Republican Party

War on Libya: Now How Much Would You Pay? Or, Later How Much Will You Pay?

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National Journal on costs and responsibility in our bouncing baby war. It may not be constitutional, as Jacob Sullum notes below, but hell, at least it will be costly:

The first day of Operation Odyssey Dawn had a price tag that was well over $100 million for the U.S. in missiles alone….Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said on Monday that the U.S. costs could "easily pass the $1 billion mark on this operation, regardless of how well things go."….

The White House said on Monday it was not prepared to request emergency funding yet, but former Pentagon comptroller Dov Zakheim estimated that the Defense Department would need to send a request for supplemental funding to Capitol Hill if the U.S. military's share of Libya operations expenses tops $1 billion……

Harrison initially estimated that maintaining a coastal no-fly zone after those initial strikes would cost in the range of $30 million to $100 million per week. If the coalition continues to strike ground targets, the weekly costs would be closer to the higher range, he said.

Ah, but look at what we're getting for it!

On the first day of strikes alone, U.S.-led forces launched 112 long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles, which cost about $1 million to $1.5 million apiece, from ships stationed off the Libyan coast. That totaled $112 million to $168 million. Since those first strikes, U.S. and British forces have launched at least another 12 Tomahawk missiles.

The Defense Department typically buys about 200 Tomahawks a year. While the military likely can put off buying new missiles for months, it will ultimately need to boost planned procurement rates to refill its stockpile.

And coalition, schmoilition, it's still Our War:

For now, the United States continues to lead operations, although U.S. military leaders insist that control will soon be transferred to an as-yet unnamed coalition leader.

Army Gen. Carter Ham, the Odyssey Dawn operational commander, told reporters on Monday that allies are stepping up to shoulder much of the mission. There were 60 sorties flown on Sunday, about half by U.S. aircraft. But on Monday, coalition allies were expected to fly more than half of the day's 70 to 80 sorties.

Complicating matters, however, is the fact that most of the coalition nations' militaries, which operate on a fraction of the Pentagon's yearly allowance, are grappling with budget pressures of their own. While the Defense Department hopes to transfer control to coalition partners in the coming days, the longer the operations over Libya continue, the more difficult it will be for allies to take the lead.

And on the responsibility side, the World's Greatest Deliberative Body™ wants to make sure its hands are fully clean:

When the president ordered the U.S. military to intervene in Libya's civil war, a decision that could end up costing billions, the congressional leadership from both parties had little to say about the expense, preferring to let Obama make the decisions…..there is no clear consensus on what, if anything, Congress will do to use its power of the purse to limit the Libya campaign.

Committee leadership at the House and Senate Appropriations and Budget committees have not weighed in on how the conflict's cost—as yet undefined, but estimated to be at least $1 billion—could affect a final deal for spending in 2011 or the 2012 budget request. If sorties continue, the operation could take a serious chunk out of the approximately $8 billion in budget cuts House Republicans have managed to enact so far.

House Republicans did not propose cutting military funding in their 2011 spending bill, though it consumes about a fifth of government spending. 

Ah, Republicans, stay "fiscally responsible," buddies.

One Republican, though, is speaking out on costs, Constitutionality, and sense, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.):

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  1. So much economic stimuluuuuuuus….

    *fuuuuugughhhhhhggghhhh*

    So much economic opportunityyyyy…..

    *mmmmmmmmmggggggmmmmmm*

    A shot in the arm to recoveryyyyy…..

    *oh shit* *oh SHIT* *OH YEAH!*

  2. I’d find this more compelling if I weren’t looking at it against the backdrop of Iraq.

    We alienated much of the Arab and Islamic worlds–in my estimation–and spent about $700 billion in Iraq, which only seems to have bought us ill will.

    If we manage to recoup some of those alienated Arabs and Muslims and their good will–at a cost of a few billion dollars? Then the first thing that springs to my mind isn’t “Gee look how we’re squandering a billion on Libya.”…

    My first reaction is, “Gee, look how much we squandered on Iraq!”

