Day 17 of the Libyan intervention and there are signs that it may succeed in spite of a bumpy ride. The rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) has a website up and is promoting what appears to be a representatively democratic agenda. There are also noises coming from inside MQ's camp that he maybe thinking it's getting close to "exit time". The TNC rejects any negotiation with MQ or his family, so there is a ways to go.
The rebel military force is starting to train its volunteers and in the field is advancing yet again on Brega. There are workable plans for Western support in training these volunteers which there seems to be no shortage of.
So, in all, reasons for optimism and hope that this may still succeed in a relatively short period of time. The goal of the intervention being the removal of MQ's control over Libya and a fresh start for the TNC and Libya in general. Three countries, Italy, France and Qatar have recognized the TNC as representing Libya. I have indicated my reasons for the intervention which have not changed in my mind. They are mostly the same as those mentioned by Nicholas Kristof here.
The center of gravity of this campaign remains MQ's political base, which is seemingly crumbling. We have seen significant figures defect over the last several days as well as members of his military forces deserting to the rebels. While most of the maneuvering has to be at this political level, the military actions on the ground play a very important role as well reflecting the continued support of the rebels by the Allies and denying MQ any chance of defeating the TNC on the ground. A military strategy of persistence is thus called for.
At the same time, and contrary to the goals of the intervention, the US is signaling that they are implementing a strategy of extrication, removing its aircraft from frontline missions and limiting itself to "supporting roles only" (AWACS and C3I, but not combat missions are mentioned). This latest news was a contradiction from the day before when it was said that A-10 and other groundattack aircraft would be on call if requested by NATO. The A-10 is perhaps the best aircraft suited for this type of mission.
I am not arguing that the US should take on the greatest share of the air missions or that we should commit more, but extrication at this point in time is a truly remarkable response, indicating an astonishing level of strategic confusion, of no sense at all of what military force is about. By all means allow the French, British and others to fly most of the sorties, but support these missions as well, especially since there are applicable and ready US forces in theater.
On my earlier thread, the initial part to this one, I posted:
First, it seems unquestioningly obvious at this point in time that the US is still somehow traumatized by what happened during the George W Bush administration, we see military intervention/the use of force in exclusively "Bushist" terms, as either supporting or countering Bush policies. That is policy decisions which have nothing to do with GWB are seen solely in his terms, whether supporting his policies or not. It seems that in retrospect we are very much in the George W Bush era and will continue to be for some time, which includes the simple fact that his policies were essentially a series of strategic disasters for this country. We seem to be unable to break the mindset that he has imposed on us. Which is that any additional use of military power is inherently corrupt and done for unsavory reasons and will end up in disaster, thus we have become a Nation, bushed. . .
This notion of a Nation Bushed, of course leads us to the simple fact that we are unable and unwilling to hold GWB or any members of his administration accountable for any of their corrupt and possibly criminal actions. Not to mention it has become politically impossible to put an end to either of his lost wars (Af-Pak or Iraq) . . . So despite the fact that Americans are scarred by GWB's corrupt polices we lack at the same time any will to confront that reality. Instead we simply abstract those feelings to cover any military action done as part of US policy.
I think this pretty much explains what we are doing. We are not only a nation bushed, we have a thoroughly bushed President, a hopelessly bushed pundit blathering class, and in many ways a bushed military.
Colonel Pat Lang seemingly agrees:
Most people in the US do not want to do anything to help the rebels in Libya. A variety of reasons for this are presented; money, unwillingness to inflict casualties deliberately or accidentally, indifference to MENA affairs except for Israel and oil, etc. In truth this is all about war weariness. The Bush Administration expended the emotional war making potential of the United States. The staffs can "roll up the maps" in the planning shops in the Pentagon. They will not be needed for a long time. One can say (tongue in cheek) that now is the time for Canada and Mexico to exercize whatever revanchist and irredentist inclinations toward the US that they may have. . .
