Saturday, June 18, 2011

In For a Pound

The Obama administration is trying to wage war in Libya with a penny ante even as the Europeans have the largest stake in the outcome of the war. I thought the Europeans should lead this effort. But we are in the game, and if NATO folds we can't avoid the taint of defeat by peddling ridiculous claims that we haven't really been at war. As much as conservatives may be outraged at how we got into the war or how we wage the war, Congress should not defund the war. It is in our interest to win it now that we are in it:

The United States must see this effort in Libya through to its conclusion. Success is profoundly in our interests and in keeping with our principles as a nation. The success of NATO’s operations will influence how other Middle Eastern regimes respond to the demands of their people for more political rights and freedoms. For the United States and NATO to be defeated by Muammar al-Qaddafi would suggest that American leadership and resolution were now gravely in doubt—a conclusion that would undermine American influence and embolden our nation’s enemies.

But I think that simply refusing to defund the war is not enough. Congress has the power to do it, it is true, but a defeat for President Obama on this is also a defeat for America.

Congress also has the power to decide what we are fighting for. Congress should declare war on Libya and call for the defeat of the Khaddafi regime. Make President Obama take a gun to this knife fight. Three good combat brigades of European troops plus a contingent of Americans (a Marine Expeditionary Unit or an Army heavy battalion task force (two companies each of tanks and mechanized infantry, plus supporting units attached) would work. At this point, after seeing what a world without American leadership is like, the Europeans will welcome America into the war.

Let's break out from the Inchon bridgehead we already have. We already have one political party that likes to lose our wars. Let's keep at least one that wants to win our wars. Pound Khaddafi into the ground.