    And that doesn’t even count all the ill will we received for all the money we spent on Mubarak and other evil bastards–that money bought us ill will by the barrel…

    Life is a marginal analysis–it’s often about what we’ve done lately. …and if we have a chance here to show the Arab and Muslim worlds that we’re on their side–rather than the side of the vicious dictators? …and it only costs us a billion dollars?

    …with no troop commitments and no responsibility for what happens after we’re gone?

    Then I think we’d be foolish not to try to recoup some good will from the Arab and Muslim worlds–if the cost of doing so is a measly few billion dollars?

    Compared to what we’ve been doing for the past 10 years? That looks like the best investment we’ve made in a long time!

    1. First, there is no good will to be bought here. All the US is doing is dropping bombs on the Middle East?again. When this operation goes tits up and civilians start dying, the US will once again be the bad guy.

      Second, investments only pay off when you have money to invest.

      1. “First, there is no good will to be bought here.”

        I obviously disagree with that.

        When our troops were stationed on Saudi Arabian soil, that created a lot of ill will.

        When the photographs from Abu Ghraib and the details of George W. Bush’s waterboarding and torture policy came to light? I think that created more ill will than seeing Saddam Hussein hang could alleviate.

        If we have credibility and good will with anybody in Iraq? It’s probably the Kurds.

        And if we want to compare this Libyan situation to anything else we’ve done recently, shouldn’t it be to the Kurds?

        I think there are hearts and minds to win in Libya, and I think the rest of the Arab and Muslim worlds are watching closely.

        1. “And if we want to compare this Libyan situation to anything else we’ve done recently, shouldn’t it be to the Kurds?”

          You bet! There are ‘good’ Kurds and ‘bad’ kurds, and from the air we could tell the difference!
          You still haven’t addressed the constitutional requirement for declaring war, other than to blow it off, since you see good PR here.

          1. I’ve said repeatedly that I don’t think declaring war is in our best interests. …and I’ve repeatedly said why. They gave us a whole ‘nother thread for that.

            I do think that declaring war on yet another Muslim country is bad PR, but that’s only one reason why I think declaring war on Libya would be a bad move for us…see the other threads.

            To the subject at hand, why would I get upset about spending a billion on Libya (good net PR) when we’re spending $700 billion on Iraq (bad net PR)?

            1. Small point, Ken, but we haven’t declared war against any Muslim country, so it’s hard to declare war against yet another one.

              1. I’m not a lawyer, but sometimes I play one on the internet…

                This is what the Wikithingy says:

                “The resolution authorized President Bush to use the Armed Forces of the United States “as he determines to be necessary and appropriate” in order to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq..”

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_Resolution

                I think they were trying to avoid saying that they were “declaring war” against a Muslim nation back then for the (one of) the same reason(s) I’m saying we should avoid doing that now.

                If it’s not a declaration of war, it might as well be. I think that’s certainly the way the Muslim world sees it.

                Ground troops and occupation? I’m not a lawyer, so it is what it is.

                1. Right, I’m sure the “Arab Street” was poring over the exact wording of the AUMF (in English!) before deciding whether the US was making war on a Muslim country, rather than basing their decision on whether the US was incinerating Iraqi civilians.

                  Newsflash, Ken: Muslims aren’t the bunch of dolts you apparently think they are. If we’re going to go in there and start killing Libyans (which we already are), then they’re not going to be fooled into thinking we’re not at war.

                  Either we’re justified in intervening or not. Playing mindgames about whether it’s really intervention or not is pointless.

            2. Iraq was good PR during the first week.

              And your arguments in the other thread that you just don’t see the need to type were pretty laughable. I wouldn’t want to type them either if I were you.

        2. How much goodwill does this buy?

          “Six Libyan villagers are recovering in hospital after being shot by American soldiers coming in to rescue the U.S. pilots whose plane crash-landed in a field”

          I’m sure we will be greeted as liberators, at least initially. What will a post-Gaddafi Libya look like, and what tribal feuds will reveal themselves as competing factions battle for control on Libya’s future?

