Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Libya: Obama Needs to Finish the Job?

From the armchair generalissimos at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) comes an exhortation from retired general James Dubik to Mr. Obama in today's NY Times to "finish the job."  Specifically, he suggests, send in US military advisers and combat air controllers - and then be ready to send in peacekeepers once the fighting is over.  The current deployment of air power and drones will not be enough to prevail over Qaddafi's forces.  Bottom line: to amend slightly a common aphorism, in for a dime, in for 75 cents.

Dubik is not the first commentator to insist that relying on air strikes won't be enough to oust Qaddafi.  But rather than throw more (very expensive) resources into the pot, why not consider the advice in another aphorism: when you're deep into a hole, stop digging?

And I'm surprised that the general who helped train Iraq's forces in 2007-2008 doesn't care to note a fact that he surely must be aware of: Libyans constituted a major percentage of the non-Iraqi jihadists who ventured to Iraq to take on US forces.  Rather than hastening Qaddafi's end, the introduction of US military into what is - let's not forget - a Libyan civil war in which, no matter how much we like and admire the good guys, we may have no business participating - is going to attract to Libya jihadists by the score.  Some will be Libyans (many of them already there, and likely eager to get at the Americans), some will be Yemenis; many will be funded by money from Saudi donors.  But as soon as the first American advisers/controllers are killed by such people, you can be sure that the McCain/Graham/Lieberman cohort of chest thumpers will demand the insertion of Marines, and/or the carpet bombing of Tripoli, or portions thereof.

So much of the motivation of people like Dubik seems to be the belief that America must prevail, that American resolve must never waver if the world is to be safe (read: if America is to preserve its "global leadership").  It's high time that the DC establishment - including the folks at the Kagans' ISW - read people like Andrew Bacevich, and start getting over themselves so that Americans in general can start getting over themselves and their John Wayne visions of America and start fashioning a more realistic and more sustainable notion of what America can really do, and mean, in the 21st century.

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