Sunday, March 20, 2011

Libya: No-Fly Zone or No-Sense Zone?

Photo: AP Images
This week the UN Security Council approved a resolution to use force against the military of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, for "humanitarian reasons" in response to his attacks on civilians and rebel forces opposed to his regime. The vote was 10-5, with abstentions from permanent members Russia and China.

There has been mixed reaction from the American people and Congress, with Libertarian/Republican Ron Paul and several Democrats questioning not only the wisdom, but also the constitutionality, of US participation in military action against a sovereign nation without congressional approval.

This action has also raised the question as to when and where will the US and international forces intervene. Will Bahrain or Saudi Arabia, where the governments have also used force to quell civilian protests, be next? Diplomats and politicians have claimed they are trying to avoid a genocide by Qaddafi. But the President of Bahrain has killed more civilians in his nation that the Libyan dictator has. So what are the criteria for intervention?

Yesterday French military aircraft began attacking Libyan tanks and artillery positions. Canadian, Italian, Dutch and British forces are gearing up to participate in the next day or so. The Arab League has also pledged their support, after petitioning the UN for the resolution.

The Obama administration says it intends to limit US involvement, at least initially, to air support and missile attacks to take out Libyan air defenses. While it is probably a good idea to limit our participation in this way, it is unwise to tell our opponent our intentions Gen Cash . It would have been better to keep that information close to the vest and let Qaddafi worry about whether he would have to face the full force of the United States military and not just our air power.

11 US warships, including 3 submarines and the aircraft carrier Enterprise are already on station in the region. In fact American naval vessels have already launched cruise missile attacks along the Libyan coast.

This author will admit to mixed feelings about our participation in this military action. There is no doubt that Qaddafi is a maniacal dictator and a terrorist, who has murdered Americans, as well as his own people. It is likely that we should have assassinated him long ago for ordering the terrorist attack on Pan-Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. But we didn't and to commit military forces to his ouster now seems like overkill in a Fourth World nation that poses no national security threat to us here in America.

Those doubts were reinforced by an interview Saturday evening on 'Conservative Republican Forum' with Clare Lopez- a Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy and a former-CIA operations officer- and retired USAF Brigadier General Jimmy Cash. Both experts confirmed that we don't really know who the Libyan rebels are. Unlike in Iran, where those that rose up were clearly opposed to the Shariah Law that has been imposed upon them, in Libya the long-term intentions of those we're supporting are less clear.

You can listen to the full interviews here.

For the United States to be supporting the Libyan rebels, who we know very little about and who may very well have been the people celebrating in the streets when Megrahi- the Lockerbie bomber- returned to Libya as a national hero, could be a huge mistake.

Then there is the fact that President Obama waited 4 weeks, until after the opportunity to virtually crush the rebels, to act. This action may simply be too little, too late. To risk American blood and treasure at this late date seems very questionable to me, especially when we are already involved in wars in Iraq and the Afghan/Pakistan theatre.

Perhaps using CIA and special ops assets to supply and support the rebels might make sense... Maybe. But to commit military forces even if it is only air assets, without congressional approval, to supporting a rebel force that may be no better than Qaddafi in the final analysis may be folly.

Steven Rosenblum is the host of ‘Conservative Republican Forum’ on BlogTalkRadio and was the 2010 GOP nominee for Florida House- District 89.