          With out a peaceful transition, we will once again be reminded of our “moral imperative” to protect the civilian population, leading to boots on the ground. If it gets to that point, we will face the same challenges that we have encountered in our other Middle Eastern wars.

          Good will doesn’t last forever.

          1. “With out a peaceful transition, we will once again be reminded of our “moral imperative” to protect the civilian population, leading to boots on the ground. If it gets to that point, we will face the same challenges that we have encountered in our other Middle Eastern wars.”

            No–good will doesn’t last forever…

            But war declarations do! …at least that seems to be the way it goes with Japan, Germany…

            Isn’t that an excellent reason not to seek a war declaration by the way? That “moral imperative” leading to boots on the ground is the UN’s problem to deal with–so long as we don’t declare war or send ground troops anyway.

            1. Sounds like a good reason not to stick our noses into everyone else’s business…

              1. Now I feel like Milton Friedman talking about the Fed…

                I don’t think we should have a Fed, but if you’re gonna have one anyway? Then here’s what I think we should do…

                On whether to get involved? That ship’s done sailed. If we’re gonna be involved, then here’s what I think we should do…

            2. “That “moral imperative” leading to boots on the ground is the UN’s problem to deal with–so long as we don’t declare war or send ground troops anyway.”

              Right, the UN. The UN couldn’t secure a dinner reservation more less a country.

              This is why it was stupid to go down this road in the first place. One action will inevitably lead to the other. The same sentiment that screamed for the President to “do someTHING!” will feel obligated to help the poor folks caught in the middle of a violent power struggle.

              I promise you, the other members of the “coalition of the willing” don’t have the capability to secure Libya on their own, and Obama won’t be able to walk away.

              1. I haven’t seen Obama slide down that slippery slope yet.

                In fact, what I’m seeing is him saying repeatedly that in the next few weeks, we’re gonna back out of this and let other allies who wanted this to happen take over.

                The idea presently is apparently letting France take the lead in enforcing the no-fly zone…

                I think we’re all a little leery of experiencing Iraq all over again–but I don’t see much danger of that happening–so long as we don’t declare war.

                If Congress declares war on Libya, then all bets are off–and that’s why I think everybody who wants Obama to get rubber stamped by Congress in the hope that they’ll restrict his hand rather than open up Libya to a ground war?

                They’re nuts!

                1. I’m obviously very supportive of what Obama’s done on this so far, but if Congress declares war on Libya, I’ll oppose the war from day one.

                  How’s that?

                  1. So, you’re fine with war as long as it is never declared a war? Call it what you want, but firing 122 tomahawk missiles into a foreign country is an act of war, even if we chose not to call it one.

                    Regarding the UN. With out the United States, the UN does not have the capability to deal with the situation in Libya with out US assistance.

                    The United States Navy alone has twice the number of fighter aircraft than the RAF and French air-force combined. France has one aircraft carrier; the UK zero. These countries simply don’t have the assets required to enforce a no-fly-zone, secure a population or create an inter-service softball league. This is why we will be stuck in Libya for the duration.

                    These facts are surely no secret to our government. It would be naive to think we will be their for just a few weeks because Obama “said so”. He also said he would close Guantanamo, have US troops out of Iraq with in 16 months of taking office, end the Bush tax cuts and keep unemployment under 8% through the stimulus.

                    1. “So, you’re fine with war as long as it is never declared a war?”

                      I’m against committing ground troops or declaring war.

                      …because I don’t want to be responsible for what happens in Libya.

                      I think those of you who are arguing that Obama should go to Congress, where the president’s own party and the John Boehner-Bush Brigade are waiting to cut clip the president’s hawk wings?

                      Are being a bunch of Pollyannas!

                      I think Congress is likely to give the President whatever he wants on this…

                      I repeat: declaring war on Libya or getting an authorization from Congress will not discourage the president from initiating further action in Libya. To the contrary!

