Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Decison On The Shores Of Tripoli

The inevitable has occurred, a military action against Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi.  As I write these words the news-lines crackle with breaking information on the latest bit of Libyan military infrastructure being reduced to rubble. Today it is a command center, who knows what tomorrow will bring. I wonder if anyone other than the Libyans are truly paying attention.

The progression of the events in Libya has been very predictable. When Tunisia and then Egypt overthrew there corrupt leaders, Libya was pre-ordained to be the next big thing. Gaddafi has misruled Libya with an iron hand for over forty years; he was going to be challenged.

That challenge was not going to go down well with Muammar. The man is the sin qua non of egomaniacal, self-absorbed, tin-pot dictators. Such personalities do not respond well to a challenge to their prerogatives. Gaddafi cried havoc and lest loose the dogs of civil war.

At first Gaddafi’s fortunes did not look so good.The rebels looked like they were rolling up the regime as town after town fell to their forces. But Gaddafi was abel to use mercenaries plus airpower, and the situation reversed. The use of air power by the Libyan government forces was especially savage.

As the savagery became better known, Western powers mood started shifting. Intervention into the civil war in Libya became more and more of a talking point. Finally the dread words were spoken, “No Fly Zone.”  This was a solution looking for a problem. No Fly Zones were used in Bosnia and in Iraq to very mixed results.

Still the elites of many Western Nations loved No Fly. It is part of the very long term relationship that these nations have with air power. The promise of Air Power, to be able to achieve military results without all that dangerous and dirty mucking about with boots on the ground has been a dream since Billy Mitchell. The dogma of precision bombing as cure all has been around for a very long time. Too bad the realities of air power have never matched the promise.

This is because the term “precision bombing” has always been an oxymoron. Even today, with super precise guided missiles, far too many innocents get blown up with the bad guys. This has been most notable with our war on terror in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Those drone flights have killed more than their share of women, children and other uninvolved civilians whist taking out the supposed bad guys. The blow back for this wonton killing has not even started. The civilian deaths have scotched the hearts and minds strategy the US military is trying to pursue.

In Libya, the assault by over one hundred Tomahawk missies has queered our supposed reason for intervention. Not that the humanitarian rational for No Fly ever made real sense, but now the contradiction  is made explicit. We are now killing civilians to protect them from their government. Whose bright idea was this?

The bright idea came right out of the political swamps of the Potomac. The first eminence grise to introduce the idea of No Fly to the unwashed masses was Senator John Kerry. The Senior Senator from Massachusetts has been a foreign policy talking head for ages. If you want to know want to know what the foreign policy Brahmins of the US are thinking, just tune in to their oracle. If you do tune in to the head Ent , make sure that you have consumed large quantities of coffee. The lugubrious way that Kerry makes his talking points is a sure cure for insomnia.

After Kerry, the rest of the NeoCon chorus added their voices to the tune of No Fly. The last to sing around the campfire was Our Most Sacred Lady of the Tastefully Appointed Pants Suite. It was like watching a revival, every one seemed so enthusiastic for No Fly, but no one, not a soul, looks to have paused to think out why they might be so happy. Every face was glowing with the warm notion of redemption, every one was willing to join the sacred cause, and grubby realities were not allowed to enter into the revival.
It really does not appear that anyone has thought through this policy. D.C. has been seized by a “do something” missionary zeal. No one has checked to see if the heathens are interested in conversion. No one has done a scintilla of war gaming, or any other kind of reflective thinking at all.  It is all a jumble of romanticism, moralism, interventionism,  and blind mucking about. No one has bothered to think whether any National Interests may be involved here. No one has thought about the long game. Average U.S. citizens plan out their Summer vacations better than the chattering class of DC has planed out their options in Libya.

The worst man of the muddled DC lot has to be Obama. The man flipped in the space of twenty four hours. And when he went for the No Fly, he just did it. He did not even bother to explain his motivations to Congress nor the American People in any real fashion. He did not bother to even launch a bogus PR campaign like the Shrub did. No, he declared No Fly, and then popped off for 18 rounds of golf, with a side order of a South American junket. Cavalier does not even begin to cover his behavior in the last 48 hours.

All hail the Unitary Executive. Bow your head you grubby peasants, Obama as commander in chief can do whatever he pleases, that is the message being delivered. If this was the Shrub, “Progressives” would be marching on DC in a New York minute. But not so much with Obama in the driver’s seat, eh? No wonder Barry does not take his left seriously. Some stalwarts are up in arms it is true, but the entire Congressional Democratic delegation, both House and Senate, should be marching to the White House with torches and pitchforks.

I missed that visual. I missed it because it never happened. We have entered our third war of choice in the Islamic world and the second war of choice in the Arab world, and no Congress critter of note has uttered a peep. How about the great defenders of the Constitution the TEA Party Patriots, are they up in arms like they were in their opposition to “Obamacare?” Sorry, no dice, they seem preoccupied with immigrant and Muslim bashing, the Constitution is just going to have to defend itself. What about the great unwashed masses? Sorry, American Idol is on, and they have March Madness brackets and betting pools to manage. No time to worry about the incursion into Libya. The silence is deafening, the odd political dog has barked, but most of commentary has either been supportive or is indulging in other obsessions.

Does anyone care that Obama has now committed the U.S. to another bout of regime change? Has anyone noted the terrible logic that leads the US to take out Gaddafi sooner or later? Is anyone, other than a few brave souls, noting the blatant hypocrisy of the explanation of why we are intervening in Libya’s civil war? Our nation is hooked on the drug of intervention and no one, no one at all, is offering an intervention.

No other explanation seems to make sense. We are intervening just to intervene. We have the military to intervene, so we will take yet another hit of the Wilsonian crack pipe. We will make the world safe for, what? Democracy? Motherhood? A free Hot lunch for Orphans? I have absolutely no clue; other than we are making the world safe for further US interventions, in far off lands, where no National Security Interest what-so-ever exists. We just keep intervening in the hope we will have another feel-good moment like when the Berlin wall fell, or when Gulf War I concluded.

I have no idea what Obama and the Chattering class will do if the Libyan crap shoot comes up snake eyes. I do know that Obama is for a dime, in for a dollar. There is no way Barry can get out of the corner he has painted himself into. The run-up to 2012 has now begun in earnest. There is no way the Republicans do not eat Obama alive if he tries to cut and run in Libya. I thought that Obama was smarter than this, but apparently not. He has tied himself to the mast of No Fly, and unlike Farragut in Mobile the mines he is sailing the ship of state through look to be fully functional. Mr Hope and Change is a bad place, and he has no one but himself to blame.
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