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NATO: We may have to bomb you to save you

The building debacle in Libya grows even more absurd and funny in a sad sort of way. 

As NATO takes over control of airstrikes in Libya and the Obama administration considers new steps to tip the balance of power there, the coalition has told the rebels that the fog of war will not shield them from possible bombardment by NATO planes and missiles, just as the regime’s forces have been punished.

“We’ve been conveying a message to the rebels that we will be compelled to defend civilians, whether pro-Qaddafi or pro-opposition,” said a senior Obama administration official. “We are working very hard behind the scenes with the rebels so we don’t confront a situation where we face a decision to strike the rebels to defend civilians.”

Well that answers my question about ‘good’ civilians and ‘bad’ civilians although a Vatican representative in Tripoli reports that coalition air strikes have killed 40 civilians in that city.  This is apparently one NATO can’t waive away as Gadhafi planting corpses to look like NATO is causing civilian deaths.

I love the line about “working very hard behind the scenes with the rebels” about the problem.  I assume those would be the CIA agents in the country as a result of a secret order by President Transparency?  Hello, Congress?  Yeah, don’t worry about it, I’ll call you from Brazil.

Anyway, back to the point at hand – the NATO warning about civilians seems much more in the spirit of the UN resolution than does helping rebel forces by bombing opposition units as the rebels advance or striking Tripoli in an obvious (but denied) attempt to facilitate regime change.

So if NATO is so hot to ensure the rebs don’t kill civilians and doesn’t plan on letting Gadhafi do it, it appears NATO is the only one doing it right now.

Oh, by the way, if you haven’t seen it, Andrew Sullivan is having a melt down over all of this.  He has a bad case of the vapors:

It’s so surreal, so discordant with what the president has told the American people, so fantastically contrary to everything he campaigned on, that I will simply wait for more confirmation than this before commenting further. I simply cannot believe it. I know the president is not against all wars – just dumb ones. But could any war be dumber than this – in a place with no potential for civil society, wrecked by totalitarianism, riven by tribalism, in defense of rebels we do not know and who are clearly insufficient to the task?

To answer Sullivan’s question – no.  At least I can’t imagine a dumber one, but then there’s always the possibility that our leader may manage to find one.  Expect it to happen the next time he decides on a foreign junket.  As for Sully – that’s what blind and unquestioning love does for you, big boy.  Maybe next time you’ll remove the blinders and ask some pertinent questions of your candidate of choice – like what in the world have you ever done that qualifies you for this job?

Wait, I’m talking about the left here, aren’t I?

Nah … not going to happen.

Anyway, back to the issue:

The increasing murkiness of the battlefield, as the freewheeling rebels advance and retreat and as fighters from both sides mingle among civilians, has prompted NATO members to issue new “rules of engagement” spelling out when the coalition may attack units on the ground in the name of protecting civilians.

It was unclear how the rules are changing — especially on the critical questions surrounding NATO’s mandate and whether it extends to protecting rebels who are no longer simply defending civilian populated areas like Benghazi, but are instead are themselves on the offensive.

“This is a challenge,” said a senior alliance military officer. “The problem of discriminating between combatant and civilian is never easy, and it is compounded when you have Libyan regime forces fighting irregular forces, like the rebel militias, in urban areas populated by civilians.”

Of course it is “a challenge”.  It’s worthy of “Mission Impossible”.  As this mess, this civil war ebbs and flows, telling red and blue from white is going to verge on impossible.  And with reports of Gadhafi arming civilians (one assumes to enable them to defend themselves) NATO also gets to decide whether or not armed civilians are fair game.

This is the sort of situations you find yourself in when you commit to “dumb wars”.  But then our fearless leader knows all about “dumb wars”, he doesn’t want to fight them.  And yet, there he is, fighting one in Libya.  You can hear Sully crying from here.

~McQ

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14 Responses to NATO: We may have to bomb you to save you

  • Dumb…!?!?
    Nay, DUMBEST…?!?!
    I mean, really, COULD you do this in a more fiddle-footed way?
    But I LOVED all the “I” and “me” in the Obama delusional exposition the other night!!!

    • I’m really beginning to believe that the pro-Qaddafi folks are going to win this, which will make this something like VietNam (win all the battles but lose the war) but different (it won’t be Congress’ fault).
      Frankly, I think this has dawned on those on Capitol Hill, who intend to do their own form of triangulation.

      • Indeed it seems possible and it will be Obama’s biggest mistake of arrogance, not getting anyone out in front of him to smear the crap on when it hits the fan.

        Also it seems that the lefties have gone very quiet in the last couple of days since it was revealed that the CIA have been lurking around the rebels for a long time now and that the Libyan army is winning back the initiative. Do they sense the way the wind is blowing perhaps and are being a bit more careful with their words for the moment?

  • It’s so surreal, so discordant with what the president has told the American people, so fantastically contrary to everything he campaigned on, that I will simply wait for more confirmation than this before commenting further. I simply cannot believe it.

    Well, perhaps if Sully had more time examining the actual record of his messiah and less time examining pics of a pregnant Sarah Palin trying to prove that she was wearing a fat suit to cover for the fact that her daughter was the pregnant one… Sheesh.

