Right now, in Libya, there are hundreds of Americans waiting for evacuation … by ferry.
Seriously. The State Department has chartered a ferry to take the hundreds of waiting Americans to Malta. But rough seas have delayed the ferry’s departure until Friday.
So where is our military and why aren’t they involved in the evacuation of Americans threatened by the violence in Libya?
Well there’s actually a simple answer to that:
So far the State Department has not requested the U.S. military to assist in the evacuation of civilians from Libya, something it would specifically have to request. Several U.S. officials have confirmed to CNN there is a vigorous debate inside the administration about whether to involve the military because of concern it could cause further provocations by the Libyan regime.
Ah … fear and intimidation. Assume the worst and … do nothing. And when I say nothing, I mean “nothing”. Per POLITICO’s Morning Defense newsletter:
THERE IS NO U.S. MILITARY ROLE IN LIBYA FOR NOW, officials across Washington said Wednesday. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley didn’t explicitly reject calls by McCain, Lieberman and others for a no-fly zone above the country, but that seemed unlikely for the present. Gates told The Weekly Standard the U.S. hasn’t talked with NATO about doing anything. Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan told reporters Wednesday the Pentagon had received no requests to stand up a no-fly zone or use its ships or aircraft to help evacuate Americans.
Nothing. That’s not to say that the military isn’t trying to at least be prepared should someone decide to call them and ask that they help look out for the safety and security of Americans in an apparent war zone:
In the first indication the crisis with Libya could take on a military dimension, the Pentagon is looking at "all options" it can offer President Barack Obama in dealing with the Libyan crisis a senior U.S. military official tells CNN.
The official declined to be identified because of the extremely sensitive nature of the situation but he has direct knowledge of the current military planning effort.
"Our job is to give options from the military side and that is what we are thinking about now," he said. "We will provide the president with options should he need them."
While all true, we’re in the 10th day of this blowup … 10th day! And apparently the military, on its own initiative, is trying to provide options to the national governing authority that it has just as apparently not requested. Notice the wording in the very last sentence above. “Will provide” and “should he need them”. That says to me he hasn’t requested them and the military is trying to get ahead of the game without any guidance.
It took the President 9 days to speak out about the situation there and then his remarks were anything but forceful. Even Chris Matthews found them wanting saying they “lacked dignity”. Essentially we got the “unacceptable” line and a promise to send the Secretary of State to … Geneva? Well yes, that’s where she’ll repeat how “unacceptable” all of this is – in 5 days from now, of course.
So in sum, we find out that our government has no plans, other than a ferry – which I’m sure isn’t big enough to carry the full number of Americans from Libya who might need to be evacuated, but, because of violence, haven’t been able to make it to that particular evacuation point – to evacuate the thousands of American citizens there. No military plan. No orders to ships such as the Kearsarge group (which is the closest) or the Enterprise group off Pakistan to redeploy to the coast of Libya to aid in the evacuation of Americans.
As POLITICO’s Morning Defense reminds us:
The Navy and Marines evacuated some 15,000 Americans from Lebanon in 2006, but that was a major undertaking that required several ships.
Well, yes, of course … and we should have had “several ships” moving toward Libya 10 days ago when this thing blew up — that’s what a prudent administration concerned with its citizens abroad would have done in order to try to ensure that the lives of those citizens in Libya were protected.
Instead, 11 days later those citizens get … a ferry?