Gates: No timeline for end of Libyan mission

posted at 2:15 pm on March 23, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama has repeatedly insisted that the American role in the Libyan war will only last “days, not weeks,” although he has also said that US forces will remain engaged, and that the purpose of the operation is to “install a democratic system” while somehow not aiming at the removal of the dictator at the top.  Got all that?  Neither has Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who now insists that the Obama administration has “no timeline” for the end of operations in Libya, and he’s not sure how it will all end, either:

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Wednesday there was no “timeline” for when UN-backed military operations in Libya would end, and that the outcome of the conflict remained unclear.

Speaking during a visit to Cairo, Gates said the UN Security Council resolution that authorised a no-fly zone was “not time-limited” and that it was unrealistic to expect military action to be over in a matter of weeks.

“So I think that there is no current timeline in terms of when it might end,” Gates told reporters. …

Gates said the outcome of the conflict remained unclear, and that it was possible that more figures in Kadhafi’s regime could turn against him or even members of his own family.

“I think there are any number of possible outcomes here and no one is in a position to predict them,” he said.

Gates may be speaking more generally about the overall coalition, but let’s face it: Obama can’t afford for this mission to go south now.   He’s put himself on the hot spot by bypassing Congress, and if the UN coalition fails to prevent a genocide in Benghazi, Obama will take all of the blame for it, especially if he pulls the US out of the fight.  Obama may cede operational command to another NATO member, but US forces will have to continue to take part in the operation.

Gates also acknowledged that the strikes came after much of the rebellion had fizzled out in the face of a brutal crackdown by Moammar Gaddafi’s forces.  He hopes that the UN bombing will encourage more defiance, but no one’s sure whether that is actually happening.  In fact, no one is sure of much of anything, including the nature of the rebellion, as Rolling Stone reported on Monday:

America is now at war to protect a Libyan province that’s been an epicenter of anti-American jihad.

In recent years, at mosques throughout eastern Libya, radical imams have been “urging worshippers to support jihad in Iraq and elsewhere,” according to WikiLeaked cables. More troubling: The city of Derna, east of Benghazi, was a “wellspring” of suicide bombers that targeted U.S. troops in Iraq. …

West Point analysis of a cache of al Qaeda records discovered that nearly 20 percent of foreign fighters in Iraq were Libyans, and that on a per-capita basis Libya nearly doubled Saudi Arabia as the top source of foreign fighters.

The word “fighter” here is misleading. For the most part, Libyans didn’t go to Iraq to fight; they went to blow themselves up — along with American G.I.’s. (Among those whose “work” was detailed in the al Qaeda records, 85 percent of the Libyans were listed as suicide bombers.) Overwhelmingly, these militants came “from cities in North‐East Libya, an area long known for Jihadi‐linked militancy.”

The Jerusalem Post reports that the organization that recruited these jihadists are today expressing support for the rebellion:

A senior member of al Qaida urged Libyan rebels to continue their fight againstMuammar Gaddafi and warned of the consequences of defeat, in a videotaped message posted on Jihadi websites, the Qatar-based Gulf News reported on Sunday.

The message from Libya native, Abu Yahya al-Libi, marked the first time a top ranked al Qaida commander had commented on the uprising in Libya. Gaddafi has repeatedly blamed al Qaida for inciting the unrest against him.

AQ’s expressions of support are not solid evidence of, well, much of anything.  They usually like to put spin on any event to make themselves look more relevant, and there isn’t any reason to believe their propaganda here and now.  However, thus far we know very little about the nature of the rebels we seek to protect, and also thus far neither Obama nor any other leader within this coalition has bothered to try to explain their purpose.  That West Point analysis certainly gives us some reason for skepticism about the nature of this rebellion.

In response to the murky nature of this fight and the manner in which Obama started it, the House will soon schedule hearings on the use of force, according to The Hill’s sources in Congress:

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is planning a hearing next week on the U.S. intervention in Libya, the first formal congressional inquiry into the five-day-old military campaign.

A senior committee aide told The Hill on Wednesday that Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) was eyeing a hearing when Congress returns from recess. The hearing “is still in the planning stages,” the aide said.

