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Tovey - many valid arguments - by now we seem to move towards the worst case scenario

Reader comment on item: Back to the Shores of Tripoli?
in response to reader comment: Sending in Helo Gunships not Going to Solve This One

Submitted by Michel C. Zala (Switzerland), Apr 6, 2011 at 13:43

I mentioned that one can find reasons to go in, as well as many reasons for not directly intervening.

You make a strong case for non-intervention, which I would have considered as second best approach to the Libyan uprising, because I do see a lot of ROI, some of which mid-to longterm on a variety of dimensions. Yes, those direct and indirect benefits for the USA I derived, are indeed debatable and some of them are certainly questionable and depending upon various frame parameters not under control of the USA.

Fact however is, that Obama chose the third option, the typical Obama middleground, then out of fear of his own courage pulled back almost immediately, leaving the West with a potentially grave dilemma and possibly longterm damage to our reputation, credibility and perception. All that with a $4M/day pricetag. A likely protracted conflict with zero ROI and unhappy customers on both sides of the issue.

Let us be frank here,

it was Obama cementing, forming, fomenting, initiating, motivating, cajoling the UN Security Council, the Arab League, African Union, GCC, NATO, EU and others into this (fragile) coalition. The result of this diplomatic balancing act was a resolution to allow for military action against Gaddafi's forces, window-dressed as No-Fly zone and "protecting civilians". Bravo.

It was Obama, carrying the action up to and not limited to action under the umbrella of NATO, with 60% of the hardware used US assets.

It was Obama, calling openly and loudly for regime change, while at the same time constricting the military efforts to the letter of the wishy washy resolution.

It was Obama, bringing in the Arab League and muting the African Union, losing precious time with ineffective diplomacy and getting at best lip service support in return.

It was Obama, who was the driving force behind a broad coalition and thus a legitimation of the intervention, which is unheard of in recent history. A ton of legitimation for very little factual return.

While contemplating, hesitating, considering the issue from all sides, superglueing this impossible short term coalition together, he lost sight of the big picture and sacrificed (history repeats itself ) military victory for legitimacy, as if a coalition of dozens of free, democratic nations of the willing, responding to the cries for help of a people, brutally suppressed by a known terrorist, was illegitimate.

As if the coalition of some 40 nations of the willing, Bush forged together in his engagement to eliminate Saddam, one of the worst massmurderers of the 20th century, in response to clear and direct threats to our national security, was somehow illegitimate, just because this corrupt construct, called the UN Security Council, did not sign off. As if the UN Security Council was a fair gremium, not paralyzed by opportunists with Veto power.

Come on people, smell the roses and pull out your heads of your behinds, The USC is a joke which should be abolished and replaced with a majority vote of all UN members at best. The massively diverging (self-) interests of the USC members considered, the USC will never in a million years be able to issue meaningful resolutions in response to true humanitarian catastrophes, if they occur within the hegemonial sphere of one of the Vetopowers. But that's a debate for another day.

Wasn't it Obama, who signed off on special forces, CIA operatives and military training personell on the ground, while at the same time officially declaring to never "put boots on the ground" ?

It was also Obama, who handed over tactical command to NATO, even though he knew, that the US is carrying 60% of the load and 28 nations, including Germany and Turkey, had to sign off on every effing airstrike. He thus single-handedly handcuffed our own forces hands behind their backs.

Reports appeared today, whereas a disapointed Oppostion points out targets and it took NATO 8 hours to respond. The rightfully growing frustration of the Libyan pro-democracy people may well turn into the usual hatred against the US again, you mention in your post as a prerequisite.

It was Obama who was clearly the driving force behind the entire concerted action against Gaddafi (eventhough the French and Brits officially were much more outspoken), yet it was also Obama who then stepped on the brakes with tragic results.

The whole wide world was aware of the elephant in the room, regime change, yet Obama spoke of a purely humanitarian effort - never displaying the courage to either do what he said, or say what he was doing. On every single dimension of this crisis, he was inconsistent and incoherent and the results show already. He is rightfully being blamed and criticised by people on my side of the issue as well as people who opposed the intervention from the start.

IN the Ivory Coast for instance, the French (on a smaller scale - but nevertheless a valid proof in point) just provided supporting evidence to my viewpoint.. They actually brought in their Apaches, utterly demoralized the Gbagbo forces and rather quickly ended the conflict. All that after all in the context of full out urban warfare. That conflict has certainly and admittedly cost a lot of lives, but is now pretty much over and the French will be the ones reaping in the rewards. Rightfully so. The Ivorian People will undoubtedly be grateful to the French, grateful for ending the bloodshed quickly. A quick end to the terror instead of terror without an end.

