What if the no-fly zone fails?

In an entry posted late last night, I gave a relatively optimistic view of the Libyan interference. I assumed that the allies’ attack on Kaddafi’s air defenses and the resulting no-fly zone would succeed in stopping Kaddafi’s forces, which in turn would lead to a stalemate between Kaddafi and the rebels, which in turn would keep us involved in Libya for the foreseeable future, though not directly running the country. In my scale of values, not directly running the country is better than directly running the country. That’s what I ironically meant by “relatively optimistic.”

But what if, as Peter Hitchens asks in the Mail, Kaddafi’s forces are not stopped? What will the allies do then? Obama said in his TV address that his purpose is not to defeat Kaddafi but to prevent the killing of Libyan civilians by Kaddafi. He also said that no American boots will be put on the ground. But if the no-fly zone fails to stop Kaddafi’s soldiers, and they proceed to mass kill the rebels, Obama’s parameters will instantly fail. He must, in order to stop the killings, abandon his “no U.S. boots on the ground” condition and move against Kaddafi’s army and seek to defeat it and him, thus getting the U.S. directly involved in running Libya after Kaddafi’s removal. Or, at the very least, as James P. points out here, Obama must initiate a heavy bombing campaign against Libya similar to what Clinton did against Serbia. Though the anti-Serbia bombing campaign itself involved no U.S. boots on the ground, it did make the U.S. (via the front of NATO) into the overpower running Kosovo and Serbia after Serbia yielded to Clinton’s demands.

Alternatively, if the no fly zone fails, Obama would have to abandon his primary mission of saving the rebels’ lives, which seems far less likely than his moving to an all-out bombing or invasion of Libya.

Have Obama and his allies Cameron and Sarkozy thought through any of this? Do they have any idea what they will do if the no-fly zone fails? As Hitchens says, “Who knows?”

Hitchens continues:

Some of the longest wars in history started with small-scale intervention, for a purpose that looked good and achievable, and ended up ruining millions of lives. The Soviet takeover of Afghanistan in 1979 ended with countless innocents driven into refugee camps, and the collapse of the Soviet state itself. It also left Afghanistan as a worse snake pit than before.

Why are we suddenly so worried about Muammar Gaddafi?

It’s fashionable just now to get very hoity-toity about him. But until recently many of the war enthusiasts were rather keen on him, for supposedly heeding the fate of Saddam and changing his behaviour. Liberal idealists might also consider that Gaddafi is one of the heroes of their hero Nelson Mandela (there is film on YouTube of a touching embrace between these two).

There’s no principle at stake here, or we would be bombing Bahrain too, and demanding the withdrawal of the Saudi troops who arrived there in such sinister fashion last Monday. But Bahrain’s the base of the U.S. 5th Fleet, so we won’t be doing that. And as I’ve said here before, this supposed objection to rulers killing their own people is not consistent. Sometimes—as in China, Bahrain and Syria—we’re happy to let them do it.

So why are we rattling the drums of war and fueling up for a fight in a place where our national interests would be best served by staying out?

If the Arab League members want to intervene, they’ve got plenty of weapons not currently being used to attack Israel. I can only conclude that our Government is historically ignorant, politically dim, immune to good advice and swollen with personal vanity.

Could the decisive reason for Obama’s, Cameron’s and Sarkozy’s action be that the three men are all swollen with personal vanity? Yes, absolutely. Hitchens’s explanation makes complete sense.

Also, in light of Hitchens’s observations about the total absence of coherent thought on the part of the Cameron government, Rick Darby’s satirical look at Obama’s brain seems more believable than ever.

- end of initial entry -

James N. writes:

The Libyan intervention is a classic, CLASSIC case of liberal thought run amok.

The only question about Moammar however-you-spell-it since 1986 has been, do we need him dead? (It being the case that dead is the only way to remove him from power).

Obama having concluded that we want him out is now going to wound him and not kill him. This creates an extremely dangerous situation, one much worse than before—since he can now commence a terror campaign secure in the knowledge that we don’t have the resolve needed to kill him.

And what is the justification for this foolishness? Is it “killing never solves anything”? Is it because “the international community has decided … “?

Who knows?

The Moammar K. (or is it G? Or Q?) problem needs a sniper, and that’s all that’s required.

Ferg writes:

If Obama’s purpose is to prevent Kaddafi from killing his own people who are in armed rebellion against the State, does that mean that Obama would not kill Americans if they were in armed rebellion against this State? Maybe someone should ask him that question.

LA replies:

According to Obama, what especially concerned him was Kaddafi’s repeated statements that he would show “no mercy” to the rebels, i.e., he would kill them all.

Kathlene M. writes:

Ferg asks a good question that truly needs to be explored:

“If Obama’s purpose is to prevent Kaddafi from killing his own people who are in armed rebellion against the State, does that mean that Obama would not kill Americans if they were in armed rebellion against this State? Maybe someone should ask him that question.”

If the tea party movement were declared a “rebellion” by King Obama. and pro-Obama forces started attacking anti-Obama forces (along the lines of what happened in Wisconsin but on a greater scale), can France or the U.N. declare a No-Fly Zone over the United States? What would His Majesty Obama think of that? Whose side should the United Nations take?

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 20, 2011 10:15 AM | Send

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