As Qaddafi retakes territory once held by opposition forces, the results of the President’s failure of leadership and nerve are undeniable. The danger now, which was foreseeable from the beginning, is a Qaddafi victory followed by a blood bath in which regime opponents seeking to end decades of injustice, are hunted down and killed–or driven into the arms of Islamist militants always eager for new recruits. What can we expect from a victorious, vindictive Qaddafi, who committed acts of terror and killed Americans even before the President’s feckless denunciations convinced him (and others) of American enfeeblement? Qaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons program when America was strong. What will he do when America is weak?
The administration has been languidly debating whether to impose a “no fly Zone” to protect the rebels from devastating air strikes. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, whose departure from office will not come a moment too soon, has suggested that we would first have to destroy Libyan air defenses. This is nonsense. Has he not been briefed about our formidable ability to conduct air-to-air operations from stand-off distances well beyond the range of Libya’s paltry air defenses?
The Arab League, whose call for a “no fly zone” may carry more weight than the President’s missing strategic and fly-weight moral sense, may, even at this late moment, open the way to something we should have done much earlier. It at least removes one of the administration’s many excuses: that we would somehow be seen as attacking a Muslim country by protecting Muslims rebelling against injustice and fighting for their lives.
Previously: Losing Libya, II, III
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