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Our Blood and Treasure, for Britain and France

They have strategic interests and defined objectives in Libya. We do not.

by
Abraham H. Miller

Bio

March 23, 2011 - 12:00 am
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Britain is so desperate for drilling rights in Libya that it engineered the release and repatriation of the Libyan bomber of Pan American Flight 103, ignoring international outrage. France is one of the major importers of Libyan oil, and France accepted trivial compensation for a Libyan mid-air bombing of one its flights, UTA 772. The incident, like Pan Am 103, was settled by Gaddafi’s government paying monetary compensation to the victims’ families.

After tolerating the murder of its citizens in order to get access to Libya’s  easily refined oil, Britain and France saw in Libya’s uprising the handwriting on the wall. Gaddafi might end up on the scrap heap of history, and what Britain and France needed was a new Libyan partner.

With Britain and France ostensibly standing up for the “democratic” opposition and the media bringing the visual horror of Gaddafi’s words and deeds to the world, the Obama administration could not continue to sit on the sidelines. Yet the media has been beating the drums over the “democratic” opposition, but there has been no real analysis of what the opposition will bring to the political process, if they do win.

In the meantime, Hillary Clinton’s earlier warning that no-fly zones are ineffectual because they don’t stop troops and tanks has been superseded in this conflict by the French. Their air force has been doing more than just keeping Libyan planes out of the air. They shot up Libyan tanks and armor, carving out seemingly new rules of engagement without objection, until the Arab League began to complain.

If the Arab League wanted to stop Gaddafi, they didn’t have to wait until his forces were near victorious, nor did they really need the West to carry out the attacks. Egypt and Saudi Arabia alone could have defeated Gaddafi, but ultimately they had no desire to do so. What they had was the desire to rhetorically enter the fray and to posture appropriately for the international community when it appeared Gaddafi would win. After all, the continual fall of Arab tyrants and despots threatens the Arab League itself, an organization comprised of despots and tyrants.

Obama has dragged us into yet another endless war in the Islamic world, a war where the military mission is clear, as it was in the early days of Iraq, and where the strategy and endgame are totally undefined. Britain’s and France’s strategic interests in this conflict are unambiguous. America’s?  They are no clearer than they are in Zimbabwe and a host of other places where people are wantonly oppressed and killed by tyrants.

Obama’s ineptitude made him an easy patsy for the strategic interests of Britain and France. American blood and treasure will be needlessly spilled because we have elected a president who is too disengaged to lead and too naive to understand the consequences of his actions.

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Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science and a former head of the Intelligence Studies Section of the International Studies Association.
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