San Diego – I keep hearing students and even some politicians who should know better advocating that we should sort of get involved in Libya by creating a no-fly zone over the country a la the one we established over Iraq. We can forget, for the moment that the Iraqi no fly zone made absolutely no difference to what was happening on the ground and did not move Saddam one step closer to relinquishing control or abandoning his visions of being the next Saladin or abusing his people as the megalomaniac he was. The Iraqi air power was much more formidable than the Libyan one and it is clear that although it makes great TV to see a crowd of protestors bombed the truth is it has had virtually no effect other than harassment on the revolution. That fight will be won or lost on the ground and at the moment the outcome is less than certain, an uncertainty that will not be much effected one way or the other by the Libyan air force.
I also do not believe, as i mentioned before, that we should consider any military action anywhere until we have a leader and an appointed set of advisors that are not openly anti-military and anti-strong intelligence gathering capability. We are already now willing to leave the Persian gulf with a huge power vacuum into which Iran is set to pour because we do not seem to have even a minor clue as to the real geopolitical dynamics at play in the region. I argued way back then that we should not go into Iraq, but having gone in we needed to go in to win, win fast, and get out, just as I did in an earlier post here on Libya. We are not, by nature, an occupying force and do not know how to do it; we are not by nature empire builders and do not, obviously know how to create a strong, stable, central government from people steeped in tribal mentalities; we do not have the national will to do the dirty work necessary to successfully accomplish those longer missions so we should never undertake then even with strong military leadership. To dip our toe in this conflict now, with our current leadership and with no really clear national interests involved, will, I believe, lead to very negative and mostly unforeseen consequences.
So, since no one cares what I think, we have chatted up the idea of orchestrating a no fly zone to help the rebels. That simply shows an amazing lack of historical knowledge and even less military knowledge. The real problem is involved in what is required to create a no fly zone. We think it is an aseptic action we can undertake with no risk to our personnel or much cost in material. First of all it is a clear act of war. So soon we forget… Before we can truly establish such a zone that is safe for our own aircraft to monitor, we need to remove all anti-air defense systems. We do that by essentially baiting them to lock onto a bait plane with their radar and then instantly launch missles at the source of the radar emission. There is no time for verification since if they actually get a missile well launched at a plane it is by no means certain we can intercept it or outfly it. That means we have to shoot fast. We cannot afford to miss one, just one, because one American plane shot down and pilot lost will instantly see the american sheep rise in a collective “Baaaaaa” to get us out immediately. and that would be the worst possible message we could send to the middle east populace. So what is the problem? We can shoot fast and aim well these days. The problem is we are engaging a madman with no concern for his own people, only his own maintenance of power.
And just as Saddam before him, good ol’ Muammar has absolutely no problem putting his own people in danger to serve his ends. Placing the radar units (the weapons do not have to be attached to them) in places like school roofs, or mosques or public buildings or even residential areas so that the counter fire will set off a firestorm of condemnation for killing innocent civilians will rapidly turn public opinion against us and leave him free to go on butchering his own people. We must return fire before that signal locks on to its target and that means as soon as we have locked on to the point of radiation without regard to other locational information which will take time to sort out and verify. By that time, if it is coming from a real SAM site,our targeted plane would be on the ground as smoking wreckage.
Remember the PR hit we took for hitting a milk factory? Imagine us hitting a school full of kids.
The world is not the simple place many of us, including me, would love it to be. As a nation we have done precisely what other great empires did when they reached a point of unchallenged supremacy in the geopolitical and/or military sense; we have grown soft, indolent, lazy, entitled, and intolerant of anything requiring effort or pain. We forget that our freedom was purchased with blood, and not just American blood. And when, in an attempt to ensure freedom elsewhere the result is, oh no, blood, our collective response is, “…BLOOD???!!! Eeeeeeeww! Get us out of there!”
While that remains a national attitude then we have no business getting involved where loss of blood is even a remote possibility because we will run at the first lost drop. Not the soldiers on the ground who will fight to the last drop of it if necessary, but our weak-willed leadership who wants to micro-manage actions for which they have no training, no expertise, no experience, and, most importantly, no will.