Libya: does this make sense?

Was this predictable or what?

First the Arab league approves the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya, then, as soon as the bombs and cruise missiles start flying, it has second thoughts about all this outside meddling.

But then, maybe they have a point; from the early news reports, this sounds like a lot more than simply clearing the skies of the planes Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi has used to quell the rebellion against his own people.

I’m sorry, I’m having hard time figuring out how U.S. participation in this latest war-by-another-name makes much sense.

Given that the rebellion against Gaddafi had been all but crushed, how, exactly, will keeping his air force on the ground materially alter the balance in that tortured country?

As Atlantic blogger Jeff Goldberg wrote last week, “I’ve been wondering just exactly why armed intervention in Libya is so urgently sought by the West, and why armed intervention in other places that are suffering from similar man-made disasters (Yemen, the Ivory Coast, and the big enchilada, Iran, to name three) is not.”

And what is the end game here? We know Gaddafi isn’t going to throw up his hands and cry “uncle.” Will it end when he’s killed? But this guy is the ultimate survivor, and our smart bombs haven’t proven smart enough to take out foreign leaders we don’t like.

Will it end when the rebels win? Given the decimation of rebel forces and Gaddaffi’s iron grip over the military, that could be a long time.

And will the European powers that – uncharacteristically – seemed so eager for armed conflict in the case of Libya stay the course when it becomes apparent this isn’t just a case of slinging a few missiles, sending in a few jets to patrol the skies and waiting for democracy to blossom across the land?

Or will America – and a president who seems determined to prove he’s no weakling pacifist – be left holding holding the bag and fighting yet another war it can’t win and can’t afford?

You don’t have to be a military genius to predict this won’t end well, just as it was pretty evident from the day he announced his “surge” that President Obama’s Afghanistan policies weren’t going to end well.

Many neo-cons are blasting Obama for waiting too long to employ military force. Some of these are the same neo-cons who favor the military option to stop Iran’s nuclear program – which, by the way, has pretty much dropped off the world’s radar screen in recent weeks as crisis after crisis fills the newspapers.

Just how many open-ended, probably unwinnable wars can American afford, is my question?

As I said, I just can’t figure out how any of this makes sense.

Pro-Israel groups here have been pretty quiet, and I’m guessing the reason is that for all their dislike of Gaddafi, they, too, don’t know how this is going to end and whether it will ultimately help or hurt the Jewish state. And I’m guessing they worry an overextended United States will be even less able to play a strong role in dealing with Iran.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.