"Qaddafi has lost the legitimacy to lead and... must leave."
-President Barack Obama (HT: Business Insider)
With all due respect to our nation’s Commander-In-Chief, I fail to remember when Qaddafi’s rule in Libya had any profound legitimacy that extended beyond the maximum effective range of an AK-47 Assault Rifle. Qaddafi, and his pathetic side-kick and strip-club drinking buddy, Hugo Chavez, remind me of what the portrait would have looked like if Dorian Gray had an identical twin. Yet I snark and I quibble. Qaddafi has ruled Libya for more than forty years. If there weren’t any actual, suffering human beings there, I’d feel moral satisfaction in concluding that he was welcome to it.
Yet the destruction of this man’s cruel, inhumane and stupid regime will have negative externalities for everyone else in the world. Given that much the same could be said of his continuing rule, I don’t see how much in Libya will probably change from Qaddafi taking a well-deserved rest from continued respiration. A powerful American force looms over the horizon and Libyan rebels are asking for the help of an American President – George H. W. Bush.
"Bring Bush! Make a no fly zone, bomb the planes," shouted soldier-turned-rebel Nasr Ali, referring to a no-fly zone imposed on Iraq in 1991 by then U.S. President George Bush.
And yet a massive engagement with another civil war is about the last thing our nation needs heaped upon the plate. Our economy remains dismal. The lay-offs seem to have ended, but the replacement jobs are not being created to reabsorb the access workforce. A brutally cruel utilitarian may remark that this would be a perfect time to tack on five more US Marine Divisions and put them to work.
However, the USMC has been to the Shores of Tripoli before, the hospitality stank. We have lost absolutely nothing that necessitates sending the US military there to fetch it back. Unlike President Thomas Jefferson, Barack Obama has no overriding casus bellum that justifies feeding American soldiers into yet another desert meat-grinder.
Some will claim that we could suffer from Libya’s oil supply going offline. Europe certainly would. Italy, France and Spain all three rely on Libya as a lowest cost provider in much the same way the United States benefits when we can buy petroleum from either Mexico or Canada. If President Sarkozy were discussing this issue, “No Blood for Oil” would not be an amusing thing to tell him.
The United States could withstand losing Libya. All we have to do is convince President Obama and secretaries Chu and Salazar, to undo much of the current administration’s energy policies. We could replace Libya’s contribution by bringing assets in Alaska, South Dakota and The Gulf of Mexico on line at a more rapid rate. Our problems compound if things keep getting worse in Saudi Arabia.
Take Saudi Arabian oil offline tomorrow, and as Al Stewart once sang, “The World Comes to Riyadh.” In the event that we have to launch an all-out military assault to prevent that unfortunate likelihood, we had better not be wasting our access capacity in the desert wastes of Libya. The USS Kearsarge should be held back in ready alert just in case.
While Qaddafi has more problems than the current DSM has identified metrics to diagnose, we should carefully step back and ask ourselves who we would be assisting if we shove Old Evil out the window in condign fashion. One ironic beneficiary could very well be a new Islamic Emirate decreed by none other than Al-Qaeda. Details follow below.
"Al-Qaeda has established an emirate in Derna led by Abdelkarim al-Hasadi, a former Guantanamo detainee," Khaled Khaim said. "They have an FM radio station and have begun to impose the burqa" (head-to-toe covering for women) and have "executed people who refuse to cooperate with them." Khaim said Hasadi has a lieutenant, "also a member of al-Qaeda and named Kheirallah Baraassi" in al-Baida.
In fairness, others in Libya deny these claims and state they are Qaddafi’s efforts to scare foreign governments from supporting his opponents. Qaddafi is an evil enough man so that I can’t dismiss this rebuttal out of hand. Yet it still begs the question. Who are the Marines aboard the Good Ship Kearsarge supposed to be shooting at again?
Libya has descended into a nightmarish civil war. It exports a lot of oil. Its people suffer terribly at the hands of its insane and evil government. All of these problems seem to suggest a call to military intervention that very few previous American Presidents have easily resisted.
However, America’s military is already heavily committed to military combat operations all over the Middle East. We have one readily available major unit of action in reserve right now that I know of, aboard the USS Kearsarge; off the coast of Libya. The cynics viewing this year’s Arab revolutions from afar have declared Saudi Arabia “in play”. The Marines aboard the Kearsarge would save us much more grief securing the oil in Saudi Arabia (if it gets that bad) than they would if the returned to the fabled Shores of Tripoli.
A large number of people, both here and abroad, will pressure President Obama to break some hearts, break some heads and commit American military might to sorting out the ineluctable mess enveloping the nation of Libya. In this case, as an exception, I would find no fault in my President if he chooses his status quo method for handling any sort of crisis. I would totally respect and defend a command decision from the White House to vote “Present” and keep American Marines out of this mess he inherited from Qaddafi in Libya. While imposing a No-Fly Zone may become a humanitarian necessity, if there is no way to avoid it, I in no way want to see large-scale American combat power committed to such an unrewarding and futile adventure. Libya Just Isn't Worth Military Casualties.