug in as a result of a no-fly zone, and doubled their resolve, then this psychological aspect could turn negative. After the initial shock of American dominating the airspace over Libya faded, each subsequent victory on the ground against the rebels would actually mean that the psychological impact would negatively impact the rebels -- as Ghaddafi defiantly showed that he was fully capable of regaining ground without the benefit of an air force. Demoralization may set in, in other words, but on the rebel side and not the Ghaddafi side. This would be the worst-case scenario, of course, but it has to at least be considered.

There are other worst-case aspects to consider as well. What happens if a Libyan plane or missile gets lucky and shoots down an American pilot? What kind of treatment do you think he or she would get at the hands of Ghaddafi? This is where our spoken and unspoken acceptance of torturing prisoners of war would come back to haunt the United States. How could we take any sort of moral high road and indignantly demand humane treatment from Libya when all Ghaddafi has to do is search the internet for Abu Ghraib (or Guantanamo) photos? When we get on our moral high horse about war crimes and prosecutions under the International Criminal Court, all Ghaddafi has to do is point out that America refused to join the I.C.C. (for fear of our own people being prosecuted), and the lack of prosecutions in America for any wrongdoings in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or anywhere else in the "War on Terror."

Putting aside worst and best case scenarios, though, let's assume America did successfully "take out" the Libyan Air Force's ability to do anything. This would make the American public feel good about "doing something" (and perhaps the rest of the West, as well), but would it really change anything? After seeing rebel forces slaughtered in town after town, would the cry suddenly become "we have to do more"? These things, historically, have a way of escalating. Once you're committed (as a country) on one side of a civil war, it becomes very hard to sit by and watch your side lose without doing more to aid them. Two weeks ago, I heard a fatuous comment from a pundit that we should impose a "no-tank zone" in Libya (in addition to a no-fly zone, of course). These cries would become louder, if Ghaddafi's forces (minus the air force) were still taking territory back from the rebels. Calls for the next phase of American involvement would begin -- bombing Ghaddafi's tanks and heavy artillery (and warships, perhaps).

This would ratchet our involvement up considerably, and the fight would more and more look like "the United States versus Ghaddafi" rather than "the rebels versus Ghaddafi." It may have the effect of actually leveling the playing field for the rebels, since both sides would be reduced to very light arms and urban block-by-block style battles. But even this is no assurance of victory. Ghaddafi's forces are trained, and the rebels are a pretty ragtag bunch. Sure, their cause is just -- but this is not a movie, this is real life.

What would likely happen, unless U.S. forces took the offensive step of actually targeting Ghaddafi himself for bombing raids (he already famously survived one of these, years ago), would be some sort of stalemate. American involvement may only serve to set in cement the front-line limits of the rebels and Ghaddafi forces -- and that's further towards a best-case scenario than a worst-case, it bears mentioning.

The worst case, even if we wiped out every tank and howitzer in Libya, would be what is likely happening right now anyway -- the slow but inexorable victory of Ghaddafi's forces over the rebels. If the loyalist forces retook every town in the east of the country, where would that leave the United States? Would we, at that point, declare defeat and pull out? This is not normally what American forces do, I should point out. Or would we then indefinitely continue the no-fly zone, as happened over Iraq between our wars?

Of course, the best best-case scenario (if you'll excuse the redundancy) is that the rebels win, Ghaddafi is killed (perhaps by a rogue member of his palace guard), and the country is transformed into some sort of democracy where the oil keeps flowing and dictatorship becomes a thing of the past. In this case, we'd be off the hook, the aircraft carrier would steam away to other duties on the world's oceans, and a new (and grateful) Libyan government would emerge with close ties to America.

But, again, you simply can't make military plans based on such rosy scenarios. Because anything short of this outcome would likely mean we would face the choice of how long to continue the no-fly zone -- whether the rebels enter a stalemate with the loyalist forces or whether Ghaddafi's forces retake the whole country.

Which is why President Obama is cautiously talking about risks and costs, right now. Because while it's fun for a pundit to say "we ought to just go in and impose a no-fly zone tomorrow!" such pundits are not charged with thinking these rash impulses through. Presidents are.

