60’s Flashback

Flash back to the Sixties, you may remember one of the catch phrases at the time; “what if they gave a war and nobody came?”  We may be on the verge of finding out. 

Germans say nein! The French say “we’ll take charge”.  NATO considerations are an example of Donald Trump’s contention that a camel is a horse created by a committee.  Italy and Spain try to stay out of the crossfire.  Turkey wants the whole thing stopped.  The U.S. Congress is miffed as U.N. approval is apparently more crucial to the administration than Congressional involvement.  

The French demand a U.N. resolution and then pull the attack trigger too fast, trying to ‘make up’ for their misstep in Tunisia, essentially committing allies to support their actions.  The Brits are out of cruise missiles after 12 launches, Italy says it may restrict its airbases from use against Libya.   We have a no fly zone apparently aimed at controlling few if any functional warplanes and now NATO members say the no fly zone has passed its sell by date. 

The rebels shoot down a jet; oops, it was one of their own people who absconded with one of the Colonel’s jets.  NATO approval for taking over the mission must be unanimous, 28 countries must all agree with Turkey already saying no to NATO control.  NBC’s Richard Engle is shown a handgun by one of the rebels and it’s…….plastic, it’s a toy!  “Bang, you’re dead!”

President Obama wants to get out in days and weeks not months and is looking for someone, anyone to take charge.  Der Spiegel calls it a coalition of the unwilling.  Administration officials trying desperately to create a trail of logic and reconcile the various public positions, fail miserably!  You have to feel bad for them as this is the policy spin version of Mission Impossible.    

The “humanitarian” mission is being held up to ridicule as similar situations go begging.  Reports indicate that Darfur flashbacks by the President’s staff appear to be guiding policy as opposed to a careful consideration of the potential consequences and a rational exit strategy.  The opportunity to topple Gaddafi in the early days of the uprising is stalled by consultations and a mindless exercise at the U.N. where Germany draws a line in the sand with an abstention.  

The effort in Libya is clearly about regime change and yet the words will not escape the collective NATO lips.  “Gaddafi must go, but that’s not why we’re here”; really?  If Gaddafi does go; what then?  Rhetorical answer; Afghan style tribalism will prevail.  Tribal / civil war is not difficult to envision as Gaddafi did an exceptionally good job of keeping the tribes at each other’s throats. 

The President, once again, places firm limits on the potential scope of military  operations declaring no ground troops.  Shortly after that declaration, reporting indicates a Marine MEU with 2,200 Marines is on its way to Libya to “assist the Libyan people”. 

This may be a war effort terminally ill from the disease of apathy and the comprehensive inability of an alliance to pull in the same direction.  Voila we gave a war and while they did come, no one wanted to stay! 

In the absence of troops on the ground Gaddafi will wait it out.  He’ll ‘hide’ his heavy armor in the cities until the predictable coalition collapse sets in, followed by the Colonel doing what he started out to do, crush the opposition.  Hell of a humanitarian mission!  Hell of a message to deliver to the  Arab World.