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March 18, 2011

So, We're Going To War In Libya

Alrighty then.

Several administration officials held a classified briefing for all senators on Thursday afternoon in the bowels of the Capitol building, leaving lawmakers convinced President Barack Obama is ready to attack Libya but wondering if it isn't too late to help the rebels there.

...Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) told reporters that he expected the military operations to be run out of Sicily, where NATO Base Sigonella and U.S. Naval Air Station Sigonella are located.

"I know we have naval assets that are some distance away, so this would have to be U.S. Air Force Europe that would have the majority load for the time being, if the order is given," said Kirk.

And what exactly are we fighting for in Libya? According to the UN resolution adopted yesterday, to protect civilians and get a ceasefire.

Are we in this to overthrow the Gadaffi regime and hang him high? Maybe, maybe not. The resolution is open to political interpretation. If we can't kill him and the rebels can't overthrow him, then what? Are we going to send in ground troops to grab him on War Crime charges like we did with various thugs in the Balkans and Somalia?

These may well be worthy goals but it seems this is the kind of thing that should be laid out before you start dropping bombs on people's heads. Once you do that, failure either isn't an option (and you escalate until you win like in the Balkans) or you suffer the consequences of being ineffective (like we did in Somalia).

What if Kadaffi follows through on his promise of a ceasefire before the bombs start dropping? I doubt he will but if he does, do we say, "Oh. Um, great. Let's call that a win and head home"? Or do we need to boost the rebels up in their drive to overthrow him by providing air cover for their offensive?

Again, what exactly are we signing up for and how we will know it when we see it? Seems this is the kind of thing you layout before you commit American troops to their 3rd war in a Muslim nation, not after you've committed troops to the battle.

I'm not demanding an "exit strategy" like silly liberals do. On the other hand, I think honestly laying out the goals of a military campaign is a vital part of making the decision to go to war in a democracy. Speaking of which, will Obama submit this little adventure for congressional approval?

It seems there are an awful lot of unanswered basic questions. For a guy who complained we recklessly went into Iraq (after 6 months or more of debate and preparation) he seems to be running off pretty quickly into a French led, UN sponsored African adventure. I'm not sure much good can come from that combination.

Another question: What's our national interest here? As best I can tell, it's putting two in Qadaffie's forehead. We owe him that many. There should be no expiration date on national vengeance. "We never forget" is something wannabe enemies should factor into their decision making process. But I haven't heard Obama make that (or any) case.

Beyond that, what? Protecting the rebels is nice but not our problem. I was more amiable to the idea when they were on the outskirts of Tripoli three weeks ago. Now they have a long way to go to get back there. Are we flying top cover for that?

Well, I'm sure it will buy us plenty of good will in the Muslim world. You know like Kuwait, Bosnia and Somalia did before 9/11.

You know how you can tell there's no definable American interest involved (beyond killing Gadaffi on general principles)? The UN, the Euros and a guy like Obama are for it.

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posted by DrewM. at 11:12 AM

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