|This detailed map was produced by the brilliant minds at STRATFOR|
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has said that to impose a no-fly zone would require wiping out Gadaffi’s anti-air defenses and that to do so would be tantamount to war. Weeks prior he told cadets at West Point that any future president interested in putting an occupying force on the ground in the Arab world, “needs to have his head examined.” With these facts in mind, in addition to Obama’s repeated statements that A. the United States will only be assisting European and Arab powers, and B. that no American boots will hit the ground, you get the impression this is an operation the administration did not want to be a part of.
So why would the President of the United States launch 110 cruise missiles at a target he didn’t want to bomb? The most ironic part of these recent events is how much the French have pressured the U.S. into military action (you read that correctly). French President Nicholas Sarkozy has been the most vocal, gung-ho critic of Gaddafi since the month-long uprising started and was the first to put his nation's fighter aircraft in Libyan skies attacking ground targets.
With NATO allies involved in the operation, and the UN calling the no-fly zone legal, there would be no way for Obama to keep U.S. military assets out of the game without being called a pussy. With 2012 in mind, unfortunately, Obama’s political future depends on getting the United States into the first military conflict of his administration that he couldn’t blame on George W. Bush.
So the United States wasn’t happy about getting involved with Libyan regime change, but why does that mean it will end poorly? Because history is repeating itself: From Saddam to the Taliban, toppling regimes has proven easy; It’s dealing with their insurgent remains that has cost trillions in treasure and thousands of lives.
Nobody knows what Gaddafi is capable of, or what will happen once he leaves.
We are also in an unofficial state of war with a regime whose opposition consists of rebels without an established identity and the U.S. has a track record of supporting opposition groups (like Al Quada) that have come back to bite us in the ass.
The biggest problem this operation faces is the logistical plausibility that it could cause more civilian deaths than Gaddafi would have on his own. Afghanis and Pakistani’s could testify that our “smart” bombs can be pretty inaccurate and hundreds of civilian casualties prove them right. The more cruise missiles we launch, the more likely we fuck up and hit a school. Gaddafi’s brutality deserves punishment, but if left to his own devices, it was looking like he would have crushed the rebellion within a week or two. Now the length of this conflict has been extended indefinitely. Whether we’re talking Gaddafi loyalists, Libyan citizens, French pilots, or Western Special Forces operatives, the longer this conflict goes on, the higher the body count will be.
The goals of this operation have never been clear, and at no point have Western or Arab leaders said when the no-fly zone will be lifted and ambiguous warfare is something that should scare the shit out of everyone. As the Andrew Bruss of andrewbruss.com, I won’t weigh in on whether or not I think the decision to go to war is right or wrong, but I think it’s clear this is a decision men like Obama and Sarkozy will come to regret.