France proposes “political steering committee” to take over Libya mission

posted at 5:47 pm on March 22, 2011 by Allahpundit

Wait, wasn’t NATO supposed to take over operations once U.S. airstrikes had sufficiently disabled Qaddafi’s defenses to make air patrols a breeze? What happened?

The answer: Apparently NATO’s too “western.”

So is the Obama administration on board? White House spokesman Tommy Vietor did not respond to a request for comment on the French proposal. Obama spoke with Sarkozy Tuesday and “the two Presidents agreed on the means of using NATO’s command structures to support the coalition,” the French government said in a read out.

It’s not clear how the French steering committee would be in operational control of the war, but the proposal includes that the committee would be in charge of the “strategic decisions” involving military action, the diplomat said…

The French position is that the steering committee idea would allow NATO to bring its military capabilities to bear without putting an exclusively Western label on the military intervention. Qaddafi has called the campaign a “colonial crusade” by western nations.

“The only constraint is that we need to keep the Arabs involved,” the French diplomat said. “In order to do that we need to use NATO capabilities and we need to [provide so that] Arab countries stay involved.”

NATO will participate in the mission, according to a statement released earlier today. It just won’t be leading it. That’s where the steering committee comes in, the point of which, it seems, is to place Qatar and the UAE and whatever other Arab states are nominally contributing to this operation in a formal “leadership” position by giving them an equal voice on the committee. Think Obama will go for it? Based on this line from the Foreign Policy piece quoted above, I’m betting … yeah, he will:

Our sources also report that Washington has made it clear that they want to see the transfer of leadership for the Libya mission leave U.S. hands by the end of the week.

A krazy kwestion for you: Why weren’t the logistics of the handover nailed down before the UN resolution was approved? The possibility of western military action may not have crystallized until last Tuesday but U.S. and European officials obviously had been thinking about it for weeks. They knew they’d have to act quickly once the Security Council approved airstrikes, so in theory a plan for military operations should have been in place. If the French were so hot to bomb Qaddafi, why didn’t they float the “steering committee” idea early on instead of cobbling it together now as some half-assed face-saving measure to try to scrub NATO’s fingerprints from the mission? The understatement of the year thus far from a former U.S. ambassador to NATO: “I am surprised these things were not worked out beforehand.”

While you’re busy chewing on that, a second question for you. What happens if the rebels prove too militarily inept to overrun Qaddafi? That’s no idle hypothetical: The good news is that they’ve dislodged Qaddafi’s troops from the town of Zintan, but regime forces are still brutalizing Misrata despite rebel attempts to take the place back and they’re still in control of Ajdabiya. Quote:

Rebels in east Libya were stuck just outside Ajdabiyah on Tuesday, making no advance on the strategic town despite three nights of Western air strikes on the oil-producing state…

When asked why rebel units had not advanced toward their objective, which is the eventual taking of Tripoli, Ahmed al-Aroufi, a rebel fighter at the front line, told Reuters: “Gaddafi has tanks and trucks with missiles.”

The Christian Science Monitor wonders, “If Ajdabiya – lacking power and largely cut off from the rest of Libya for more than a week now – has been so difficult to retake, how much harder will it be for the untrained rebels to push west toward Sirte, Qaddafi’s hometown filled with loyalists, and on to Tripoli?” So undisciplined are the rebel troops, in fact, that professional soldiers who defected from Qaddafi’s army and are now fighting alongside them have taken to complaining that they’re getting in the way. There’s no way The One will contribute any American boots on the ground to an international effort, if it ever came to that, so I assume his next move will be to start talking up the idea of a partition between a western Qaddafi-ruled Libya and an eastern-rebel controlled one to try to resolve the stalemate. Which, of course, will never work: Qaddafi will never abide by it long-term, and at this point, leaving him in power would be risky for the west in case he starts plotting revenge via terror operations. It would, however, provide Obama and Sarkozy with a political escape hatch, which will soon be the paramount concern if it isn’t already. So look for that next. Compromise solution, partition, “peace.”

Here’s John Bolton marveling at the fact that we really might be about to hand over control of a major international military operation to some sort of nebulous ad hoc committee. Exit question: What happens when the losing side in this war inevitably mounts an insurgency? Will the coalition lend a hand there too, or are we done once one side declares “mission accomplished”?


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The U.S. motion to lay upon the table Qatar’s proposal for US Marines to land in Libya because the Marine Corps hymn says “To the shores of Tripoli” is not agreed to.

Call to vote on Qatar’s proposed invasion. Seconded by Cote Ivoire. On the ayes and nays, the ayes are 47, the nays are zero. Correction. I’m sorry US representative votes nay. The votes are 46 to 1 in favor. The motion is agreed to. Invasion to begin at 1200 hours tomorrow.

Meeting adjourned!

Ted Torgerson on March 22, 2011 at 8:10 PM

OMG — what a clusterfark Libya is turning into…now to be led by a “political steering committee,” our SecDef Gates states that “the significant military fighting that has been going on should recede in the next few days,” yet at the same time Obama says our goal is regime change and a new democracy in Libya. WTH?!? For Gates to say the fighting is almost over stupid — is that what our leadership really thinks!?! Is it to late to put the first 100 people of the Austin phone book in charge of this? We are well past the Face Palm phase and rapidly setting ourselves up for “epic fail” phase. What the heck will our post-Libyan security world look like after this mess implodes??

EasyEight on March 22, 2011 at 8:23 PM

Isn’t NATO pretty much operated with US troops?

Yes this does not bode well to put the Arabs in this. I do think Sarkozy has some cajones. Tons more than Obama has for sure.

pabo on March 22, 2011 at 8:26 PM

This committee sound wonderful. They can promptly vote for unicorns for all, rainbows, and sprinklings of fairy dust. Voilà problem solved!

hboulware on March 22, 2011 at 8:45 PM

Steering committee?!?!

