A group of countries claiming to represent the United Nations - minus the United States of America - agreed today to send warplanes against Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, whose forces are on the verge of victory over rebel troops trying to overthrow him.
After diddling around for weeks, the UN, seeing that Qaddafi wasn't going to be defeated by his own people after all, decided in what easily can be a too little, too late effort, to impose a no fly zone over Libya.
The French already are in the air, so the news says, as are US Tomahawk missiles, and the British will soon be on the way. The problem with this scenario is that neither country has an air base nearby, so they are expected to use NATO bases in Italy.
Also, Spain has gotten in on this, as has Norway, and Canada, but none of these countries is on a war footing and have admitted it will take days, maybe longer to be adequately prepared for what is coming.
The logistics of neutralizing Qaddifi's air force - according to the news - appear to be hinged on the United States using its technology to eliminate Libya's air defenses.
What seems to be missing from this equation is any consideration for what Qaddafi might do in retaliation for other countries attacking his country. I don't like this guy. I sure as hell don't like the fact that he ordered the bombing of PanAm flight 103 that blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing everyone on board and more people on the ground and frankly, back when Ronald Reagan was President I was hoping we were going to bomb him into oblivion.
But we didn't and after weeks of an uprising that seems to be coordinated with similar outbreaks in other North African and Arab countries, Libya's dictator is still in power and his forces have pushed the rebellion to the brink of defeat.
What exactly does this group of nations think it will do by imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, assuming that it can do so successfully? The news says there are at least 13 air bases in Libya, but the only country in the world with the capabilities of taking them out simultaneously is the United States and we don't have a dog - or a ship or a ground contingent - directly in this fight.
What if the few ships we have in the Mediterranean plus the limited European forces, can't completely eliminate Libya's ground defenses and its air force in the next 96-hours or so? They are not capable of taking out vast swatches of the Libyan countryside, nor is the relatively small number of Marines aboard them, although the Tomahawk missiles some of them carry can do damage to land targets.
But Qaddafi already knows the cruise missiles are coming. If he has any sense at all he already is taking precautions to spread his air force out and not leave all the jets, bombers and refuelers in one place where they would be more vulnerable.
More to the point, if history is any teacher regarding this guy, he is already planning to retaliate. The UN has declared war on him, but did anyone ask the citizens of Great Britain or France or Spain or Italy what they think of this idea?
Do the citizens of those countries know that the Libyan air force has Russian made TU-22R bombers that have a range of more than 3,000 miles and the distance from Tripoli to Marseille is about 835 miles? Get the picture?
If I was him, and I knew I was in for a beating from primarily European forces, I'd launch every flyable bomber in my force, loaded with every type of ordnance they can carry, and send them over the Mediterranean, under the radar, to hit any place they can reach in Italy, Spain and the French Riviera. And no, I am not giving this guy any ideas, he already has considered this and I guarantee you that right now he is weighing his options.
One of those options is bombing civilian targets in the Mediterranean countries that have attacked him. We are looking at this from our point of view, but you can bet he is looking at it only from his.
It has been nearly 7 decades since the cities of Western Europe were attacked and civilians were targeted in a conventional war - not to mention terror assaults. I am not insulting the capabilities of the brave men and women who are preparing to face Qaddifi's forces in the least, but what if their homes are attacked while they are away keeping Qaddifi's air force grounded? I am not sure their leaders have thought this through.
Qaddifi is a bad man in all respects, and Europe through NATO and the United Nations is agitating him. But they are in reach too, and he already has shown he has no qualms about killing innocents if he so pleases. This isn't taking place in the remote areas of Iraq or Afghanistan, this is taking place on Europe's back doorstep.
Somehow, I don't think the decision makers at the UN have fully considered this.
Saturday, March 19, 2011