Jason Mattera, over in Human Events, posted yesterday about all the contradictions in Obama's Monday night speech and the Libya policy in particular. It's worth a read.
Today on my way to work, I was behind one of those leftists, female, professorial types driving a 10 year old Corolla, with all sorts of leftist bumper stickers. You know the ones - "coexist," "War is not the answer," "instead of dropping bombs, blah, blah, blah." The crap that was popular among the Left during the Bush years. And in the middle of all of those, one of those annoying "Obama '08" stickers. In the fallout of the Libya exercise (war?), I wondered whether she was feeling particularly hopey-changey, and would she be scraping that Obama sticker off soon?
That observation aside, I think it's right that we get involved in the Libyan deal. Let's face it, I despise the Islamists completely, and want to see them and their ideology wiped off the face of the earth, but, Gaddafi was pretty much the most despicable tyrant in a part of the world filled with them. Whatever replaces him couldn't be much worse for the United States. It's definitely worth the effort, especially if it can be done somewhat antiseptically from the air (which I doubt). I am reminded of the Kosovo operation during Bill Clinton's reign. I think Clinton hoped he could avoid ground troops in that case, too, and may have even pledged the same thing. When it came down to the endgame, however, we were sending ground troops, as peacekeepers, with NATO allies and other UN nations, and, we hadn't really removed the government, we had just neutered it. So, I find it either naive, or a disingenuous lie to say that we won't be putting troops on the ground. Especially if the goal is no Gaddafi.
Of course, the worse case scenario here is we arm the rebels, and they fail to displace Gaddafi, and the arms we give them end up in the hands of Muslim extremists. That would be the worst, so, we run a real risk here - do we give a better chance of getting rid of Gaddafi via air support and arms, or do we stay where we are, which today appears to be not that great of a position. Gaddafi's army is probably able to quash this thing without air power anyway. So, it's going to take some kind of escalation to get victory.
We're left here, in my opinion, with the only hope of real victory, and a real democratic Libya, being one in which the United States gets much more intimately involved than providing air power. To really achieve the removal of Gaddafi and the replacement of him with a semi-pro-Western government, is going to require ground troops. And likely American ground troops. And, it's also going to require an organized opposition that isn't pro-Al Qaeda. That puts us (and our few staunch allies) in the position of picking winners from among the rebel coalition. If this all sounds familiar to you, it should.
So, Obama has chosen a half-measure, the use of American air power. To what end?
I also find it a lie that putting NATO in charge removes us. A NATO operation is for all practical purposes a US operation, as Mattera points out. No president in my memory has stated such a thing because at least in the past, I think most Americans associated the United States with NATO. In other words, you couldn't fool Americans with this sleight of tongue.
For me, when you say NATO, I think of the US and our Western European allies plus Canada, Greece and Turkey. But mostly, I think of the United States. When you think of NATO you really should think of the US, if you have a passing knowledge of history. We ARE NATO.