Private Pyle, you have got to be sh**ting me!

JohnGalt23 on March 22, 2011 at 9:00 PM

Actually at this point….

…..I would rather have Rebecca Black sitting in the Oval Office with good Conservative advisers rather than the Wrecking Ball we have now.

Good Lord, help us survive until January 20, 2013.

PappyD61 on March 22, 2011 at 10:47 PM

“so I assume his next move will be to start talking up the idea of a partition between a western Qaddafi-ruled Libya and an eastern-rebel controlled one to try to resolve the stalemate.”—-90% of the oil is in the East so it’s impossible. Qaddafi needs that oil revenue to pay off his tribal allies. No oil, no Qaddafi.

WarEagle01 on March 22, 2011 at 11:04 PM

OMG — what a clusterfark Libya is turning into…now to be led by a “political steering committee,” our SecDef Gates states that “the significant military fighting that has been going on should recede in the next few days,” yet at the same time Obama says our goal is regime change and a new democracy in Libya. WTH?!? For Gates to say the fighting is almost over stupid — is that what our leadership really thinks!?! Is it to late to put the first 100 people of the Austin phone book in charge of this? We are well past the Face Palm phase and rapidly setting ourselves up for “epic fail” phase. What the heck will our post-Libyan security world look like after this mess implodes??

EasyEight on March 22, 2011 at 8:23 PM

Well it looks like they are going to try and keep C&C within NATO and have the committee as a way to allow regional partners who are not members of NATO participate. It all hinges on the NATO vote tomorrow.

lexhamfox on March 22, 2011 at 11:04 PM

Heh! What a great “community organizer!”

shorebird on March 23, 2011 at 12:17 AM

It’s not clear how the French steering committee would be in operational control of the war…

Life imitates art imitates life! This brought to mind a great issue of Playboy from the late 60′s or early 70′s (hey, it’s not what you’re thinkin’…) that had some hilarious “little known” aircraft from WWII, like the French Septum NC 2501.2 High Altitude Bomber:
“…the NC 2501.2 was powered by a pair of nine-cylinder, in-line Gnome-Rhome Petite engines that developed 165 hp at the aircraft’s intended operating altitude of 19,400 feet. Unfortunately, the Petites were not powerful enough to lift the NC 2501.2 to that height, forcing it to fly at a more prudent 5600 feet. Bomb load was limited by the necessity of carrying a committee of bombardiers -four in number- who voted on the proper time to drop their death-dealing cargo. This system was employed because all necessary optics for bombsights were being used at the time for land-based artillery sighting systems on the Maginot line, where France chose to make her first (and, as it turned out, her last) gallant stand against the Hun.”

bandarlog on March 23, 2011 at 1:09 AM

Maybe it’s time for our most imaginative posters to fantasize about what the most insane destructive things that could happen to the US are. These fantasies need not appear likely, reasonable or realistic.

We could have a contest for the sickest, most absurd, creepiest notions, the top 10 win a prize, say a bottle of Tums. Then we could brainstorm preventing them, replying to them, or running like h3ll away from them.

A couple weeks ago we’d have never dreamed of a 3rd war. So the sky is the limit!

Because I’m starting to think øbama already has a list like that.

jodetoad on March 23, 2011 at 2:24 AM

Y’know, it seems to the last time our country followed the French on a war, we ended up in Vietnam. Jus sayin’….

apostic on March 23, 2011 at 4:46 AM

Why this urge to invent a conspiracy? All of the actors are behaving completely in character, so why invent some tale of how they’re being choreographed?

MJBrutus on March 22, 2011 at 6:48 PM

One word….

Obamacare

csdeven on March 23, 2011 at 6:48 AM

csdeven on March 23, 2011 at 6:48 AM

One punctuation mark

?

MJBrutus on March 23, 2011 at 7:15 AM

A bunch of leftist Poli Sci retards sitting around a table, running the war.

What could go wrong?

MNHawk on March 23, 2011 at 7:38 AM

Who can deny the power of the beast?

True_King on March 23, 2011 at 8:50 AM

You cannot win a war from the air . . . does anybody remember “Rolling Thunder”? It helps, but you can’t beat a determined enemy unless you have troops on the ground. I wonder if Obama’s generals and admirals remember their history? He’d better dump this mess on his French buddy as quickly as possible, lest he be up to his neck in an unescapable quagmire.

rplat on March 23, 2011 at 9:07 AM

Obama to Quadffi; “I,m going to get you, you wascally wabbit!”

Herb on March 23, 2011 at 9:36 AM

What happens if the rebels prove too militarily inept to overrun Qaddafi?

Barry eventually pulls U.S. forces out, and declares complete victory:

Let me be clear: We have accomplished our goal in Libya. We did not commit U.S. military forces to this effort in order to depose a foreign leader we did not like, or to install a form of government more to our own liking (despite what I and other high-ranking members of my administration previously stated).

No, as I’ve already said, we went into Libya not in an act of American imperialism, but for the sole purpose of demonstrating the feasibility of modern warfare by international steering committee. There were those who said it couldn’t, and shouldn’t, be done. But I have proven them all wrong. And now, having achieved our lofty goal, we will welcome home all our brave troops. And to the people of Libya still fighting crazy Qadaffi — good luck to you, and let us know how it turns out.

AZCoyote on March 23, 2011 at 11:20 AM

Sarkozy knows Obama is an arrogant, incompetent laughingstock. He will play the O like a cheap fiddle.

volsense on March 23, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Quagmire…

Khun Joe on March 24, 2011 at 6:20 AM

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