Video: Door open to military coordination with rebels?

posted at 10:12 am on March 24, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

CNN certainly seems to think so after talking with President Obama, who declined to shut the door on that contingency. CNN titled the video “Should coalition support Libyan rebels?”, a title which suggested a harder look at the side for which we are currently providing cover. Instead, CNN appears to have completely missed the question of who and what the rebels are and leaped all the way to whether we need to start providing them weapons and coordinate military action for their strategic and tactical needs. Indeed, according to this report, “the flexibility is already there” to do so:

After six days of war kinetic military operations, the coalition has disabled Gaddafi’s air power, but his ground forces are still effective and have the upper hand:

So far, the coalition has crippled the Libyan air force and established a no-fly zone along the nation’s coastline, U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Gerard Hueber said.

Allied forces gave no indication that ruler Moammar Gadhafi was complying with a United Nations mandate to stop attacks against civilians.

But a U.S. official said though the rebels are in a better position, the ruler’s forces still have the upper edge.

They remain capable of carrying out attacks on the opposition, are relatively well-organized and continue to fight effectively, the official said.

That means that the temptation to dig deeper in Libya will be powerful.  Obama needs to show success in either knocking out Gaddafi or provoking a coup d’etat that removes him from power, and this operation came too late to reliably produce either.  If the limited scope of this intervention fails to dislodge Gaddafi and his regime takes back Benghazi, Operation Odyssey Dawn will have become an expensive and embarrassing flop.  Gaddafi will be left standing as a defiant military leader who faced down the West, and his status in that region will grow exponentially, making him and his sons more dangerous than ever.

Can Obama afford to walk away from Libya with that outcome?  Can the US and the West?

Update: Elsewhere at CNN, Rand Corporation fellow Angel Rabasa says we should arm the rebels just as we did in Bosnia:

The U.N. Security Council resolution that authorized the no-fly zone and all necessary measures to protect civilians under attack in Libya did not call for Gadhafi’s ouster. There are reports that some Arab countries are considering deploying ground troops to Libya. But if they do, their role would likely be protection of the civilian population in areas outside Gadhafi’s control. That outcome would still leave Gadhafi in power in western Libya.

That leaves few effective options if the United States wants to prevent the crisis in Libya from leading to a prolonged armed conflict or de facto partition that leaves a ruthless, embittered dictator with a terrorist record in control of half the country. That situation could have long-term destabilizing consequences for Libya and the Middle East.

The way out of this conundrum would be for the United States to clarify its goals in Libya. Recognizing that lasting stability could only come about as the result of the removal of Gadhafi from power, the United States and like-minded countries could begin by recognizing the Benghazi government as the legitimate government of Libya. The Libyan National Council is, after all, a government set up by a popular uprising against tyranny and therefore inherently more legitimate than Gadhafi’s government in Tripoli.

The United States also might consider launching an effort to provide the Benghazi government with arms and equipment to defend itself against Gadhafi’s forces and to help it liberate western Libya. The U.S. need not become directly involved in the training and equipping of the Libyan opposition. As with the Bosnia train and equip program, a small U.S. team could help arrange for the purchase and delivery of arms, as well as supply training, possibly by third parties.

Would it be too much to ask to first determine who and what these rebels are?  Are they forces of secular democratization and liberal human rights?  Are they Islamists who want to establish a caliphate?  Pan-Arabists who want to overthrow all of the established governments in the region?  Ba’ath-style Stalinists?  Before we start sending them weapons and deepening our involvement in this conflict, it might be nice to know these answers first.

By the way, aren’t we still in Bosnia?


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Fighting side by side with al qaeda, great!

Caper29 on March 24, 2011 at 10:14 AM

We’ve been taken to war on a whim. At least with Bush’s misguided adventure, there were speeches, meetings, presentations to the UN. This guy just wakes up one saturday morning like, “You know what this Libyan civil war needs? Tomahawk missiles and Marines on the ground!”

Impeach

ernesto on March 24, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Excuse me Mr. President, it’s not to late to change my orders, If I have to go to a third world hell hole I’d rather it have a beach.
And I could take Smoking Hot Redhead to the Rome for my mid tour leave, that would get me some serious forgivness.
.
Come on Tony737, told you this would happen.

LincolntheHun on March 24, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Does coordination involve a ‘boot-on-the-ground’?

or are we doing it from the ramp of a hovering helicopter?

or will we recharacterize ‘boot’ into ‘tactical military footwear hewn from the hide of a bovine’?

ted c on March 24, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Impeach

ernesto on March 24, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Ok, which right-winger took over ernesto’s account and is now posting as him?

Doughboy on March 24, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Boots on the ground?