                      Congress declaring war on Libya will not make us less responsible for what happens in Libya after the war. To the contrary!

            3. Actually, based on your example, declarations of war seem to be the way to go.

              England – now a ally.
              Mexico – now an ally.
              Spain – now an ally.
              Germany – now an ally.
              Germany/Japan/Italy – allies all.

              Its the people we fight without declaring war that seem to be the most pissed at us.

              1. Germany, Japan, et. al. may be allies–but we’re responsible for their national defense too!

                It’s been 65 years since World War II was over. The Cold War has been over for twenty years–and we’re still in Germany and Japan!

                I don’t want to be in Libya for 65 years. I don’t want to be Libya come this May!

                If we declare war on Libya, we’ll be there for a long, long time.

    2. The US taxpayer is not a piggy bank to bust open for winning a popularity contest.

      Futher, ill will don’t matter. The US did much worse in Vietnam and the only blowback from there is cheap electronics and friendship. Further, I highly doubt this will alleviate the ill will against America. Those people hate us because they want to and are subsidized to by state sponsors of terrorism we should be destroying with the resources being wasted on endless Libya. The French are up to their pects in Africa always have been no ill will or at least very little. French mercs storm Mecca in 1979 and botch it. Guess who’s embassy gets the receiving end of Pakistani protest? Hint: Not France.

      1. Well there’s very little left in that piggy bank anyway except IOUs.

      2. That is a pretty good point. People were much friendlier to me in Vietnam and China than in Europe and all “we” did for Europe was bail them out of their postwar depression.

    3. Who is this “we” you keep referring to? I’ll be responsible for my own interactions with others thank you very much. I’d prefer that “we” don’t bomb people because you feel it will give “us” goodwill.

      1. Fascinating theory.

        Regardless of how “you” feel about it though? That bill for $700 billion is coming out of “our” paychecks whether “you” like it or not.

        “We” did squander $700 billion of “our” money on Iraq, and given that fact, it’s hard for “me” to get excited about another billion.

        1. Collectivist

    4. You’re kidding yourself if you think that their will be “no troop commitments and no responsibility for what happens after we’re gone”

      So, basically you’re saying that Libya will be a “slam dunk”. You’re arguments sound very similar to those made before we invaded Iraq. If anything, Iraq should have been the teaching moment for why these “simple” wars become very difficult.

      Every political party in the Middle East has their own armed, militant wing. Who is going to provide security for the civilian population once Gaddafi is gone and the various tribes begin to battle for control of the new government.

      This is precisely what happened in Iraq. Once the Baathists were banned from serving in the government, they decided to become a big pain in the ass. They also fought over control of the oil fields, another challenge the Libyans will face.

      If we leave, the level of internal violence will be much like the violence witnessed before the United States intervened. Does our “moral imperative” end once Gaddafi is gone? The US will be forced into an occupation, and it sucks because no one bothered to learn from our earlier mistakes.

      1. I think you got me all backwards…

        “Your arguments sound very similar to those made before we invaded Iraq. If anything, Iraq should have been the teaching moment for why these “simple” wars become very difficult.”

        My argument is that we should not declare war or send ground troops–so as to avoid another Germany, Japan, Iraq long term responsibility.

        It’s other people around here arguing that if President Obama gets a formal declaration from Congress–then for some reason that means he won’t use it to put boots on the ground?

        …I won’t pretend to understand that argument.

        “You’re kidding yourself if you think that their will be “no troop commitments and no responsibility for what happens after we’re gone”

        How much of a commitment do you think we have to Somalia and Belgrade?

        …and what makes Somalia and Belgrade different from Iraq?

        Isn’t it that we didn’t declare war on Somalia or Iraq? Isn’t it that they were eventually handed over to the UN?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1…..Yugoslavia

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O…..store_Hope

        Colin Powell warned us about the Pottery Barn Rule before we invaded Iraq. We ignored him, but it’s still there–we bought Iraq.