Because what we are talking about here is entering a third war in this part of the world. Or perhaps "fourth" or even "fifth," depending on how you count what we're doing in Pakistan and places like Yemen, currently. What we're talking about is tying up one of our aircraft carriers -- and a whole bunch of flying military hardware and pilots -- for an indefinite period of time. This would further stretch our military, and it would seriously stretch our national budget, perhaps for years to come. In essence, we'd be borrowing more money from China to throw our lot in with a civil war with uncertain prospects -- which may wind up with us being the only ones facing off against Ghaddafi, if he succeeds in crushing the rebels. So much for deficit reduction, eh?

I realize that in this age of omnipresent video, it is hard for Americans to see on their screens each night the "good guys" losing and the "bad guys" winning. The overwhelming urge is to "do something -- now!" America has chosen sides already, the argument goes, so why not do something that would really help?

The answer to that is twofold. One, it may turn out badly. This alone might not be enough to make the case for non-action. But the second reason is that we really can't be the "world's policeman" in every single country around the globe. We can't afford to anymore, if we ever could (and if we ever actually were such a thing). The only option with any sort of chance of low-cost success would be to declare Libya a "no-Ghaddafi zone," and target him with a few cruise missiles. But if a first strike wasn't successful, this too may backfire (we're still attempting to take out Osama Bin Laden in this fashion... which we have been attempting for almost ten years now). And it is not likely to happen anyway, because it would smack of assassination of a sovereign leader -- something America does not generally pride itself on.

It is tough to sit back and watch "the good guys" get slaughtered on television each night. It is easy to work up a sense of moral dudgeon about the situation. It is almost as easy to call for a "no-fly zone" from the comfort of a computer keyboard. An initial raid which wiped out the Libyan Air Force would likely be almost completely successful -- which would make everyone feel better about "doing something." But doing so should in no way be seen as any sort of panacea for the rebel forces. Taking out the Libyan Air Force does not guarantee a rebel victory -- not by a long shot. The rebels wouldn't face bombs from the air afterwards, but they would still face warships, artillery, and tanks -- all manned by trained soldiers. A no-fly zone wouldn't change this one bit. It might slow down the advance of Ghaddafi's forces -- it might even halt this advance and create a stalemate -- but it would not tip the scales all that heavily in favor of a rebel victory. Even if such a no-fly zone had been imposed weeks ago, the situation on the ground would likely be pretty much where it stands today.

If this sounds like defeatism, well, I'm sorry. Nobody ever gets covered in glory by arguing for doing, essentially, nothing. I realize this. Watching the rebels get slaughtered is tough. But watching the rebels get slaughtered after wiping out the Libyan Air Force would be just as tough -- if not tougher. Revolutions don't always succeed. The good guys don't always win. These are grim facts, indeed. We probably could help the rebel forces enough to succeed, but it would require training, weapons, and (most importantly) time. If we leapt in with both feet on the side of the rebels, once the adrenaline rush of bombing the heck out of the Libyan Air Force wore off, American would face a long involvement in a war which would tie up precious military resources (to say nothing of precious tax dollars) while we are involved in several other global conflicts. The American public is already weary of such adventures in places most people cannot locate on a map.

President Obama, to his credit, seems to be rationally thinking this whole situation through. He's in a tough spot, because the popular thing to do now would most likely become much less popular as time wore on. He is weighing the costs and benefits of the situation, and his reluctance to get involved may turn out, in the long run, to be the correct decision. Because, as I said, he is the one charged with taking the long view of America's best interests in situations like these -- which, in the heat of the moment ("No fly zone -- now!") may prove to be unpopular. But then, that's what leadership sometimes requires -- doing the right thing, rather than the thing which would make us feel good right away.

 

Cross-posted at Business Insider
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

-- Chris Weigant

 

31 Comments on “The No-Fly Zone Decision”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    But would a no-fly zone really change the dynamic all that much?

    Well, that would seem to be entirely dependent on what dynamic you're talking about.

    One thing is for sure ... in view of the monumental mess that the last US administration made of US policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, if there is going to be a no-fly-zone over Libya, then it had damn sure better be led by the Arab League.

    Oh, wait ... there is no sign of leadership that has ever come out of the Arab League. Sorry, no no-fly-zone, then.

