War by committee starts off about as well as expected

posted at 11:36 am on March 25, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

The US finally got NATO to take command of Operation Odyssey Dawn yesterday, ridding the kinetic military time-limited, scope-limited military action of its singular leadership and devolving it to a committee.  The New York Times reports today that the committee is off to just the start one might imagine, with no one quite sure what the objectives, policies, or even players in the conflict might be:

“From the start, President Obama has stated that the role of the U.S. military would be limited in time and scope,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday evening in announcing the plan.

But even that agreement — brokered by Mrs. Clinton and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Turkey — frayed almost immediately over how far the military campaign should go in trying to erode the remaining pillars of Colonel Qaddafi’s power by striking his forces on the ground and those devoted to protecting him. It was salvaged, one diplomat said, only by papering over the differences concerning the crucial question of who actually controls military strikes on Libya’s ground forces.

“There were differences in the scope of what NATO would do and what would remain with the national militaries,” a senior administration official said, expressing hope that the agreement on NATO command would be a step toward resolving them.

The questions swirling around the operation’s command mirrored the larger strategic divisions over how exactly the coalition will bring it to an end — or even what the end might look like, and whether it might even conceivably include a Libya with Colonel Qaddafi remaining in some capacity. While few countries have openly sided with the Libyan leader, officials said on Thursday that most of the allies expected that the use of military force would lead to talks between the government and the rebels.

Why do I suspect that the command leadership decisions will use this process?

Former NATO commander and retired Joint Chiefs vice-chair Joseph Ralston disputes whether any no-fly strategy on its own will meet any of the objectives.  Ralston pointed out that 12 years of a no-fly zone didn’t eject Saddam Hussein from power, nor did it keep him from wreaking havoc on Marsh Arabs, Kurds, and Shi’ites in the south.  France’s foreign minister countered that “the destruction of Gaddafi’s military capacity is a matter or days or weeks, certainly not months,” but that’s technically not in the scope of the mission — and as Ralston reminds us, it wasn’t the outcome of 12 years of no-fly operations in Iraq.

Plus, we’re still not sure who the rebels are that we’re trying to protect.  Pajamas Media and the Weekly Standard have identified one commander in eastern Libya whom we do know pretty well, because we captured and detained him for years after he fought for the Taliban in Afghanistan:

Qaddafi and other Libyan officials have claimed that a former Guantanamo detainee named Abdul Hakim al Hasadi has set up an Islamic emirate in eastern Libya. There’s just one problem: Abdul Hakim al Hasadi was never held at Guantanamo.

This doesn’t mean that al Hasadi, who says he is in charge of defending Derna, is necessarily a benign actor. In a recent interview with the Il Sole, an Italian publication, al Hasadi explained: “I have never been to Guantanamo.  I was captured in 2002 in Peshawar in Pakistan, while I was returning from Afghanistan where I fought against the foreign invasion.  I was handed over to the Americans, and held for a few months in Islamabad, delivered to Libya, and released in 2008.”

So, by his own account, al Hasadi joined the jihad in Afghanistan. There’s more. Il Sole asked al Hasadi about the jihadists sent from Iraq to Libya to fight.

“I sent over about 25,” al Hasadi told Il Sole’s reporter. “Some came back, and today are on the Ajdabiya front; they are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists.  I condemn the September 11 attacks, and attacks against innocent civilians in general.  But the members of al Qaeda are also good Muslims, and are fighting against the invader.”

This doesn’t inspire confidence. While dismissing his ties to al Qaeda and condemning the September 11 attacks, al Hasadi concedes that he fought in Afghanistan, sent 25 more jihadists to fight in Iraq, and calls al Qaeda members “good Muslims.” And as John Rosenthal noted at Pajamas Media a few days ago, al Hasadi praised Osama bin Laden’s “good points” during an interview with The New York Times.

