As these selections from the weekend’s war reports make clear, Obama appears to have bitten off something rather more complex and unpredictable than he had hoped for in Libya. The rebels have run into a wall in the form of rallying Qaddafi forces who are not (yet) collapsing ala the Republican Guards of Saddam Hussein.
When the intervention has dragged on for many months and (if) Qaddafi is still in power the ex post recriminations will come back to the rather odd justification for the action – a resolution passed at the Security Council that defined the intervention as one aimed at protecting civilians not toppling a government.
No wonder Bob Gates was ambiguous about the project – as sophisticated as the US military may be relative to all other players it remains a blunt instrument of violence. It is decidedly not a human rights brigade whatever the fantasy journalist cum liberal law professor Samantha Power – Obama’s Ollie North – may have conjured up in meetings of the National Security Council.
The unanswered question is why Hillary Clinton turned around in the instance of Libya and joined forces with the humanitarian intervention crowd, when she was so steadfast a supporter of Mubarak.
Did she think Qaddafi would be easy pickings?
Unlike the 40 somethings at the NSC, she is not that naive. More likely she grasps the fact that the US risks being left behind as the revolutionary wave sweeping the region rolls on. The US needed an excuse to get in on the game and the fear mongering of a massacre being ginned up by Power and Rice was ready to hand.
Well, now we are engaged and it is anybody’s guess where this will come out.