Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Goal in Libya

Much has been made lately about what our "goal" is concerning the military action in Libya. Obama has stated that Gadhafi has got to go. But he's also stated that this is a humanitarian intervention and not a regime change action. I guess we'll get the details on Monday during his speech. As far as pragmatism goes here's my take on it.

Our goal is apparently to simply negate Gadhafi's significant advantages in the realms of (1) air power, (2) armor, and (3) command and control. Calling this a no-fly zone makes point 1 obvious -- since Gadhafi can attack via helicopters and planes with impunity, we are there to negate that advantage. When we consider the targets that have been reported by the press, we can see that this is more than just a no-fly zone. Tanks and other armor have been targeted as well. Those don't fly. Obviously we aren't just worried about a no-fly zone. The resistance does not have many (if any) armored assets. We've also targeted his own compound and other infrastructural buildings. The resistance themselves have commented on their difficulties in organizing especially between cities.

I agree on the importance of having a clear goal in a mission. I also realize that this is a difficult thing to articulate in situations of extreme dynamics with the risk of massive civilian deaths. So in some cases I can let the clear goal slide. I don't think, however, that our job should be simply to level the playing field. If our goal was humanitarian intervention, our targets would be limited to ones that threatened humanity. But now that things are becoming clearer, it is also becoming more apparent that this intervention is not justified.


  1. IMO, we should not even be there. Libya presents no immediate threat to the U.S. If we replace Gadhafi, there is no guarantee that whomever takes his place will be any better, in fact they may be even worse. It would be better if we stayed out of their civil war.

    As for the humanitarian aid, I see no reason why it should be supplied by our government. There are a number of organizations (like the Red Cross) that do an extraordinary job of delivering aid as is - and its completely voluntary, not forced from our paychecks. I am sure there a lot of people in need there, but there are a lot of people in need everywhere. I would prefer, when I choose to help people, to have a say on who I help.

  2. I think when "they" said it was a humanitarian intervention, "they" meant our military action was to prevent mass deaths, but that we would be dropping MREs and stuff.

    With that said, I'm not sure if (1) a mass death would have happened, (2) if it were, that we prevented it and (3) that what we're doing right now has any bearing on a prevention of it.