How did he get out of Gaddafi’s custody?  That’s an interesting story, too:

According to a separate UK intelligence source contacted by Swami, al-Hasadi was released by the Libyan government as part of a deal that was struck with the al-Qaeda-affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIGF). The LIGF has long opposed the rule of Muammar al-Gaddafi in Libya.

On February 25, al-Hasadi had issued an ambiguous statement claiming that he had been a “political prisoner” and accusing the “Dictator Gaddafi” of spreading “lies.” Al-Jazeera provides an English translation of the statement here. (Scroll down to “12:46pm”.) A video of al-Hasadi reading his statement is available here.

In his more recent remarks to Il Sole 24 Ore, al-Hasadi admits not only to fighting against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but also to recruiting Libyans to fight against American forces in Iraq. As noted in my earlier PJM report here, captured al-Qaeda personnel records show that al-Hasadi’s hometown of Darnah sent more foreign fighters to fight with al-Qaeda in Iraq than any other foreign city or town and “far and away the largest per capita number of fighters.” Al-Hasadi told Il Sole 24 Ore that he personally recruited “around 25” Libyans to fight in Iraq. “Some have come back and today are on the front at Ajdabiya,” al-Hasadi explained, “They are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists.” “The members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader,” al-Hasadi added.

The revelations about al-Hasadi’s involvement in the anti-American jihad are particularly troubling in light of clear evidence that Western forces are coordinating their attacks on Libyan government targets with rebel forces.

Given Turkey’s recent swing towards Islamism, the connections here between the rebels and Turkey’s demands on NATO’s conduct of the war are troubling.  Reuters reports that Turkey has been given a de facto veto on tactical decisions by the command committee at NATO as part of their approval to take over the operation.  Turkey isn’t helping by publicly evoking the Crusades in this mission, either:

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan took a swipe at France on Thursday, saying the same people who were reluctant to let Turkey into the European Union now spoke in terms of “crusades” in Libya, referring to a loose comment by Sarkozy’s interior minister.

He voiced suspicion that some seeking to act outside NATO had their eyes on Libya’s oil, while President Abdullah Gul said the coalition lacked an agreed policy, planning and exit strategy, and Libya could be “looted” like Iraq.

“I wish that those who only see oil, gold mines and underground treasures when they look in that direction, would see the region through glasses of conscience from now on,” Erdogan told a conference in Istanbul.

Steven Hayward looks past the practical difficulties for war by multilateral committee and sees a legal problem for Barack Obama as well:

The new role of NATO is not receiving the scrutiny it should because NATO is an old and revered institution, and after all an American military officer (currently Navy Admiral James Stavridis) is the supreme commander of NATO. But this is not your father’s Cold War skirmish taking place. Everyone understood during the Cold War that NATO was primarily a political enterprise keep western Europe united, and secondarily a military convenience for the United States should open war with the Soviet Union break out. To be sure, in the event of war, the President would have consulted closely with European leaders, but no one doubted who would be calling the shots, and as a practical matter the President of the United States would be in direct command of the war 24/7.

Under the current operation, however, Obama’s place in the chain of command is ambiguous. Even though an American sits at the apex of NATO, it appears as though the command decisions involving American military forces will be coming from a NATO committee rather than from the commander-in-chief. This is almost certainly an unconstitutional delegation of the President’s command responsibilities; it is incompatible with the “commander-in-chief” clause of Article II of the Constitution. Among other things, it dilutes Obama’s accountability for the results. This may well be Obama’s strongest innermost desire, of course. He clearly has no stomach for his duties as commander-in-chief, and in handing over to NATO is voting “present” once again.

Starting a war and running away from it won’t build confidence in its eventual outcomes.  This requires a clear and strong chain of command, as do all military operations, and running it by committee makes as much sense as Dennis the Peasant’s political proposition.


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

Like a three humped camel…

PatriotRider on March 25, 2011 at 11:37 AM

We’re losing to the enemy, through and through.

blatantblue on March 25, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Dennis the President!

tree hugging sister on March 25, 2011 at 11:39 AM

And to think this community organizing approach worked so well in Chicago.

