U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper told the senate yesterday that he did not believe Gadhafi was going to step down from power. He reasoned that Gadhafi’s hold on the military and the government is much stronger than most perceive. Meaning, it could be a major battle, no pun intended, to go in unilaterally without a clear outcome.
I have no doubt the U.S. could topple Gadhafi with its own military forces. The Libyan rebel forces do not have the same degree of leverage. Clapper said:
“I don’t think he has any intention, despite some of the press speculation to the contrary, of leaving. From all evidence that we have… he appears to be hunkering down for the duration.”
This indicates a few interesting trends. First, not everyone in the administration is united on a response. Second, intelligence forces are key to understanding the political and military landscape of the country. If those agencies have doubts, it might not be a good idea to enter alone. Finally, these are the voices that usually get ignored during debates about military action. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara said the U.S. only had a “1/10 chance “of succeeding in Vietnam before we entered and during the Gulf War intelligence reports showed a civil war would start in Iraq if we entered. Often people get blindsided by these reports or dissident voices years later.
Now, Clapper could be wrong, but it shows that the U.S. should not enter this conflict without international approval, at the current moment. It also shows the difficulty of the Libyan operation.