As time goes on, the war in Libya looks more and more like a potential quagmire. Sure, any day Qaddafi could decide he would rather live in Switzerland. Or one day, a senior aide could decide the Colonel deserves a bullet in the head. But if wishes were horses…
The inconsistencies in the Obama explanation of the Libyan mission are stacking…so much so, one has to wonder if they are intentional. If so, they are more than simple inconsistencies, but outright lies.
For example, as recently as just 48 hours ago, the President reiterated that there would be no US personnel deployed on the ground: no boots on the ground has been their rallying cry.
That didn’t last long:
CIA officers are on the ground in Libya, coordinating with rebels and sharing intelligence, U.S. officials say, but the Obama administration has not decided whether to take the further step of providing weapons to those trying to oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The issue of whether to provide arms to the ragtag rebel forces has been controversial in Washington.
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, attended a briefing of congressional leaders about the status of CIA activities in Libya.
Later Wednesday, the White House issued a statement repeating that “no decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any group in Libya.”
“We’re not ruling it out or ruling it in,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.
Well, two days earlier we ruled out forces on the ground in Libya…so that ‘nuanced’ position is quite meaningless.
‘Nuanced’ is the word most liberals use for this entire operation. It is systematic for the indecision and confusion that percolates through out the entire discussion. Frankly, when you can’t even decide on whether this is a police action or a war, that is worrisome. (And as a side note: when you try to enact ‘regime change’ by military action, Mr. President, that is always considered a war.)
The ‘nuance’ doesn’t end there. The Obama Administration’s description of the coalition has been stretched to the point of ridicule as well. This is, as many have pointed out, the smallest coalition in modern history. With only 15 members currently, it is smaller than the coalition for Kosovo, and less than half the size of Desert Storm and about 1/3 the size of the coalitions that started either the Iraq or Aghan wars. It does have the largest Arab component since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, to be sure. But still, this is an American operation, with American jets flying over half the sorties, as well as American ships firing over 90% of the sea-to-land missiles so far. For example, Qatar flew the first Arab mission in the war…7 days after the mission started.
At this point, Obama, Nicholai Sarkozy and David Cameron are holding the coalition are holding the coalition by a thread. Remember Obama’s promise that U.S. involvement would be ‘days, not weeks’? Well, that went by the wayside when NATO had difficulty in taking over the mission. Support from NATO is slim right now, with both Germany and Turkey wavering, and a question of who really will take the helm when the U.S. pulls back.
Fracturing of the coalition seems even more likely when you get into the details. The White House, after receiving withering attacks from both the left and the right last week, have been more aggressive, and suggesting that Qaddafi’s removal was a major goal of the operation in their minds. They have suggest arming the rebels among the scenarios being considered.
If you think the coalition agrees with any of that, thing again:
Officials at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which early Thursday assumed control of allied operations to enforce the United Nations mandate in Libya, said they aren’t considering arming Libyan rebels.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in Stockholm that he has taken note of the “ongoing discussion in a number of countries” about arming the rebels but “as far as NATO is concerned…we will focus on the enforcement of the arms embargo,” which he said applies “across the board to all sides in this conflict.”
[It was] stressed that any intelligence-gathering on the ground is being done by member countries, not NATO itself. “If [alliance] nations have forces on the ground, these are not NATO forces,” Adm. Di Paola said. “We don’t have NATO forces on the ground.”
With the CIA now on the ground in Libya, clearly America is looking to do more with the rebel outfit. The coalition seems to want no part of that, national building, or any other intervention.
Obama may quickly have to make vital decision: will he maintain the American’s ‘back seat’ role in this mission, and accept that one of his major goals, removing Qaddafi, cannot be achieved? Or will he threaten the very existence of the coalition, supply the rebels with intelligence and weapons, and basically overstate the hard fought United Nations mandate?
Frankly, I don’t even think Mr. Obama knows what he is going to do.