Eight years to the day from the day the sky lit up over Baghdad as W. Bush acted decisively, with Congressional approval and a massive international coalition, to eliminate an odious and threatening regime in Iraq, the United States has begun launching missiles to vigorously support a no fly zone over Libya to ground the air force of whats-his-name Qadaffi.
The French air force has already begun sorties to knock Libyan aircraft out of the sky. The French are being more righteously aggressive than we are on this one. The French.
President Barack Obama has ordered military action “to protect civilians” from the forces of Gaddafi. Civilians have been dying at the hands of Qadhafi and his regime for over two weeks.
This is the same Qhadhafii who essentially threw up his hands and promised to be a good boy while W. Bush was President. My, how “Change” in U.S. leadership changes the attitude of terrorism-exporting potentates.
What has changed in the weeks since the people began to rise up in Libya until today? Only one thing has changed: a U.N. Security Council resolution supporting a no fly zone. NATO was on the verge of doing that same thing a week or so ago, only to be blocked by the U.S.—an action that Secretary Gates would not have taken without the agreement of the President. But apparently a number of people who saw Rwanda part II about to happen prevailed upon Obama to get off the fence and support a UNSC resolution. So, with U.N. approval, the course of action Obama blocked at NATO is okay against Qhadafee.
The other thing that has changed, of course, is the number of anti-Gaddafi Libyans who are dead.
The action is presented as “protecting the civilians;” but if that were truly the aim, not only would we have started sooner, but we would truly refuse to take sides and send in ground troops to neutralize all aggressors. But we are not sending in ground troops, only cruise missiles to take out regime anti-aircraft emplacements.
In fact, the only air craft carrier in the region, the USS Enterprise, which two weeks ago was in position in the Red Sea to participate in a no fly zone, was moved out of range into the Arabian Sea. Now near Libya in the Mediterranean we have the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault vessel which can launch assault Marines or act as a floating hospital (or both), guided missile launchers, and command & control vessels. The French and other allies are left to actually patrol the skies over Libya while we just launch a few missiles.
One of a number of maddening things is that a no fly zone was an obvious step more than two weeks ago, back when today’s justification, “to protect the civilians,” was already a cri de couer. A no fly zone imposed today, weeks after the uprising and bloodletting began, is a late effort to protect civilians, a calculated motto to avoid appearing like an aggressor, and an impotent attempt to help the rebels bring about regime change.
But another cry arises at this point (admittedly a different topic entirely at this late point in a blog post): why do the civilians of Libya (finally) get this amount and manner of support when the long-suffering civilians in southern Sudan do not? Why do the Christians being murdered by Muslims in Sudan get ignored?