By John Stang
Jamie Fly at National Review pretty much sums up the rights Libya criticism:
The administration’s mixed messages and initial handwringing about Libya’s revolution in March confused allies as well as intervention skeptics such as China and Russia. Its incoherent legal case for the eventual intervention and the mismatch between the goal of removing Qaddafi and the narrower mandate of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 led to bipartisan condemnation of the administration’s actions by Congress.
The U.S. decision to limit its involvement several weeks into the conflict caused cash-strapped European governments to run short on ammunition and scramble to effectively deploy their limited military resources. A more robust use of force during this initial period, including greater use of ground-attack aircraft such as AC-130s and A-10s, could have completely crippled Qaddafi’s forces at the onset. The president’s declaration that there would not be any American boots on the ground left allied special forces on their own to assist the untrained rebel forces and guide NATO air strikes. The participation of American special operators would have undoubtedly put the alliance in a stronger position to pressure Qaddafi. All of these actions allowed Qaddafi to stay in power for months longer than necessary, resulting in countless unnecessary deaths. (emphasis mine)
To put it simply, Obama made a mistake by asking the U.N. for a mandate for a no fly zone and unilateral action by the U.S. would have been faster and more effective. Not to mention, Obama skipped asking for congressional approval, which was also a criticism hurled by the left. This “America’s military does things faster” argument is kind of nonsensical and doesn’t match 20th and 21st century military history at all. When the U.S. entered World War I and II, it was hardly a quick end to the war, Korea was a 3 year escapade, Vietnam took 7 years, Iraq and Afghanistan have taken a better part of a decade. What the right sees is Grenada or Desert Storm (which we got international approval for) as the prime examples of quick American firepower, and both happened under Republican Presidents. But in both those conflicts, we were not securing a nation. We simply bombed and got out after the armies and leaders retreated. Libya is more like Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan where the second step of securing the country is needed. Most military operations take time and are unpredictable. Just bombing the hell out of some country hardly means a victory, as the right suggests.
I should also add that international recognition of conflicts, like Korea, the First Gulf War, and Kosovo, put constraints on the U.S. mission and make it so that way the U.S. pulls out after the mission is complete. Whereas Iraq, where U.N. approval was not granted leads to a longer staying time and a less clear sense of mission. So, international organization recognition has historically led to better, more timely results due to constraints.
I really want to hear what you think: Is the right correct in their criticism of Obama’s Libya policy?