The inquiry comes amid complaints from lawmakers in both parties about the extent of consultation by the Obama administration with Congress about a military operation. The White House held one official briefing for congressional leaders on Friday, before airstrikes began and before President Obama left on an overseas trip, and a group of committee aides received a classified briefing on Tuesday at the Capitol.

Requests for additional briefings for members have thus far been ignored, the aide said.

Stonewalling Congress is an odd strategy for someone who promised to bring new transparency to Washington.  Then again, they may be ignoring these requests because the administration may have no idea what’s going on.  Better to look secretive than to be exposed as ignorant, I suppose, but neither will help win Congressional support for this botched effort to flex American muscle.


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I can just see it now, all Leftists declare NATO allies racist countries, and that is why Obama ‘failed’.

Sir Napsalot on March 23, 2011 at 3:30 PM


Yesterday, Defense Secretary Gates, talking about who would take over for the US and when, said, “this command and control business is complicated. We haven’t done something like this, kind of on the fly before. And so it’s not surprising to me that it would take a few days to get it all sorted out.”

This is just one more example of Obama flying by the seat of his pants! No plan, no strategy. Besides, he had more pressing things to do, such as the family vacay in South America.

GrannySunni on March 23, 2011 at 3:34 PM

“This command-and-control business is complicated, and we haven’t done something like this kind of on-the-fly before,” U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters in Moscow today. “It’s not surprising to me that it would take a few days to get it all sorted out.”

U.S. Says Libyan Campaign to Ease as No-Fly Zone Is Secured

Seems to me, Secretary Gates doesn’t know what he is doing or saying. Don’t we conduct frequent exercises with our NATO allies just to enhance command and control?

jackal40 on March 23, 2011 at 3:38 PM

But here they are again. And if Obama doesn’t find answers, and a quick end, to the campaign in Libya, he faces the very real danger of being mired in the kind of nuance that has killed campaigns before.

2012 sloganObama was against wars until he was for them. He is a Nobel peace holder”.

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2011 at 3:44 PM

” Then again, they may be ignoring these requests because the administration may have no idea what’s going on…”

I think you may have just hit on something there Ed…

Seven Percent Solution on March 23, 2011 at 3:49 PM

“America is now at war to protect a Libyan province that’s been an epicenter of anti-American jihad.”

I see a campaign ad in their somewhere…

/

Seven Percent Solution on March 23, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Just imagine it: Fund-raisers (as if!) at Mar-a-Lago; Melania and Barron popping up in Iowa in designer outfits; campaign slogans like, “You’re fired, Barack Obama!” and “We don’t need an apprentice, we need a leader.” What fun! And if conventional wisdom prevails and Roger Stone – that “professional lord of mischief,” as The Weekly Standard called him – has a hand in Trump’s campaign, it will be one for the books, Baby.

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2011 at 3:54 PM

jackal40 on March 23, 2011 at 3:38 PM

Not fair to single out Gates.. How is it humanly possible for him to know what to do when the entire endeavor is freaking leaderless !!
Obammy dare not step out of his ‘present’ status and be another Boooooosh, and he’s relying on THIS ???….
http://tinyurl.com/6ger7j3

God help us all.

pambi on March 23, 2011 at 3:57 PM

More

To that end, Trump’s been pumping out a take-no-prisoners foreign policy mantra, calling for harsher action against Libya, Iran, North Korea and anyone else who’s been hostile to America.

And he’s been touting a more muscular response to the deficit, suggesting that we hit China and South Korea with a massive tax for “taking advantage of us,” and that we send any country that our military protects a bill at the end of the month for services rendered. He’s also suggested we tell the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries exactly where it can go. And he’s been refreshingly blunt on everything from Obamacare to nuclear energy.

