So Libya War 2.0 is on!
U.S. warplanes carried out air strikes early on Friday morning in the western Libyan city of Sabratha, where Islamic State militants operate, killing as many as 40 people.
A U.S. military spokesman said the attacks targeted a senior Tunisian militant linked to attacks in Tunisia last year.
Libya is a problem. Even if we get around to smashing ISIL in Iraq sometime this administration, ISIL is expanding in Libya to the point that we have been taking notice of Libya:
President Obama’s senior national security aides have been telling him, sometimes in public, that military action is urgently needed to stop the consolidation of a powerful new terrorist base. “It’s fair to say that we’re looking to take decisive military action,” said Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Yet the White House is again waffling: A meeting to consider options late last month ended without decisions. The hesitation risks a repeat of the Iraq debacle.
Wait. What? The Iraq debacle?
I would like to remind the authors that we won the war in Iraq, an outcome that Vice President Biden boasted could be one of the great achievements of the Obama administration, until we walked away in 2011. The Iraq debacle flowed from that latter decision, I say.
But yes, staying out of post-war Libya was one lesson our left learned from the Iraq War. We caused jihadis to flock to Iraq, the left said, and if only we had stayed out after defeating Saddam, the locals would have worked out their differences. Yeah.
As an aside, Syria is another example of learning the wrong lessons from Iraq. In this case we decided a WMD-owning Baathist dictatorship shouldn't be removed in the hope that locals would solve the problem without us. Chemical weapons have been used, hundreds of thousands have died, more flock to Europe, and jihadis flocked to the country to set up their own caliphate and expand into Iraq and beyond. Oh, and they carried out mass slaughter in Paris. Bravo.
But back to the Libya debacle. We want somebody to do something, :
Western governments have discussed plans for a force, perhaps led by Italy, to protect the new regime, while trainers work with the army. Sirte, meanwhile, could be targeted with airstrikes.
Apparently, our air strike is not the start of something major to actually deal with the ISIL caliphate province.
Italy should surely be part of the solution since it is next door to Libya.
But lead the effort? I'm not sure they are up for that. I will say again that if France wants to take a decisive role in the war against ISIL, which struck Paris in November 2015, France should take the lead in Libya rather than become a slightly bigger junior partner in the war against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
UPDATE: France should take note:
“It is clear that the priority in Washington now is taking whatever steps are convenient to tactically weaken ISIL over the course of the next year,” said Noah Bonsey, a Syria analyst with the International Crisis Group.
The political process to end the war is a lower priority, he said, and has made much less progress.
“If that political track doesn’t go anywhere, it is pretty clear that there is no backup plan,” he said.
Will France be the backup plan? For the glory of France and the defense of Paris?