WaPo: Mission most definitely not accomplished in Odyssey Dawn

posted at 10:12 am on March 23, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama insists that the mission in Libya is to protect civilians, not to wage war against Moammar Gaddafi.  If so, the Washington Post reports that the results thus far indicate that the Western coalition needs to rethink its strategy:

Four days of allied strikes have battered Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s air force and largely destroyed his long-range air defense systems, a top U.S. commander said Tuesday. But there was little evidence that the attacks had stopped regime forces from killing civilians or shifted the balance of power in favor of the rebels.

Gaddafi loyalists made further advances into thebesieged western city of Misurata, continued to pound the small town of Zintan southwest of Tripoli, the capital, and fired artillery to hold at bay rebels attempting to regroup outside the strategic eastern town of Ajdabiya.

The Libyan military’s attacks and the mounting civilian deaths call into question whether the internationally imposed no-fly zone can achieve its goal of protecting civilians, let alone help loosen Gaddafi’s grip on power. It seemed unlikely that the coalition, which has argued in recent days over the scope and leadership of the allied mission, would countenance a significant escalation.

That has been the question since Friday, when Obama ended weeks of vacillation and finally decided to apply American military power to the situation.  Had Obama decided earlier to use military force, when Gaddafi’s forces were bottled up in Tripoli and the rebels controlled entire cities, an air campaign could have stopped Gaddafi from breaking out and besieging “liberated” Libyan villages and cities.  Bombers would have stopped armor from rolling down the highways, at least, and would likely have discouraged infantry movements on foot as well.  Also, the target selection would have been much more clear for Western pilots and cruise-missile crews and would not have risked the civilian deaths that intervention was supposed to prevent.

The weeks of dithering allowed Gaddafi to seize the initiative and the window of opportunity for an air war success to close.  By the time that the UN, the Arab League, and Obama finally all decided to act, it was at least almost too late.  The coalition can no longer keep Gaddafi out of Benghazi and Misurata, because his forces are already there and are too close to the civilian populations to attack directly.  The only safe targets are Gaddafi’s fixed military installations and his lines of communication to Benghazi and Misurata, which looks a lot more like a traditional multinational war than a humanitarian intervention.

Obama has ruled out “boots on the ground” in this mission.  Let’s put aside the obvious hypocrisy in the fact that close-in bombing attacks require ground spotters for accurate target selection, so we either already have boots on the ground in a literal sense or we’re dropping bombs blindly in densely-populated areas.  There will be no other way to “protect civilians” now than to put an army between Gaddafi and those population centers.  No one seems to have the stomach for that, and for good reasons.  Just in practical terms, no one has an army available for that task, and it would take months to get one in place, by which time this war is almost certain to be over.

Under the circumstances, waging war against Gaddafi to force his removal is the only mission objective with a chance of success, and it’s the only one that the West refuses to embrace.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

Your smarmy bullshit is particularly unfunny and in very poor taste. I’m shocked that this comes from … well nevermind.

hillbillyjim on March 23, 2011 at 3:38 PM
——
open your eyes, fool
this whole thread is full of smarmy bullshit

Dave Rywall on March 23, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Someone inform that sack of $hit drywall that the no-fly zone was agreed to by Saddam as a condition of allowing him to live.

csdeven on March 23, 2011 at 4:41 PM

Had Obama decided earlier to use military force, when Gaddafi’s forces were bottled up in Tripoli and the rebels controlled entire cities, an air campaign could have stopped Gaddafi from breaking out and besieging “liberated” Libyan villages and cities.

Perhaps even more important is the adverse effect so much bad happening all at once would have had on the psychology of those supporting Gaddafi. There might well have been massive, snowballing defections to the side of the “Rebels” as they would have thought they were going to win.

Given that AlQ (other reasons too) is on the side of Gaddafi, I think I’m hoping he wins now.

Murphy9 on March 23, 2011 at 4:42 PM

Given that AlQ (other reasons too) is on the side of Gaddafi the “Rebels”, I think I’m hoping he [Gaddafi] wins now.

Murphy9 on March 23, 2011 at 4:44 PM

Your smarmy bullshit is particularly unfunny and in very poor taste. I’m shocked that this comes from … well nevermind.

hillbillyjim on March 23, 2011 at 3:38 PM

——
open your eyes, fool
this whole thread is full of smarmy bullshit

Dave Rywall on March 23, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Yeah, everybody here thinks this situation is a laugh riot.

ha ha ha ha ha ha

Dave Rywall on March 23, 2011 at 1:34 PM

Dickford.

hillbillyjim on March 23, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Obama has ruled out “boots on the ground” in this mission.  Let’s put aside the obvious hypocrisy in the fact that close-in bombing attacks require ground spotters for accurate target selection,….  

 
If “we” is defined as the coalition then yes we have confirmed boots on the ground.

From the UK Daily Mail

Mission aborted on orders of SAS: RAF attack is halted after troops spot human shields
Last updated at 10:00 AM on 22nd March 2011

The RAF was just moments away from obliterating civilians being used as unwitting human shields by Colonel Gaddafi when SAS ‘spotters’ aborted the mission.
Tornado GR4 fighter jets were closing in on Gaddafi’s presidential compound when the covert troops saw a group of people, including journalists reported to be from CNN and Reuters.

Oh, and CNN Nic “Panties in a wad” Robertson owes his life to those SAS ‘spotters’.