    Or, we could insist that Saudi Arabia lead the effort, all by itself. After all, it spends a pretty good chunk of GDP on its military. Oh, wait ... the House of Saud is too busy sending troops to Bahrain to stamp out the pro-reform protests there to be worried about a fellow Arab regime inciting a civil war and killing its own people.

  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    From recent reports, it appears that DaffyDuck is gaining the upper hand against the rebels.

    It is becoming increasingly likely that he will prevail in this civil war.

    And that will be the absolute WORST possible outcome for the US.. It was embolden countries like Iran and NK immeasurably..

    Michale.....

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    Libyan's Pro-Democracy rebels are being slaughtered. They just lost their last stronghold to Qadaffi's forces...

    Japan is facing an apocalyptic nuclear disaster..

    And President Obama??

    He goes golfing...

    sssiiiigggghhhhhh

    {cue Bush Vacation responses}

    Michale.....

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    The rebellion in Libya is all but crushed...

    Chalk up another loss for the US... :(

    Michale.....

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    http://sjfm.us/temp/obama-fiddles.jpg

    Says it all....

    Michale....

  6. [6] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    michale,

    there are many valid criticisms of the president on many issues, but that's really not one of them. the exact same criticism was invalid when leveled at bush I, and it's equally invalid now. regarding libya, the administration is in a bind when it comes to intervening in (even more) foreign conflicts than we're involved in already. regarding japan, he's offered whatever support and assistance we can provide, so it's really improper to claim that he's not doing anything about it.

    haley barbour, on the other hand...

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/onpolitics/post/2011/03/haley-barbour-press-aide-resigns-japan-tsunami/1

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    NYpoet,

    If Bush had gone golfing under similar circumstances that face Obama today, the Left would have been apoplectic...

    And rightly so...

    It's the perception that is important here...

    As far as Libya goes, all Obama has done is spout words like Qadaffi's rule is illegitimate.... And yet, it looks like Qadaffi will survive to rule another day..

    So the US looks completely and utterly moronic.. Like a British Bobby... "STOP!!! Or I'll say STOP again!!"

    As far as Japan??

    "It would be wonderful for people to maybe offer a little help to the Japanese people at this time -- as they’re filling out their brackets.
    -President Barack Obama

    Moronic... Truly and utterly moronic...

    Michale.....

  8. [8] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    michale,

    just to refresh your memory, in 1992 bush left saddam alone to reclaim control of iraq, and golfed frequently during what at the time was considered a pretty big recession. the left turned this golfing into a huge campaign issue, in my view inaccurately. just like obama, bush I wasn't ignoring any of those things, it was a clear manipulation of public perception.

    i think your criticism on obama on japan is just off the mark; you can't just cherry pick one off-beat quote and pretend like he's not doing anything. in this case he has been vocal and unequivocal in his support for the japanese people, no matter what the chattering class or ESPN analysts may have to say about it.

    as i've said before, there are plenty of valid criticisms of obama. in my not-so-humble opinion, these are not among them.

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    NYpoet,

    That's kewl... We can disagree on this point... :D

    I think the perception issue is a valid criticism..

    And I'll bet ya quatloos that Obama's poll numbers will fall because the perception is he has been the Invisible President during these crisis....

    Again, it may not be the reality, but it is the perception.. Largely brought about by Obama's actions.....

    Fer christ's sake! You don't go play GOLF when an ally is facing multiple nuclear meltdowns...

    It's just not done...

    Michale.....

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    U.S. Seeks Range of Strikes on Libya at U.N.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703818204576206432070204102.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories

    Well, I guess late is better than nothing...

    It has nothing to do with being deliberative and thinking things out...

    It has everything to do with the Obama Administration thinking, "We're going to look like idiots when, after all of our posturing and condemnation, Qadaffi remains in power..."

    If air strikes are a good idea now, then they were an even better idea BEFORE the rebels were slaughtered...

    Michale.....

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    You can always count on a great assessment from Mike Baker, a man after my own heart...

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/03/16/need-know-james-clapper-director-national-intelligence/

    2012 simply can not come soon enough...

    Michale.....

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    Apparently one high up Administration official is as frustrated with Obama as I am...

    Obama's indecision on Libya has pushed Clinton over the edge
    Fed up with a president “who can’t make his mind up” as Libyan rebels are on the brink of defeat, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is looking to the exits.

