Friday, April 8, 2011
Qaddafi Cannot Win
Several escalations have been discussed. First, arming and training the opposition forces. Second, use of more sophisticated air power such as A-10 Worthogs and AC-130 gunships. But if only air power is to be used, a better system of air control needs to be introduced. There are already stories of CIA teams in Libya but no indication that they are directing air strikes as they did in Afghanistan in 2001. Finally there is the possibility of "boots on the ground" of foreign troops. The West would want these to be Arab troops, but that is unlikely at this time. Most Western governments have ruled out use of their own troops in Libya. And the UN resolution specifically rejects any foreign intervention on the ground. So where do we go from here?
The NATO led coalition needs to rethink the question of the use of ground power. This would be very unpopular among most publics. The US fears getting involved in a a third ground war. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates even said it would not happen "so long as I am the Secretary of Defense." The implication there is that the option still exists with Gates' planned departure from DoD, athough his departure has not been specified. Nonetheless, there is now serious talk about CIA Director Leon Pannetta taking over his job (and General Petreaus, taking Pannetta's.) All of this is probably not intentionally linked to Libya, but it could facilitate a policy shift. I know that nobody thinks we are going to dive into a ground war in Libya. However, can anyone imagine that we would stand by while Qaddafi vanquishes the opposition forces in Benghazi? I, for one, cannot.