The Libya Exception

October 20th, 2011 at 12:31 pm | 15 Comments |

| Print

Spencer Ackerman has written an amusing piece in which he predicts “The Post-Gadhafi Journalism You Will Read In the Next 72 Hours.” Ackerman offers up 10 examples of how well-known journalists, pundits and publications are likely to use Gaddafi’s death to justify their own views, ideologies and prejudices.

For example, predicts Ackerman, Tom Friedman will write, “Why Gadhafi’s Death Vindicates ‘Leading from Behind.’”

Former Obama administration hawk Anne-Marie Slaughter, by contrast, will insist that “Gadhafi’s Death Shows the U.S. Was Never Really ‘Leading from Behind.’”

And of course, the Washington Post editorial page — which, to its great credit, has been very much at the tip of the journalistic spear re: the Arab Spring — will remind everyone that “There Is Still More to Do in Libya.”

What will the Weekly Standard say? Why, “On to Damascus, Then Teheran” of course!

As I say: very amusing. But beneath the good humor is a very serious point. Libya is a unique country, with a unique set of political, cultural and historical circumstances. More than 82 percent of the population, for instance, can read and write. This is extraordinary and hardly commonplace in North Africa.

So we should guard against extrapolating too much from our experience in Libya. What worked there may not work in other countries. A “Libyan model” for regime change may prove illusory and chimerical.

One thing we do know is that, as always, you cannot win wars from the air and the sea alone. You absolutely must have “boots on the ground.” And we had them in Libya, thanks to the indigenous rebels, CIA operatives, and British and French special forces. We will need them again — and more conventional U.S. troops as well — in the future.

Yet, the Obama administration is preparing to gut the size of our ground forces on the assumption that Iraq and Afghanistan are historical anomalies which won’t ever happen again.

They may be right, but what if they’re not? It seems to me that we’ve seen this movie before, at the end of almost every war or conflict in our nation’s history. And the results, sad to say, have not been pretty: more senseless American deaths when the next war or crisis strikes.

Libya is an apparent Obama administration success. Let’s not allow it to become a future American debacle.

John Guardiano blogs at www.ResCon1.com, and you can follow him on Twitter: @JohnRGuardiano.

Recent Posts by John Guardiano



15 Comments so far ↓

  • Fart Carbuncle

    Good article with great points.

    I can’t wait to see what the Onion will put out.

  • sweatyb

    Yet, the Obama administration is preparing to gut the size of our ground forces on the assumption that [stuff Guardiano just made up]

    First: nothing is getting gutted. You’re just making that up.

    Second: reducing our standing army as we wind down in Afghanistan and Iraq only makes sense. Where are you going to send all those troops when the wars are over? Shopping malls and airports?

    Third: are you arguing for keeping the US in a perpetual state of war?

  • The Libya Exception

    [...] Originally published at FrumForum. [...]

  • Graychin

    “Libya is a unique country, with a unique set of political, cultural and historical circumstances.”

    That isn’t a particularly profound observation. So is every other nation on earth.

    “We must remember that just because massive invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan (and Vietnam) didn’t work out very well, we shouldn’t assume that the next one won’t be a smashing success.”

    Did I get your message right?

  • balconesfault

    You absolutely must have “boots on the ground.” And we had them in Libya, thanks to the indigenous rebels, CIA operatives, and British and French special forces.

    So CIA operatives now represent “boots on the ground”? Is there ANYPLACE in the world where the US doesn’t have “boots on the ground”, by this definition?

    And I particularly like the idea that indigenous rebels represent “boots on the ground”.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    “So we should guard against extrapolating too much from our experience in Libya. What worked there may not work in other countries. A “Libyan model” for regime change may prove illusory and chimerical.

    One thing we do know is that, as always, you cannot win wars from the air and the sea alone.”

    For one, it is not air power alone, it is the use of proxies. Without the Libyan freedom fighters there would have been no war. Everyone knows this. Why are you pretending that everyone doesn’t? However the statement this model is unique is ridiculous,meaing the air campaign against Serbia to stop the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo, which also had zero boots on the ground somehow doesn’t count now? The French managed to get rid of Gbagbo in the Ivory Coast using air power and proxies. In Honduras the US managed to undo the coup and restore Democracy without using anything but diplomatic pressure, thereby avoiding a Civil war there entirely.

