Saturday, March 19, 2011

Libya: Too little too late?

Ok, things are officially (in my opinion) getting out of hand. After weeks of doing nothing, Obama finally has decided to impose a joint “No-Fly” zone in Libya, in conjunction with several allies. This will mark the third Moslem nation that the US and its allies will be engaged in militarily. Fodder for the Moslem extremists and their propaganda machine if you ask me.

Weeks ago, the Libyan people took to the streets in opposition to strongman and kook, Muammar Gadhafi. What were first protests turned into an armed uprising. The rebels managed, with popular support and hidden arms stashes, to push the Libyan armed forces almost all the way back to Tripoli. Not able to rely on his military, Gadhafi hired mercenaries from neighboring countries (most notably Algeria. Some of his own pilots refused to bomb fellow citizens. They were shot for their humanity). Thus, with a relentless air and missile assault, the rebels started on their long retreat with Gadhafi’s mercenary forces targeting civilians, hospitals, and whatever else they could find. Obama’s only comment at the time was that “noose was tightening around Gadhafi”. Really? How about a reality check Mr. President?

So, now that the rebels have been pushed back to Benghazi and nearly wiped out as viable fighting force, and after ignoring weeks of pleas from rebels leaders, civilians, and international relief organizations, Obama has finally decided to step up to the plate and lead; or rather, follow the lead of such nations as Britain, France, and Denmark. Gadhafi requested a cease fire, but instead used the occasion to launch a bloody assault.

Although the US is now attempting to impose a “No-Fly” zone, principally over the last major rebel stronghold, Benghazi, along with our allies, the question becomes whether or not our inaction over the last few weeks has done irreparable damage to the pro-democratic resistance movement. Can the will of the people be won back to the side of rebels? Can they attract new fighters to replace those whose lives were wasted? Can they replenish their military supplies? What about basic survival for the general population, such as food, water, and medical assistance?

No doubt that if Gadhafi’s assault can be stopped (especially the indiscriminate bombings and missile strikes), international relief efforts (already stretched to the breaking point), may be able to offer some assistance. The Libyans themselves are both disappointed and angry with the US and the UN for their inaction (and who can blame them?). Weapons and military supplies can always be replaced. But will there be anyone to take up the arms and start the assault on Gadhafi anew? Can they count on Western support? Given our actions to date, you can’t fault them for having doubts.

Meanwhile, the situation in other Middle Eastern countries (think oil producers) such as Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, and Syria continues to go from bad to worse. In Yemen, military sharp shooters have been ambushing and murdering protestors. In Bahrain, neighboring Saudi Arabia has sent troops to put down protestors, who apparently also have order to shoot to kill. Syria too has dealt heavy handedly with their pro-democracy protestors. Obviously these repressive dictatorships don’t plan on going quietly into the night.

Israel remains in an uneasy situation. Three times now, arms bound for her enemies having been intercepted. One has to wonder how much is getting through. Counties like Iran are obviously using the confusing situation to re-supply their surrogate armies like Hezbollah. Iran also continues with its nuclear program despite toothless sanctions imposed by the United Nations. With a global economy still in the proverbial tank, and the US engaged in two wars, Afghanistan and Iraq, the pro-democracy groups couldn’t have picked a worse possible movement to lash out at their government. The cold truth is that there is little the West, and especially the US, can do to help in the short run. The “No Fly” zone should have been implemented sooner and countries like France and Britain should have acted with or without a US commitment. The “leader of the free world” has proved time and again that he has feet of clay. All this could result in pro-democratic groups being replaced in places like Tunisia and Egypt by religious extremists with the support of Iran.

I look for Gadhafi to ultimately prevail and brutally eliminate his opposition. What is the West going to do about? Impose another sanction? He’s got oil. We need him more than he needs the West. After all, he can always do business with China. The same came be expected in Yemen, Oman, and Bahrain. Their backward governments will prevail for much the same reasons, and quite possibly the same results. The instability of the region will make oil and gas nearly as valuable as food and water, but unbearably more expensive. Gone will the mobile society. Terrorist groups, using mostly the homegrown variety, will launch campaigns within Western countries to focus their attention (and resources) inward. Similar attacks will hit other longtime enemies, such as India. China and Russia may find that they aren’t as immune as they think they are. When fighting for God, political ideology counts for little.

Iran will continue to stir up trouble until it has at least three nuclear warheads and a reliable delivery system. Confident in the West’s lack of leadership and political inertia, as well as the support of a large, vocal, and potentially destructive Moslem minority, Iran will make good its threat and hit Israel. This will be the culmination of all out assault on the non-Moslem world which began in 1979 with the Iranian hostage crisis. Such madness is not concerned with retaliation which will surely come after much wringing of hands by the West. After all, in their eyes, it was ordained by Allah.

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