Friday, April 1, 2011

Libya Is To Obama as Iraq Was to Bush

By Barry Rubin

Let's begin with a quote from a Los Angeles Times story:

"The nascent rebel effort in eastern Libya has begun to fray in the face of chaotic battlefield collapses. For many rebel fighters, the absence of competent military leadership and a tendency to flee at the first shot have contributed to sagging morale. Despite perfunctory V-for-victory signs and cries of "Allahu akbar!" (God is great), the eager volunteers acknowledge that they are in for a long, uphill fight."

This is what happens when the United States gets involved in a war without knowing what's going on beforehand. What if the rebels collapse--and the no-fly zone and a few aerial attacks probably wouldn't prevent that.

Faced with a victory for dictator Muammar al-Qadhafi, the West can either:

A. Accept a defeat, help refugees fleeing into Egypt, admit tens of thousands of Libyans into the United States, and face the consequences of a vengeful Qadhafi or...

B. Escalate, send arms and advisors, perhaps some day combat troops to fight a war in Libya. Oh, and by the way, thanks to recent events neither Egypt nor Tunisia will provide a base of operations for such a war. And any American forces on the ground might be murdered by hardline jihadis on "our" side.

Of course, what's most likely for a while is Option C: Continue doing what they are doing now and pretending that everything's going great.

Welcome to Obama's Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Of course, in Iraq, at least the United States started out with an impressive military victory. While the Bush Administration didn't fully understand the forces within Iraq and how to deal with them, it had a higher level of information and cooperation than does its successor in Libya.

The U.S. government has committed itself to protect civilians in Libya. If Qadhafi kills civilians does that trigger an all-out U.S. or NATO invasion of Libya? I'm not taking a position on this, just pointing out that it seems as if the Obama Administration never thought about it, and the media isn't asking this question either!

What happens if the rebels murder civilians? Will the U.S. army attack them?

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