Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Clinton Fallacy

The situation in Libya is not getting any better. According to a recent article in the New York Times, Admiral Mullen says that Libya is likely to become a stalemate. While the NATO led air campaign has destroyed about 30-40% of Qaddafi's ground forces, new tactics adopted by said forces make it difficult for pilots to determine if the targets on the ground are government forces are rebels.

Despite the acknowledgement that air power is becoming less effective, America's only response is to increase the use of air power, specifically by using drones. Even though drones provide a means of delivering precision guided munitions, I think that the U.S. is caught in an air power fallacy. During the Bosnian War, the Clinton administration relied upon an air campaign to lend support against Serbian troops. However in Bosnia, air power was not the only form of Western intervention. There were also NATO troops on the ground, and even in some cases where these troops had limited rules of engagement (such as the Dutch troops that couldn't intervene to stop the Srebrenica Massacre), their involvement helped end the war.
I've said before that the West has already gotten to the level of involvement where this can be considered a full military intervention, so there is no need whatsoever to keep hiding behind the idea that we're "only" supporting the rebels via air power. If the U.S. is holding back out of casualty aversion toward its ground troops, we need to press for NATO to put boots on the ground and finally push against Qaddafi directly (though this may be difficult because the U.N resolution does not yet allow for this). Even if it's just so we don't seem like unilateral interventionists, It's still possible to deploy ground troops legitimately. We should speak with our NATO allies and the UN in order to gain support for such an action. While this course of action may not work, the United States government should at least make an attempt, instead of sticking with a strategy that does nothing to help bring this conflict to a conclusion

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