In Lybia we are by now looking at an outright mess. This conflict costs the US $4M per day. Gaddafi does not need to win, but simply has to hold on and force a stalemate to make this engagement a (perceived) failure. Already first reports pop up, citing disapointment and disgust with the US for not ending this quagmire. All initial goodwill toward the US is fading enormously fast.

Considering Obama's strong words concerning Gadddafi, any kind of asylum, any deal whatsoever must be understood and acknowledged as an utter failure of the mission and will be perceived throughout the entire Arabic world watching intently, as nothing but a defeat. The great Sheitan got another bloody nose, and in the worst case scenario, this maniac Gaddafi will end up being celebrated as hero in the streets of many Arab capitals.

Yes indeed Mr. Tovey, you make many valid arguments for a non-intervention, as I may have made a decent case for removing Gaddafi by all means, including decisive military action. Fact of the matter is however, that Obama, chosing some form of third option, a haphazard, limited, undefined engagement with no clear mission objectives or endgame, combined with a ton of mixed signals and whishy washy rethoric, has pulled us into a potentially costly intervention with absolutely no return on investment on the horizon.

The Russians, Turks, Germans and Chinese laugh their asses off, while this effort much like Bosnia or Iraq may well turn into yet another 10 years of a non-effective " No-Fly Zone" - simply because this president lacked again and again any measure of resolve, will, courage, conviction - leadership. If this goes on for years, as it has with Saddam, it will cost the US Billions of Dollars. There we go into the financial ditch again.

I dare not imagining, what conclusions the Iranians may derive from this American failure (Nukes, Power projection towards Bahrein, SA , Yemen, Oman, Iraq etc.)

Thanks to Obama's flip-flopping and maneouvering, everybody loses - except the opportunists and macchiavellis of the likes of Russia, China, Germany or Turkey who will stand confirmed and will sound their trumpets accordingly.

We'll hear a lot of "I Told You Sos. " Most of all, the Libyan People will lose. America will now further lose any remaining credibility and respect, which may well in the near future lead to adventures of the likes of Iran or a newly empowered and invigorated Al Kaeda, the latter already in process in Yemen. The test, Biden saw coming early on, Obama has failed miserably with unmeasurable future consequences.

In conclusion, from my perspective the USA had two valid options:

1. Non-investment - no return and little fall out from inaction. Continued resentment against the USA as before, pretty much status quo. The Europeans could have easily taken care of the humanitarian aspect of the conflict and protect Benghazi. In terms of respect and credibility throughout the Arab world, it could not get any worse, could it now? Our direct energy suppliers, Kuweit, SA, are not directly threatened, our bases of he likes of Bahrein experienced comparably small unrest. Yemen may however deteriorate into a Kaeda instilled anarchy out of which new training grounds for Al Kaeda may emerge. Having now quite a bit of military assets bound facing the Libyan coast, I highly doubt that Obama would redirect additional assets to Yemen in order to push Al Kaeda back or dare to engage in a fourth conflict zone, which may well be warranted in a foreseeable future. Another reason, why the Libyan conflict should have been resolved quickly and decisively.

2. Military engagement answering the cries for help by the Libyan people with the mission objective to eliminate Gaddafi, a known terrorist, directly responsible for 200 plus US deaths at Lockerby. Hard, fast and decisive military action up to and not limited to special forces for target painting, Apache gunships and supply of hardware to the Opposition. A thus quickly and efficiently achieved and officially declared mission objective, I even dare to use the word, Obama seems to shy away from, since he came to power:
V I C T O R Y, could have, may have resulted in various possible returns on that (short term, low cost) investment, as outlined in my prior posts. Not much to lose, but in my viewpoint much to gain.

However, Obama's approach to a limited engagement, catering to literally all interested parties such as the corrupted USC, sacrificing military victory for legal legitimatcy, as outlined above, combines the worst possible outcomes of both aforementioned options.

