We see in Libya the jeopardy of a naïve, untrained, under armed, well intentioned effort to topple a dictator with an actual army. It’s not going well. Of no small of irony is our journey from supporting and training such armies to being essentially forbidden to do so. Nuclear missiles, while the overarching Cold War threat, took a back seat to the “hot” part of the Cold War; anti communist insurgencies or defense of non communist dictators. They were, “our dictators”, just like today!
We proceeded to evolve policy focused on what we cannot do as opposed to what we should do. An assault on consistency and common sense led to a near permanent overreaction to intelligence failures that are an inherent and predictable outcome in dangerous or risky undertakings. Those undertakings were also matters of policy at the time, forgotten in hindsight. Elections have consequences, one of which is ever changing attitudes toward to our intelligence and special operations communities and their missions.
Members of the press were shocked to learn that operatives were on the ground in Libya. We should have been shocked if we had learned they were not! Would a Libyan insurgency supported in advance with engagement, planning, contingency analysis and tactical training have done a better job? Maybe, but that option is essentially prohibited. Would the elimination of Gaddafi, one way or another, have changed the game? No, we are prohibited from targeting individuals. Targeting Gaddafi in the middle of a civil war defined as assassination
There is no situation where everything is on the table; we automatically define what options are permanently off the table in homage to a politically correct view of the world that ignores the cost of consequence in favor of a comfortable seat overlooking the moral high ground.
We have the unassailable proof of behavior. Bad guys are……wait for it…., bad guys. Stare them down occasionally but epiphany is not typically part of the equation. Wait, wait, what are good guys or for that matter bad guys? It’s all relative you see; we have to strive to understand: religion, culture, history, we have to relate and empathize we cannot inflict our view of good and bad; right and wrong. The price paid for the empathy of relativism is the lost ability to see and admit when a bad buy is actually a bad guy. Most of us know bad guys when we see them. Sorry about your childhood but genocide is unacceptable!
Recent history involves The Church Commission; President Carter and Stansfield Turner; falling in love with satellites while eviscerating human intelligence capabilities. When a small plane crashed into the White House lawn the joke was that it was Jim Woolsley, CIA Director at the time, trying to get in to see President Clinton. Operatives are under threat of prosecution for following orders replete with legal analysis. We asked them to protect the nation and threatened them with legal action because they did so.
The moral high ground has been firmly staked out by those with little to lose, committed to the falsity of international norms. This high ground is paid for with lives valuable to us; thousands of lives: Iran, Egypt, Syria, Libya, Somalia, China, Russia, Central and South Asia to choose a few, all guilty of political repression, elimination of opposition, genocide or harsh dictatorships. Those absent wasted lives opposed horrific repression and the absence of personal freedoms. We sacrifice them at our peril.
The moral high ground protects the profane. The high ground is a political snuff film that trades one or a few obscene lives for thousands who oppose the obscenity.
Gaddafi rode around in an open car on Thursday. It should have been his last ride!