Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Libya...Whose War?

This is the last paragraph of a Reuters account of 22 March: “On Monday, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said the mission should be limited to creating a no-fly zone and that Italian planes taking part would not open fire.” If Italian planes won’t open fire, why would they even be in the air? This account is quoted here just to point to the fact that NATO members are nowhere near any decision/consensus concerning which country does what, when, and where, as well as who will run the whole shooting match, apparently dividing it into military and political components.

It’s probable that NATO members would just as soon not get caught up in an obvious violation of another nation’s sovereignty, just as has been the attitude of U.S. Defense Secretary Gates for the other reason that pouncing on Libya presents a bloody mess when this nation doesn’t need another war. To show his concern, he has been in Russia. To show his concern, Obama, disregarding the position of his own military leadership, has been out of the country since he directed the military to lower the boom on Qaddafi. What was/is he thinking?

The NATO members are squabbling apparently to an extent that will make the alliance fairly useless, especially since Qaddafi won’t put up any planes for them to shoot down and no one wants to put an army on the ground. The UN is supposed to regiment peace-keepers, not armies of aggression, but has passed a resolution for Libyan action (setting up a no-fly zone) and obviously leaving it up to NATO or any other entity so inclined to do the dirty work, another way of fingering Uncle Sam for that privilege. Obama has been suckered.

According to Reuters, Obama, trying to avoid getting bogged down in a war in another Muslim country, said on Monday that Washington would cede control of operations within days and NATO would have a coordinating role, but NATO ambassadors are arguing about that. Has NATO ever conducted a no-fly zone? Not likely. Peace-keepers are ground troops, not fighter/bomber pilots.

What right did Obama think he had to simply implicate NATO, in the first place? After all, Turkey, 99.8% Muslim, is a key member of NATO and might not appreciate NATO bombing Libya, which is 97% Muslim. NATO-member Albania is 70% Muslim. It’s one thing for Muslims to kill Muslims, which they do routinely, but quite another thing for other folks to kill Muslims.

Security Council members China and Russia did not approve, but also did not veto, the UN sanction of the no-fly zone. Now, however, China is calling for an immediate cease-fire, according to Voice of America. Cease-fire of what? The no-fly zone? The Libyans? The Arab League approved the UN action but now has “reservations,” after offering no help. What reservations? Obviously, the Libyans will continue to fight each other, notwithstanding anything called-for by China, the Arab League or any other entity.

With the president AWOL in Latin America and the Defense Secretary schmoozing with the Russkies in the midst of all this action, the message should be clear that, especially since Obama has already telegraphed that no American foot will touch Libyan soil, another way of announcing that no foot of any other nation is likely to land in Libya, Qaddafi will probably have to be killed as the only solution. Obama has already said he had to go but that the USA is not interested in regime-change. This is the penultimate oxymoron and indicates the total lack of leadership (or brains?) in Washington.

Defense Secretary Gates made it abundantly clear in a recent Congressional hearing that instituting a no-fly zone meant knocking out ground anti-aircraft installations on the ground first, clearly implying that Libyans would be killed, an act of war. As it turns out, the planes also strafed/bombed Libyan army units such as tanks, totally illegal as a no-fly requirement and certain to cause civilian deaths/injuries, as well. In other words, the mission itself was violated. Why kill Libyans when they are perfectly capable of killing each other?

The whole world is watching one of the most botched-up international actions imaginable. The insurgent Libyans have no leader and no identity. Qaddafi has said that al Qaeda is his real nemesis. He may be right. No one seems to know who is being helped…just a group known as “the people.” Muslim-dominated countries change leadership the old-fashioned way – through coups of one kind or another. The West simply can’t understand this and, absent any self-defense threats, go merrily along trying to make democracies out of un-democratic people.

More’s the pity in this country, with leadership apparently having no understanding of history…or even of the present.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

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