Rick Moran describes the Confusion and Conflict on Libya in a FrontPageMag article.
Allegedly the NATO Ministers reached an agreement yesterday which Moran describes as “having a separate political committee of all coalition partners overseeing military operations? It appears that what NATO ministers voted on Thursday evening was just the first step in what might be a long process of trying to satisfy all members of the alliance (votes on military action must be unanimous among the 28 members).”
[..] How does this fit into the idea of having a separate political committee of all coalition partners overseeing military operations? Nobody knows yet. It appears that what NATO ministers voted on Thursday evening was just the first step in what might be a long process of trying to satisfy all members of the alliance (votes on military action must be unanimous among the 28 members).
This will probably take some doing. France wishes to aggressively attack Gaddafi and also backs regime change, while Turkey and the Arab League are reluctant to use coalition air power to help the rebels, and are currently opposed to removing Gaddafi. France was against the idea of NATO taking control, while Italy, Turkey, and the Arab League wouldn’t continue to support the action unless it did. Germany, who pulled naval assets out of the Mediterranean because of the offensive air campaign against Gaddafi’s forces, would also look in askance at any expansion of NATO’s role beyond enforcing the no-fly zone and arms embargo. And UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stated flatly that “the primary aim [of coalition efforts] is to provide protection for civilians, to save lives. It’s not aiming to change any regime.”
The nightmare of a fractured body working at cross purposes with itself in making military command decisions is a reality that needs to be avoided. It would almost certainly lead to unnecessary casualties, as well as an ineffective prosecution of the war. In fact, it is hard to envision how such an alliance could survive the almost guaranteed misunderstandings that will arise. The differences appear too vast to simply be papered over. Either NATO will protect civilians by killing Gaddafi’s forces or they won’t. Unless there is movement from Turkey and Germany on this issue, it is difficult to imagine how any further agreement on NATO control of the military aspect of the campaign can be reached — even if some kind of “grand coalition council” can be cobbled together in the first place to decide such matters.
There also seems to be some confusion in the Obama administration over just where we are in handing control over to NATO. Secretary Clinton seems to believe, or at least she is saying publicly, that only a few details need to be worked out before America can step back from overall command of the mission. She also said that we are already cutting back on our participation in the operation, and that in the future, once the handover is complete, American participation will be limited to a “support role.”
But the military is contradicting that roseate scenario. Vice Admiral William E. Gortney, director of the joint staff, said that even after the handover to NATO is accomplished, it is likely that American air power will still be utilized by the coalition. He said that we will still fly combat missions when requested, and no-fly zone patrols, as well as conduct operations such as intelligence gathering, refueling, and other logistical support missions.
This was apparently news to the White House, the spokesman of which, Jay Carney, told reporters that “the United States will continue to have a role, but it will not be a lead role in enforcement of the no-fly zone. It will be a support and assist role,” including jamming of communications and intelligence, he said.
For all the excitement being generated by the White House and Hillary Clinton, it appears that what happened in Brussels on Thursday evening was the first tentative step toward NATO taking control of the war. There is absolutely no guarantee that the alliance can agree to any further steps, nor can it even be foreseen whether President Obama will get his wish and be allowed to wash his hands of this messy, military and diplomatic misadventure.
And if by some slick diplomacy and impressive legerdemain by Hillary Clinton NATO can be seduced into taking responsibility for this disaster in the making, there is still no endgame, no plan for after the war, and no agreement on the ultimate fate of Muammar Gaddafi. The worst that could happen is that no workable solution will be reached in the conflict, but nobody can seem to figure out how to alter that nightmarish conclusion.