The New York Times reports that the United States military ramped up its attacks on Libyan military targets yesterday. American B-2 stealth bombers, F-16 and F-15 fighter jets and Harrier attack jets pummeled Libyan ground forces, air defenses and airfields. These assaults coming on the heels of Saturday’s cruise missile attacks carried out by US gunships and submarines stationed off the Libyan coast. Defense Secretary Gates told a press briefing that he expects the attacks to last “only a few days”.
Rebel forces that had been routed by pro Gadhafi military and air superiority were emboldened by the UN coalition efforts. By late Sunday evening the rebels had pressed back almost forty miles to the crossroads city of Ajdabiya.
“Gadhafi must go”. After this pronouncement by President Obama anything less is unacceptable. If Gadhafi is permitted to remain in power, even in control of only part of the country, it will be viewed by America’s enemies as a sign of weakness and a defeat of this President. Rest assured we will stay the course until Gadhafi is removed.
So why are we there? The US government says that they are participating in these military actions “for humanitarian purposes because the Libyan government is slaughtering its own people and must be stopped.” If that is in fact our governments’ reasoning then we have a lot to do.
If US foreign policy is based on our willingness to intervene whenever a foreign government is imposing violence on its people then there are several other countries that can expect a visit from our military in the near future. Will Yemen be next or Bahrain? What about Syria? The Syrians have been held down under the heel of an oppressive government for ages. What about China? Maybe we should strike there first. We have been patiently lecturing them about their oppression and civil rights violations for decades. They don't seem to want to listen. Maybe they should be next.
One would hope that our government would have learned something from our war on Iraq. Saddam was another bad guy who had been slaughtering thousands upon thousands of his people. You may recall that his violent and oppressive rule was one of a plethora of reasons given for our intervention. Just look how well that turned out.
And as for Secretary Gates’ pronouncement that our involvement would last for “only a few days”; one cannot help but recall George W. Bush standing on that aircraft carrier beneath the “Mission Accomplished” banner and making the all too premature announcement that “military operations in Iraq had been completed”. Make no mistake about it; our military involvement in Libya will not end quietly or quickly.
America is now involved in three separate wars: Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya. Our military is spread dangerously thin. We are borrowing virtually every penny we spend on these military operations and our withdrawal from any of these countries will leave a vacuum of power that is arguably worse than it was before we entered. There is no real end game and no definitive definition of winning.
So who’s next…