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Interview with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on July 27, 2008 at the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Ky. Production by Patrick Yen. View it in higher quality at: www.patrickyen.com


U.S. Escalates Libya War
By Chris Stirewalt, March 24, 2011

On the sixth day of fighting since the U.S. entered the Libyan civil war, American forces have stepped up their attacks in a coordinated effort to help rebel forces push back the ground troops of Col. Muammar Qaddafi.

While complex rules of engagement prevent America from working directly with the rebels to knock out government armor and artillery units, reports suggest the CIA is acting as a liaison between the rebels and U.S. war fighters and that the rebels also use their diplomatic contacts in France to coordinate, at two degrees of separation, with the Americans trying to support their uprising.

The mission in Libya has evolved from disabling the country’s already anemic air force – a task largely completed in the opening hours of U.S. entry into the war -- to providing close air support for rebel fighters and striking at strategic targets across the country.

The shift has come amid the deepening understanding that if the U.S. attacks do not topple Qaddafi, the war will pose a huge political liability for President Obama. A stalemate between a battered but not beaten Qaddafi and U.S.-backed rebels in pockets of resistance looks like a long, unappealing slog.

But at the same time, the administration is facing deepening questions about how and why the president brought the U.S. into the war. Obama is eager to hand off combat operations to European allies before Congress gets back in session on Monday.

Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner, and Democrats have demanded answers from the president on the mission, aims and exit strategy for Operation Odyssey Dawn. Obama said on Tuesday that “the exit strategy will be executed this week,” but successive days have brought escalation not exit.

The Obama plan is to hand off leadership of the war to a multi-national coalition under the leadership of British or French commanders by this weekend. But there isn’t much of a coalition to hand off to.

Obama has maintained that the American war aim is to prevent civilian massacres but that his own, non-military objective is to eventually force Qaddafi from power through international isolation. The British and French, meanwhile, make no such legalistic distinctions – the point of the war to them is to drive Qaddafi from power, even if it means sending in ground troops.

The Europeans have decided that their old adversary and oil supplier, Qaddafi, must go and do not like the idea of leaving him or his tribe to linger over the country’s petroleum reserves and with the means for terror attacks across the Mediterranean. Obama, meanwhile, has maintained that a stalemate is an acceptable outcome.

A problem in reconciling these divergent views has been the lack of a command structure or proper alliance. The French, Germans and Turks have all nixed the idea of running this as a NATO operation and the once-vaunted support of the Arab League has not manifested itself in practical military assistance or political consensus.

While Obama says he is eager to end what he euphemistically called America’s “active efforts to shape the environment” in Libya, there are no other viable environment shapers available. (A new war euphemism heard from the administration on Wednesday was “kinetic military action.” Quite so.)

Not even the Brits have the military capabilities to undertake the kind of air war necessary to topple Qaddafi’s tribal and mercenary army.

The escalation of the U.S. air war may be part of a final flurry before trying to pass the hot potato to someone else, but Obama finds himself caught between competing political desires.

If the war drags on, it will be an expensive and unpopular conflict at home, even if the U.S. is not the one “shap[ing] the environment.” But if Obama escalates the conflict further in an effort to quickly topple Qaddafi, he loses the cover of the U.N. humanitarian mission on which he says America is embarked.

In either scenario, Obama must answer the questions about why he brought the U.S. into the war without consulting Congress – an action he and many other Democrats had declared unconstitutional in the past.

The irony is that the international blessing of the conflict that provides political cover for the president leading the country into the war also severely limits the Obama’s options for prosecuting it.



12:17 Gepost door Jan Boeykens in 'democracy', Latest News, subversion | Permalink | Commentaren (0) |  Facebook |

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