War On 45

Word is (again) that the Libyan rebels are at the gates of Tripoli, and that the Mad Dog might be getting ready to head out to pasture.

Moammar Gadhafi is making preparations for a departure from Libya with his family for possible exile in Tunisia, U.S. officials have told NBC News, citing intelligence reports…

The officials could provide no further details as to conditions or precise timing for Gadhafi’s departure, NBC said, and the news report emphasized that there was no guarantee that Gadhafi would follow through on any plans to flee…

Five loud explosions shook the center of Tripoli on Thursday afternoon, possibly striking near Gadhafi’s compound. NATO jets flew overhead minutes after the blasts. It wasn’t immediately clear what was hit or if there were civilian casualties. NATO has bombarded military targets all over Libya since March when a no-fly zone was instituted…

If Qadaffi leaves, then arguably you could say that the Obama Administration's passive-aggressive approach to Middle Eastern warfare had the positive effect of getting rid of at least one lousy petro-dictator. Then again, the word on the Arab Street is that any Qadaffi abdication will be promptly followed by a massive blood-letting. I thought the whole reason we were in Libya was to prevent a massacre in Benghazi. Is a massacre in Tripoli OK? Smart power is a lot more difficult than I realized.

Putting aside international diplomacy, Ace looks at what we can learn about America's future war-making should Obama's half-assed bombing raids lead to the exact same result as the massive expenditure of blood and treasure obtained in Iraq

The Bush model of war -- go in heavy, attempt to win the war on the backs of American (and allied) soldiers, attempt to establish a monopoly on the use of violence, and then continue that monopoly on the use of violence by acting as the nation's law enforcement/army for five, six, ten years -- doesn't work, or at least does not work at costs the American public is willing to pay.

I see no point agitating for a Full War Model against Iran, for example -- to urge such a thing is futile. I do not believe the American public has the appetite for such an endeavor. (At least-- not unless Iran uses its soon-to-be-built nukes.)

We didn't use to take care of these countries in this fashion. We used to arm and train rebels within those countries (they've all got them), fund them, provide intelligence, spread some bribe money around, and, when necessary, bring in the sort of Word of God that our air and naval forces issue from the air or sea.

Such wars were messy and bloody and often very very dirty, with guerrilla tactics that often looked like "terrorism" being employed by both sides. This is only a problem when the forces on our side employ such tactics, because that's the only time such tactics get condemned in the press.

They are, however, effective, much of the time at least, and with a light American involvement as far as troops on the ground.

Colin Powell's ludicrous statement -- "You break it, you buy it" -- is a formula for nonstop, decades-long nation-building of exactly the same type that George W. Bush campaigned against in 2000, albeit on a much longer and much bloodier scale than we saw in, say, Haiti.

Why do we "buy" it if we break it?

Broken societies reassemble themselves. In fact, they seem to do so more quickly than people expect, even when faced with great devastation.

This is a bit of a change as Ace, like a lot of conservative bloggers, was a big Iraq War booster/defender back in the day. But, like a lot of people, the seemingly endless f***-ups, the depressing grind of the Casey/Abizaid years, the thousands of dead, and so on were wearying.

And, it's not like the war's political boosters made it any easier. I don't know about you, but I can't say I was happy when Bush Administration figures like Karl Rove and Donald Rumsfeld admitted they could have done a "better job" of defending the war from leftists eager to treat every Sunni stubbed toe as the new My Lai. No kidding! I mean, you start a war; send thousands of young people to the other side of the world; and then do such a poor job fighting it that you lose a congressional majority and then a presidential election largely due to war weariness. And all you can do is send out Scott McClellan for day after agonizing day of tongue-tied "advocacy??" Try harder next time, please.

Ace is reflecting a change in defense mindedness that I think is more prevalent on the Right than people realize. No, conservatives aren't going to become peace advocates. But, the next time some Republican "moderates" like Colin Powell or John McCain put on their Long Serious Faces and announce we need to invade this or that Third World hellhole, they're going to need to have some damn good satellite images. I have to wonder if any such war would be politically saleable right now, absent another 9/11-style event.

This, of course, makes you wonder about the prospect for passing the dreaded defense cuts. The knee-jerk GOP reaction has always been to simply say, no. But, now I'm not so sure. No one's going to advocate for outright disarmament. But, do we really need to spend billions of dollars on a single ship that can be sunk by one carefully aimed missile? Do we really need to be planning fight two big wars at once? Do we really need bases around the world in the exact same places they've been since the end of the Cold War?And so on. Also, just cause the military's mission is an honorable one doesn't mean procurement scandals are not any more grubby wasteful than an ACORN shakedown.

I've seen a lot of worried commentary about China rising, and how they are building carriers. But, they're not really doing that. They're buying hulls from the Ukraine and putting weapons systems (no doubt using technology stolen from us) in them and doing things like intimidating Viet Nam. Ooooo. I'm scared.

The fact is that the Pentagon hasn't changed its habits or its budget since the end of the Reagan Administration. Not saying we should be cutting to the bone, but I'm also not seeing why American soldiers need to continue to act as the world's peace keepers.

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