A Lovely Little NATO Intervention

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World powers sometimes have to fight wars not for some material interest, but for bolstering a nation’s prestige in order to deter more dangerous aggressors. As Margaret Thatcher said after England’s defeat of Argentina in the 1982 Falklands War, the conflict showed that “now once again Britain is not prepared to be pushed around” and that Britain has “ceased to be a nation in retreat.” So too with Reagan’s 1983 invasion of Grenada, which was as much about showing the Soviet Union that Carter-era retreat and appeasement were over, as it was about rescuing 800 American students and forestalling a Soviet-Cuban military airbase in our geopolitical backyard.

The European-instigated NATO involvement in the Libyan civil war was no doubt seen as just such a prestige-building exercise. The EU nations were in need of some action that could show they were, as Jacques Chirac said in 1995, an “essential pole” in the “multipolar world” created by the end of the Cold War. In the 1990s that boast had been exposed as hollow after the horrors in the Balkans––ethnic cleansing, massacres of civilians, torture and mutilation of prisoners in concentration camps––were stopped not by the Europeans and the UN, but by an American bombing campaign conducted under the patina of NATO authority. The subsequent wars against jihadist terror likewise have been American affairs, undertaken against the advice, wishes, and obstructions of major powers like France and Germany. The whole edifice of EU “postmodern” foreign policy, predicated on the “soft power” of diplomacy and international law, is nothing but an exercise in bad faith if American soldiers and cruise-missiles have to be called on to punish aggressors.

The civil war in nearby Libya, with its mostly flat terrain and Mediterranean coastline, seemed like a lovely little prestige-building intervention for the Europeans. The patent sadistic lunacy of Gaddafi, evident in his bluster about exterminating the “rats” in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, added a moral imperative to the logistical conveniences. And an American president eager to “lead from behind” and allow the Europeans to do most of the bombing on America’s nickel, all in the name of “multilateralism,” thrust into the shadows the perennial unpleasant fact that NATO is institutional camouflage for American military power, an organization necessary for those military-scrimping nations that NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson once called “military pygmies.”

Yet despite the downfall of Gaddafi’s regime, the Libyan adventure is unlikely to fool anybody into respecting Europe’s geopolitical clout. Too many unpleasant contradictions and unanswered questions still hang around the campaign. Everyone knows that American cruise missiles and intelligence were critical to the campaign. Rules of engagement designed for political rather than military efficacy, an unwillingness to risk ground troops, Obama’s disappearance, and squabbling between NATO states unnecessarily prolonged the conflict to the detriment of those nations’ prestige. It is unlikely that any aggressor is going to be deterred by a coalition which, enjoying superiority in the air and armed with high-tech weaponry, took several months and 20,000 sorties to defeat a glorified gangster like Gaddafi. As Stanley Kurtz points out, “If this is what it takes for America and its allies to dislodge an unpopular dictator in open terrain, our more dangerous potential adversaries cannot be feeling much fear right now.”

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  • Chezwick_mac

    Some liberals – including members of my own family – have expressed feelings of betrayal towards Obama for his Libyan adventure. The feelings seem to emanate from an instinctive disdain for the projection of American power abroad.

    I'm not ashamed to admit I have absolutely no problem at all with the projection of American power abroad, AS LONG AS IT SERVES THE NATIONAL INTEREST…and the interests of our broader (Western) civilization. So…who indeed are the new rulers of Libya, and will their policies be harmonious with, or antagonistic towards, America and the West?

    One gets the distinct impression that Obama and foggy bottom haven't a clue.

    • Jim_C

      I think the criticism of not going through Congress is certainly legit.

      But chez I'm getting the feeling that certain people don't want anything good to come out of Libya….

      • Chezwick_mac

        Jim, you've got to understand…when it it comes to the Islamic world, we have become very, very skeptical. You may think the Libyans are on the cusp of freedom. My guess is that they're on the cusp of Sharia. Time will tell who is right.

        • Jim_C

          I share your skepticism, while holding out hope for…stability. I think we all know that ultimately we're talking about a struggle that could go on for a hundred years.

          My friend, if worse comes to worse, I would much rather make traditional war against a nation/state, with clear objectives and outcomes, than against a shadowy principle which does not wear uniforms and hides in plain sight.

          What I like about the Libya operation, besides the fact that no American had to die for it, is that we as part of an international effort helped create the ground for an open government, but the Libyans themselves actually fought for it. Whether they have the desire to keep it is up to them.

