King Barky I may dislike American power, and he may be perfectly willing to let the UN or some other hapless, tough-talking Euro-weenies command American forces in his illegal not-war for European oil. He certainly wants to pretend that he has a big, broad coalition of fully-engaged partners for his little adventure. But reality bends the liberal fantasy over and has its way with it every time.
Indeed, the Libyan war (and an attack on a sovereign country is a war, no matter how many times the White House says it isn’t) illustrates perfectly the proposition that there are no multilateral armed forces any longer. Other countries may contribute a bit of ordnance or a handful of planes, but, in truth, only the United States can project power over any distance for any length of time. Nobody else can even come close.
Although the media keep reporting the Libyan war as though the U.S. is some sort of junior partner, the truth is the other way around. It is an American war, with a bit of support from other players. Here the data are instructive. Remember the opening salvo of the war, those 124 cruise missiles launched against the Libyan air-defense systems? According to the headlines, they were fired by American and British warships. Indeed they were. The Americans fired 122. The British fired two. Many of the U.S. Tomahawks fired so far—probably most, possibly all—were evidently the Block IV model, the latest generation, smart and maneuverable in midair, and a weapon possessed by no other member of the coalition. (Cruise missiles cost over $1 million apiece, and the newer models as much as $2 million. Are we likely to run out? According to National Journal, the Defense Department buys 200 Tomahawks each year—more than any other country has in its entire arsenal.)
The cruise-missile attacks were aimed largely at degrading Libya’s antiaircraft defenses, which were considerable. As several observers have pointed out, no member of the coalition aside from the U.S. possesses the expertise and munitions to accomplish that goal. The U.S. has supplied nearly half the aircraft involved inOperation Odyssey Dawn, including the B-2 Stealth bombers that flew all the way from Missouri to join the war, and has flown the great majority of the actual combat missions. Although the Defense Department insists that this week the allies will begin to take the lead, flying most of the sorties, it is not clear whether they have the money. The U.S. spends more than 40 cents of every defense dollar spent on the face of the earth. The Libyan war is likely to cost well in excess of $1 billion a week. Nobody else can afford it. Thus, the longer the war drags on, the more likely it is to become an all-American show.
France, for example, possesses only one aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, currently stationed off the Libyan coast. Britain has none. The British do have a single carrier under construction, but it will carry only helicopters. Remember the Harrier jump jet, the vertical takeoff and landing craft the British designed and Hollywood made famous? They are a mainstay of the U.S. Marine Corps, but Britain no longer operates any; the next delivery is scheduled for 2020.
Already the countries involved in Odyssey Dawn are sniping at each other over who should head the ridiculous command structure—at the moment, an unwieldy triumvirate—but their battle is really about credit, not about responsibility. The U.S. is running the war, and will continue to do so. The internal battles are a sideshow. Italy, for example, does not want its pilots to fire, except at aircraft that are actually airborne. But Italian pilots have flown no combat missions yet, and the Libyan air force, in practical terms, no longer exists.
There is a lesson here for those who support what are known in international law as humanitarian interventions. Unless the intervention is very small or very swift or both, no country in the world but the U.S. can do it. We alone have the money, the technology, and the trained personnel. We alone have shown the willingness and ability to project power over long distances for a sustained period. Many people, both in America and abroad, are uneasy with this preponderance. But it cannot be wished away.
Oh, they wouldn’t want to wish it away; deep down, they know they can’t afford to. Like Barky himself, they just want to deplore and complain about it, until they want to turn around and make use of it for their own ends.
Update! The liberal way of war: disorganization, chaos, fiasco, and, ultimately, defeat. The sub-hed bullet points really tell the dismal story:
Who’s in charge? Germans pull forces out of NATO as Libyan coalition falls apart
- Tensions with Britain as Gates rebukes UK government over suggestion Gaddafi could be assassinated
- French propose a new political ‘committee’ to oversee operations
- Germany pulls equipment out of NATO coalition over disagreement over campaign’s direction
- Italians accuse French of backing NATO in exchange for oil contracts
- No-fly zone called into question after first wave of strikes ‘neutralises’ Libyan military machine
- U.K. ministers say war could last ’30 years’
- Italy to ‘take back control’ of bases used by allies unless NATO leadership put in charge of the mission
- Russians tell U.S. to stop bombing in order to protect civilians – calls bombing a ‘crusade’
The worst part of it: the stupid fucking moron masquerading as our “president” and “commander in chief” has gratuitously put American troops in harm’s way for no good reason, with no plan, no national security interest at stake, under foreign direction, to achieve foreign goals. If even one of our military personnel is killed as a result, he ought at the very least to be impeached for this.
On the bright side, this maladroit misadventure ought to finish him for good as far as 2012 is concerned. His motivations are transparent. His allegiance is clearly to the UN, not the US. He has neither the vaguest clue as to how to properly run a military operation, nor the slightest regard for the rule of law, the will of the American people, or the lives of their sons and daughters who serve as soldiers. He is beyond any doubt the worst president this country has ever been foolish enough to allow itself to be hoodwinked by. He is, in sum, a serious, dire mistake, one that needs to be corrected as soon as is humanly possible. To hell with him and his illegal war.