Electrongod on March 24, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Vietnam Redux.

gryphon202 on March 24, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Impeach

ernesto on March 24, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Is that you, Joe Biden?

artist on March 24, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Obama is either a fan of religious self flagellation or he’s blatantly stupid.

rplat on March 24, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Ok, which right-winger took over ernesto’s account and is now posting as him?

Doughboy on March 24, 2011 at 10:19 AM

At least with Bush’s misguided adventure,….

ernesto on March 24, 2011 at 10:15 AM

Nope, still ernesto.

Electrongod on March 24, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Obama needs to show success in either knocking out Gaddafi or provoking a coup d’etat …

Yes, death by JDAM, please.

Don’t be too shocked if it is revealed later that we have Air Force Combat Controllers on the ground.

Tony737 on March 24, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Ok, which right-winger took over ernesto’s account and is now posting as him?

Doughboy on March 24, 2011 at 10:19 AM

I had pretty much the same reaction. I can’t tell if he is serious, sarcastic, or baiting.

jwolf on March 24, 2011 at 10:23 AM

are we doing an air-to-ground coordination? Rapid fly by of a flight of F15s, just to keep ‘boots-off-the-ground’?

ted c on March 24, 2011 at 10:24 AM

Nope, still ernesto.

Electrongod on March 24, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Good catch. You were more perceptive than I.

jwolf on March 24, 2011 at 10:25 AM

Mission creep

WisCon on March 24, 2011 at 10:25 AM

Come on Tony737, told you this would happen. – The Hun

Say what?

Tony737 on March 24, 2011 at 10:25 AM

If the limited scope of this intervention fails to dislodge Gaddafi and his regime takes back Benghazi, Operation Odyssey Dawn will have become an expensive and embarrassing flop. Gaddafi will be left standing as a defiant military leader who faced down the West, and his status in that region will grow exponentially, making him and his sons more dangerous than ever.

Now, if your goal were to take the US down a notch or two, this would make sense.

rbj on March 24, 2011 at 10:25 AM

CNN appears to have completely missed the question of who and what the rebels are and leaped all the way to whether we need to start providing them weapons and coordinate military action for their strategic and tactical needs.

Where’s Charlie Wilson when you need him?

Rovin on March 24, 2011 at 10:25 AM


By the way, aren’t we still in Bosnia?

“Home by Christmas!” – Klintoon

Tony737 on March 24, 2011 at 10:28 AM

And he’ll fight with al-Queda when they attack America again, too.

SouthernGent on March 24, 2011 at 10:31 AM


… lasting stability could only come about as the result of the removal of Gadhafi from power …

Or even better, how ’bout the removal of Gadhafi from Planet Earth?

20 years overdue.

Tony737 on March 24, 2011 at 10:32 AM

The enemy of my enemy is my best friend.

hawkman on March 24, 2011 at 10:32 AM

Obama boondoggle

cmsinaz on March 24, 2011 at 10:33 AM

Mission creep

WisCon on March 24, 2011 at 10:25 AM

Nope. Obama is just a creep on a mission.

Electrongod on March 24, 2011 at 10:33 AM

Boots on the ground?

Electrongod on March 24, 2011 at 10:19 AM

No, that’ll never happen. Barry has promised.

But we may eventually need to have tactical military footwear in close proximity to terra firma — but that’ll be completely different from boots on the ground.

AZCoyote on March 24, 2011 at 10:35 AM

So we just blindly put guns in the hands of those who want to kill us. Now THAT is smart power I tell ya. UUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

capejasmine on March 24, 2011 at 10:35 AM

Does anyone in the White House even know who the rebels are, who their leader(s) is, what their backgrounds are, are they even Libyan, what type of government they would back, and how many are there?

Next time you see some TV footage or Libyan rebels count how many are on screen, 5, 10, maybe 20? The population of Libya is about 6 million. So a few hundred, maybe a thousand against how many?

albill on March 24, 2011 at 10:37 AM

+1 AZcoyote

Excellent

cmsinaz on March 24, 2011 at 10:38 AM

This is insanity. Terrorist recruits we’re helping to overthrow the devil we know and risk them using the knowledge and resources they gain from us, against us in the future.

This is absolute insanity.

ButterflyDragon on March 24, 2011 at 10:41 AM

Quagmire!

Akzed on March 24, 2011 at 10:41 AM

It starts with a few ‘advisers’.

slickwillie2001 on March 24, 2011 at 10:46 AM

It starts with a few ‘advisers’.

slickwillie2001 on March 24, 2011 at 10:46 AM

Viet Nam revisited……

Rovin on March 24, 2011 at 10:50 AM

Obama’s Libya policy: The George McClellan 1862 Doctrine; Extended Dithering and screwing up the Campaign.

