Friday, March 18, 2011

Before the US Picks Up the Libyan Burden

Now that representatives to the United Nations have courageously voted for somebody else to go do something about Gaddafi’s murderous treatment of his own people, they can return to their snug apartments in New York City and leave it to members of some nation’s military forces to do the dangerous part. But whose husbands, wives, children and parents should go in harm’s way to solve this problem?
Well one solution would be for the nations that sold this lunatic the aircraft, air defense systems, tanks, artillery and ammunition that he has been using to put down the democratic revolution. It would certainly be just for Russia to spend its money and risk its forces to clean up the mess it created. And the prospect of watching the decrepit Bear with its fantasies of international relevance struggle across the Mediterranean to put down the monster it created is enticing.  But in this case it is probably wise to leave the lid firmly in place in the ash can of history.
But somebody has to fly multiple bombing missions through hostile air defenses, destroy the missile and radar sites, intimidate the ground forces into a cease fire and withdrawal, and roll them back if they resist.  Once engaged, somebody has to provide additional forces if Gaddafi calls their bluff or raises the ante.  Somebody has to be prepared to fight and win at the cost of blood and treasure.  Who should it be?
Here is my pick for the “Final Four” to play the bloody game:  #1 Italy #2 Malta #3 France #4 Spain. These are the nations that intervened to save the dictator 25 years ago when President Reagan sent American aircraft and crews to “send a message” in response to a Libyan terror attack in Berlin.
Just to remind us all of the behavior of this international outlaw – Gaddafi actively supported the Red Brigade, Red Army Faction, and other terrorist groups around the world.  In 1986 Libyan agents operating out of East Germany attacked a disco frequented by US troops in Berlin. In response to this and numerous previous attacks, President Reagan ordered Operation Eldorado Canyon.  More than 40 aircraft from carriers and bases in Great Britain mounted the attack against multiple targets. Bombs narrowly missed Gaddafi himself.
This miss is not surprising since a senior Italian politician warned Gaddafi of the impending attack, and the Prime Minister of Malta called to advise him when aircraft were on the way.  France and Spain refused to allow the US to cross their airspace, adding 1300 miles and several hours to the raid each way, and requiring additional mid-air refueling.  Two US Air Force pilots were killed by the waiting air defenses.
While it would be great to see these representatives of the UN’s moral authority spring into action, many are already calling for the US to be involved.  My answer is “not so fast.”
After our attack in 1986, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 41/38 which condemned the US action as “a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law." Our current President has been big on issuing American apologies to many others in the world.  Here is a great opportunity for him to extract an apology from the UN – and an admission of mistake from the four “friends” who betrayed us 25 years ago -- before committing any US personnel to this endeavor.

1 comment:

  1. I was just thinking about the whole mess that is the Middle East today. I can't help but think that most of America's problems in this region mostly began when the CIA overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran in 1953. What if we hadn't done that? What if we simply stayed out of that region and didn't get involved (following George Washington's advice to not get entangled in the affairs of other nations). I can't help but think that the Middle East would be better off today. The U.S. would be better off, too. (We wouldn't be bankrupt because of all of our endless wars, for one thing). Or maybe not. But at least, we wouldn't have overthrown a democratically elected government. I mean, that's just wrong.