Posts Tagged ‘Libya’

Navy SEALs & Surgical Strikes

By the end of this fiscal year, the U.S. will have spent $1.3 trillion dollars over the past decade prosecuting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I propose we wrap things up now and employ that Navy SEAL-6 squad instead.

Seems to me you can spend billions and billions going after the tail of the monster, or a couple hundred million and go for a double-tap to the head of the beast. No, really. What if instead of sending hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, we had just used good intelligence and Navy sharp-shooters eight years ago to take out Saddam Hussein?

What if instead of fighting what may become a protracted conflict in Libya, we send Muammar Ghadafi a little note hinting that some Navy SEALS may be paying him a visit shortly. Might he immediately negotiate for exile in Sharm el Sheikh where he and Hosni Mubarak could have adjoining estates?

I’m only half-kidding. It seems to me there are a lot of different ways to get to the same end. The surgical strike approach gets there faster and a hell of a lot cheaper in both treasure and human lives. Getting the leader doesn’t ensure victory but I suspect it speeds up the process.

But you can’t go around the world assassinating people, you argue? Excuse me, but did you see what we just did with Osama bin Laden? Did we ask Pakistan’s permission? Did we ask them to come along? No, we didn’t. That would have been pretty darned silly, considering the laser-sharp quality of Pakistani intelligence which couldn’t figure out what that big million dollar mansion was with the 18-foot walls and barbed wire some 50 miles from their nation’s capital.

And in total seriousness, the more I learn about these Navy SEALs, the better I sleep at night. I am so glad they’re on our side. The truth of the matter is that they have been engaged in many missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Remember the American ship captain they rescued last year from Somali pirates with pinpoint fire at a tiny target bobbing up and down in a large ocean? I believe that was the last time we know of that President Obama specifically turned to the SEALs.

For a few facts and photos about this elite squad of warriors, you might want to check out this slide-show from entitled, “No Bark, All Bite.”

Second-Guessing the Libyan Action

Liberals are angry, conservatives are angry. When it comes to the Libya non-war, war, there’s a lot of “coulda-woulda-shoulda” going around, which is particularly easy to throw out there when you’re not the ones who are accountable and don’t have a lot of specific answers of your own.

Is there merit to arguments from both sides of the aisle, that Congress wasn’t consulted enough? Yes. It’s not constitutionally necessary, but it would have been smarter, politically. Is there merit to criticisms that we don’t have an end game? People should certainly be asking questions.

And now comes the observation from folks like Peter Beinart who writes in the Daily Beast that this Libyan affair is evidence that the United States is a fallen empire and that America doesn’t matter anymore.

Here’s two cents:

We should have done nothing?

Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal dictatorship, using mercenaries no doubt paid with the $6 billion in gold he’s sitting on, was about 24 hours away from invading the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. He vowed no mercy. Is it that much of a stretch to think that if there had not been military intervention, there could have been a massacre of tens of thousands of both rebels and innocent civilians? And absent a military response and the subsequent results, what would the critics be saying today? That we were feckless and stood by and dawdled while innocent blood was shed?

We should have acted sooner?

What, on our own? While we’re fighting two wars and our military is stretched so thin our own Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, initially wanted no part of it? Unilateral American action would have been difficult logistically and to go in alone in now a third Muslim nation would not have been helpful to our standing in the region. Or we should have organized the coalition sooner? There are 22 countries involved in this Libyan military operation. It takes time to sort out the details.

There’s no end-game?

Well, you should worry because I don’t think anyone has a specific end game in mind. The immediate, urgent point was to save Benghazi. Now it appears the mission has expanded into the imposition of a no-fly, no-drive zone over the entire country. Most analysts doubt Ghaddafi can be ousted without land forces and no one thinks that’s going to happen anytime soon. So here’s your end-game: West Libya and East Libya with Gaddafi running the west and the rebels running the east.

America is a fallen empire?

Part of the case is based on the fact France is beginning to take the lead on this operation. Well…why shouldn’t they? European nations have their own stake in Libya and it’s not just for humanitarian reasons. Italy, France and Spain, for example, imported 22%, 16% and 13% of their oil from Libya in 2010. They have regional and economic motivations for a stable Libya.

That doesn’t mean the U.S. has relinquished its role as a world leader. In fact, this mission couldn’t have gotten started without the U.S. and it’s AWACS planes coordinating air assaults, and about a hundred Tomahawk cruise missiles taking out radar and anti-aircraft assets (at $750,000 per cruise missile, by the way).

You want to talk about a country that’s no longer an empire? I read on an English website that the Brits used one-fourth of their entire Tomahawk arsenal in three days against Libya…all from just one submarine. Not to worry, say the Brits, the Americans can lend us more if we run out.

Well, maybe we’re not an empire anymore. But we sure still seem to be the world’s Sugar Daddy.