BDU-33 on March 24, 2011 at 10:51 AM

Terrorist recruits we’re helping to overthrow the devil we know and risk them using the knowledge and resources they gain from us, against us in the future.

This is absolute insanity.

ButterflyDragon on March 24, 2011 at 10:41 AM

It’s also par for the course. Insane? Absolutely. New, or unprecedented? Hardly.

ernesto on March 24, 2011 at 10:52 AM

This Libya adventure was supposed to last only days, where as Bosnia was to last months. So by my calculations we’ll be out of both by October 23, 2096.

Slowburn on March 24, 2011 at 10:52 AM

Update: Elsewhere at CNN, Rand Corporation fellow Angel Rabasa says we should arm the rebels just as we did in Bosnia:

Not a good idea just yet…remember, we armed al-Qaeda rebels in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion…

JetBoy on March 24, 2011 at 10:53 AM

Video: Door open

NEGATIVE!

Shy Guy on March 24, 2011 at 10:54 AM

But PBHO said U.S. ground units were not an option, off the table, not being considered, blah blah.

How dumb do you 52%’ers feel right about now?

Bishop on March 24, 2011 at 10:56 AM

Barry won’t be making that important decision by himself. He’ll have help. Focus groups and polling data.

a capella on March 24, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Not a good idea just yet…remember, we armed al-Qaeda rebels in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion…

JetBoy on March 24, 2011 at 10:53 AM

Actually that was the Taliban. But either way it would appear to have been a mistake.

Slowburn on March 24, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Bishop on March 24, 2011 at 10:56 AM

They are hiding in shame.

ernesto seems to be coming around. Good Luck dude.

antisocial on March 24, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Actually that was the Taliban.

My bad.

JetBoy on March 24, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Found this quote over at Newsbusters:

I’m an EARTHER. I no longer believe Obama comes from this planet.

This!

Esmerelda on March 24, 2011 at 11:14 AM

Before we start sending them weapons and deepening our involvement in this conflict, it might be nice to know these answers first.

Shall we take a couple of weeks and figure this out?

Rule 1: The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Rule 2: Friends can become enemies.

With those two rules, it’s easy to figure out what to provide, and how much of it to provide.

We provide enough so that the rebels can push Kadaffi out of power, at which point the rebels will have the remaining equipment of the loyalist army. We have already destroyed the loyalist air force.

As long as we don’t provide the modern equivalent of Stingers or other advanced armaments, we’re OK. AK47′s (which are dangerous but not very accurate) and plenty of ammo so that they can fire into the air after each victory.

Libya will need a couple of years after Kadaffi is out to recover. Consider that the reparations Kadaffi paid for Pam Am 103 was less than a month of profits from his oil. With that thought in mind, Libya has the potential to become another Qattar or Dubai if they don’t squander the money like Kadaffi did on revolutionaries elsewhere or on graft.

unclesmrgol on March 24, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Would it be too much to ask to first determine who and what these rebels are?

Eastern Libya borders on Egypt, and the Muslim Brotherhood could be infiltrating the Libyan rebels. A smart President would have sent the CIA to meet with them when this first started last month, to see whether it was in America’s interests to support them. If they turned out to be worse than Qaddafi, the United States could have stayed out and let Qaddafi deal with them.

But we have Smart Power (TM), not a smart President.

Steve Z on March 24, 2011 at 11:17 AM

If I hear one more Obama apologist tell me, “Obama is avenging Pan Am 103!” I will scream! Obama had no problems with Scotland releasing Abdel Baset al-Megrahi!

Esmerelda on March 24, 2011 at 11:20 AM

If I hear one more Obama apologist tell me, “Obama is avenging Pan Am 103!” I will scream! Obama had no problems with Scotland releasing Abdel Baset al-Megrahi!

Esmerelda on March 24, 2011 at 11:20 AM

Has anyone actually said that?

ernesto on March 24, 2011 at 11:24 AM

If the limited scope of this intervention fails to dislodge Gaddafi and his regime takes back Benghazi, Operation Odyssey Dawn will have become an expensive and embarrassing flop.

Shouldn’t they have chosen a different name? This was supposed to be a short war, and Homer’s Odyssey was a LONG voyage, and we’re now between Scylla and Charybdis.

Steve Z on March 24, 2011 at 11:25 AM

Would it be too much to ask to first determine who and what these rebels are?

Yeah, I’ve been asking that question for awhile, now… and all I get is ‘getting Kadaffy is overdue’ and the such.

