How risible to see “the World’s Most Powerful Military Alliance” [sic] trumpet the accidental routing of a fourth rate tribal regime after months of literally pounding sand. Libya exposed NATO for what it is: a fig leaf on American Chinese-injected military steroids. Opening American bombardment aside, American logistics and C4ISR knitted together NATO’s random bombing of various tents, hovels and the odd tank or two while
the Roadrunner Khaddaffi scampered away to release more Sheen-esque videos.
As we predicted, it took boots on the ground to change things. SAS from the UK et les autres rescued the disintegrating Western Libyan uprising, beginning with Misrata. Make no mistake. “NATO” airpower eventually proved capable (having exhausted its target set). But this overlong campaign is in Tripoli now because of [unacknowledged] boots on the ground. Moreover, this direct insertion of combat troops to effect ‘regime change’ was and remains contrary to the humanitarian UN authorizing resolution. Today’s “triumph” is premised on a fiction.
It’s also amusing to see the Usual Suspects rush to embrace Obama’s ‘vision’. Domestically, one can only call Obama’s Libya muddle symptomatic of the man. His unilateral assertion of war making power? Dick Cheney dared not go that far. Obama’s disdain for the War Powers Act? Trumped only by Harold Koh’s sophistry that as precedent will haunt us all in the future.
As for NATO, Obama’s Chauncey Gardner routine leaves it in limbo, too. America ratified the concept of conditional participation – something perversely Americans spent decades arguing Europeans should not do when reluctant to meet their alliance burdens. (Let’s not forget Turkey and Germany). Now that the U.S. has torn a hole in that tissue, it can only put NATO’s dubious value in stark relief. To the extent that “the World’s Most Powerful Military Alliance” exerted its will on some sand and tribes across the Med, today’s events give Brussels some ‘mo. It shouldn’t last. As we’ve long argued, the Germans are on top, the Russians definitely out, and thus no reason to keep insolvent Americans in.
As Tommy Franks taught the world in 2003, overthrowing a tin pot dictator often is the easy part. Some already — like the estimable Max Boot — call for a NATO stabilization force on the ground. Or that “the Libyan model” (WTF?) should be applied to Syria. Liberal interventionism dies harder than a Neocon PowerPoint slide in Herzliya. Obama lacks the capital, real and political, to do something really stupid. For once the Goldilocks Principle cuts in America’s favor.