From a Letter to the Editor in response to a recently published C4SS column on Libya:
David D’Amato seems to have forgotten that the crisis in Libya was brought on by the attempt of Colonel Gaddafi’s dictatorial regime to suppress the people’s demand for democracy.
How? I read the original article, and nowhere did I see whitewashing of that.
With the military on his side, Gaddafi could resort to mass slaughter of the protestors who later took up arms against his brutal regime. The NATO intervened only after the Security Council approved of military action to protect the civilians.
Bombing runs are an odd way of protecting civilians. Even assuming there was a moral obligation for NATO to get involved — which there was not — the kind of strict precision that a protect-the-innocents strategy would seriously require precludes the favored tactic of just bombing whatever whenever. You can either seriously consider civilians, or bomb a path for the anti-Qadaffi forces regardless of what they do afterward, pick one.
But there may be a better way to defeat Gaddafi.
The Americans can learn from the success of the anti-Soviet Mujahideen who defeated the mighty Red Army with weapons provided by the United States. The United States did this without confronting the Soviet army directly. It should do the same in Libya by providing tanks and other military hardware to the Libyan fighters. Although many of the former Afghan Mujahideen have now turned against their benefactor, the United States can avoid this by strongly monitoring any extremist element within the rebel forces.
There’s already training and weapons being provided, with little observable result. As for monitoring extremist elements, you’ve just jumped on a continuum where one end is being so deeply involved that it’s basically the West calling all the shots — and getting all of the blame, should things not work out later — and the other is just dropping off weapons and hoping for the best, which worked out sooooo well, didn’t it?
The U.S. and Nato had no business being involved in the first place. This kind of Hobson’s choice shows why.