This is a dangerous situation for our country and goes far beyond Libya. The Arab Spring of 2011 has shown the corrupt lie about what has been the cornerstone of US foreign policy since 9/11, that being the Global War on Terror (GWOT) or simply the war against Al Qaida. If any one had any doubts even at this late date, it should be clear now that for the last nine plus years we have been conducting a world-wide struggle against a willofthewhisp. Al Qaida is not so much an entity, as a label we conveniently put on the reactions to our own strategic mistakes, failures and disasters. The real motivation/driving force behind the democratic surge among the Arab peoples is the corrupt nature of the governments who have been our allies in the GWOT. Al Qaida is not the response, it has no influence on the Arab Spring, no presence at all, but in fact only shows up where we in fact create it.
It's time we realized what is at stake in Libya and also what is at stake with our continued strategy of self-defeating/self-serving delusions. Let the success of this intervention and the birth of democracy in Libya bring us to the realization of the mistakes made and the need for a radical correction in not only our foreign, but also domestic policies.
The Washington Rules have been in play for too long. Now is time to formulate a new foreign policy which not only corresponds to our interests and ideals, but also to our current and future reality.
I would like to first of all thank FDChief for being a worthy and brilliant interlocutor on first his own and then my two follow up threads in regards to the Libyan intervention. Also, everyone else as well for their comments and thoughts. It has been a difficult, and for me at least rewarding discussion, and I hope for you as well.
While acknowledging the validity of those arguments against mine, I wish here to attempt to put the Libyan intervention within a larger US political context which I think supports my view however limitedly.
I've compared Obama's actions in regard to Libya to his handling of his Health Care Reform plan (using Glenn Greenwald's argument). Let us consider another important policy, also defining, but in regards to our military and foreign policy.
The official Iraq withdrawal of the US military is set for the end of this year, so Obama says, so it is . . . But we can't forget the rest of the story - we don't really wish to leave Iraq for a whole variety of reasons including having to deal with the strategic consequences of Bush's war, leaving those bases we built and of course "losing" the oil.
Is there still a chance that Maliki might "request 17,000 US troops stay after the end of 2011"? Possibly, but why worry since we are planning . . .
. . . to more than double its [The US State Department] private security guards, up to as many as 7,000, according to administration officials who disclosed new details of the plan. Defending five fortified compounds across the country, the security contractors would operate radars to warn of enemy rocket attacks, search for roadside bombs, fly reconnaissance drones and even staff quick reaction forces to aid civilians in distress, the officials said.
It's just like we never left. A new type of mercenary army? Ask anyone on the street about Iraq and they'll probably (over 60%) tell you - if they are American - that "we won" with whatever qualifications, a result of the "surge to victory" meme, and maybe even that we are no longer there. If you ask any person of any other nationality they will probably (over 60% easy) tell you that it was all a miserable bloody failure and that we're still there.
None of these three Obama policies (Health Care Reform, Iraq Withdrawal or the Libyan intervention) in question have anything to do with being straight with the American people, thinking or acting in the national interest or promoting and maintaining any national honor which we could agree on or even speak of. They are all about protecting and promoting the interests of the Washington Rules and those behind it . . .
In regards to the Arab Spring and this has been perhaps the defining element /question in regards to the Libyan intervention: Two Questions. What should our policy be? And where do we stand in regards to the Arab reform/revolutionary movement? It seems that we have decided. We are now with the reaction. Who in Washington would wish to deal with "Turkey times 5" (walrus's comment on this SST thread)?
William Pfaff seemingly agrees:
The worst outcome is, however, the one that seems most likely: a new American effort to manage the region through chosen political clients and favorites, in the self-deluding belief that this is “democratization” – the identical policy that has already given the region wars in or around Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the threat of war with Iran, and now the Libyan intervention. One must do better.
It makes you wonder in what way would Al Qaida be resuscitated? It would be part of the deal after all . . .
I don''t pity the Libyans, I envy them. Those I support are fighting for what they believe in, their potential deaths for their political and social communities have meaning (following Weber) in their people's eyes, middle class men with families are joining to learn how to fight and defend their people, their families. It's a bloody, mess but it is a bloody mess that they would rather be part of than see go against their interests, their common will for a better future. It is not about loot or plunder that motivates them, but the future of their children. Songs will be sung about them in the years to come . . . .