NATO's Libyan Misadventure is No Joke
Anyone old enough remembers the 60s sitcoms Gomer Pyle -USMC, F Troop, and McHale's Navy. A review of DVDs of those fine, funny shows of yore should be high on anyone's list who's been following NATO's misadventure in Libya. Incoming Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta may want to take a look-see. After watching a few episodes of each show, you'd swear Gomer Pyle is leading McHale's zanies and F Troop fumblers across Libya's desert sands in side-slapping futility -- all set to laugh track guffaws.
Okay, NATO doesn't have boots on the ground in Libya, so Gomer and his goofs aren't zigzagging across North Africa. NATO, you see, can't make up its collective mind to put boots on the ground. NATO can't make up its collective mind to dispatch Muammar Gaddafi, either. One day the irascible Muammar is on NATO's hit list, the next day he's off -- sort of. It's all high, humorous, and deadly incompetence, this game of whack-a-dictator that NATO is playing with Gaddafi.
Gaddafi pops his head up in some hamlet or village and NATO looses a barrage of missiles or drones or whatever's left in its dwindling munitions stockpile. Gaddafi escapes but some poor fellahin who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time get one-way tickets to paradise.
NATO's Libyan adventure is premised on a lie -- or, at least, a semi-lie. The lie is that NATO has intervened in Libya to protect innocents from Gaddafi's ghoulish depravity. NATO's leaders -- so-called -- might as well have declared that they're in Libya for the chil'ren's sake. "The chil'ren" is the all-purpose throwaway line that progressives use to justify any and every use or expansion of government, so why not use it to justify war?
The truth is that the Europeans who conceived the Libyan mess are a more cynical lot; they're using a humanitarian cover to protect vital Western European oil interests in the Middle East, but they're doing so poorly. You see, national self-interest is long out of vogue among progressives -- European and American. Oil is too practical and tawdry a concern. The West must be about upholding selfless ideals. Hence, the need for Florence Nightingale to ride into Libya on the back of a Tomahawk missile or in the cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Though NATO's dithering incompetence in the Libyan fight might make for a few laughs for us observers, it's far less humorous and more instructive to NATO's and America's enemies (Opps - competitors; we must be scrupulously PC).
The Chinese, Russians, and Iranians -- chief among the world's black hats -- are watching avidly as NATO stumbles and bumbles in Libya -- or never gets to Libya with troops in the first place, since the Great Libyan Humanitarian Intervention of 2011 is being run by committee (you know, committees, those wonderful collections of human beings tasked with designing elephants but concocting giraffes instead).
The military brass in China, Russia, and Iran must be licking their chops and taking copious notes. Once-mighty NATO can't make quick work of Gaddafi and his tiny semi-professional army. The United States -- the world's remaining superpower, for the time being, anyway -- and the NATO member capable of galvanizing resolve and leading the coalition to a swift victory in Libya is sitting on the sidelines -- kind of. The U.S. is helping out, but halfheartedly. President Barack Obama, a thoroughly Kool-Aid drinking progressive, says the U.S. is weary of being the world's leader; let NATO's Barney Fifes figure out how to shoot straight and beat the bad guys.
Let's not forget that the Brits and Americans have had tougher fights in North Africa. Generals Montgomery and Patton drove Rommel and the tough-as-nails Germans out of North Africa during World War II. Michael Jackson lookalike Muammar Gaddafi and his AK-47 wielding thugs are tougher than Rommel and his Panzer divisions?
No one is suggesting that Libya is America's fight. There is no discernible vital American interest at stake in the overthrow of Gaddafi and the establishment of a new government there. Yeah, Gaddafi is a bad guy; everyone remembers Lockerbie, and most everyone knows that Gaddafi has given a helping hand to terrorists (militants for Islam - PC again). But there are ways of exacting revenge for Gaddafi's deadly gambits (take the guy out surgically and covertly) without full-blown war.
Yet, you can bet your bottom ruble that Putin and his gangster-cohorts are gaming moves to make against a weak and wavering Western Europe in light of NATO's impotent Libyan performance. Empire is in every Russian's DNA; Putin is certainly no exception. And Russians have a very Asian sensibility; they'll wait for exploitable opportunities, even if that's years down the road.
The Chinese are aggressively building a blue water navy, and not to provide humanitarian relief in far-flung corners of the world, but to dominate the Asian Pacific region -- and, perhaps, one day, say, the Indian Ocean. Mr. Obama's shoulder shrugs and masked hostility to U.S. global leadership is on full display in the NATO-Libyan imbroglio. The Chinese aren't dopes.
Chinese Leader Hu Jintao and Generals Liang Guanglie and Chen Bingde must be wondering if Mr. Obama's "We are the World -- not Leaders" oath marks a permanent departure for the U.S. in global affairs, especially those involving military elements. A less assertive U.S. makes China's strategic and tactical moves -- backed up by a strong military and the will to use it -- much easier in the coming years.
And Iran? Despite the marvelous European and American team effort to shutdown Iran's nuclear weapons program, Iran's mullahs and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continue to intrepidly push ahead. The Iranians have already drawn a bead on Western impotence. The Libyan comedy starring NATO can only affirm that the Iranians need only finish making the bombs that they hope to kill Israelis with while cowing Europeans and Americans in the process.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are gambling men, and from their perspective, NATO's Libyan bog is a green light to keep rolling the dice. Can you say mushroom clouds over Tel Aviv? Tribute from Europeans and Americans?
Consequences. Not always a pleasant word in global affairs. Even with an eventual victory in Libya, NATO has already botched it. NATO's enemies have a predator's keen eye and instincts. NATO's Libyan pratfalls and tail-chasing have been fully registered in Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran. The consequences longer term can't be good -- and that goes for the U.S., too.