Schadenfreude on March 23, 2011 at 3:57 PM

I’m sure when the day comes, you will somehow justify, and rationalize your vote. For Obama.

capejasmine on March 23, 2011 at 3:28 PM

I couldn’t even if I tried. The two domestic issues I’m active in (drug law and IP enforcement) have put me and Obama at odds. Now, Obama goes to war with no congressional authorization? I can’t vote for that guy.

ernesto on March 23, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Abu Yahya al-Libi incited Libyans to take up arms against the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and urged that they and other Muslim peoples dispel their “inferiority complex” before the West in a video speech released on jihadist forums on March 12, 2011. The 31-minute video is titled “To Our People in Libya,” and is produced by al-Qaeda’s media arm, as-Sahab. The speech by Libi, an official in al-Qaeda’s Shariah Committee, comes amidst a deluge of messages from jihadists inciting against the Gaddafi regime for his actions against the Libyan people, and offering military advice to rebels. Libi noted that the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions have resonated throughout the Arab world and gave hope to the Muslim peoples while plunging fear into their leader, and for this the people deserve praise. However, he argued that Muslims will continue to experience oppression until they establish a government based on Islamic Shariah.

Libi said: “The whole of humanity, no matter what it attempts to find relaxation through other methods, will only find restriction and misery, hardship and evil, and injustice, even if its intensity changes between unjust and more unjust, tyrannical and more tyrannical, and bad and worse. Evil is evil, even if its degrees change.”

The Libyan people, he said, must take up arms and stockpile weapons against Gaddafi, and must be cautious not to use them against anyone but the enemy. He stated: “Gaddafi and his gang are not more secure than you in having these weapons, nor are they more careful in using them than you or more careful than you over the souls of the people… There is no dignity without cost, and no dignity without sacrifice.” Libi also called upon Libyan intellectuals and youths to be careful not to let anyone take advantage of the revolution for their own personal gain and become new “tyrants.”

He also argued that the jihad by al-Qaeda and ideologically-aligned groups against the United States and the West has broken the “barrier of fear” in the Muslim peoples and allowed them to rise up against their governments, and thus, the fighters are deserving of support. Libi then explained that it is the West, and the US in particular, that stands behind the region’s governments and “pretend to cry” for Muslims. He added: “So, if we are honest in gaining our rights and living in true dignity without trickery, we must be free of the inferiority complex that the West has put in our souls, that many people thought there would be no dignity, freedom or ease unless we follow the path of the West and be the tail-end of their convoy.”

SoonerMarine on March 23, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, the leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), reaffirmed his group’s solidarity with Libyan rebels in an audio speech released on jihadist forums on March 17, 2011. The speech, titled “Support to the Free Descendents of Umar al-Mukhtar,” is contained in a 12 minute, 43 second video produced by AQIM’s media arm, al-Andalus Foundation. It contains a still picture of Wadud. AQIM had issued a statement on February 23 condemning Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi for his actions against his people, and pledging support to the rebels during their revolution. In his speech, Wadud likened the battles waged by the rebels to those undertaken by AQIM fighters against the “tyrants” in North Africa and urged that they continue their fight and adhere to their faith. Islam, he said, is the “source of strength” for the revolutions, and the enemy has realized this and seeks to deviate the revolutions from this source and find alternatives to current rulers who will allow them to continue their “occupation.”

Wadud continued to vilify the West in the speech, arguing that the US and NATO are the “source of the disaster” and cannot be trusted. He said: “They are the enemies, so be careful my brothers from the suspicious movements of America and its allies. The Muslims in Libya should be ready from now on for it. The first step in the right direction is not to trust any American role.” The AQIM leader added that Arab leaders such as Abdul Aziz Bouteflika of Algeria and King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia have banded together to foil the revolutions, and said that the situation for Muslims is as such because “the Arab Zionists help each other.”

SoonerMarine on March 23, 2011 at 4:13 PM

OT a bit: I saw a little bit of Morning Joe this morning. The Morning Joe crowd ganged up on Buchanan when he said that the women (Clinton, Rice, some others) got to Obama and convinced him to change directions based on “emotions.” The women were fuming, while the in-the-tank-for-Obama men huffed and puffed like so many of Obama’s metrosexual supporters do when you challenge Obama’s masculinity.

BuckeyeSam on March 23, 2011 at 4:25 PM

Would killing everyone in a city be genocide? I think that would qualify as mass murder, but not genocide.

hawksruleva on March 23, 2011 at 4:27 PM

The British Government not only promotes the assassination of Qadhafi, but admits that their military intervention will likely go on in Libya for “30 years”.

