Defense9 June 2011

Notes From Norm: Thursday June 9th: Libya

Libya. Does anyone really care what’s happening there?

6.4 million people.

About the size of Alaska.

It’s GDP in 2010, according to the CIA, was about $90 billion.

It has an unemployment rate of 30%.

It’s been more than 60 days since President Obama addressed the nation to share with them his “vision” for U.S. intervention in Libya.

It’s been more than 60 days days since President Obama told U.S. lawmakers that U.S. involvement in Libya would, as ABC News reported, would be “days, not weeks”.

It’s been more than 80 days since the U.S. began military involvement in Libya.

By my math, 80 days equals 11.428571 weeks (if one wants to be entirely accurate!)

Many in Congress are now calling for the President to present to Congress his justification for continuing military action in Libya – which by now is in violation of the 1973 War Powers Resolution – which clearly states the President’s obligation to make his case before Congress as to our continued role in that nation.Let me be clear:  Early on, I believed the United States needed to establish a No-Fly Zone in Libya and stop the Dictator of Libya from murdering his own people.

Rather than do that immediately, the President dithered and delayed making any decision – much to the astonishment of many Americans, including the Libyan Rebels who were attempting to prevent Moammar Gadhafi from killing them and innocent civilians.

And, when action was finally taken, the President decided to notify the American people that Gadhafi must go – and so did many of his advisors and the Secretary of State and others who said – Gadhafi must go.

But, this is a President who makes a lot of bold pronouncements, only to find the air deflated from those lofty goals once the details have to be put to paper.

A President who wants to look tough – who tries to act tough – but can never really ever finish the job because he’s too busy trying to be all things to all people.

NATO – which is, by and large, a U.S. led, supported and directed military force – one of the most powerful the world has ever seen – has not yet gotten Gadhafi to go.

In fact, despite dropping countless bombs on his “compound”, the deranged leader of Libya continues to emerge to mock the United States and our allies for their inability to get him – while he and his forces continue to kill rebels and civilians throughout the country.

As Americans grow weary of the President’s bleak, meager and ineffectual efforts to grow our nation’s economy, they, too, have given him his appropriate pat on the back for killing Osama Bin Laden and have gone back to their daily lives of trying to find a job, pay their bills and keep their homes.

It’s time it is said: The President and his Administration need to either terminate Mohamer Gadhafi immediately and then provide the necessary political and economic support to those who will rise to democratic and responsible power behind him – or we must end our efforts in Libya immediately.

There can be no question in the mind of any American that our military, with the skill of our commanders and troops, as well as the precision and quality of our intelligence and weapons, can remove any evidence that Mohamer Gadhafi walked this Earth.

Unlike Bin Laden, we actually know what country Gadhafi is in!

But, the hand-wringing of this Administration to suggest that they simply want him to leave – not to kill him – is duplicitous in the extreme.

When it’s reported that the NATO Alliance has made Gaddafi’s compound a main target since March 19th, and that, according to the Sun Herald, “…most of the buildings in the Bab al Aziziya complex have been flattened”, there should be no doubt of our true intentions.

And, if there is an inability within this Administration to do what needs to be done in Libya, then it’s time for them to stop doing what they are doing, and withdraw American resources from this ill-conceived military operation.

The United States achieved a great victory by tracking down and terminating Osama Bin Laden.  It showed the strength, power and persistence of our nation, our political leaders and our military.

But, by playing rhetorical word games with the American people that our goal is to protect the Libyan people and force Gaddafi to leave – instead of doing what needs to be done to simply remove him from the equation immediately – only portends for worse things to come.

For those, including myself, who vehemently oppose American “boots on the ground” in Libya, the fear that anything less than the proclamation from President Obama that Gaddafi’s time is up, and our intention is to forcibly remove him from power through the termination of his life, may well mean that to finish the job it will require American soldiers fighting urban battles in one of the most dangerous places in the world. That would be a terrible mistake.

The President’s Libya “policy” is as confusing, misdirected and underwhelming as his approach to restoring economic growth and job creation in our country.

And, while his economic policies have severely weakened our nation domestically, his foreign policy initiatives have severely weakened our credibility with some of the most evil dictators across the world.

Our current strategy has not accomplished that.  If a massive concentration of air power – and an aggressive arming of Rebels with weapons and logistics supports cannot do the job – then it’s time to remove ourselves from the scene.

The President botched this operation from the beginning, and if the solution to him saving face is putting American foot soldiers in harm’s way to clean up the mess he created, then it’s time to walk away.

But, it’s time to be honest with the American people. 

Our goal and intention must be to kill Gadhafi and end his reign of terror.

Anything less than that, after more than 11 weeks of what was presented to the American people as an action that would be “days, not weeks”, is simply no longer worth risking American prestige or lives for in Libya.