Friday, April 15, 2011

Down with Gaddafi? SPIT IT OUT ALREADY

Since the beginning of the NATO alliance, there has been a question of our reasons for involvement. To avoid the perception that America is unilaterally intervening in the Middle East yet again, Obama has been careful to insist that our role is limited to protecting Libyan civilians while our planes establish a no-fly zone (after waiting for a resolution from the UN security council and international consensus on intervention). The French and British have become the public leaders of this campaign, and this multilateral intervention has allowed the rebels to avoid being outright massacred by Gaddafi's troops.

However, we need to ask the big question, what is our end goal in this intervention? It's obvious that nobody in the West would mind if Gaddafi just happened to be thrown out of power, but we've become so fearful of being seen as interventionists that we aren't willing to go the extra mile to assist the rebels in their ground campaign. Although we've prevented an outright massacre, the rebels are still outmatched when it comes to weaponry, and their forces lack strong leadership.

The struggle over objectives reminds me of a tenet in the Powell Doctrine, specifically "do we have a clear, attainable objective?" The problem, of course, has been that NATO has not been clear on this. If our goal is to help the rebels overthrow Qaddafi, come out and say it, so that we can provide enough ground aid to the rebels and support forces to finish the job. French defense minister GĂ©rard Longuet has already suggested that NATO seek a new UNSC resolution specifying regime change as a goal of this intervention, so it is clear that the West has already chosen sides in this conflict and forefeited its status as a neutral arbiter. Maintaining our current level of commitment (providing close air support against Gaddafi's ground forces but no significant training and weaponry aid to the rebels just prolongs the conflict, wastes financial resources, and does not ensure that the rebels will prevail.

NATO should admit its goals and finish the job.

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