Note well the al-Qaeda/British current alliance, after British Intelligence repeatedly made the public point that “al Qaeda is dead” shortly after Bush invaded Iraq.

maverick muse on March 23, 2011 at 4:27 PM

Would killing everyone in a city be genocide? I think that would qualify as mass murder, but not genocide.

hawksruleva on March 23, 2011 at 4:27 PM

Genocide just means massacre, or killing these days, or sometimes that they just don’t like you.

sharrukin on March 23, 2011 at 4:29 PM

OT a bit: I saw a little bit of Morning Joe this morning. The Morning Joe crowd ganged up on Buchanan when he said that the women (Clinton, Rice, some others) got to Obama and convinced him to change directions based on “emotions.” The women were fuming, while the in-the-tank-for-Obama men huffed and puffed like so many of Obama’s metrosexual supporters do when you challenge Obama’s masculinity.

BuckeyeSam on March 23, 2011 at 4:25 PM

I don’t think gender was anything more than a coincidence in this matter. The 3 women were hawks, Obama and the male cabinet members opposing them were either doves or unable to make a decision.

And to be fair, it should have been a difficult decision, given the uncertainty about who we’re helping and exactly what we’re committed to doing. In fact, I still don’t see how they settled the question, when they don’t seem to agree on what the question was?

My understanding is that Rice and Powers wanted to re-assert the value of UN peacekeeping missions. But the current muddled setup will only hurt future efforts to form a UN coalition.

hawksruleva on March 23, 2011 at 4:30 PM

Don’t we conduct frequent exercises with our NATO allies just to enhance command and control?

jackal40 on March 23, 2011 at 3:38 PM

Training exercises on inanimate and neutral target objects do not equate to acts of undeclared war taking the lives of Libyans.

maverick muse on March 23, 2011 at 4:31 PM

hawksruleva

Genocide systematically eliminates an entire ethnic, religious or national population.

The misuse of the word does not qualify as changing the term’s definition, though the misuse does establish complicity with revisionism.

maverick muse on March 23, 2011 at 4:36 PM

I feel for ernesto, though we might not agree on much. I too have felt my vote was wasted on the GOP, but no other choice was available. Feeling your government and your party has abandoned you, and abandoned reason, is really not fun, it’s why the Tea Party exists.

Re Libya – Maybe øbama was feeling restricted by the CR spending cuts, and decided it would be fun to blow some money? Probably has burned through all the cuts and more.

jodetoad on March 23, 2011 at 4:49 PM

Can I be the first to say it? Quagmire!!

JimK on March 23, 2011 at 5:06 PM

Sec. Gates, you have no clear mission so there can’t be a time line to end it. It’s over when the cinc says it’s over.

Kissmygrits on March 23, 2011 at 5:22 PM

It’s over when the bills don’t get paid.

maverick muse on March 23, 2011 at 5:23 PM

To be fair to Gates, how can you have a timeline to end a mission when you don’t know what the goal of the mission is or who is going to be in charge of it?

AZCoyote on March 23, 2011 at 5:27 PM

I’m sure the Kos kids are entertaining these last few days. I just don’t have the stomach to go over there and look.

Scrappy on March 23, 2011 at 5:36 PM

Ah, Nation Building……with the added bonus of US Military quagmire?

No Blood for Oil!!!!!

Cindy Sheehan and Michael Moore please pick up the Protest phone.

PappyD61 on March 23, 2011 at 6:12 PM

can’t vote for a republican, and I can’t vote for Obama.

ernesto on March 23, 2011 at 3:16 PM

Why not? Seriously, it’ll be interesting to understand your logic behind these statements.

Who is John Galt on March 23, 2011 at 7:55 PM

In re to these “rebels,” who are nothing more than AlQaeda sympathizers, we are backing the wrong horse. Are we are being led by a bunch of horses’ azzes.

We gotta get out of this place.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUpBSvN1a50

onlineanalyst on March 23, 2011 at 8:20 PM

And away we go!!!

Why aren’t we helping in Yemen?

I’m beginning to think that Africa was an Obama gift to…. whom?

