The Desert Rat
March 24, 2011 by Ben Crystal
“…What I am opposed to is a dumb war… Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States… the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history… I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences..”—State Senator Barack H. Obama (D-IL), 2 October, 2002.
"The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."—U.S. Senator Barack H. Obama, 20 December, 2007.
Barack Obama campaigned for the Presidency on a platform which included proud opposition to what he called a “dumb war.” He was FOR the War in Afghanistan; and AGAINST the War in Iraq.
But now, he’s FOR a war against a “petty dictator” whose military “is a fraction of its former strength…” There’s no doubt that “in concert with the international community” Moammar Gadhafi can certainly “be contained until… he falls away into the dustbin of history.”
To be fair, the President, despite his statement suggesting Gadhafi is “unfit to lead,” has hardly called for the Third Infantry Division to bull-rush Tripoli. Not when the Navy can lob Tomahawk cruise missiles from offshore while our pilots keep the vaunted Libyan Air Force from taking to the skies in their retro-chic French Mirage jets and those vintage Soviet Sukhois which are best known for flaming out at air shows.
But THAT’s the problem. What exactly are we doing in Libya? Are we taking out Gadhafi? He “…poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States…” Are we helping the Libyans take out Gadhafi? What do we know about the Libyans who want to take out Gadhafi? Are they going to replace him with a peaceful republic; or the Umayyad Caliphate II? (The original Umayyad Caliphate was bad news; and they didn’t even have crappy Soviet ground-attack fighters). Or are we simply fencing off the neighborhood crazies so their domestic squabble doesn’t spill over into otherwise-Edenic Chad?
If I’m looking for answers, the last place I want to go is the White House. According to competing statements from earlier this week:
“(Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan)… underscored their shared commitment to the goal of helping provide the Libyan people an opportunity to transform their country, by installing a democratic system that respects the people’s will.”—White House, Monday afternoon.
“…the effort of our military operation is not regime change…”—White House, Tuesday morning.
By the way, I’ll presume the length, cost and consequences of this operation are as yet “undetermined.”
War has always been the dark side of human interaction. We have a pronounced tendency to settle disputes over everything with bloodletting; from the best Matchbox car on the playground to the best God in the Heavens. A well-equipped, well-trained military, fighting on behalf of a righteous nation against an enemy which deserves no quarter is cause for tears only in that it must be unleashed; not that it exists. And my issues with the wars in which American lives have been lost of late have been the conduct, not the reasoning.
We gave 38,000 sons to Korea; but we gift-wrapped them in a box marked “to be opened only by the United Nations.” Even with the “Tower of Babel with artillery” effect; we managed a tie with the ChiComs.
We put together a coalition to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait; and then had to go back 10 years later because he’d broken out of his cage.
Now, we’re risking lives and spending money to “contain” a guy who couldn’t make it past Colonel in his own army.
I have no wish to elevate Gadhafi, nor Hussein, nor even those pesky North Korean Kim boys above their level; but when we fought a two-front war with the Nazis and Imperial Japan, we didn’t tiptoe through their territory, minding the breakables. We (along with our Allies) leveled them. We won the hearts and minds of the Germans and Japanese by shooting them in the heart if they didn’t mind us.
Mr. President, if you want to lay the proverbial smackdown on Moammar Gadhafi, by all means, be my guest.
Just don’t do anything… dumb.