Wednesday, March 30, 2011

President Obama and Libya

President Obama's address to the nation on Libya was, at best, disingenuous. He said some things that are questionable and other things that may be true now but are likely to change. For example, he claimed to be taking the middle course between people who did not want the US to be involved and ones who wanted an all-out invasion. I have no idea who the pro-invasion people are and I suspect that Obama made them up in order to make his own actions seem more moderate. Actually, most people who called for a no-fly zone, myself included, expected that it would be just that similar to the no-fly zone established by President Bush (41) in Iraq. The bombs and cruise missiles were a surprise.

Obama talked about turning operations over to NATO. This sounds like we have finished our part. In fact, we will continue to do the heavy lifting in the operation. Remember, we transferred operations in Afghanistan to NATO a decade ago.

The President promises that we will not have any boots on the ground. What will happen if Gadafi's government falls? Will we continue to hold back or will we start supplying peacekeeping forces? The Obama administration has already admitted that we will probably send thousands of troops into Libya to keep the peace and prevent a new Somalia.

The President left the impression that we could expect Gadafi to be overthrown soon. News reports make that seem unlikely. The rebels are literally an armed mob with no military structure. They have no chance against real troops.

So where does that leave us? Will we continue to shield the rebels? Will we broker a peace and get out, allowing the rebels to be slaughtered later? Will we begin arming and training the rebels? Are we sure that they are people we want to be involved with? The Taliban grew out of the Afghan rebels we armed and trained. Could this happen in Libya?

Remember back in the early 1990s we encouraged Saddam's people to rise against him. We implied that we would support them but failed to deliver until their rebellion had been crushed. That is when we established the no-fly zone which we maintained through the Clinton administration until Bush (43) invaded Iraq more than a decade later. Could our current actions in Libya eventually lead to this?

To use the President's favorite verbal tick, "make no mistake," Gadafi is a bad man. He has sponsored terrorism and ruled as a tyrant. Still, this was not enough for five different presidents to do more than drop a few bombs on him. We are only involved in Libya because Gadafi seems vulnerable.

One thing that bothers me. What would Candidate Obama have said if President Bush had taken the same measures under the same circumstances?

No comments: