Saturday, March 19, 2011

Brief Word on Libya

So we're launching missile attacks against Libya. We're attacking Libya's air defense system, so I guess that we're planning on helping this international coalition to enforce the no-fly zone over the country.
I'm a little confused by this whole turn of events in Libya.
Qaddafi is undoubtedly a bad dude, but I'm just really unclear as to what our strategy is supposed to be.
I may very well be wrong (I'm certainly no expert on military matters), but I've repeatedly heard it said that it's pretty much impossible to win a war through air power alone. I thought the conventional wisdom was that you could sort of use air power to beat your enemy back or to force him to hunker down, but, in the end, you would actually have to put troops on the ground if you wanted to really clear out the bad guys and win a war (in Iraq, I know we basically knocked out Hussein's army from the air in each conflict, but I don't think anyone really thought we really brought the situation under any modicum of control until we put troops into Baghdad and the rest of the country).
Anyway, I'm just not sure where this is all headed, I guess. From what I've read, it sounded like the Libyan rebels are sort of a poorly trained, poorly equipped, ragtag group of soldiers. It's also not exactly clear where their loyalties lie or what Libya will look like if this group seizes power.
I only bring this up because I'm guessing that one option being considered is likely to be the prospect of providing arms and munitions to the rebel forces so that they can actually handle the ground action while the international coalition beats back Qaddafi's forces from the sky. From what I've heard so far, the U.S. doesn't really seem very interested in committing ground troops (a reluctance which seems fairly sensible at this point).
The problem is that when we start funneling guns and money to different groups just because they're the enemy of our enemy, especially when we're not sure of their ultimate ideology and loyalty, those sorts of activities can sometimes come back to haunt us. Operation Cyclone, which funneled money to mujahideen during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, came back to bite us when some of those same mujahideen became radicalized and helped to found al Qaeda.
So Libya is a mess. I'm not saying that there's any sort of clear solution to the situation at this point, but I guess I'm just worried about the extent of our involvement in such an ugly situation.

2 comments:

The League said...

I can't believe we're heading into another quagmire. I can only hope you're right about not putting troops on the ground.

And I'm also not sure how its going to read in other countries in the area that the US/ UN is walking in to put another government of their choice in place.

Oddly, I don't feel for or against the military action. I'm not pro-isolationism, and I understand the US's role as the largest military power but... the last 2 times we did this it hasn't gone particularly well.

J.S. said...

Yeah, it's hard to say you should let a guy like Qaddafi remain in control, but then again, who exactly are these rebels that we're helping out?