Today, after some weeks of shillyshallying, President Obama made the momentous decision to sort of do something halfway in response to the revolt against and attempted ouster of Muammar Qaddafi.
The president said Qaddafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from key areas of the country, allow for humanitarian assistance to reach Libyans, and make sure his people have access to water, gas and electricity.
"Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable," said Mr. Obama. "These terms are not subject to negotiation. If Qaddafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences. The resolution will be enforced through military action."
And as a sop to the MoveOn/ANSWER freaks who populate the Democrat party he added,
But Obama also spelled out that the U.S. commitment in Libya would be "focused" and done in cooperation with coalition partners and that he was not contemplating sending American soldiers into Libya.
"The U.S. is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya," Obama told reporters in the East Room of the White House. "We are not going to use force to go beyond a well-defined goal, specifically the protection of civilians in Libya."
I suppose we should not be surprised at this administration readily grasping at any straw of a half measure as a means to look like it is doing something when in reality all it is accomplishing is increasing misery. It is especially true in this case because Hillary Clinton allegedly rolled Robert Gates and Department of Defense because she was "concerned that the United States was losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the Arab youth."
We've seen this before in Bosnia and the results of this half-assed effort are readily forseeable.
Phase 1. Hope. The Rebels will pour into a relatively small area thinking they are safe. In reality, this lets Qaddafi concentrate the opponents of his regime in one area and makes his security problems in the rest of the country go away, thus freeing up more troops to crush the rebels.
Phase 2. Starvation. Food, water, fuel, and ammunition will quickly run out as the UN resolution doesn't call for a sealift of humanitarian supplies.
Phase 3. Destruction. Even without using his air force Qaddafi will close the noose on the the rebels by use of his superior army. The nations who have enlisted to provide aircraft simply don't have the air frames or, quite honestly, the ground attack skills to enforce a "no drive zone."
Phase 4. Disaster. As the government forces close in there will be a belated sealift of refugees to Europe.
It's no secret that I think intervening in this place at this time is a boneheaded decision. But what is more irksome is intervening with no real idea of goals and objectives and limiting your involvement up front so the other side knows what they can get away with.
So here we are. Intervening in a lost cause to make a gaggle of Ivy League foreign policy wonks in the NSC feel good about themselves. The price will be the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of non combatants and more likely than not some allied airmen. Great job, Mr. President. True leadership. Maybe you and Qaddafi can have a drink on how well it worked when this is over.