DSchoen on March 23, 2011 at 4:50 PM

From the UK Daily Mail

Mission aborted on orders of SAS: RAF attack is halted after troops spot human shields
Last updated at 10:00 AM on 22nd March 2011

The RAF was just moments away from obliterating civilians being used as unwitting human shields by Colonel Gaddafi when SAS ‘spotters’ aborted the mission.
Tornado GR4 fighter jets were closing in on Gaddafi’s presidential compound when the covert troops saw a group of people, including journalists reported to be from CNN and Reuters.

Oh, and CNN Nic “Panties in a wad” Robertson owes his life to those SAS ‘spotters’.

DSchoen on March 23, 2011 at 4:50 PM

Three birds — one stone.

More’s the pity.

hillbillyjim on March 23, 2011 at 4:59 PM

rbj on March 23, 2011 at 10:51 AM

not having an aircraft carrier task force in place ahead of time is inexcusable.

Ah, don’t know why this is left out of the press but we do have and have had a Carrier strike group
in place.
The first clue is the USS Barry.
The USS Barry is attached to the USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
The USS Enterprise (CVN-65) Carrier Strike Group Twelve

The carrier and its strike group deployed on January 13, 2011. Accompanying the carrier on the cruise to the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean were Carrier Air Wing One, Destroyer Squadron 2, guided missile cruiser Leyte Gulf, and guided missile destroyers Barry, Bulkeley, and Mason.
In March of 2011, USS Enterprise and French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle were deployed to the coast of Libya as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn. The carriers will provide a rapid-response capability to enforce the Libyan no-fly zone to protect Libyan citizens from attack by pro-Gaddafi forces. The Enterprise is a carrier of the 5th US-Fleet.

DSchoen on March 23, 2011 at 6:58 PM

THIS IS FUN
YOUR TURN NOW
Dave Rywall on March 23, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Ah Bush, Clinton, Bush all had Congressional support, strange you left that out?

In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

Will someone ask Obama about what this Ill. Senator who was running for President said in 2007?

DSchoen on March 23, 2011 at 7:16 PM

Someone inform that sack of $hit drywall that the no-fly zone was agreed to by Saddam as a condition of allowing him to live.

csdeven on March 23, 2011 at 4:41 PM
——-

yeah, that’s why saddam shot at the coalition planes every day for about 10 years

Dave Rywall on March 23, 2011 at 8:37 PM

Your smarmy bullshit is particularly unfunny and in very poor taste. I’m shocked that this comes from … well nevermind.
hillbillyjim on March 23, 2011 at 3:38 PM

——
open your eyes, fool
this whole thread is full of smarmy bullshit

Dave Rywall on March 23, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Yeah, everybody here thinks this situation is a laugh riot.

ha ha ha ha ha ha

Dave Rywall on March 23, 2011 at 1:34 PM

Dickford.

hillbillyjim on March 23, 2011 at 4:45 PM
——-

Ahhhhh so as long as smarmy bullshit Hotair comments make fun of Obama they’re okay. I get it, Colonel Hack.

Dave Rywall on March 23, 2011 at 8:39 PM

GINGRICH: Exercise a no-fly zone this evening. … It’s also an ideological problem. The United States doesn’t need anybody’s permission. We don’t need to have NATO, who frankly, won’t bring much to the fight. We don’t need to have the United Nations. All we have to say is that we think that slaughtering your own citizens is unacceptable and that we’re intervening. And we don’t have to send troops. All we have to do is suppress his air force, which we could do in minutes.

This is true, the psychological effect on Daffy’s troops would have been overwhelming.
20 of Daffys birds on an attack run suddenly 18 of them become flaming lawn darts, devastating.

No UN to play games with, No NATO to play games with, no doubt on the outcome for Daffy.

“Exercise a no-fly zone this evening” is not the same as establish a long term no fly zone, “Exercise a no-fly zone this evening” means “Tonight, if it fly’s it dies.

Our ships can shoot down anything flying near the coast, our missiles have ranges tween 100 miles to 10 miles, we own the sky if we want it.

Seriously, reading is fundamental, please try and keep up!

BTW, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, McCain and a lot more backed Newt’s ideas.

DSchoen on March 23, 2011 at 9:27 PM

GINGRICH: The standard [Obama] has fallen back to of humanitarian intervention could apply to Sudan, to North Korea, to Zimbabwe, to Syria this week, to Yemen, to Bahrain. This isn’t a serious standard. This is a public relations conversation.

LAUER: Do you think Moammar Qaddafi has to go as a result of this intervention?

GINGRICH: Let me draw the distinction. I would not have intervened. I think there were a lot of other ways to affect Qaddafi. I think there are a lot of other allies in the region we could have worked with. I would not have used American and European forces.

Seemed clear to me Newt was talking about using humanitarian intervention as the reason.

Why did they cut off Newts response mid sentence?
I would not have used American and European forces”. Was not the complete sentence paragraph or thought.

DSchoen on March 23, 2011 at 9:30 PM

Let’s put aside the fact that we’ve already had at least two pair of boots on the ground in Libya. Planes DO fall out of the sky. So this was inevitable. And it has already taken place.

There is nothing good to say about this war, Newt and Norm notwithstanding. Qadaffi is bad. He’ll likely be replaced by al Qaeda. Does ANYBODY other than some idiot (gasp) Republicans and Obama think this is a GOOD thing? (Sigh, even Rubio was baying for Obama to attack early, attack often, attack everywhere. Here I thought he was POTUS material.)

{^_^}

herself on March 24, 2011 at 9:37 AM

Comment pages: 1 2