What would you say about a Middle East leader who years ago voluntarily gave up his nuke program, became a steady source of intelligence on Al Queda, and opened his nation to trade with the West? Sure, the dictator has blood on his hands from terrorist acts back in the 80's and doesn't brook dissent from his subjects, but what Arab leader can claim exclusion from that illustrious club?
I'm talking, of course, about Colonel Khadafy. (BTW, the world wants to know why a dictator as powerful as Khadafy would settle for the pedestrian title of Colonel instead of something like Grand Admiral of All Space and Time.) Although visits to Tripoli by the likes of Sarkozy and Hillary Clinton were regular events on the diplomatic itinerary the past few years, leaders of the West now want to visit the Colonel with F-16's, Mirage F-1's and Harrier jets. This change in attitude has been occasioned by the Colonel's efforts to tamp down a rebellion in the eastern part of his country. Unlike Mubarak, Khadafy decided to not go gentle into that good life of an erstwhile dictator hanging around the pool of the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh. No Club Fled for Muammar.
The irony of ironies is that Barry Obama is now invading a Muslim country after all the grief he once gave W. for doing the exact same thing for much greater reasons. As a candidate, the only thing Barry wanted to make war on was W's record. But amazingly, since he's been in office, his policies whether on terrorism, Iraq and Afganistan have been a straight line continuum of Bush's. And now he's taken on a fight with another Muslim country that I doubt even Bush would have wanted.
I think Obama relished this latest invasion as much as he would a date with Sarah Palin. But he's allowed himself to be drafted by Sarkozy into an action that might make sense politically for Sarkozy and nationally for France but that makes no sense for Obama and the US. Once again, we are presented with a delicious irony, ie, France wanting to invade a Middle East country after fighting the US tooth and snails over our occupation of Iraq. Being a former colony of France, Libya offers the French the opportunity to look like a real power to the rest of the world and particularly those countries in Africa which France presumes are within it's realm of influence, countries that also happen to be rich in resources. Sarkozy could use a diversion from economic troubles and horrible poll numbers. And it's easy for France to lead its tin soldier charge when it knows that US military might is behind it. The crafty French know that if they can bamboozle the US into joining this action, then the US will have no choice but to run the show since the French are totally incapable of doing so. The French get all the credit for saving the world from another Rwanda while the US, as always, does all the heavy lifting.
Obama wants to toss this hot potato to someone else, whether it be NATO, the UN, the Arab League, as quick as he can. Gates was on a TV talk show this morning already saying "Mission Accomplished",as if to say, "That's all, folks", even though the cartoon just started. And I don't blame Obama for his obvious reluctance to get involved in this latest "crusade", as our pal,Putin called it. Khadafy presents no national security threat to the US and Libya doesn't have any strategic importance to us. Libya's contribution to the global oil supply is not enough to go to war over. True, Khadafy's retribution against the rebels would probably get very ugly once he got the upper hand, but that's usually what happens to rebels when they lose. Look what Sherman did to the South during the War of Northern Agression. We didn't encourage these guys to revolt, as George Bush Sr. did with the Shiites in Iraq after the First Gulf War, one of the most ignoble episodes in American history. And by the way, who are these rebels? What do we really know about them? They could be Al Queda sympathizers for all we know. If this effort leads to Khadafy's removal and the decapitation of the Libyan regime, what will fill the void? Look at what happened to Yugoslavia when Tito died or Iraq after we got rid of Saddam. Libya is a loosely held conglomeration of bedouin tribes guzzling down the only raison 'd etat that Libya has, namely oil. Cut the head off the chicken and it's going to dance some real funky convulsions.
So Barry's hesitation is understandable. But once he's in the game, he has to win. And winning means regime change. He has already pronounced to the world that Muammar has to go. Being the world's sole superpower, the US can't just state that, initiate military action and then suddenly pull out before consummation. That's called premature ejaculation and makes the guy look weak and callow. This administration's blatant urge to hand this job off to someone else has created confusion as to who is in command and control. This lack of leadership has resulted already in second doubts among participants among the Arab League and African Nations. And it has pushed others, like China and Russia, that were on the fence to come out against this "crusade". Because we are the only nation that can really effect a regime change, then our presitge, not that of the French or British, whose prestige on the global stage wasn't that great to begin with, will be on the line. We have to finish this, and this business won't be finished until the head of Khadafy is brought to the White House on a pike, metaphorically speaking.
So don't be surprised if the US slides down the slippery slope to a long drawn out affair. Don't be surprised if a year or so from now, we're talking again about a surge, a surge to end the stalemate that this Libyan adventure is bound to become.