    At the tail end of her mission to bolster the Libyan opposition, which has suffered days of losses to Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s forces, Clinton announced that she’s done with Obama after
    2012 — even if he wins again.

    http://www.thedaily.com/page/2011/03/17/031711-news-hillary-2-2/

    Hard to believe I would find a kindred spirit in Hillary Clinton, eh? :D

    Michale.....

  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    Well, now the UN has "authorized" a No Fly Zone in Libya...

    Let's take stock..

    The rebellion is decimated and all but completely defeated..

    Because the US dithered, we won't be able to split Qadaffi's attention between NATO/UN forces and Rebel forces.. Qadaffi's military can just use minimal forces to mop up the Rebels and concentrate practically the entire military might on NATO/UN forces..

    Further, since Rebel forces have been pushed back to a defensive perimeter in Benghazi, any allied forces do not have a friend in the area besides Benghazi...

    Finally, since it's likely that Benghazi will fall to government loyalists within 48 hours, there will be no Safe Haven for allied forces anywhere in the country... This means that all FEBAs will likely be at sea... And, since it's the US that has the primary sea platforms, the US will now have to commit more substantial forces than we would have had all this been done weeks ago...

    So, to sum up..

    By waiting until the Rebels were all but defeated, Obama has made it likely that the US will have to commit MORE forces to Libya.

    THIS is exactly what happens when politicians wait too long to make decisions..

    "Failure to make a decision is a decision in itself. And it is invariably the WRONG decision."
    -Captain James T Kirk

    Now, I have been asked before, "What could Obama have done??"

    Let's examine what actions that should have been done THEN that would put the US in a MUCH better position NOW..

    1. Recognize the Rebel formed government, as France had done.

    2. Establish a CnC link with Rebels to facilitate intelligence sharing.

    3. Provide Rebel forces with much needed non-combat related support, such as medicines, food and other support.

    4. Encourage Arab member states to funnel arms and ammunition to the Rebels..

    All of these actions would NOT have committed US combat forces to any action in Libya and would have possibly given the Rebels the boost they needed to hang in fight and sustain the brutal attacks by government loyalists...

    Had these actions been accomplished then the US would be in a MUCH better position, militarily and politically, than the US is in right now..

    In short, Obama screwed the pooch...

    AGAIN...

    Michale.....

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    Further, just let me state that, due to the dithering, it's likely that there will be more allied casualties, especially amongst fighter pilots..

    If Obama has ANY sense of decency whatsoever, he will personally write each and every one of those condolence letters...

    Michale.....

  15. [15] 
    Moderate wrote:

    Michale's right. By dithering, the situation is now that any no-fly zone is almost certainly doomed to fail. It will actually do more harm now than good, because it isn't enough to just make the right decision; it has to be a timely one as well.

    Had the original plan been enacted immediately the regime would have been in no position to fly in arms and mercenaries, both of which have swung the momentum, which was squarely with the rebels before, in favour of the regime.

    So to say "Most of the fighting, so far, has been on the ground." misses the point. It's been on the ground, yes, but using troops and weapons that were flown into the country. Since the original plan floated by Britain and France covered all flights, including commercial ones, there would have been no way to fly those in.

    To add to the solutions Michale presented, America could have sent in Special Forces trainers to train the rebels. That limited military support is much less than will now be required for the NFZ. In fact, combined with a limited NFZ, this would have been similar to the successful strategy in Kosovo.

    Not only would earlier action have been more successful in Libya, but it would have had massive effects on the region. It would have been seen as proof that America, setting aside its own interests in oil supplies and "stability" in the middle east, was supporting the Arab people in seeking freedom.

    It would have been seen as making up for the failure of George H.W. Bush to support rebels in Iraq in 1991. There, much as now, the President dithered in providing a no-fly zone, and by the time it came about, Saddam had already crushed the uprising. Not only did this create distrust towards America which made Gulf War II more difficult, but it created a generation of young terrorists.

    A no-fly zone now comes across as a self-interested involvement in a civil war, one that will likely be badly received by both sides. Dangerous radical Islamists are free, either released by the regime or having escaped, and this Jihadist element, which was not present earlier, creates a very real possibility that a no-fly zone would simply create a protracted civil war and lead to the increased radicalisation of Libya.

