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Dangers are Inherent in the War with Qaddafi

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To be sure Muammar Qaddafi is a devil incarnate. For 41 years he has ruled Libya with an iron fist. He has repeatedly participated in terroristic endeavors, even against his own people. As recently as two weeks ago it looked like he was a goner as rebels had taken hold of much of Libya, knocking at Qaddafi’s door in the capital, Tripoli. Then, being the survivor that he is, Qaddafi rose from the dead as his mostly foreign mercenary forces fought back retaking much of the country and driving toward the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Apparently, his warning that he would show “no mercy” to the people opposing him in Benghazi was the last straw for the United Nations. This remark pressured that body into passing a resolution calling for the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent Qaddafi from carrying out his threat.

On the surface, who could argue with stopping a madman from butchering potentially tens of thousands of people? But under the surface, the U.N. resolution and the Obama administration’s adherence to it is dangerous for the United States.

In the first place, unless America is under imminent danger, the president has no authority to launch a military attack against another sovereign nation. Obama is not an emperor endowed with unlimited power to pursue military adventures wherever. He is a president operating in a system of checks and balances, restrained by a written constitution. Since the end of World War II American presidents have generally ignored the rule of law when it comes to conducting military campaigns, and this has produced a state of almost constant war at huge costs to the nation in terms of human life, reputation, and financial resources. These latest actions by Obama are no different and will almost certainly lead to all of the aforementioned costs.

Another danger for the U.S. is that this mission is more than just the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya. This is a full-fledged combat mission. We are not just destroying anti-aircraft batteries and Libyan aircraft capable of bombing civilians. We are fully engaged in targeting tanks and killing Qaddafi’s fighters on the ground. With that comes the loss of civilian lives. As a matter of fact, Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who originally called for the U.N. to impose a no-fly zone, has become critical of the military actions taken in Libya so far. Speaking on Egypt’s official state news agency, he said, “What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians.” Thus, once again the U.S. is being portrayed in the Arab world as invaders and killers of Arab civilians. This is certainly not the image we want to maintain in light of the fact that Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups will be more than willing to use this portrayal for recruiting purposes.

Lastly, the president’s decision to commence combat operations in Libya without congressional debate/authority is dangerous because an exit strategy has not been developed. According to U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, how coalition forces extricate themselves from Libya is “very uncertain” and the whole affair could end in a stalemate with Qaddafi. If the latter were to happen would we end up staying in Libya indefinitely protecting the Libyans against the brutal dictator? Are we headed for another quagmire?

At the end of the day it seems like a no-brainer that a coalition sanctioned by the U.N. should step in and prevent the Libyan Madman from perpetuating further atrocities against his own people. But, why is it that the U.S. must once again lead that effort? Aren’t we already overextended in Iraq and Afghanistan? How much war can our collective soul take? Finally, are the dangers inherent in this operation really worth it? Given the rotten condition of our economy, our fear of future terrorist attacks, and the broken institution which is our federal government, the answer would have to be an emphatic no.

 

About Kenn Jacobine

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    But if you’ll follow the thread, it wasn’t a sudden shift. And besides, I think you’d have a difficult time finding ANY sizable thread wherein the discussion hasn’t gone off in unexpected directions.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Glenn,

    Given that you did not object to my calling Libya Obama’s illegal war I take it that you agree with me.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    Try not to put words into my mouth, please. Obama waited until he had approval from the other UN nations and chose to be a part of the UN response rather than taking unilateral action as some others claimed a ‘real leader’ would have done…all of whom were conservatve (AFAIK) though all conservatives are now apparently against his action.

    Ain’t it funny how, when Obama does something that the conservatives think ought to be done, they’re all suddenly against whatever it was he did that they thought he should do in the first place?

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Obama got approval from the U.N. not Congress (the American people) so that is okay? You are not uncomfortable with that. America’s sons and daughters put into harms way by non-Americans?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    So you are in solid opposition to the Korean War too, then, I suppose…because it was never a declared war, and it – like the current Libya action – was a UN-driven operation, though we surely bore the lion’s share of the burden.

    And Kenn – when it comes to America’s sons and daughters being put in harm’s way by ‘non-Americans’…frankly, with the exception of the quite-necessary Korean War, if history is any indication, the UN is FAR more careful with American ground troops than American presidents are.