PBHO doesn’t know anything else, this is what we get for electing the junior mailroom clerk to run the biggest company in the Fortune 500.

Bishop on March 25, 2011 at 11:40 AM

What else could one expect from Obama and his merry band of incompetent Marxists?

rplat on March 25, 2011 at 11:41 AM

NATO takes command, America is a member of NATO ?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Member_states_of_NATO

Sandybourne on March 25, 2011 at 11:42 AM

I love it when a plan comes together.

a capella on March 25, 2011 at 11:43 AM

The buck stop at NATO…

right2bright on March 25, 2011 at 11:43 AM

The Obama Doctrine: America writes blank ass-whoop checks, and UN (or NATO) picks a deserving recipient and cashes the ass-whoop checks.

RBMN on March 25, 2011 at 11:46 AM

Terrorism as a law enforcement issue doesn’t work. War by committee doesn’t work. I hope our country survives this smart power.

myrenovations on March 25, 2011 at 11:48 AM

Destroying our energy production, destroying the dollar and now destroying NATO. Dear Liar is Darth Vader to George Soro’s Emperor Palpatine.

And it means we are going to have to rely on a bunch of damn Ewoks.

rbj on March 25, 2011 at 11:51 AM

There was a time, in the way way back, when Unity of Command was a close held essential element, a doctrine, if you will, in matters military.

Somehow, has it not dawned on these Obama folks that there is a world of difference between community organizing and effective and very real leadership?

In the meantime, lots and lots of dead and wounded in Syria today…has “Ophthomalogist Assad” lost his legitimacy yet?

Isn’t that the new Obama standard for removal of foreign leaders? You know, protests in the street, police and army and security agencies persecuting the masses? Firing on one’s own people?

coldwarrior on March 25, 2011 at 11:52 AM

How much direct authority do Muslims have over our armed forces involved in this? I have yet to figure that out. Are they just an advisory fig leaf?

a capella on March 25, 2011 at 11:54 AM

The legal problem never stopped dear leader before

Hello gop, get your butts in gear and do something!

cmsinaz on March 25, 2011 at 11:55 AM

My God!!!!!!

I can’t see anything good coming from this, and how DARE Obutthead committ American troops to fight with the enemy we fight in Afghanistan, and fought in Iraq. This is absolute insanity!!!

What happens when the AQ turns on our troops? Do they even have a prayer of getting out alive?

capejasmine on March 25, 2011 at 11:56 AM

…running away…

Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Robin O’bama…

karl9000 on March 25, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Obama is picking winners and losers based on nothing more than his personal pro-Muslim, pro-revolutionary sentiments.
He has no objective other than to spread socialism and redistribute America’s treasure.
He thinks that he is gaining valuable friends in the Arab world by playing war. HE IS NOT! These people will turn on us as soon as we have helped them achieve their objectives.

maryo on March 25, 2011 at 11:58 AM

The moment to act was when the Libyan rebels had moment in their push towards Tripoli, their mistake was waiting for foreign intervention and avoiding what could have been a decisive confrontation — but instead, they allowed Gaddafi to consolidate his forces and were pushed back. Meanwhile, the members of this committee were looking at polls, waiting not for the right moment, but for the popular moment.

In essence, what we have is war by mob rule (the Sicilian Campaign — but to a far lesser extent). History shows this will not end well.

Demosthenes on March 25, 2011 at 11:59 AM

Should read: …when the Libyan rebels had momentum.

Demosthenes on March 25, 2011 at 12:01 PM

THANKS!! All you dumba$$ obambi voters.

