Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reality-Based Coalition

What is it with these people--like our president--who believe that they are part of the "reality-based community?" The president in his Libya speech couldn't resist taking shots at Iraq (which we won, which is more than I think we can achieve in Libya at this point):

In this effort, the United States has not acted alone. Instead, we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition. This includes our closest allies – nations like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey – all of whom have fought by our side for decades. And it includes Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who have chosen to meet their responsibility to defend the Libyan people.

To summarize, then: in just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a No Fly Zone with our allies and partners.

To make the obvious point, he didn't boast of that coalition working to overthrow a dictator. Some want that (France and Qatar have recognized the rebels as the government of Libya). But the rest will stop fighting as they call it mission accomplished for what they signed up for.

And for all the presidential boasting of his ginormous coalition, since we--let alone most of the coalition--won't push for regime change in this war, when do we break it to some of our allies that we are bugging out to implement the magical non-military means of getting rid of Khaddafi?

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Tuesday there are plenty of "non-military means at our disposal" to oust Libya's Moammar Gadhafi.

France, which has been at the forefront of the international campaign against Gadhafi in Libya, struck a more forceful tone, however, with the defense minister suggesting the strikes could go beyond their mandate of just protecting civilians.

"We, the French and English, we consider that we must obtain more" than the end of shooting at civilians, said Gerard Longuet on France-Inter radio. He also said Libyan politicians could be targeted since they gave orders to the military.

And the Italians are working for a ceasefire and Khaddafi's exile. What if they just get the ceasefire?

But what really grates my nerves is the implicit shot at the Iraq War, when President Obama asserts we are not acting alone in Libya. One, let's see how that coalition looks in a few months, eh? And two, we had a far bigger alliance on the ground in Iraq than President Obama could scrounge up to fight over or near Libya! How can the president assert otherwise? Besides, I know we must have had a coalition in Iraq because during the war, whenever a country decided to leave, the media trumpeted that the coalition was collapsing. And to collapse, it must have existed.

Look at the Iraq War coalition of 39 nations that sent at least some troops to join us, and which saw 21 countries suffer deaths in their forces at our side (with Britain suffering 179 at the high end down to 5 countries that suffered a single death). We did not act alone in Iraq. We did not sacrifice in Iraq alone (and that doesn't even count the sacrifice our Iraqi friends made fighting at our side). And the coalition lasted long enough to achieve victory. That is the measure of an effective coalition.

President Obama has a lot of nerve puffing up his 10-day-old war coalition with Libya when we don't even know what we will achieve there by belittling our coalition allies in the victorious Iraq War by ignoring their participation and sacrifice.

Restoring our reputation abroad, indeed.