    But it’s as if the hawks of the Right are suddenly butchering an old philosophy, “Millions of liters of blood shed by American military in actions by the Unitary Executive, but not a single drop shed by Americans abiding by international treaty!”

  • Kenn Jacobine

    While you are at it, Wilson was a fool for getting us into WW I. Obviously, you believe that the U.S. should be involvedin most world conflicts. This puts you right there with the neo-cons.

    Our geography and our economic power put us in a unique position in the world. Unfortunately, we are squandering it by helping to support Italy and France in Libya, etc… America should mind it’s own business – it would benefit our economy and make us much safer.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    I’ve posted before that I think Wilson was a tyrant…but not for getting us into WWI. He was a tyrant because he (1) would allow people to be prosecuted and jailed (for up to 20 years IIRC) for saying ANYthing pro-German after we went to war, and (2) for NEVER even mentioning the H1N1 epidemic in public, never mind that it killed nearly a million Americans most of whom died in about four months. He thought that to even publicly acknowledge the epidemic would be ‘bad for war morale’.

    But in the modern world – which IMO includes every industrialized country since the Industrialized Revolution – we cannot always stand idly by. We made the right decisions to get involved in WWII and Korea, and I’m not yet sure about WWI. I’m reading Keegan’s The First World War right now and perhaps that will shed some light if it really was all about the Lusitania or if there was more to it than that.

    And Kenn – if you think that you as president would stand idly by and allow France and possibly England to be taken over by a hostile power, you’re flat wrong. Your own party that saw you elected to that office would not allow it…and your resistance would land you the same lasting reputation that Neville Chamberlain has when he resisted war against Nazi Germany. Remember what he said?

    How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing. It seems still more impossible that a quarrel which has already been settled in principle should be the subject of war.

    And how has history judged Chamberlain? To be fair, in his The Gathering of the Storm, Churchill remembers the man far more kindly than we do…but the lesson of history is that when we stand idly by as tyranny runs rampant, sooner or later it comes looking for us.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Of course, your short sightedness is typical. Our entry into WW I is what brought WW II. If Wilson had not provoked war with Germany, there would have been stalemate in Europe, the French with Wilson’s blessing would not have been able to impose brutal consequences on Germany, and there is a good possibility that Hitler would never have come to power.

    As to Chamberlain, he screwed up because he was a part of Europe. I said in my last post that our unique geographic position is a strength because it has insulated us from all major military conflicts historically. You can argue that in the short run we need to “support” our freer market allies in Europe, but we were even able to trade our goods with the Soviet Union, China,etc… At some point the trend is more for closed economies to open up as needs necessitate. This nonsense that we must spend loads of money and lives to help our trading partners is another myth perpetrated by the banks who have loaned them money and our government who has never met a war it didn’t like.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    That’s almost Pollyannish. Our entry into WWI is NOT what caused WWII! There is NO indication that a decision by America would have resulted in a stalemate – that’s merely an unsubstantiated assumption on your part.

    It’s not often taught in history classes, but during the last three months of WWI, the H1N1 epidemic was ravaging the planet. It was the deadliest time in human history – up to 50 million people died around the world, mostly within the period of mid-Sept. 1918 to Jan. 1919.

    You should read John Barry’s The Great Influenza and see how Woodrow Wilson was strongly against the punitive nature of the Versailles treaty…but after he was struck down and severely weakened by H1N1, he was no longer able to impose his will on England and particularly France who wanted to punish Germany so severely.

    So what DID bring the war to an end was not only battle fatigue on both sides but also the fact that up to a million soldiers were suffering from the 1918 flu pandemic and unfit to fight. America’s entry into the war certainly hastened the end…but division-sized American units did not begin to make their presence felt until early 1918.

    We hastened the fall of Germany in WWI, but our arrival did not prevent a stalemate, for by that time the all-important logistics battle between two essentially horse-drawn armies (vehicles were the exception, not the rule) was turning against Germany.

    Now, what DID cause WWII was the severely punitive nature of the Treaty of Versailles…and the economic disaster that was the Weimar Republic that enabled the rise of extremist groups…including one that supported a young man named Hitler.

    Yeah, I do love history!