    Sully’s pathetic cri de couer underscores just how foolish MiniTru looks right now.  They were the ones who sold us The Annointed One as an ingenious, post-partisan, post-racial lightworker who would bring peace to the world simply by the force of his magnanimous, multicultural character.  They were the ones who assured us that Yosemite Sam was a crazy, bloodthirsty old man (after working hard to ensure that he got the nomination, that is).  They are the ones who STILL portray Sarah Palin as a blithering idiot.  They are the ones who gleefully marked every US death in Iraq as a “milestone” but now tie themselves in knots explaining the Obama Doctrine, a task left to them because he can’t be bothered to do it himself.  Now, they are the ones wondering, “What the hell happened???”

    We’d all better hope that, as that damned fool Tom Friedman wrote the other day, Obama gets lucky.  Because this Libya thing looks to be a debacle of the first water, one that will AT A MINIMUM humiliate the United States, more like result in A-stan in North Africa, and possibly lead to a lot of dead US boots on the ground as The Dear Golfer scrambles to salvage the situation his reputation.

    • Liberals absolutely refused to carefully consider their candidate in 2008.  To them, the fact that he simply presented himself as the anti-Bush was sufficient.  No other examination was necessary.  Now, the country is reaping the consequences of their blithe obsession with a man who had no foreign policy experience, no executive experience, and no concrete policy positions prior to the election.  This is no-ones fault but theirs.

      • Got to feel slightly sorry for the hardcore lefties who stuck to their “guns” and are opposing this action in the same way they opposed Iraq. They’re being shredded far harder by their own ideological bedmates than by the right and all because they have the gall to question Obama’s divine judgement.

    • “lightworker”

      Well, these to words were correct, except that they mistook an adjective for a noun. 

  • It seems that NATO has bombed nearly every high value target in Libya.  Gates is now calling it a “pickup game.”

  • What do you mean, “There he is, fighting one in Libya”?

    Obama’s war is over – he said so himself.  America is out of it now.  This is a NATO operation now.  The two are TOTALLY different dontcha know?

  • This can be seen as a royal cluster****, but my opinion is that Obama is very happy with it. It suits his purposes in ways clear and unclear, but I don’t see him worrying about what’s happening on the battlefield. I think he could care less. Libya isn’t important, one way or the other. It was just available and convenient.

    Remember that the supposed architect of this “humanitarian mission,” Samantha Power, was being cultivated by Obama back in 2005 while he was establishing his antiwar bona fides, and she was on his team all the while he was doing his shout outs to the car bombers in Iraq that “help is on the way.” “Just words!?!” He was the leader of the domestic “antiwar” gang whose words were amping up the violence in Iraq. (There’s ample documented precedent for this kind of impact from the Vietnam War and the “antiwar” movement.) 

    It’s no surprise that his “humanitarian mission” in Libya would create the predicates for more violence, let alone more confusion. And it seems to be emerging, with the leak about him signing an intelligence finding weeks ago, that he encouraged the civil war that then became the pretext for the “humanitarian” mission.

    The big mistake here would be to assess this as incompetence. It’s incompetence from the point of view of a normative analysis of this kind of action. But I think this is exactly what he wants. And Samantha Power’s theory of humanitarian intervention is just a head fake.

    • Martin: I see this as largely driven by incompetence. I don’t see how this nets to a benefit for Obama. Each more day Qaddafi remains in power, the more incompetent Obama looks.

      Obama intended that Libya would be the anti-Bush operation — quick, effective, purely humanitarian, cued by the Europeans, without US leadership or US fingerprints on the regime change. If it had worked, it would have been great cred for the 2012 election campaign, showing off Obama’s brilliance at smart war and smart power.

      Problem is that Obama’s smarts aren’t very smart after all.

      • The competency question, again, is not of concern to Obama. He is uninterested in judgements made in the context of “bourgeios principles.”

        And what is of benefit to American interests (your interest in analyzing this) is of no interest to Obama.

        From Obama’s point of view as an orthodox Marxist, who thinks his thoughts in Marxist terms, his work in Libya is to “increase the contradictions,” and that’s exactly what your seeing.

        My proposal is that only if you see this Libya event as having nothing really to do with Libya does it begin to make sense. I know, that takes me outside of the normative standpoint, but that’s where I believe you have to go. What I fear is that Libya is about the United States, and that when that becomes manifest, Libya will be no more than a footnote to it.

        For instance, do you recall how after 9/11 it was but a few days before the Left began to blame that attack on the United States because of the degree to which the United States was to blame in the oppression and humiliation of the Muslim world? That coincided pretty much with bin Laden and al Qaeda’s point of view.

        Well, take that preposterous Marxist and Islamist viewpoint and renew it as a predicate for those who would embrace it.

  • By the way, anyone have a handle on how long the CIA (or French intelligence) have been operating in Libya or if they had a hand in pushing along the “democracy” protests? Not to be conspiratorial or anything but it seems more likely every day that there is a great deal of opportunism here in how the protests blew up hard enough for Ghadaffi to crack-down hard and how quick a resolution was pushed through to get NATO in there smashing up hardware from day one.