Jewish World Review April 27, 2011 23 Nissan, 5771
Weekend Warriors Want More Mayhem
By Roger Simon
These are lawmakers — secure in the marble halls of Congress — who go on the Sunday talk shows to urge the U.S. government to engage in even further acts of global mayhem.
Clearly, our "sanitary" air war in Libya has met with limited success. Keeping our hands clean by using only missiles and jets, the United States was supposed to have defeated Moammar Gadhafi by now.
In a speech to the nation on March 28, President Obama said that the United States "had the ability to stop Gadhafi's forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground."
Maybe. Gadhafi's forces have advanced in some parts of Libya since then, while making retreats — possibly for strategic reasons — in others. (If Gadhafi removes his troops from a city and the rebels take over, then Gadhafi is free to shell that city indiscriminately without danger to his own forces.)
But President Obama made very clear he wanted to use U.S. power to prevent Gadhafi from killing his own civilians, not to topple Gadhafi from power.
"Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake," Obama said. "If we tried to overthrow Gadhafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground, or risk killing many civilians from the air."
There was a further reason.
"To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq," Obama said. "Regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya."
The Weekend Warriors disagree. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on CNN this Easter Sunday, "My recommendation to NATO and the administration is to cut the head of the snake off, go to Tripoli, start bombing Gadhafi's inner circle, their compounds, their military headquarters in Tripoli."
Graham, who served as a lawyer in the Air Force, may, along with the Air Force itself, have an overrated opinion of the power of strategic bombing. In 1986, Ronald Reagan sent 33 jets that dropped 64,000 pounds of explosives on Gadhafi's living quarters, but missed him, killing his 15-month-old daughter instead. (Afterward, a U.S. spokesman said the infant was only adopted, as if that made some kind of difference.) We also lost a U.S. pilot.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., also told CNN's Candy Crowley Sunday that "it is very important that Gadhafi and his family and everybody else near him wakes up every day thinking it is their last." He added, "NATO has got to start thinking about whether they want to more directly start targeting Gadhafi and his family."
Again, Lieberman, who never served in the military, may not know this is easier said on TV than done.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who had an extensive military career and was in Egypt after a quick trip to Libya, told Crowley: "You know, we have tried those things in the past with other dictators, and it's a little harder than you think it is. Gadhafi's a great survivor. We don't know exactly where he is. We do have to worry about civilian casualties. That can turn the Libyan people against us."
However, McCain said, "I think we can achieve the goal of him being finished off."
But regime change by force is not our goal, President Obama says, because it could lead to another Iraq and U.S. taxpayers footing another nearly trillion-dollar bill.
As if they had been watching Sunday TV, however, early Monday morning NATO forces sent two large guided bombs into Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli, damaging two building but missing him. According to The Washington Post, the compound is "the scene of nightly celebrations by hundreds of civilians offering themselves as human shields to protect Gadhafi against NATO."
But how about sending in small teams of assassins to do the job, rather than using huge bombs?
During the Iraq war, George W. Bush decided that "targeted killing programs," as they were called, should best be left to private industry, so the United States military would not have to dirty its hands. And so Blackwater, which now goes under the name Xe Services LLC, got the contract.
This was all kept secret from Congress because it would have not been good for the government's image. Not that it mattered. According to a high-ranking intelligence official, the program cost "well under $20 million," and "we never actually did anything."
Which is a pretty easy way to earn "well under $20 million." Heck, I know a couple of guys in Chicago who would do a job in Libya for a lot less.
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© 2009, Creators Syndicate