        I’m arguing that we shouldn’t buy Libya. I don’t want to be responsible for Libya–so I certainly don’t want us to declare war on Libya, and I definitely want to hand it over to the UN.

        So long as we don’t declare war, and we don’t send in ground troops, then I think Libya will continue to be the UN’s problem–especially since the Security Council approved the whole shebang.

        That’s what the UN is for. They’re the ultimate exit strategy–and just because George W. Bush was an idiot and threw this advantage away in Iraq, that doesn’t mean that advantage isn’t there anymore.

        1. Isn’t it that we didn’t declare war on Somalia or Iraq?

          Isn’t it that we didn’t declare war on Somalia or Iraq Serbia?

          …but you knew what I meant!

      2. That’s the giest of it. The Team Blue cheerleaders believe it to be a relatively risk free means for their Glorious Leader to assert his magnificent beneficence.

        That, however, is hardly the case.

        Going into the Falklands, the Brits thought the Argentinians had nothing to match them, only to lose a ship http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F….._Sheffield

        and 257 men before winning it.

        Does anyone outside the Joint Chiefs wonder if Moe G. has that capability of targeting ships off the Libyan coast? After all, he is much richer than the generals that ran Argentina. Certainly not Obama and his three furies. They are so little concerned about it they don’t bother to make a serious case for their war to the American people, nor bother to get backing from Congress in case a worse than projected scenario actually occurs.

        The worse leadership this nation has had in my lifetime (I caught the last year of LBJ), and we have had some serious shite leadership from both parties.

        1. The worse leadership this nation has had in my lifetime (I caught the last year of LBJ), and we have had some serious shite leadership from both parties.

          Only two I would give a passing grade of better than ‘F’, Reagan and Clinton, in the strict terms of running the operation. God, we have suffered through some shite leadership. Who at this late date still puts their faith in politics?

        2. Oh. And ‘t’ and not ‘e’ after the ‘s’ in ‘wor-blank-blank’.

        3. Ken, if you see this, I’ll save you from having to rewrite that contrary view on presidential rankings with something I just came across.

          https://reason.com/blog/2004/08…..ent_137863

          I don’t change my grading, but I pretty much agree with everything you said there.

          1. Wow, I really didn’t like Bush!

            It’s tough to think as bad as Clinton was too, that what came after him was so much worse!

            I’m starting to think that a good president is too much to hope for–if we could just have a competent president again…

            That would be nice.

  3. Inarticulate. Off the beaten path. Radical.

    I’d vote for him.

    1. I presume you mean Ron Paul?

  4. If this war saves even one life, it will be worth it.

    1. Sarcasm? I hope so.

    2. “If this war saves even one two-term presidency, it will be worth it.”

      1. Obama doesn’t need to do anything to secure his second term if the Republicans keep serving up the crap sandwiches they are now for their own candidacy.

        1. Just wait until this thing starts to go south. Since their was no vote to authorize the use of force, no one is on the record as supporting action. Any and every member of congress can pile on Obama at will, because no one can prove that they “supported it before the were against it”.

          Ain’t hindsight a bitch.

      2. Obama’s not running in 2012, Hillary is. You heard it here first.

        1. You think she might be setting him up?

          1. I don’t know if it’s that Machiavellian, but she’s working behind the scenes to convince him not to run, I guarantee.

            Of course, if the Libya intervention goes badly (or even goes on for long at all) she’s gonna have the stink on herself too…a lot more than she had the stink of Iraq.

            So, I think this is just a play for her to “look presidential”, and in particular look more presidential than Barack Hamlet Obama.

            1. It won’t be hard to convince Obama not to run. Hillary can just show Obama the $500K checks that Bill gets for his speeches.

              If you think he loves the sound of his own voice now, just wait until he’s getting paid for it.

              1. He does rather like the sound of his own voice, doesn’t he? 🙂

                1. Dude’s got the chin-tilt and pastorly finger wave DOWN. He reminds me of the spelling-bee champion who actually thinks he has accomplished something.

