Saturday, March 19, 2011

France Attacks

French planes are in action over Libya and have already "neutralized" one Libyan Army vehicle. The war is on. Where it stops is anyone's guess. Although the stated objective is humanitarian--to prevent a massacre in Benghazi--it is hard to imagine that anyone--rebels, western powers, Arab powers--will be content to leave the wounded lion in place. But no one that I am aware of has enunciated a clear strategy to accomplish that goal. To be sure, if Kadhafi has committed his best forces in the east, and they are decimated by foreign air power, he may be considerably weakened in his strongholds in the west. But the rebels have not thus far proved to be an effective fighting force, and no outside power has yet committed ground troops, nor have the rebels invited them to do so. So we may be at the beginning of the usual engrenage: limited initial objectives soon have to be widened, and before you know, you're in a war whose strategy has not been clearly thought through and whose exit may prove to be quite elusive.


FrédéricLN said...

Yes. True, if the "rebel" forces reorganize (and gain enough support from Libyan military units), they can make a "wiper move" along the coast (as in 1942), and win Tripoli in the same move.

But once powerful foreign armies are in, will Benghazi people risk their lives once again to fight Kaddafi troops?

If - oh if - that Resolution of the Security Council had come one month ago, at the time when it was most relevant ( ), all this uncertainty would not be.

In between, the Libyan army has seemingly been "purged", and the slaughter of innocent protesters has transformed into a civil war.

Better late than never, I think. But I fear we may regret this lost month.

Cincinna said...



MARCH 19 2011
OBAMA: 'Today we are part of a broad coalition. We are answering the calls of a threatened people. And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world'...

MARCH 19, 2003
GEORGE W BUSH: 'American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger'...

brent said...

As Cincinna's question ("And the difference [between Bush's invasion of Iraq and Obama's actions against Libya] is ...?) is one many will be asking, I offer a few responses:
1) The Libyan air strikes, endorsed by the UN Security Council, the Arab League, and most of NATO, come with much more international legitimacy than the widely condemned Iraq invasion.
2) Iraq was a full-scale invasion, followed by a poorly conceived occupation; Libya (so far) is only a strategic air attack.
3) The Libyan action is in support of a popular uprising; Iraq was externally imposed regime change.
4) Despite Bush's reference to "coalition forces," Iraq was effectively unilateral (and massively unpopular in world opinion); Libya is deliberately multilateral, with France and the UK visibly taking the lead.

Nothing says the Libyan operation won't escalate into an Iraq-sized mess, but for the moment these are some pretty hefty differences.

Anonymous said...

+100 Brent.
I totally agree with you here.
(I'm not sure whether Cincinna realizes he's actually shooting himself and his point in the foot with his post above. or is he still hung up on "the war in Iraq was a legitimate war" when that ship had sailed, like, years ago?)

French TV is all "Sarkozy Sarkozy" when, as far as I can tell, Juppé and Cameron together are the main leaders here. Sarkozy talked with BHL, neglected calling his generals or his Dept of Foreign Affairs, and decided to strike Lybia on his own. Juppé and Cameron worked together to achieve a consensus to prevent the Benghazi massacre Qadaffi had announced (and the previous weeks had shown that those were not empty threats). Whether this will lead to a partition with a new country side by side Qadafi's dictatorship, or a Lybia without Qadafi, we don't know yet.
French TV in its enthusiasm exalting Sarkozy's powers forgot to mention he's not the one in charge. I just got this from le Post:[NL_1144]-20110320

Anonymous said...

Do Americans (or American journalists) really call the Lybia Strikes 'Sarko's war"??

Arthur Goldhammer said...

Brent, I agree with your analysis, but I also agree with James Fallows:

elvisd said...

You could see this coming a week ago, complete with no Congressional declaration of war. Obama's just another East Coast warfare/welfare state internationalist.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to the French media, the British media have been much the same (or worse?).

~ Squiggle

Anonymous said...

p.s. Except focusing on Cameron and the UK, obviously.

~ Squiggle

Cincinna said...

   First of all, Cincinna is definitely not a 'he'. Even though this Forum does seem to lack women posters. 
  Secondly, I am not 'shooting myself in the foot'. I call 'em as I see 'em. I do not support any political figure blindly. 
I have great reservations about Libys, a war that does not threaten American National interests, a war of choice, not necessity. I also have many reservations about Iraq. I think History will judge the result. 
  The parallels between 2003 2011 are striking, even though the POTUS, style & ideology are different. 

  Although 'doing something' especially 30 days too late, when acting sooner might have had some impact,    doesn't completely justify military action, at least Sarko is present, on the scene & behind the scene showing leadership & taking action. While Obama goes on yet another vacation this time to Rio with his big donor fundraiser Corporate buddies like IMMELT of  GE,      
FARACI of INTERNATIONAL PAPER, among others. Wasting the people's time and money picking College Basketball brackets , playing golf & throwing lavish parties. The world is aflame & the POTUS is again voting "present" instead of showing leadership. His only concern seems to be 2012. 
  Obama is lazy; he is a slacker, letting others do his work, and fiddling while Rome burns, as he observes, detached, from afar. 
   Not to mention the political & military insanity of turning over command of American forces to "International " agencies.
  It's Amateur Hour in the Oval Office, and Sarko is stepping up to the plate to fill the void in leadership.