    In other words, far from helping the situation, by delaying on making this decision, Obama has likely made things a heck of a lot worse.

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    In other words, far from helping the situation, by delaying on making this decision, Obama has likely made things a heck of a lot worse.

    I am wracking my brain, trying to remember the last time I ever approved of something Obama has done.

    I don't think he has made a good call since he ordered the SEALS to take out those Somali pirates..

    It's all well and good to be contemplative and really think out your decisions..

    But any good leader can tell you that sometimes you have to make a decision or the decision will be made for you. Usually with disastrous results.

    As is happening in Libya..

    Michale.....

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    Leave it to the Brits to sum things up perfectly...

    http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/235196/Barack-Obama-The-Weakest-President-in-history-

    Michale.....

  18. [18] 
    Chris1962 wrote:

    Hard to believe I would find a kindred spirit in Hillary Clinton, eh? :D

    I know the feeling. It's freaking me out a bit, too.

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    Apparently, it's not just me who is wondering what the hell Obama is thinking..

    http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/03/16/european_governments_completely_puzzled_about_us_position_on_libya

    Can ANYONE deny that Obama has really fracked up the US's standing in the world??

    Bush, on his WORST day, never did as much to damage US credibility..

    Michale....

  20. [20] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Bush, on his WORST day, never did as much to damage US credibility..

    i think that may be overstating the case.

    between attacking iraq on faulty intel, warrantless domestic wiretaps, waterboarding at gitmo, CIA Leaks from the VP's office, improper US Attorney firings, abuse of patients at walter reed, refusing to sign kyoto, bailing out AIG, funding Blackwater and other sketchy companies, failing to respond to katrina, having an iraqi reporter throw a shoe at him, and cheney shooting a friend in the face...

    ...perhaps obama still has some catching up to do. i mean, the nobel people gave him a peace prize just for not being bush. thus, the likelihood of obama equaling bush's infamy in the international community is extremely low, even if he does somehow win a second term.

  21. [21] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    do keep in mind that i'm not necessarily talking about right or wrong here, just about international credibility. when obama and members of his cabinet cancel a speaking trip to an allied country due to an arrest warrant for war crimes, (bush in switzerland, rumsfeld in germany) then perhaps there will be a comparison worth making.

    until such a time, libya is just one big goof-up that may potentially still be saved if obama acts quickly to clean it up.

  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    i think that may be overstating the case.

    I don't...

    Bush was never accused of "dithering"...

    Under Bush, the US may have been hated and feared, but it was never dismissed...

    between attacking iraq on faulty intel, warrantless domestic wiretaps, waterboarding at gitmo, CIA Leaks from the VP's office, improper US Attorney firings, abuse of patients at walter reed, refusing to sign kyoto, bailing out AIG, funding Blackwater and other sketchy companies, failing to respond to katrina, having an iraqi reporter throw a shoe at him, and cheney shooting a friend in the face...

    Most of which Obama has done much worse...

    Except the shooting in the face part. Obama's a wuss and is afraid of guns. :D

    ...perhaps obama still has some catching up to do. i mean, the nobel people gave him a peace prize just for not being bush. thus, the likelihood of obama equaling bush's infamy in the international community is extremely low, even if he does somehow win a second term.

    And that's a pretty big "IF" at this point in time. :D

    US credibility has taken a big hit on the world stage under Obama..

    This latest Libya debacle is simply another example..

    Don't take my word for it...

    Peruse some of the world press...

    Michale.....

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:

    Looks like HAMAS is feeling a little neglected...

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/M/ML_ISRAEL_PALESTINIANS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2011-03-19-10-02-15

    :^/

    The words "bomb" and "stone age" come to mind....

    Michale.....

  24. [24] 
    Michale wrote:

    Excellent "LIVE" coverage of the Libya campaign..

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12776418

    Michale.....

  25. [25] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    I hate to stop this knee-jerk anti-Obama fest, but seriously, you would not be happy with pretty much anything he'd do, because you'd still have talking points to say it was the wrong thing to do.

    When Egypt happened, you were following the Fox News line: "be very afraid of the protesters! Muslim Brotherhood!" Obama was working behind the scenes to keep the military in check. Outcome: pretty darn good, so far. Elections will be held next week, on constitutional amendments. So who was right, and who was wrong on that one?