            2. Of course, if the Libya intervention goes badly (or even goes on for long at all) she’s gonna have the stink on herself too…a lot more than she had the stink of Iraq.

              She’d have the stink on her anyway. This is a woman who said that Obama couldn’t be trusted in times of crisis to be a decisive leader. Oddly enough, she’s been proven correct time after time, except that she hedged her bets by joining the administration. Maybe she thought she could make another run off of all those good Obama-feelings, assuming he gets a second term; at this point, though, every misstep he’s made is going to come sloughing off on her shoulders. Why would anyone take her seriously as a leader at this point?

              The cynical side of me says that she’s allowed Obama to trip around like a blind man out of petty revenge for 2008, but I honestly doubt it’s as subtextual as all that.

    3. Has the CBO predicted the number of lives that will be created or saved?

  5. If this war costs even one life, it will be worth it.

  6. That’s what I say whenever I shoot my gun off in the middle of a crowd: “If all this shooting somehow saves one life, it’ll be worth it.”

    1. There is a future in politics for you my friend!

  7. I have yet to see an experienced military strategist give an objective assessment. Without the intervention, Gaddafi clearly had the upper hand, but with air attacks, it is not clear that the balance has, or will, shift, in the long run.

    The strategy seems to be, “Let’s throw something at him and hope for the best.”

    In Libya, it is probable that there are two relatively small factions, one pro-Gaddafi and the other pro-rebel.

    There is a huge middle ground, “Let us wait on the sidelines and see what happens” group. Our intervention is likely to cause a migration from the middle ground to the two groups.

    Doesn’t seem to be a well thought out strategy to me.

    1. And what happens if he still wins even with the no-fly zone in effect? That would be humiliating for Obama.

      So, it’s reasonable to assume that whatever military force is necessary to at least keep the eastern part of Libya out of Guidofi’s control will be brought to bear. Those claiming this is just a low key kilofoot altitude intervention are living in lalaland.

      1. That’s the real potential quagmire here, and one that I don’t think the cheerleaders or even the “wait and see”ers have taken into account. This whole operation has to end with the death of Moe G. and his closest associates. He’s got a history of financing terrorism against America and Europe, has a bunch of gold reserves, and is going to have a lot of time on his hands if he’s not found and exterminated, and his network shredded.

        It was fucking stupid of Obama to get caught up in this. Libya was a local civil war, was country in which we had no footprint or oversight, and Ghadaffi himself had been effectively neutered on a front in which he was no threat to Americans at all. And now Obama goes and gives him the perfect excuse to target Americans again. Just sheer lunacy.

    2. The Secretary of Defense and the joint Chiefs were the only ones arguing against taking action in Libya.

      Be afraid. Be very afraid.

      1. Are you saying that the Secretary of Transportation’s input is less valuable?

        1. Yes, but only slightly.

          The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development made a strong argument for the bombing missions. It had something to do with stimulus.

  8. Yes, it is rather offensive to the American people that Obama sought sanction from the UN rather than from Congress – although if you haven’t noticed, he seldom does consult with Congress before doing whatever it is he wishes to do. I would bet even money that it was mostly Hillary’s idea – she and her husband have always been very supportive of the idea of relinquishing US sovereignty to the United Nations. I’m sure she’d like nothing better than a “one-world” or global government – well perhaps she would like it better if she or her husband got to run it.

    1. I was commenting on what Ron Paul said in the video.

  9. “coalition, schmoilition.” Now I am curious, how did you decide to spell it that way, instead of schmoalition? Is there a style guide for this sort of thing?

  10. Going through the Reason classics of war-war jaw-jaw, I’ve stumbled on a few classics. No not hypocrisy this time, this one is actually just funny.

    Dan|3.29.03 @ 12:18PM|#

    Oh, yes, thank God — we’ve prevented the Iraqis from torching the oil fields! At least now we’re starting to talk about what’s REALLY important in this war

    The problem with screaming “this is all about oil” is that it lacks perspective. Substitute in the real meaning of the word:

    “this is all about the stability and security of the entire world’s economy and transportation systems!”