  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    This is a great analysis of the issue. However it neglects the subject of oil, which can be found here: http://www.usip.org/publications/oil-and-turmoil-in-libya It does not reduce simply to the “The US is dependent on foreign oil” mantra chanted by the Texans or the Alaskans or the global warming people either. Also Qaddhafi started extorting higher fees from western gasoline cartels in 2008, placing them de facto under the rentier system. He was also machinating against Saudi Arabia. We should remember that the war in Afghanistan was fought for postwar geopolitical reasons but also because the Taliban tried to extort rents from Unocal.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    The Muslim Brotherhood could not control Gaddafi and was in the way of the
    new Muslim Empire. The willing dupes of NATO and an American President
    happy to promote Islamist cohesion set Gaddafi up and out for an example
    that buisness can not be interfered with and Islamic National States must line
    up with the wishes of background Mullahs building their Caliphate………..William

  • PatriotX

    You know, who exactly did we help? Who was funding these rebels when it kicked off? What are their intentions once they’re in power? I don’t think that we answered these questions before we jumped into this. Did we create yet another future monster my kids might have to deal with? We never learn, someone cries “human rights abuses” and here we come a runnin. I keep asking this, but it begs to question why don’t we exercise that same enthusiasm to quelling those who abuse human rights in our own country like the little dictatorship we have in Dearborn? Christians, Jews and anyone that’s non-muslim will receive pretty harsh treatment if they preach their beliefs in that town. Mind you, they don’t have to be anti-muslim to receive a death threat, all they have to be is different.

    • Jim_C

      And in Iraq? What were you saying about that?

  • LindaRivera

    G-D forbid that any nation would go to war for "prestige".

    Once again, the US and NATO deliberately CHOSE the most extremist Islamic elements to wage war for.

    The Al-Qaeda rebels who MURDER our soldiers in Iraq won the war. They won because US/NATO waged war for months for the violent Al-Qaeda rebels-considered allies by US/NATO.

    World Net Daily, August 6, 2011:
    He got bin Laden, so why can't Obama take out this clown?

    The Warfalla tribe – one of the largest in Libya – is being joined by other tribes to fight the rebels because of what is described as indiscriminate killing of civilians by Western alliance-backed troops.

    The sources said that Qatari troops, tanks and helicopters "are openly killing these unarmed tribal members. They have their Qatari tanks in the streets of Benghazi. They are actively shooting on unarmed civilians."

    NATO bombing was being extended without authorization to attack non-military targets.

    Repeated NATO bombings also have included hospitals, Ramadan food storage warehouses, the country's main water distribution infrastructure, private homes and "more than 1,600 other civilian sites." http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=330341

  • LindaRivera

    US/NATO leaders who waged ruthless war for the rebels for months winning victory for CRUEL MONSTERS-rebels; are responsible for rescuing every single one of these horribly abused kidnapped children. G-D help the children!

    World Net Daily, August 13, 2011 Missing: Where are the children now?
    Rebel takeover prompts questions about kidnappings, slavery, torture

    There are persistent reports that children from government-run homes for orphans and abused children are missing and feared kidnapped, possibly tortured and sold, by rebels who recently took the town of Misrata in the western part of Libya near its capital of Tripoli.

    Sources in Tripoli say that these children are some of more than 1,000 who have disappeared over the past six months since rebels entered Misrata and "went on a killing spree."

    There also are reports of rebels torturing children. G2Bulletin is in receipt of one video of doctors preparing to remove a thin rod that was pushed completely through the body of a small boy from his rectum through his upper shoulder. http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=331973

  • Boston

    Well, I look at it this way. Two down, two to go. Mubarek and Quadaffi have been overthrown. Now, all that has to happen is for Assad and Obama to be overthrown and the world will be a better place.

  • Toa

    I suspect that the photo above pretty much says it all about who the winners are in Libya. No doubt the jubilant women in the pic will be cheering just as loudly in the near future when they witness one of their own being punished in some heinous fashion for the high crime of having too much of her ankles showing.
    And no, I'm not being sarcastic.

  • StephenD

    Chez, William, Patriot all, very good comments. I take issue with one assumption. That is the contention Obama doesn't know who will take control or what our aid will help bring about. I would suggest that he knows EXACTLY what is at stake and he is supporting the outcome he wants. So, how soon before we see an M.B. proxy running Libya?

    • Toa

      How soon? Pretty darn soon, judging by the photos, newsreels, the outcomes in Eqypt and Turkey, and The Hussein's obvious sympathies.

    • Jim_C

      Right, you think Obama has Muslim Brotherhood sympathies?

      That makes you a very frivolous person.

      • StephenD

        There is nothing frivolous about it. Hasn't one of his appointees been quoted as saying the M.B. is predominantly a secular organization? If you think an appointee can speak "off the cuff" without his words being sanctioned well then, I'd say look who is being frivolous.

        • Jim_C

          That is still a far cry from endorsing the Muslim Brotherhood.

          • Joseph Klein

            According to a report on the Egyptian Brotherhood website:

            "During her interview on the satellite channel ‘Mehwar’ Dalia Mogahed, executive director of the Gallup Centre for Muslim Studies and an advisor to the Obama administration stated that Washington has no worries concerning the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. She revealed that in fact the Obama administration does not consider making an enemy of the group and in fact respects them."

            Perhaps not an outright endorsement of the Muslim Brotherhood, but pretty darned close.

          • Jim_C

            "several false statements attributed to Ms. Dalia Mogahed, which the story claimed were made during her April 5th interview on Al Mehwar channel's "90 Minutes" program. In reality, Ms. Mogahed stated that most analysts expected the Muslim Brotherhood to acquire no more than a minority of the votes in Egypt's upcoming elections, and for this reason the U.S. was willing to tolerate their lawful political participation. The host then posed a hypothetical question about the likely U.S. response should the Muslim Brotherhood gain a majority. Mogahed said the U.S. administration would clearly be nervous in this case and that she did not know what America's response would be."