    When Libya happened, you again follow the "dithering!" Fox News line. But if America had gone it alone early, as you are suggesting, then we would have a full-on third war that we alone would be waging. Because Obama got the world's opinion on his side, it will mostly be the French, the British, the Italians, and the Canadians who will be enforcing the no-fly zone. As for "dithering," oh, please. Go check the amount of time Bush took to start the war in Afghanistan. Or Iraq, for that matter -- count how many MONTHS from when Congress voted to when it started. And name me one war, post-WWII, where American troops have acted faster than in Libya.

    Oh, and you should really read this, too. Just because Ghaddafi's bad doesn't mean the alternative might not be worse. As you were saying (but no longer seem to be) on Egypt.

    It's easy to Monday-monring quarterback. It's not so easy when you're actually in the hot seat.

    Now, I'm not saying this is all going to work out great in Libya, but methinks you guys are a little quick to suggest it's doomed. Let it play out. See what happens, that's all I'm asking.

    I'll get to individual points later, if I have the time, but I just wanted to pass along a quote I just read recently:

    "I've yet to see any problem, however complicated, which when you looked at it the right way didn't become still more complicated."
    (Poul Anderson, "Call Me Joe")

    -CW

  26. [26] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    One more thing. You've been saying for over a year now that "if Obama had only voiced strong support for the protesters in Iran, then everything would have worked out wonderfully and they would have bare-handedly overthrown their government."

    Libya proves how wrong this is. When a totalitarian regime has no compunction about shooting people in the street, it matters not a fart in a windstorm what anyone outside the country is saying. Obama followed EXACTLY the course of action in Libya that you've been saying he should have followed in Iran, and the result is exactly what you said wouldn't happen in Iran -- a crackdown, no matter what Obama was saying.

    Or were you advocating military intervention in Iran, too? I forget.

    -CW

  27. [27] 
    Michale wrote:

    I hate to stop this knee-jerk anti-Obama fest,

    Awwwww, come on!! I am having soo much fun with it!! :D

    you would not be happy with pretty much anything he'd do, because you'd still have talking points to say it was the wrong thing to do.

    Not so... I listed several things that Obama could have done.... SHOULD have done... that I would have been ecstatic with... And Moderate added one more excellent suggestion..

    You know me. If Obama does something I agree with, I'll put my stamp of approval on it. Grudgingly, to be sure, but I'll give credit where credit is due..

    When Egypt happened, you were following the Fox News line: "be very afraid of the protesters! Muslim Brotherhood!" Obama was working behind the scenes to keep the military in check. Outcome: pretty darn good, so far. Elections will be held next week, on constitutional amendments. So who was right, and who was wrong on that one?

    I wouldn't characterize my response as the "be very afraid" variety.. I simply stated that there was legitimate concern as to who will ultimately end up in power.. And there still is..

    I will concede that, so far, things do appear to be going Obama's way in this. Although, it doesn't look like Egypt will be the friend to the US that it once was. Hopefully our military ties with Egypt will win out over the protesters obvious hatred of the US, as evidenced by the snubbing that our SecState received on a recent visit..

    So, Egypt is definitely up in the air and I don't think Obama should be breaking out the champagne just yet...

    When Libya happened, you again follow the "dithering!" Fox News line.

    Don't blame me that FNC seems to call it right more often than not.. :D

    I also remind you that the general opinion amongst our allies (those that we have left) is much the same..

    But if America had gone it alone early, as you are suggesting, then we would have a full-on third war that we alone would be waging.

    Not so... We would have had as strong a coalition then as we do now. Perhaps stronger because back then, other countries would have been following a LEADER, not a country who only took steps when it looked like they were going to be made to look the fool...

    It's easy to Monday-monring quarterback. It's not so easy when you're actually in the hot seat.

    You are absolutely correct. I said the same thing to ya'all many times during the Bush years. :D

    Now, I'm not saying this is all going to work out great in Libya, but methinks you guys are a little quick to suggest it's doomed. Let it play out. See what happens, that's all I'm asking.

    Oh, of course. You think I would pass up a chance to tell Obama, "I TOLD YA SO!~~" :D

    Regardless of how it plays out, our credibility has been damaged by our lack of resolve on Libya...

