U.S. Middle East Military Policy Makers Meet Mr. Libya
A quick look back in time to set the scene for this post: President Obama said in an interview with Chris Wallace on FOX awhile back that: “… failing to prepare for the aftermath of the ousting of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi was the worst mistake of his presidency.”
Now this update that has this: Kinda Scary Headlines – “The U.S. is inching closer to a deal that would see a long-term commitment of our troops to Libya to fight ISIS.”
Marine General Joseph Dunford, Chairman, JCS: “There will be a long-term mission in Libya (cited in the Washington Post). We’re just not ready to deploy capabilities yet because there hasn’t been an agreement. And frankly, any day that could happen.”
Such an agreement would be the culmination of what has been a months-long march toward deeper Western involvement in Libya, beginning last year when U.S. Special Forces operators were deployed to the North African country.
Earlier this week the Associated Press reported that the U.S. and other countries said they would lift an arms bans and supply weapons to the nation’s fragile government so it can fight ISIS forces, which are estimated to be in the thousands.
As of April 15, 2016, the U.S.-led war against ISIS has cost $7.2 billion, with the average daily cost coming to $11.7 million (related: the 2017 DOD budget released recently).
While NATO would be involved in the Libya commitment, it’s not hard to imagine the U.S. eventually picking up the lion’s share of the tab for the new, possibly years-long effort. That could mean billions more going toward anti-ISIS military operations, with no end in sight.
Mr. Obama’s admission cited above reminded me of the movie starring Robert Redford, “The Candidate,” wherein a handsome, rich, suave, PR savvy Senate candidate with lots of money and lots of insider connections, decides to run for a U.S. Senate occupied by a popular GOP senator in California and simply based on his overall good looks, fame, fortune, and as I said, insider connections, but not much substance. His victory stuns everyone based on just those personal traits.
On election night he turns to and asks his campaign manager who was part of designing the brilliant campaign to win and in the most serious tone says: “What do we do now?”
That is the message the U.S. must always ask about our involvements in getting mired in countries like Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, and now it seems more so in Libya and all history proves, we did it little of no after-the-fact planning.
Models after WWII were great success stories: the Marshall Plan in Europe; the rebuilding of Japan; and, later, in Korea. But in the ME – we have seen near if not total disaster and now for over 15 years – our longest war record.
So, what is missing? For sure: (1) a clear cut, specific mission plan; and (2) lack of skill to instill national pride and unity in the ME countries we have tired and again want to help - I guess so that they can stand on their own two feet (Iraq is classic example of failure in my view in that regard).
The Sunni-Shia religious divide keeps hatred alive while we or others can little if anything to change that mind set.
– Libya and Mr. Obama’s honest assessment is correct. But, hindsight is 20/20 for sure as they say.
Mr. Obama said, and I agree in part, that intervening in Libya had been “the right thing to do with the U.S. and other countries carrying out air strikes designed to protect civilians during the 2011 uprising that took out Gaddafi – his own people killed him once he was captured. Then Libya plunged into chaos with militias taking over and two rival parliaments and governments were formed. It’s still a mess with ISIS gaining ground there and the U.S. is ready to “fix it?” That hardly seems possible at this stage.
Let’s face it: We are great at breaking things, fighting wars, and in some cases “winning in a clear-cut fashion.” But, not recently and for certain, not in the ME. In short, we are lousy at fixing things we break. The record on that is clear: Cite Iraq and Afghanistan clearly, with Billions down the drain and for what: to move in Syria and now Libya?
Who can answer that with a straight face, really?