Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cato: Libya: War Without Policy

I'm an instrumentalist on this one but the President in Rio when he should be going to Congress to answer questions like these from Cato deeply troubling if you have any respect for the US Constitution. (And why is Obama in Rio and not the WAR summit in Paris tomorrow?
The vagueness on policy goals may be the price of gaining international consensus. Plans and tactics may clarify at tomorrow's war summit in Paris. If they do not, our leaders will be guilty of military malpractice. Maybe that will not matter because Qaddafi's regime will simply capitulate. But without goals that match our tactics, the intervention in Libya is likely to fail.

Besides exercising the constitutional war powers that no longer interest it, our Congress, along with European parliaments, ought to demand answers to several questions on policy toward Libya, such as:

1. What is our goal in Libya? What happens if the allies disagree on goals?
2. Are we planning to enforce a no-fly zone, bomb military units that are attacking civilian targets, or provide the rebels with close air support and strategic bombing? Will we send in special operators to help target air strikes?
3. If we manage to stop, by force or its threat, Qaddafi's forces from taking Benghazi and the rest of the rebel stronghold in Libya's east, are we prepared to indefinitely enforce the de facto partition of Libya?
4. Would we offer air support for a rebel offensive?
5. If Qaddafi consolidates his gains before or despite allied efforts to stop him, should we try to overthrow him? If so, how? What if he doesn't kill many civilians?
6. If the rebels win and ask for a peacekeeping force while they form a new government, do we provide it?
7. If the rebels attack civilians, do we attack them?

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