Such assertions raise a couple of questions. First, as AOL news is reporting, rebel forces are on the offense, seizing the towns of Brega, a main oil export terminal, and Al-Egila “on their way to the massive oil refining complex of Ras Lanouf.” Rebel forces are reporting no resistance, claiming Gaddafi’s forces have “just melted away.” Question one: With respect to the above conditions, does such action still constitute “defense?” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon says the U.N. is not trying to “change a regime” but provide protection to “save the lives” of innocent civilians, which segues into question number two: Does the protection of civilians include those civilians who are pro-government?
Khaled Kaim, Libya’s deputy foreign minister asserts the coalition’s claims of neutrality are bogus. ”This is the objective of the coalition now, it is not to protect civilians because now they are directly fighting against the armed forces,” he said in Tripoli. “They are trying to push the country to the brink of a civil war.” British Defense Secretary Liam Fox denied the charge. ”Losing Gadhafi is an aspiration, it is not part of the U.N. resolution,” he said. Fox then added to the overall confusion. ”We are not arming the rebels, we are not planning to arm the rebels,” he claimed, contradicting the above report.
Perhaps the Obama administration should take heed, not of Mr. Fox, but of our own knowledge concerning the nature of the rebel forces. According to the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center, a cache of formerly secret Iraq files, known as the “Sinjar documents” captured by coalition forces in 2007, revealed that ”Libya sent more fighters to Iraq on a per-capita basis than any other Muslim country, including Saudi Arabia,” and that most of these forces “came from eastern Libya,” where uprising against Muammar Gaddafi is most intense. “Libyans were more fired up to travel to Iraq to kill Americans than anyone else in the Arabic-speaking world,” noted Andrew Exum, counterinsurgency specialist and former Army Ranger in a blog posting on March 10th. “This might explain why those rebels from Libya’s eastern provinces are not too excited about U.S. military intervention. It might also give some pause to those in the United States so eager to arm Libya’s rebels.”
President Obama, who is expected to explain in a national address on Monday what the U.S. is doing in Libya, is sticking to the humanitarian script at this juncture. ”So make no mistake, because we acted quickly, a humanitarian catastrophe has been avoided and the lives of countless civilians–innocent men, women and children–have been saved,” the president said, despite waiting more than a month to take action. The president also noted that while the U.S. cannot get involved in every world crisis, Gaddafi was threatening a “bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region … it’s in our national interest to act. And it’s our responsibility.”
How far will the U.S. go to prevent de-stabilization “of the entire region?” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was non-committal, saying it was “too early” to discuss intervention in Syria, where Bashar Assad’s slaughter of innocents looks remarkably similar to Gaddafi’s. Defense Secretary Robert Gates speculated that Yemen may be particularly troubling because “[T]he most aggressive branch of al-Qaeda … operates out of Yemen…so if the government collapses or is replaced by one that is dramatically more weak, then I think we’ll face some additional problems out of Yemen.”
Where does it end? National Review’s Andrew McCarthy explains what to expect with regard to Libya–and possibly beyond. ”The rebels are not rebels–they are the Libyan mujahideen. Like the Afghan mujahideen, including those that became al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the Libyan mujahideen comprise different groups. What overwhelmingly unites them, besides opposition to Qaddafi, is sharia,” he notes. ”The Libyan mujahideen will exploit us but never befriend us…[[I]f we empower them, we will eventually rue the day.”
After ten years in Afghanistan, eight in Iraq, both with no end in sight, most Americans already “rue the day.” Enmeshing ourselves in Libya, where “victory” may consist of replacing an anti-American regime with another anti-American regime even more closely associated with al Qaeda, is troubling. Furthermore, an operation which the administration now admits American involvement ”could continue for months,” contradicting last week’s assertion that it would last “days, not weeks,” illuminates a disturbing reality regarding this administration: It is making up policy as it goes along.
And such a policy looks like it may very well end up aiding our mortal enemies.
Arnold Ahlert is a contributing columnist to the conservative website JewishWorldReview.com.
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