          • Joseph Klein

            Interesting how the Muslim Brotherhood website tried to cover its tracks by issuing the suspicious "correction" you quoted from above and removing its original article from its website. Its link to the video (all in Arabic) is obviously to a short excerpt that most likely deleted the part about the Obama administration's respect for the Muslim Brotherhood. http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=28378

            In view of the invitation to the White House Ramadan dinner three years in a row extended to the president of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated unindicted co-conspirator Islamic Society of North America and the State Department's invitation to Muslim Brotherhood members to attend President Obama's June 2009 Cairo speech, the original article appears more credible.

          • aspacia

            When has he ever denounced their activities?

          • Jim_C

            Why doesn't he denounce each and every litle group that deserves denouncing? Why doesn't he speak out against each and every injustice that occurs? Why doesn't he…?

          • aspacia

            The problem is that he does not denounce those who need denouncing and invites them to our House for Ramaden and other activities. Ayes, Wright, Muslim fanatics, et al.

            He has admitted he was groomed by communists and radicals in college.

            The point is Barry is a totalitarian communist and support Muslim totalitarian thought.

        • Jim_C

          See my problem with you is you guys always gotta take it too far with the "motivation" like its a soap opera. Obama "wants" the Muslim Brotherhood in there; he "roots" for the Islamists; he "wants to destroy America."

          You may have every reason to think his policies will be disastrous, just as I did with Bush (and clearly have been proven right); but thinking he delights in disaster is frivolous soap opera stuff, not worthy of anyone who understands politics.

          • aspacia

            He clearly want the U.S. to be Socialist/Communist, and most do not believe in two forms of theft.

          • Jim_C

            "theft", oh you mean "taxes."

            Don't make me pull out the Benjamin Franklin quote again, aspacia!

          • aspacia

            There are 1040 reasons to dislike the government!

  • Jim_C

    Where were you guys when we invaded Iraq as a reaction to 9/11?

    • StephenD

      I don't know, I was supporting what Hillary and Obama and Kerry supported…you?

      • Jim_C

        Shaking my head at how easy it was to gin up support.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/CAPTDAX captdax

    Obama develops politically cordial relations in America with the Islamizing Muslim Brotherhood, so too in Libya, Obama is ideologically rubbing shoulders with Al Qaeda sympathisers.

    "Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links"

  • Ghostwriter

    Let's be honest here. Qaddafi has a lot of American blood on his hands. I'm not sorry to see him go in the least. I don't like him and he deserved what he got.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    In the 1990s that boast had been exposed as hollow after the horrors in the Balkans––ethnic cleansing, massacres of civilians, torture and mutilation of prisoners in concentration camps––were stopped not by the Europeans and the UN, but by an American bombing campaign conducted under the patina of NATO authority.

    I hate to rain on the writer's parade, but the alleged Balkans ethnic cleansing, the so-called massacres of civilians, the supposed torture and mutilation of prisoners in concentration camps, etc. weren't stopped by Clinton's “Wag the Dog” War, because none of those things are true and they aren't true because they never happened in the first place to begin with.


  • crackerjack

    And where exactly is the difference between Chiracs Libya "genocide" lie and Bush's Iraq "WOMD" lie? At least Chiraq seems to be winning his war, which is more than can be said for Bush's Iraq blanket desaster.

  • Gloria Stewart

    I hope the Libyans enjoy their celebration and pass a lot of falafel around. Soon they will get the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • Patrick Martin

    Strange how we get total LIB support for a bad war on Libya, done without Congressional approval mind you, and yes those very same LIB psychotics tried their best to rip shreds on Bush for Afghanistan and Iraq, that indeed had Congressional approval.

    "Days, Not Weeks!" -BHO 18 Mar 2011

    And the sorties continue today!

    Gaddafi definitely needs his plug pulled, but not in this event, he needed it for what he did over Lockerbie!

  • Jim_C

    Well Patrick, let's see…how many Americans are dead? How many years did this take? How long will we occupy Libya? How much did we have to borrow from China to do this?

    Still think the situation is analogous?

    • Joseph Klein

      Nearly a billion dollars spent in just five months. Qaddafi still on the loose and his stockpile of chemical weapons up for grabs. Rebels are an unknown quantity, with some said to have fought against our soldiers in Iraq and to be aligned with al Qaeda. And no Congressional authorization in clear violation of the War Powers Act.

      • Jim_C

        So you see the glass as half-empty.

  • Joseph Klein

    No, I see things as they actually are.

  • curmudgeon

    by the time the us captured saddam, we had had enough time to see what ungrateful murdering monsters the iraqis were. given the choice, i would have given iraq back to saddam. give the idiots responsible for turning libya over to islamic extremists (is there any other kind?) a year, and they will be wishing they could give libya back to khadaffi. there are things worse than murderous evil dictators, and libya iraq, and afghanistan are all about to demonstrate what that is. arab spring my red donkey.