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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Obama the Hawk without Wings

“War is regarded as nothing but the continuation of state policy with other means.” — Carl Von Clausewitz

Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz was a Prussian soldier and German military theorist who stressed the moral and political aspects of war. His most notable work, Vom Kriege (On War), was unfinished at his death.

Clausewitz espoused a romantic conception of warfare, stressing the dialectic of how opposite factors interact, and noting how unexpected new developments unfolding under the "fog of war" called for rapid decisions by alert commanders. Clausewitz saw history as a complex check on abstractions that did not accord with experience. In opposition to Antoine-Henri Jomini he argued war could not be quantified or graphed or reduced to map work and graphs. Clausewitz had many maxims, of which the most famous is, "War is not merely a political act, but also a political instrument, a continuation of political relations, a carrying out of the same by other means," a working definition of war which has won wide acceptance.

Okay, in my blog posted on March 14, 2011 I stated: “It will be a cold day in hell before we see Mirage jets flying over the Gulf of Sidra. How long will it take before we are suckered in to send in the F-18s?” Well, I just received a report from hell that the inmates are building snowmen and having snow ball fights — winter clothing is in order.

I guess I did not fully realize the hypocrisy of the UN and the EU. Until a few weeks ago Libya was a member of the UN Human Rights Commission and now we are launching Tomahawk missiles and dropping bombs on them. The French, Italians, Spanish and British just can’t wait to get into the act and protect their oil interests. And, as for the U.S. Obama is happy to stand by and launch missiles at Tripoli. This is “shock and awe” all in spades. Gosh, remember how Obama was so against Bush’s war Iraq when we had the same mandate form the UN and a resolution from our Congress to do so.

And why are we doing this? We are siding with one faction over another in what appears to be a civil war. We haven’t the slightest idea of who the rebels are. Are they truly people who want a democratic government that will be friendly to the west or just another group of radical Muslims who want control of the country? What are our long range strategic goals here?

Oh, I am sure the press will droll and salivate over the chance to cover another war. After all it makes for great TV. The left-wing press will support Obama as taking a strong stand against a dictator we don’t practically care for. But what about the other counties in the region where protestors are being killed like Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia? Why isn’t Egypt, with the largest air force in the region taking part in the shock and awe? After all they are Libya’s closet neighbor?

UN resolution 1973 gives the western powers the authority enforce a “no fly zone” but is also gives them the authority to bomb and strafe targets in Libya including tanks, trucks, airfields and anything they deem of military value. We are hearing the same old words like “coalition forces, “allies”, “partners” and Odyssey Dawn — our name for the operation. Oh. How thrilling for the media to once again toss around these terms and have their reporters at the Pentagon and NATO headquarters.

It’s one thing to bomb from 10,000 feet, it’s another to hit the right031911_libya10 targets — even with our “smart ordinance” Without forces on the ground directing the strikes collateral damage is unavoidable. Wait until we hit a cat orphanage or some other civilian facility. Then watch the press turn, especially the Arab press. As I write this I have heard a report that 4 tanks have been hit and the U.S. has launched missile strikes against Libya’s air defense network . Wow, what an accomplishment. Evidently the no fly zone pertains to more than planes in the air. (the photo at the right is a rafale jet fighter seen shortly after take off at the military base of Saint Dizier, eastern France)

As Clausewitz states, what is the continuation of state policy here? What will we do when the bombing stops? Obama says he will not commit ground troops, but we know how that goes. Eventually someone will have to commit ground forces to resolve this conflict. And what happens — as it no doubt will —when this is viewed as an invasion of Libya by western powers by the Islamic nations. I am sure this will provide grist for Iran’s mill.

This eleventh hour action to change a regime for the purpose so called “humanitarian” reasons. How do you keep it limited and developing mission creep? Is the new Obama doctrine one of intervention for humanitarian reasons or is it just his succumbing to the pressure of the EU? After all Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said over and over that this was not our idea and we are merely following the lead of the French.

What is the cost to the United States for enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya? According to new report by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, three options for a No-Fly Zone over Libya would have three very different costs:

Full No-Fly Zone" covering all of Libya

  • $100 million to $300 million per week
  • Initial strike to secure airspace: $500 million and $1 billion
  • Six month total: $3.1 billion - $8.8 billion
  • Similar to no-fly zone imposed over Iraq (Operation Northern and Southern Watch)

Limited No-Fly Zone focusing on the northern third of Libya

  • $30 million to $100 million per week
  • Initial strike to secure airspace: $400 million to $800 million
  • Six month total $1.18 billion - $3.4 billion

Stand-off No-Fly Zone focusing on costal Libya with only air and naval assets beyond Libyan territory

  • $15 million to $25 million per week
  • Because this is strictly a stand-off operation with no assets in Libya, CSBA suggests no "initial cost."
  • Six month total $0.39 billion - $0.65 billion
  • This No-Fly zone would be enforced by three aegis-equipped destroyers.
  • These ships, supported by radar monitoring planes (AWACS), and land-based fighter aircraft would intercept violating aircraft from a distance with "over-the-horizon" missiles. There is no historical precedent for this sort of no-fly zone.

The group also estimates a 6 month No-Fly Zone could cost as much as $9 Billion. Here's a look at the costs of previous No-Fly Zones:

  • 3 months of air superiority over Serbia cost $2.4 billion
  • No Fly Zone over Iraq cost $1.3 billion per year
  • Libya is 6.5 times larger than the No Fly Zone over Iraq.

CSBA (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments) estimates a 6 month No Fly Zone could cost as much as $9 billion.

We have no definable policy towards the Middle East and this is our third war in the region in the past 10 years. I am sure many more events will transpire in the next few days as reports begin to dribble out of Washington, Paris and Tripoli.

Right now 65% of Americans are against military intervention in Libya. Only 25% approve and I am willing to bet they are Obama supporters. So sit back and watch the maps, videos and slide shows emanating from Washington and Brussels. Listen to the press conferences where you will hear the military terms like “shaping the battlespace” and “command and control” tossed about like so many Frisbees at a dog show while the reporters sit and suck it all in. Just remember people are dying from these weapons and we really don’t know who.

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