Key West Reader on March 23, 2011 at 8:20 PM

Who is John Galt on March 23, 2011 at 7:55 PM

Can’t vote republican because…

…I’m pro-choice
…I support reductions in the defense budget, and consider legislative approval necessary for launching new attacks
…I support drug legalization, gay marriage, and other social reforms
…I support prison and sentencing reform, particularly for IP and drug related crime
…I support amnesty for illegal immigrants
…many other reasons

Can’t vote democrat because…

…I support reductions in the defense budget, and consider legislative approval necessary for launching new attacks
…I support drug legalization
…I support prison and sentencing reform, particularly for IP and drug related crime
…many other reasons

ernesto on March 23, 2011 at 8:22 PM

Probably has burned through all the cuts and more.

jodetoad on March 23, 2011 at 4:49 PM

He also burned through a lot of cruise missiles, they cost a lot, and we don’t have an unlimited supply. Now if we NEED them for something, we won’t have them.

Rebar on March 23, 2011 at 8:47 PM

I’d feel a lot better if coldwarrior and Rumsfeld were in power making decisions on America’s behalf.

onlineanalyst on March 23, 2011 at 9:11 PM

All we need now to put the proverbial frosting on the cake is to place the perfumed prince, Wesley Clark, at the head of the NATO command in Libya.

onlineanalyst on March 23, 2011 at 9:15 PM

ernesto on March 23, 2011 at 8:22 PM

.
I think most here would agree it’s best if you don’t vote.
.
Now can we talk about that surgery?

LincolntheHun on March 23, 2011 at 9:38 PM

…many other reasons

ernesto on March 23, 2011 at 8:22 PM

Thanks. Intelligent, reasoned answers. We respect them, please continue this new personae!

Who is John Galt on March 23, 2011 at 9:42 PM

So the United States is now on the same side as al Qaida. Maybe we can form a joint command with them. A moron president leading a moron military.

Murphy9 on March 23, 2011 at 11:21 PM

So… Tonight I have heard from two different sources that there is a Marine Expeditionary Force on the way to Libya… The “boots on the ground” that we are told by our rulers would never, never happen… Does anyone here have some solid info on this?

And are they going to make them fight in bare feet to keep 0bama from telling one of his more outrageous lies?

LegendHasIt on March 24, 2011 at 12:28 AM

So the United States is now on the same side has a mutual enemy with al Qaida. Maybe we can form a joint command with them. A moron president leading a moron an appalled military.

Murphy9 on March 23, 2011 at 11:21 PM

Fixed it.

Slowburn on March 24, 2011 at 12:37 AM

saving lives seems to be the latest theme.

Makes no sense to me. the No-Fly just evened things enough for the uprising to be interminable, with civilians suffering on the sidelines for much longer.

tomg51 on March 24, 2011 at 7:51 AM

Our strategy can be described by two words. The first word is cluster. The second word is not bomb.

MJBrutus on March 24, 2011 at 8:43 AM

Maybe this is old news. I saw a Drudge line that says Al Qaida supports the rebels we’re helping.

http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=212003

That doesn’t sound especially reassuring to me.

JellyToast on March 24, 2011 at 8:47 AM

MJBrutus on March 24, 2011 at 8:43 AM

heh

cmsinaz on March 24, 2011 at 8:48 AM

I fail to see why we should not take al queda’s word here. They insist they are aligned with the rebels, and I don’t see why that should be doubted.

With that in mind, imagine the reaction from leftists everywhere if Bush had, after being at war against al queda for 10 years, suddenly decided to align with them (which we have, by any reasonable measure).

It is now American policy to aid and abet the enemy.

runawayyyy on March 24, 2011 at 9:46 AM

So we have no objective and no exit strategy. What could possibly go wrong?

abcurtis on March 24, 2011 at 9:57 AM

So… Tonight I have heard from two different sources that there is a Marine Expeditionary Force on the way to Libya… The “boots on the ground” that we are told by our rulers would never, never happen… Does anyone here have some solid info on this?…

LegendHasIt on March 24, 2011 at 12:28 AM

Camp Lejeune Marines To Libya To Strike At Qadhafi Forces

Mission dash.

Rae on March 24, 2011 at 9:40 PM

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