    In fact, the Libyan model will prove to be the most enduring one for future wars. It is the Iraq model, one of invading a nation that you don’t understand and have few people who speak the language, installing a puppet government (Chalabi) and thinking it will magically turn into Texas that is the failed one.
    Identify elements within a society who want Democracy, from behind the scenes foment revolution (at the very least do not stand against them as many conservatives advised we do in Tunisia and Egypt), allow the people within the country to take the lead, and when time is ripe throw your lot in with them. It worked in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Not bad. It very well can work in Syria and man would that upset conservatives (unless Assad is overthrown when a Republican is in office, that it will be as a direct result of the Republican)
    I always thought Clinton’s war in the Balkans showed how effective air power was, but the advances in the past decade and a half are astounding. There were no inadvertent bombings of embassies or many civilian casualties as happened in Serbia.
    So kudos to Sarkosy, Blair, and Obama (and whoever else contributed) for ridding us of the madman of Libya, and now the victims of Pan Am 103 can truly rest in peace.

    In fact, the US did take the lead supplying the bulk of the munitions and identifying targets, the US did more than the rest of NATO combined, which was fine since Britain and France did more than their fair share.

    And kudos to the brave freedom fighters in Libya who have shown such bravery and resilience against the man who brutalized them for so long. They earned their freedom, it wasn’t handed to them as it was in Iraq and are far, far more likely to see that it is never taken away again.

    • Fart Carbuncle

      You could’ve shortened all of this by saying:

      “Praise Obama. Demonize Bush.”

      Sheesh.

      • Volosopher

        Based on the results of their respective foreign policy decisions, there would appear to be good reason to do so.

      • Traveler

        No Sh1t.

        Seeing as how you cannot say anything substantive yourself, your comment speaks volumes about your inabilities to grasp nuance. Pathetic. Why do you even clog the blog with your drivel? Troll.

        • Fart Carbuncle

          It seems most of your contributions are accusatory and hateful to people you don’t agree with politically. Shameful.

        • Traveler

          No just to you and Paul GS when you post thoughtless redstate talking points with no evidence of any coherent reasoning. In contrast, see recent exchanges with Paul on the other Libya post. He grew up, and lo and behold, he got an interesting thread going. Maybe even you can too.

        • DeathByIrony

          To be fair, you contributed very little of substance. There was nothing to debate, and everything to ridicule.

  • LFC

    One thing we do know is that, as always, you cannot win wars from the air and the sea alone. You absolutely must have “boots on the ground.”

    John, you need to have a chat with your FF colleague Peter Worthington. He doesn’t seem to understand that support of a rebel force on the ground isn’t the same as air power alone. From his new post that seems to get everything wrong…

    Against prevailing logic, Gaddafi’s forces were tougher and more determined that anyone expected. For some eight months, Gaddafi held on, steadily losing ground but holding off the rebels. It became apparent that air power alone was insufficient to crush Gaddafi.

    So there was a massive but poorly equipped rebel army we supported from the air by blowing up much of Gaddafi’s heavy weapon advantages, but “it become apparent that air power alone was insufficient.”

    On Libya, I think you actually got everything pretty much right.

    On Iraq, you’re very wrong. The major war is over. There is no force within the country that can take over. They don’t need us unless Iraq attacks them, which is unlikely because an unintended consequence of Bush’s war of choice is that the Iraqi gov’t is actually more closely allied to Tehran than D.C.

    On Afghanistan you are mostly wrong. Why? Because the manual on COIN written by one Gen. David Petraeus says that COIN can not succeed without a credible national government. And if there’s one perfect example of an antonym for “credible”, it’s the Afghan government. If we managed to take control of the entire country and completely kill or drive out the Taliban, who would we hand control over to? That’s why it’s time now, or at least soon, for us to give up and leave. Karzai was given time to form a competent government and train up troops. Instead he stole money and will have an opulent retirement when he has to bolt the country.

  • DeathByIrony

    I’m quite certain the irony isn’t lost on the author that he is using Gaddafi’s death to justify his own “views, ideologies and prejudices.”
    The alternative being simply too funny to possibly be true.