    Again, that's not ME saying it. That's the world saying it. Based on media reports from other countries..

    Libya is simply another example of a wishy-washy leadership style that is only moved to action when circumstances FORCE action..

    Obama is a re-active president.

    In, the dangerous world of the here and now, that is NOT a good thing to be..

    One more thing. You've been saying for over a year now that "if Obama had only voiced strong support for the protesters in Iran, then everything would have worked out wonderfully and they would have bare-handedly overthrown their government."

    Well, I wouldn't characterize my words as such.. I stated that Obama should have done more than just some weak verbal platitudes here and there... And I never claimed that things would have worked out wonderfully. I simply stated that things would likely have worked out better for the protesters than the mass killings and executions that they experienced...

    Such beliefs are completely in keeping with my current beliefs that in Libya, Obama should have done more than weak verbal platitudes. And I listed the things that Obama, that a REAL leader WOULD have done in these circumstances.

    Looking at things completely objectively, Obama's leadership during the Libya crisis (and, to a different extent, the Japanese crisis) has been a mess. Much as with Egypt, his administration was all over the place. His SecState was saying this, his NSA was saying that and his DefSec was saying something else.

    Again, it's not ME saying that Obama's leadership has been found wanting. Well.. It's not JUST me. :D Read some reports from the world press...

    The majority of reports find the US actions and LACK of actions perplexing. They don't know what strategy the US is following or if the US is even following a strategy, but is rather just lurching from one crisis to another like a rudderless ship...

    Hillary would definitely have been the better choice for President.

    And I can't believe I am even THINKING that, let along posting it! :D

    Love her or hate her, no one would EVER accuse her of being indecisive or rudderless... :D

    Michale....

  28. [28] 
    Michale wrote:

    What it all boils down to is this..

    We're past the halfway point of Obama's presidency..

    Does ANYONE here... anyone at all... know exactly what Obama really stands for??? What he believes in??

    I don't think anyone does..

    And that's the problem.

    We SHOULD....

    Michale....

  29. [29] 
    Moderate wrote:

    Just a couple of quick points. Bush was criticised for going into Iraq for the following reasons:

    1) Lack of international support. Yet 14 more countries supported the invasion of Iraq than are currently supporting the intervention in Libya.

    2) No formal "Declaration of War" by Congress. "Approval for the use of Military Force" is not the same, apparently, as declaring war. But I guess engaging in military action without congressional oversight is much better.

    3) It was a war over oil. Because obviously there's no oil in Libya...

    4) Taking on another military intervention when the last one (in Afghanistan) wasn't finished yet. Remind me, are the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq over?

    5) It was all a way to mask the rising unemployment rate (a whopping 4% in some parts of the US) by recruiting young men into the military to mask the real extent of unemployment. Is my maths wrong or is 8.9% higher than 4%?

    6) Wasting money. The country was burdened by a massive, crippling debt and couldn't afford a war. The deficit in 2002 was $150 billion. But it's less now, right? Good thing the Democrats placed such high importance on the deficit...

    I'm not saying Obama's decision was wrong (in fact I think he should have taken this action sooner) but it's telling that the same people who bashed Bush's war policy are conspicuously quiet right now...

  30. [30] 
    Moderate wrote:

    And remember when Vice President Biden, then Senator Biden, said, in response to the idea that Bush might launch military action against Iran, that the President has no constitutional authority to launch military action against a country that has not attacked the USA unless he has proof that the USA is about to be attacked, and that if Bush did so, he would move to impeach him?

    I guess, as President of the Senate, Biden would lend his support to anyone who moved to impeach Obama, right? I mean, Democrats are always saying how the Republicans have no real principles, and just care about power, so I'm sure a leading Democrat like Biden would want to set an example.

  31. [31] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    moderate,

    i'm not necessarily saying you're wrong on the points you've made, but there are a few key differences in the nature of the conflicts in iraq and libya. at the time bush (and the democratic congress) decided to attack iraq, there were no war, no active resistance movement, and no humanitarian crisis (or crisis of any other kind) in progress. when obama made the move to intervene in Libya, there were already a civil war and humanitarian crisis, with opposition forces which would soon be annihilated if action was not taken immediately. of course, part of that situation resulted from obama not acting sooner. nonetheless, they're not exactly parallel situations.

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