Coalitions sound good at the outset, akin to finding an attractive picture on Match.com only to discover, eventually, that the picture is 15 years and 40 pounds old. Coalitions have their usefulness, so we’re told, but apparently not for very long; aging quickly and losing sex appeal as reality sets in.
In the first Gulf War pictures from the “Highway of Death” quickly put an end to military operations due in large measure to coalition pressures. The coalition in Afghanistan with the exception of the Aussies, Canadians and Brits refused to actually fight, apparently there for a tan. The coalition in the second Gulf War quickly began looking for a way out; hundreds not thousands of troops committed by our “partners”.
The ultimate coalition, NATO is feckless; bureaucracy and politics growing in inverse proportion to spine, vision; commitment and political will; NATO, thriving as long as the U.S. serves as the beast of burden. A cohesive message from NATO is difficult to find over the past decade. The only logical reason for the continued existence of NATO in the post Soviet Union world is to allow Europeans to take a pass on actually funding their own militaries sufficiently to protect themselves and project power. Europe can unify markets, currency and political structures; why not a military presence?
Fears mount, that should we actually go after Qaddafi, intent on introducing him to his virgins the coalition will “splinter”. So what? 80% of coalition (NATO) resources belong to the U.S., ultimate leadership accountabilities fall to the U.S.; splinter into what; a hissy fit with an accent? Who cares what France thinks? If we need someone to surrender we’ll give them a call.
The insistence on the politics and image projections of coalitions is little more than political cover for questionable policy. This coalition has put us in a position where the vast majority of potential outcomes are highly unfavorable. The exit strategy demanded by domestic political opposition in Iraq and Afghanistan is missing in Libya beyond the current deadline whereby we say, ‘we quit’. Quitting as policy is a simple reflection of policy that was, at best, questionable to begin with.
Perhaps we should consider a coalition of one.
We either do or do not have confidence in our ability to do the right thing at the right time. If we do not maintain that confidence, there is not a coalition on earth that will save us. A bad decision is a bad decision. The situation in Libya, further proof, as if we needed it, that groupthink is not the answer. If we are, in fact, confident in ourselves and our self interests we can invite participation without a negotiation process that invariably muddles the message and the mission. “Okay friends and neighbors, here’s what we’re going to do, get on board if you agree and have the cajones to do the right thing along with us; or not!
You can be assured that if things don’t go right in Libya our ‘coalition partners’ will point a finger and it won’t be at the man in the mirror; it never is.
The insistence on international “approval” of U.S. actions or policy has rendered zero results. There is no groundswell of approval for U.S. actions or policy. The U.S. image has not improved, nor will it. It’s not that those who traditionally hate us, hate us more, the slide is a function of allied opinion. There are no fence sitters hopping down off the fence declaring they’re with us.
A coalition of one may be the only option. Fence sitters look at the treatment of allies by the current administration and sitting on the fence looks like a pretty good place to be. Gordon Brown refused meetings as the President was tired, Churchill’s bust immediately removed from the Oval Office, the Secretary of State suggesting in Argentina that the Falkland Islands be the subject of a new ‘mediation’. A ‘gift’ for the Queen of Obama’s recorded speeches; and that’s just a few of the British complaints. The French, Israelis and others have experienced similar treatment. European commentators have referred to the President as an idiot, an arrogant ass, reckless and moronic. You may recall that Mrs. Clinton, in the early days of the administration, essentially mirrored Hamas talking points. The President’s approval in Israel is in the single digits; Israelis know better than most, the potential price of a weak American President.
In a West Wing episode Toby Zeigler, faced with adamant disapproval from his former wife and current Member of Congress over strong language in a speech related to the Middle East finally gives in to his frustration shouting, “They’ll like us when we win ….. they’ll like us when we win!”
Toby was correct.