VegasRick on March 25, 2011 at 12:04 PM

My thoughts exactly Vegasrick

cmsinaz on March 25, 2011 at 12:06 PM

From my newspaper back in Puerto Rico…

Chavez Threatens Obama (it’s in Spanish so pls translate)

ProudPalinFan on March 25, 2011 at 12:06 PM

I love that clip. heh

ted c on March 25, 2011 at 12:07 PM

CK brings out his skinning knife.
http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/obama-293574-arab-league.html

a capella on March 25, 2011 at 12:07 PM

My thoughts exactly Vegasrick

cmsinaz on March 25, 2011 at 12:06 PM

And we still have another 20 months of this disaster.

VegasRick on March 25, 2011 at 12:09 PM

Watching Rush on ipad, opened show saying “mother of all no fly zones could be shaping up”. Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and who knows who else in need of kinetic action from the committee of incompetence.

fourdeucer on March 25, 2011 at 12:11 PM

And if you disagree, you’re unpatriotic. Just ask Cenk Uygur and Gary Ackerman.

http://www.examiner.com/conservative-in-spokane/msnbc-host-suggests-opposing-obama-on-libya-is-unpatriotic

jdawg on March 25, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Is Hillary the strange aquatic creature that throws swords to determine who is in charge?

F15Mech on March 25, 2011 at 12:13 PM

F15Mech on March 25, 2011 at 12:13 PM

No, more like the traditional Irish banshee…just scares folks into compliance.

coldwarrior on March 25, 2011 at 12:18 PM

The best part of the trip to Rio: Obama couldn’t even get the Brazilians to sit on the sidelines, as they sided with China calling for a cease-fire in Libya.

Smart Power Inaction!

ajacksonian on March 25, 2011 at 12:19 PM

Obama’s foreign policy bracket isn’t doing as well as his NCAA bracket.

the_souse on March 25, 2011 at 12:19 PM

Kaddafy should go
To speak at the UN.
Would we bomb New York?

Haiku Guy on March 25, 2011 at 12:20 PM

I can’t decide which would be worse for us. Momo staying in power when this is done or Momo losing power when this is done.

MJBrutus on March 25, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Obama’s foreign policy bracket isn’t doing as well as his NCAA bracket.

the_souse on March 25, 2011 at 12:19 PM

I submit Obama’s NCAA brackets every year in my office pool. I know nothing about college hoops, and I don’t have the time to devote to the research. But I figure this is something Obama knows something about (unlike everything else on the planet).

Last year I got crushed. This year I am the top of the standings. If Kansas wins, I win it all!

Haiku Guy on March 25, 2011 at 12:22 PM

jdawg on March 25, 2011 at 12:13 PM


What fools. Most don’t oppose the action. What most oppose is the timing, and due to their incompetent understanding of initiative in battle, what we are left with is a situation which will require actions that will never be taken by this committee (a make believe war counsel — imagine children playing with GI-Joes).

For starters: A goal, with the means for setting up conditions to achieve that objective/victory.

Demosthenes on March 25, 2011 at 12:23 PM

Michael Ramirez has a great take on it today!

MJBrutus on March 25, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Haiku Guy on March 25, 2011 at 12:22 PM

At least Obama has some usefulness!

the_souse on March 25, 2011 at 12:26 PM

If Egypt is going the way of the Muslim Brotherhood we need to eliminate all the hardware we sold/gave them, at minimum.

FloatingRock on March 25, 2011 at 12:29 PM

MJBrutus on March 25, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Great take. Love Ramirez.

At the rate we are going, in short order, Hu will be in charge.

coldwarrior on March 25, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Let’s see, it’s gone from “days, not weeks” to “weeks, not months.” How long before “months, not years”? Anyone?

jdp629 on March 25, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Passing TARFU, headed for full FUBAR.

mojo on March 25, 2011 at 12:36 PM

“You can’t fight in here. This is the war room!”

Chuck Schick on March 25, 2011 at 12:40 PM

Chuck Schick on March 25, 2011 at 12:40 PM

But he’ll see the big board!
We can’t let him see the big board!

MJBrutus on March 25, 2011 at 12:42 PM

The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.