Yet with the array of actors available in the ME, what are the chances that the rebels will put down a representative democracy with checks and balances to power? Or that they will adhere to and respect the basic sovereignty of nations and exercise their internal sovereignty in a way that recognizes fundamental rights of the individual? Or that they are, actually, better than Gaddafi and that this isn’t just a basic coup that had a good start with all sorts of loverly PR that then went south when their inadequacies were exposed? Or that they are a front group for another group of actors wanting a ‘piece of the action’ and for that it can range from terrorist organizations to organized crime, and that is a rough line to show for some organizations?

Hey, I’m all for getting Q’ad’affai, really!

Call him an outlaw and threat to all mankind and get a 230 grain of lead solution to him… or larger depending on range. Delegitimize his government by pulling US recognition of it and say the first group to draw up a government that does recognize the rights of the individual will get recognized as the legitimate government of Libya.

If we can’t define what our goals actually are, then we are letting others define them for us.

If we can’t say why these rebels are such hot stuff beyond being a convenient way to get rid of the Unspellable One, then why should we expect anything better? And possibly get something worse? Wouldn’t it be nice if we just said that this was the convenient means to get rid of Whatsisface and that we don’t give a good, hot damn what comes after?

THAT at least would be putting our priorities on the table.

This?

If we want to just get rid of the guy: SAY SO.

It is just that simple.

ajacksonian on March 24, 2011 at 11:26 AM

Has anyone actually said that?

ernesto on March 24, 2011 at 11:24 AM

Unfortunately yes, a friend of mine who loves all things Obama.

Esmerelda on March 24, 2011 at 11:29 AM

This Libya thing is NOT going to end well…

Khun Joe on March 24, 2011 at 11:38 AM

If I hear one more Obama apologist tell me, “Obama is avenging Pan Am 103!” I will scream! Obama had no problems with Scotland releasing Abdel Baset al-Megrahi!

Esmerelda on March 24, 2011 at 11:20 AM

We are indeed avenging Pan Am 103. And the LaBelle Disco. And France is avenging their airliner brought down by Kadaffi. Obama might not be, but we are

unclesmrgol on March 24, 2011 at 11:39 AM

If we want to just get rid of the guy: SAY SO.

It is just that simple.

ajacksonian on March 24, 2011 at 11:26 AM

I want to get rid of the guy.

unclesmrgol on March 24, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Who are the Muslim Brotherhood, and why is Obama supporting them?

logis on March 24, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Impeach

ernesto on March 24, 2011 at 10:15 AM

OMG!!! WTF!!!!
.
Welcome home, Ernesto!

ExpressoBold on March 24, 2011 at 12:19 PM

It starts with a few ‘advisers’.

slickwillie2001 on March 24, 2011 at 10:46 AM

Viet Nam revisited……

Rovin on March 24, 2011 at 10:50 AM

Hey, the early days of that one involved the French too, didn’t it?

bofh on March 24, 2011 at 12:37 PM

Glenn Beck is talking about all this stuff today, along with our relationship (or not) with Israel, and what trouble we may all be in with the unrest in the Middle East. He just mentioned that Jamie Garelic has been nominated to be the head of the FBI! Nooooooo!!! How can anybody in their right mind put her in ANY position of authority after 911? And she made a killing off of Fanny Mae??? This Obama administration is scaring the he** out of me!

Susanboo on March 24, 2011 at 12:42 PM

OMG!!! WTF!!!!
.
Welcome home, Ernesto!

ExpressoBold on March 24, 2011 at 12:19 PM

C’mon, he’s still a leftist. Apparently though he’s one of the 1% of them without the hypocrisy gene.

One of my lefty friends here in MA thinks Obama is doing this for political reasons, so he can be seen as a wartime president, and ‘tough’. I had to remind him that Obama already is a wartime president (easy to forget because the left stopped protesting it and the media stopped covering it).

But to his greater point, is there any political upside to this for Obama? I can’t think of any. I honestly don’t believe Obama could explain his reasoning for this. Andrea Mitchell’s foolish ‘Obama Doctrine’ probably makes more sense than anything he could come up with.

SittingDeadRed on March 24, 2011 at 12:46 PM

When normal people make a crappy decision, they can just say, ‘this isn’t working out as planned’, and stop. STOP.

Politicians can’t do that, right?

jodetoad on March 24, 2011 at 1:01 PM

By the way, aren’t we still in Bosnia?

Name one, just ONE country we are not still in wherein we “intervened”?

For another thing, what “rebels and/or freedom fighters” did we not in some way enable, finance and or otherwise strengthen that didn’t then later become a thorn in our flesh?

Name one.

For a third point, if having our military stationed, in some fashion, in over 600 foriegn locations isn’t a “hangover of the British Empire”, then what is?

For a fourth point, I still do dreamily remember the days when we thought that we had a Constitution…..!!

Mcguyver on March 24, 2011 at 2:48 PM