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What Obama Must Do Now in Libya

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), yesterday took to the Sunday talk shows to pressure President Obama to get busy aiding the Libyan rebels.

Even Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), considered a possible future Obama secretary of state, said we should begin laying the groundwork for a no fly zone.

I think the approach to Libya needs to be defined but what outcomes are both likely and unacceptable.

There is risk aiding the rebels. It would be unacceptable for an Islamic or al Qaeda-backed regime to be established there. But it is unclear if this is likely, and there has been no indication so far that this would happen.

What is both unacceptable and likely are the terrible consequences of Muammar Qaddafi maintaining power.

And so we must provide, in a limited way, aid to the rebels to ensure his overthrow. We must send military equipment and humanitarian aid, and establish a no-fly zone.

A no fly zone not only ends Qaddafi’s air advantage in the war, but it stops him from flying in additional ruthless mercenaries from other parts of Africa.

We must do these things, because this is what will happen if Qaddafi wins:

1. He will immediately embark on campaign of mass slaughter against his opponents, both real and perceived, in order to ensure his continued rule and to safeguard the country for his sons. The United States, having discussed intervention and not done it, will be seen as partially responsible. By saying “all options are under consideration,” we’re already in the game. We will have sat by and allowed a genocide to proceed.

2.  Respect for the United States will decline another significant notch throughout the world, particularly the Arab world. This, in the long run, is a very bad outcome.

Obama’s Mideast policy so far has been based on making the place love us. It never will. But once it doesn’t respect us, our enemies will slither out from under their rocks. If we are seen as  dangling the possibility of help before the rebels and not coming through, we will be viewed – accurately – as craven. That we refuse to settle the score with a tyrant who murdered scores of Americans over Lockerbie twenty years ago will add to this perception of U.S. fearfulness in a region where memories are far longer than they are here.

3. Qaddafi, now isolated from the West because of the terribleness of his response to internal enemies, will drift back to the radical camp and possibly start supporting operations against the West, like he has in the past. He will feel he has nothing to fear from paper tigers who need his oil.

4. Those who do aspire to freedom and democracy in the Middle East will lose “hope” about the prospects for “change.” Our vacillating performance with respect to Egypt both frightened dictatorial allies and sowed mistrust of the United States among the enemies of tyranny. Failure to assist in Libya will seal the perception that our rhetoric about freedom is empty.

There are risks and downsides no matter what we do in Libya. But the risk of not intervening is greater.

Let me know what you think!

16 Responses to What Obama Must Do Now in Libya

  1. No intervention! Yes, we caused part of the mess cheerleading for revolution, then saying, “Well, good luck with that,” but we cannot stick our feet in quicksand again! It’a always assumed we can just pay…we can’t just pay.

    • I agree with STAR and SRDEM.

      We cannot use taxpayer dollars to foment an uprising. Let the Islamists fight it out. Send the money we WOULD send, to Israel. *Nothing* we do in the Middle East will help our position; all we can do is back strong regimes that remain at peace with Israel (Mubarak, etc.) before they are overthrown. Let the radicals blow each other to smithereens and we can then determine WHO well support after the smoke clears.

  2. There’s always the possiblity that if we should actively interfere in what is a civil war in Libya, that other Muslim states would join the fray to support Kadaffi to prevent us from putting our boots on the ground like we did in Iraq.

    It’s to our advantage to allow the competing Muslim factions fight it out among themselves.
    Once the dust settles, we can offer support to the winner.

  3. I think there are a lot of Libyans all over the world with some military experiences. If Libya would like to be free, let them do it and support them passively with free weapons and equipment, but they have to fight for themself to be free.

  4. This conflict is in the backyard of Europe but EU has no unanimous reaction. The EU will probably sit on the fence if the crisis does not drag on. The great concern is probably the refugees this conflict undoubtly will produce. US influence has declined since Obama became president. “Loose talk” from him will probably hurt the US even more. And give the rebels false hope.

  5. Talking a no fly zone..The B-1’s(we have a 110 of them) & B-2’s (20) will crater the runways & wipe out the air defenses in 2-3 sorties,That’s it.They wont know we are there until they are destroyed,add some jamming they cant even talk to each other about it..Libya wont dare fly. Use F-22’s (have 160+ of these bad boys) for patrolling.. What else did we spend that 500 BILLION for except to be unseen & untouched? Good practice for Iran this summer..

    Reality is this can be done with zero to bare min losses like 1,maybe 2 planes,and dollars to donuts that will be pilot or equipment error,rather than from one of those antique MIG’s.

    This will also serve as a warning to any other of the dictators that might be thinking of strafing the civilian population.

    Personally I think Obummer’s wavering because he knows that the Saudi’s are gearing up for Friday,and its now been deemed illegal there, so he will most def use force to stop it in its tracks…
    Add Lebanon on Sunday its gonna be a 1.00 a gallon increase type of weekend..

    • ITEM: ANY no fly zone will need instant / real time reaction against enemy AA batteries (those quad-four Commie 7.62 cannons mounted on the back of Toyota 4×4’s). We must interdict the batteries, destroy them, maintain on-station air assets; once one of OURS is shot down then we have to employ more assets for rescue.

      This has “billion dollars” written all over it.

    • Reality is this can be done with zero to bare min losses like 1,maybe 2 planes,and dollars to donuts that will be pilot or equipment error,rather than from one of those antique MIG’s.

      Well, what the heck–only a few losses…why does that sound so familiar?

  6. Thanks all for your comments. I knew what was coming. I know some of you disagree with me on issues like this, and your reasons are good and understandable to me. I don’t like getting us entangled either, but there are times it’s necessary, and for me this is one of them.