Missing: Coherent policy regarding Libya; if found contact B. Obama, Wash., D.C.
|March 26, 2011||Posted by admin under Politics||
By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette
President Obama and his Administration seem to be all over the map regarding U.S. participation in the effort to protect Libyan citizens — particularly anti-Gaddafi rebels — from the military might of Col. Muammar Gaddafi. As an autocrat whose ruled his country with an iron fist for 40-plus years, it is unlikely Gaddafi would step down from power as happened in Tunisia and Egypt.
Obama has been quoted saying this action “is not a war,” though his defense secretary had earlier defined enforcement of a no-fly zone “an act of war.” When the mainstream media picks up on the inconsistencies in the administration’s message, you know its bad.
I find it ironic to hear the complaints from Congress — particularly from the Liberal Left faction. This same group of Democrats likely voiced the same complaints about President George W. Bush.
But Obama has been hesitant in his role as commander-in-chief when it comes to defining our role in Libya. The U.S. seems to want no part in leading the coalition, which includes France and Britain. But France and Britain have little desire to hold the Libyan hot potato, and wish to pass it to someone else.
The U.S. wants NATO partners to handle the no-fly zone, and we seem to be focusing on regime change, i.e., targeting specific targets to break down support for — or eliminate Gaddafi. The Arab countries are already frowning at the loss of civilian life from the coalition’s military operations. Obama’s statement that Gaddafi “must go” doesn’t match the rhetoric from his administration, which insists that regime change isn’t the military action’s goal.
BEYOND LIBYA. The bigger question in regard to the Middle East is which leader will be the next to fall; the news about Libya has overshadowed the continued protests against governments of African and Middle Eastern countries. The list includes Iran, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman and others. In Saudi Arabia, the government is increasing its handouts to citizens in hope of quieting unrest and calls for reform. And the results aren’t in from Egypt and Tunisia, where the people await elections and the formation of some sort of government.
The U.S. has no interests to protect in Libya; however we do have relationships with other Arab countries that are critical — including the supply of crude oil and the home port for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. Will the president use military action if protesters in any of those countries are attacked?
Obama will address the nation on Monday to address Libya and U.S. involvement there. I, for one, will be watching and listening. Press reports out of Libya say that Gaddafi’s forces are entering towns on foot or by vehicle, engaging in urban warfare as they go — type of door-to-door, street-by-street fighting you can’t fight with smart bombs, laser-guided rockets and cruise missiles. If Libya turns into an urban fight, it will require the U.S. and/or its coalition partners to get boots on the ground there. I’m betting neither Congress or the American people have the stomach for a ground war in Libya — or any other African/Middle Eastern nation.
DON’T FORGET ISRAEL. The news out of Libya has also pushed aside national attention on the increasing number of rocket attacks the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip has launched on Israel. The Israelis have been retaliating, but have promised to unleash greater force if the rocket and mortar attacks continue.
AHEAD. The danger lies in the unknown — which country with definite U.S. interests will succumb to political unrest? Will Israel draw the U.S. into a conflict with Hamas? Will Obama push us into another military action, or pass the next one off to the United Nations? With the level of political unrest continuing to build in that region and a presidential election 18 months away, the president may have no choice but to make some difficult choices prior to November 2012.