  • Kenn Jacobine

    The Yankee arrival in Europe turned the tide of the war – it is well documented. You should read “Woodrow Wilson’s War”. Wilson totally misread France’s passion for retribution against Germany. The war did not involve us and he should have kept us out of it instead of instigating our entry by supplying the British with war supplies loaded on luxury cruise ships. Once the powers met at Versaille he basically gave in to all the stupid demands that ruined what was left of the German economy and ushered in the rise of Hitler.

    Look, I know you would have supported the Marshall Plan because to not do so would have potentially led to communism or some other radicalism in Europe. So, why do you support the ravaging of Germany which allowed the same thing to happen at the end of WW1? Wilson could have prevented it – we emerged the strongest power on earth after that war.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    Did you not read my comment? I provided a solid reference – the historian John Barry – who pointed out that Wilson strongly opposed the punitive nature of the Versailles Treaty, but was so physically weakened by the H1N1 flu that he could not impose his will on the other allies.

    And no, we didn’t turn the tide. Paris was in no real danger of falling when we arrived. All we did was hasten the inevitable outcome.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Europe was in stalemate and the fresh American troops put the allies over the top. By the way, funny it was a war to make the world safe for democracy when an ally, Russia, was a dictatorship, and the other allies had subjugated colonies worldwide.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Between comments #61 and #62 is a close call. The British blockade had reduced the German will to fight, even though they were winning in the east and virtually had Russia reduced to a protectorate. It was a stalemate – with the slight advantage to the Entente Cordiale; its forces had defeated the Turks. That slight advantage was turned into a sledgehammer by the fresh American troops pouring in. In October, even though they could have fought on, the German High Command miscalculated – and signaled that they were ready to surrender. It was this signal that brought rebellions in German principalities that ended the imperial system. The end of the German imperial system ended the war.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    According to Keegan, both sides had very little or no reserves left by March 1918 when the last great German offensives began…but the allies had over 800 tanks while Germany had 10. The allies had significantly more artillery by then as well, and as Ruvy pointed out, the British blockade had reduced not only Germany’s will to fight but forced them to bring all fuel and supplies overland…which is much less efficient than by sea.

    By early 1918 neither side could mount a great offensive to sweep the other side away…and perhaps this is what you mean by ‘stalemate’. But this war of attrition was by now weighted heavily in France and Britain’s favor. All they had to do was continue holding as they certainly were and allow Germany to exhaust herself…at which time the German lines would have essentially collapsed.

    The Americans did contribute significantly – particularly the Marines at Belleau Wood – but we were not absolutely crucial to the allied victory.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    I looked up the page in Keegan’s book, and here’s the pertinent paragraph:

    What the German infantry could not know, though they might guess, was that they constituted their country’s last reserve of manpower. Britain and France were in no better case, both having reduced their infantry divisions from a strength of twelve to nine battalions in the previous year, and both lacking any further human resource from which to fill gaps in the ranks. They, however, had superior stocks of material – 4,500 against 3,670 German aircraft, 18,500 against 14,000 German guns, 800 against 10 German tanks – and, above all, they could look to the [still] gathering millions of Americans to make good their inability to replace losses. Germany, by contrast, having embodied all its untrained men of military age not employed in absolutely essential civilian callings, could by January 1918 look only to the conscript class of 1900; and those youths would not become eligible for enlistment until the autumn. A double imperative thus pressed upon Hindenburg, Ludendorff and their soldiers in march 1918: to win the war before the New World appeared to redress the balance of the Old, but also to win before German manhood was exhausted by the ordeal of a final attack.

    Kenn, I’m not foolish enough to assume that I know more than you about history. You teach history for a living, and you DO have a greater breadth of knowledge than I do about history in toto. But I do know a few things about history, especially military history…particularly about WWII, and I’m trying to increase my knowledge of the Great War as well.

    And this I do understand – that we did not ‘save’ France and Britain in WWI, but we did hasten the end of the war, and WWII was won not in the Atlantic or the Pacific or on the beaches of Normandy, but on the steppes of the Soviet Union, outside the skirts of Moscow, and at the fall of the Kessel, the doomed defense of Stalingrad by Paulus. America and the West played a crucial role, yes, but still a secondary one to the unimaginably brutal clash that was Barbarossa.