High cost, zero return on investment - on the contrary - American interests will further be damaged, further loss of credibility, respect and determent power, re-invigorated terror orgs and rogue regimes, a divided home front, a PR debacle, a weakened alliance (NATO), an emboldened Russia (Georgia and other future adventures), legitimation of weak and unreliable allies such as Turkey or Germany, a stronger diplomatic position of China throughout Africa and, finally, if Gaddafi can hold out in a stalemate, a potentially complete reversal of the roles (Good and Evil, victor and loser), where this third rate despot may come out of this as a hero of the entire muslim world - not to mention future terror acts this guy may finance or support in "retaliation" of the "21st century crusade". Failure in Libya will further weaken our positions in Afghanistan and Iraq, undermining progress made so far, as insurgents and islamists will draw a lot of motivation from this perceived defeat and replenish their base of recruits. Failure in Libya may well hamper any ability to respond to Al Kaeda which is at present actively trying to undermine Yemen, creating a chaos and a subsequent power vacuum they can take advantage of for a new home base.

Obama has crafted the perfect antipode of success. The perfect storm, the definition of the absolute worst case scenario happening right before our eyes.

There is very little time left to salvage this disaster. The window of opportunity is closing fast. The morale of the Opposition is fading rapidly, the frustration with America is growing by the hour, while Gaddafi is winning, as he only has to dig in and play for time, which is on his side, as the coalition is already splintering everywhere. It is only a matter of time, until the first SAS or Delta special forces soldier is being paraded on Libyan State TV, which will be another nail in the coffin of this from the get go ill-conceived engagement. It is also only a matter of time, until Misrata will fall, which will result in yet another unmeasurable PR debacle for the coalition and NATO especially, which is already being perceived as a paper tiger.

Obama (NATO will never do it) must understand, that some collateral damage is acceptable, as long, as the conflict ends fast. Good PR is to communicate, how such is caused by Gaddafi, using human shields, rather than halting an air raid, implicitly accepting responsibility for such casualties, as NATO currently proudly does. The sad truth is that there is no bloodless war.

Once engaged in a war however, which is something Obama is not courageous enough to admit, a fast decisive victory actually always saves lives, compared to a prolongued low burner conflict - there is ample historical evidence to that fact. A long, protracted conflict with single digit casualties per day will eventually amount to much more misery than a short military engagement with some collateral damage. Heck, even the Pro-Democracy forces, hit a few days ago by friendly fire and suffering a dozen casualties by a misguided missile, acknowledged and accepted that fact. So, what the heck are they waiting for?

In a nutshell, Obama succeeded on the diplomatic front, but botched the entire military engagement in the process. The backlash of criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike on the home front, as well as internationally from almost all sides, is understandable and justified. I do personally not believe that he now will display the necessary courage and will to prevail, as much damage is already done and irreversibly so, but is solely focused upon re-election, hence he's already trying to limiting the damage of this situation, which must be considered as a disaster in the making.

Case in point: while still adamantly proclaiming, that Gaddafi has lost any legitimacy, he today sent an envoy to Tripolis, thus legitimising Gaddafi implicitly. Talk about inconsistent, incoherent or mixed signals. It's plaini and simple bad, bad foreign policy. Helpless, naive, confused and confusing.

Ironically, can one really blame him?. It was us, the American People, who sent this inexperienced apprentice with no, zero background or leadership credentials to the White House. To quote Reverend Wright here: The Chicken came home to roost, as there is no on the job training for the presidency of the United States. Now we have the mess, an apprentice in the White House, stumbling from one blunder to the next.

America and the world will finally (have to) acknowledge, that we clearly have another Carter in the making. "Miss Me Yet", says Bush on that mentioned Billboard in Montana - I hate to admit it, but I do.

We, the American People must bombard Chris Christie with letters, call him, beg, implore him to reconsider his decision not to run in 2012, as he is the only potential candidate who could blow Obama out of the White House and be an effective leader. Palin, Pawlenty, Romney or Huckabee - thanks very much, but America can not risk it, afford 4 more years of the professor, 4 more years of talk without action, 4 more years of digging us deeper into a hole.

I am well aware of the fact that Christie, who would most certainly win the presidency, may well have opted for not intervening directly in Libya, but he would have taken a stand, clearly voiced and argued his position on the issue, and then followed through on it, never compromising, never yielding. I could have lived with that, even though I was a strong proponent of US intervention.

Either or would have been okay with the American People. But not both. Enough already. 2 years into the Obama government, this small scale, crap conflict stands symbolic of an incapable administration with a disasterous domestic and intl. policy. Never before have I found myself thus ashamed of my country, my leadership and my commander-in-chief. I am pretty darn sure, I am not the only one.

Submitting....

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Mark my comment as a response to Tovey - many valid arguments - by now we seem to move towards the worst case scenario by Michel C. Zala

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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