-Sun Tzu

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

-Sun Tzu

ZenDraken on March 25, 2011 at 12:42 PM

What a complete mess.

tommer74 on March 25, 2011 at 12:44 PM

OK guys, here’s the plan. Bobby…you run down to the big tree there and cut over toward the cow pile by the shed. Sam, you run over to the fence post and holler and shout and make alot of noise to get Little Joey to look at you. Billy you run right over there just in case nobody is open and I’ll throw the ball to you. Any questions…Good! Ready…Break!

sdd on March 25, 2011 at 12:56 PM

Soo….

Is “Dereliction of Duty” an impeachable offense?

I would think so. It is certainly a “High Crime” in the military, and as the civilian Commander in Chief of the military Obama would be legally bound by similar rules of conduct.

IMPEACH OBAMA! IMPEACH HIM NOW!

wearyman on March 25, 2011 at 1:20 PM

You can’t expect to wield Supreme Executive Power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.

Jaibones on March 25, 2011 at 1:20 PM

Shouldn’t they have figured this out BEFORE they went in? The process we are seeing now looks like they are making up as they go along – that’s not a plan.

SouthernRoots on March 25, 2011 at 1:24 PM

When is the last time NATO ever ran ANYTHING smoothly?

Trolls: please reply…

Khun Joe on March 25, 2011 at 1:26 PM

And to think this community organizing approach worked so well in Chicago

You wouldn’t happen to have proof that it worked well in Chicago? From what I’ve read it didn’t turn out too well for the “community”

Oh you meant it worked very very well for the “organizers” Got it.

Ditkaca on March 25, 2011 at 1:28 PM

Ok I’m all for impeachment, and as soon as possible! Who was it that has to do it: The military, or the House/Senate? Can Joe Schmoe apply? If someone in the military does, then THEY will be accused of treason/dereliction of duty!

ProudPalinFan on March 25, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Hearts and minds being won in Muslim world

Chuck Schick on March 25, 2011 at 1:39 PM

“You can’t fight in here. This is the war room!”

I can’t wait for the sequel, “Dr. Kickass or How I learned to start worrying again and hate Progressives.”

reaganaut on March 25, 2011 at 2:04 PM

OOOOOOOOOKAAAAY !

Top headline on Drudge:
CANADA TAKES CHARGE ON LIBYA !

Minor headline :
CANADA GOVERNMENT FALLS IN VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE !

What a wonderful world !!
Beuhler ???

pambi on March 25, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Why NATO? Which member of NATO did Libya attack? Shouldn’t this be a UN issue?

Alden Pyle on March 25, 2011 at 3:17 PM

The New York Times reports today that the committee is off to just the start one might imagine, with no one quite sure what the objectives, policies, or even players in the conflict might be:

HOLY S**T! My local school board is running the Foreign Policy apparatus of the government.

Maybe they will put Mo in time out.

percysunshine on March 25, 2011 at 3:23 PM

It just struck me. In the unlikely event that Mr.Gaddafi gives up, could it be said that he had thrown in the towel?

Mason on March 25, 2011 at 3:35 PM

Canada takes lead in Libya

Canada government defeated in non-confidence vote

What a cluster fark.

WoosterOh on March 25, 2011 at 3:38 PM

Among other things, it dilutes Obama’s accountability for the results. This may well be Obama’s strongest innermost desire, of course. He clearly has no stomach for his duties as commander-in-chief, and in handing over to NATO is voting “present” once again.

That’s all you need to know. As for Brazil’s siding with China in denouncing the action on Libya, they got our billions to apply toward oil drilling. As soon as the “useful idiot” departed, why stick up for him?

tpitman on March 25, 2011 at 5:01 PM

Oh give this committee of clowns a break….

If you want to have them clarify what they are up to, simple, lock the door with a couple cases of fine whiskey, beer and French wine, with some cheese and crackers and they’ll sort it out just in time for the final action.

drfredc on March 25, 2011 at 6:15 PM