    Doesn’t look quite so heartless and greedy then, does it.

  11. “this is all about the stability and security of the entire world’s economy and transportation systems!”

    That could just as easily apply to the present situation with Libya. What happens to Obama’s so-called economic recovery if oil prices don’t get stabilized? What happens to Europe’s economy? What would Obama’s chances for re-election be if the price of gasoline goes to $4 or $5 per gallon or the economy experiences a double dip recession?- his chances or any of the Democrats?

    I don’t think for one moment that Obama is going into Libya mainly for humanitarian concerns, even though he is trying to make it appear that way – as are his supporters. He will be spun as the noble, self-less humanitarian and peacemaker – risking his political future for tranquility in Libya. He will be presented as calm, deliberative, and reluctant to interfere, but willing to cooperate with the UN consensus – as presidential, and if it all goes bad? He can walk away claiming that he was pushed into it by others and that, by golly wolly, he tried. On the other hand, if the operation is somewhat successful – or made to look successful – he comes across as a “great leader” or some such rot.

    Some of the msm are already supporting him on this. That paragon of un-biased journalism, Ms.Couric, was on Letterman tonight going on about our boy wonder in the White House. I thought she was going to have an orgasm any moment.

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  13. The Washington Post is reporting this morning that the majority of Qadafi’s “killing” is being done by armed troops and tanks, not aircraft, so that a “no fly zone” will be of little assistance; ground troops will be needed to “protect” people. Watch the mission creep begin.

  14. You’ve got two potential outcomes here:

    (1) Gaddafi doesn’t fall, and you have a low-grade civil war/insurgency, with the US committed to supporting one side. A long-term military presence.

    (2) Gaddafi falls, and you have the lid ripped off a tribal society with long-term grudges to settle, with the US committed to nation-building.

    The notion that the US won’t be involved long-term is laughable. Our “allies” are already running for the exits. The Arab allies have declined to provide military assets. Our French and British allies have declined to take leadership. The Germans are pulling their assets out of the Mediterranean so they don’t get sucked in.

  15. “Our French and British allies have declined to take leadership. The Germans are pulling their assets out of the Mediterranean so they don’t get sucked in.”

    I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate.

    The French want to take the lead. The bickering has been about France wanting to take over rather than NATO…

    “Coalition members haven’t been able to agree on whether the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should take charge of the mission. France, seen by some diplomats as trying to mend fences with Arab neighbors while leading the fight to protect Libyan rebels against the Tripoli regime, has proposed a command structure with NATO in a subsidiary role.

    NATO did agree Tuesday to enforce an arms embargo, but not on its role in the no-fly zone. So far, the Libya operations have been led by U.S. Adm. Locklear, coordinating with military commanders of France, Britain and the other armed forces involved.

    […]

    The Obama administration has indicated it wants to hand over command, preferably to NATO, in coming days?an objective backed by Britain, Italy, Norway and others. Speaking in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, on Tuesday just before ending his Latin American trip, Mr. Obama said the U.S. could cede control soon.

    Late Tuesday, President Barack Obama called French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron as he sought to resolve the dispute over the control structure.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/…..76464.html

    France wants to control the no-fly zone themselves–and maybe we should let them have it! Either way, I don’t think our allies are bickering because no one wants the responsibility. To the contrary, I think they’re bickering because more than just one of them wants to be in charge.

  16. France has a vested interest in Algeria.

    They have a large Muslim and Arab minority population in France…

    I think they’d love to be seen as the protectors of protesters in a place like Libya–’cause Algeria is right next door, and the protests there are ongoing.

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  19. Yet the administration refuses to say it’s a war. And also refuses to call the military overthrow of the Libyan government a coup. It seems that US law says that in the event of a coup, all foreign aid the USA gives to Libya would have to stop…

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