Posts Tagged ‘weak leader on international stage’

The Human Cost: Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #3 (April 26)

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

While the international coaltion hesitates to take decisive action to remove Qaddafi from power, the human cost rises.

Qaddafi’s forces unleased artillery attacks on Misrata’s civilian population Tuesday, with devastating effect. The following dispatch gives you a sense of what these words mean, in human terms. See

Charles Livingston (Misrata) and Richard Boudreaux (Tripoli), “Rebel Gains Fail to End Siege of Libyan City–Opposition Triumph Is Followed by Shelling of Civilians in Misrata; NATO Strikes Gadhafi Compound, Escalating Campaign,” Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2011.

For a critique of Obama’s foreign-policy decision making style, which has led to the current debacle in Libya, see

Michael Gerson, “Obama’s serial indecision on the Middle East,”
Washington Post, April 26, 2011.

In an op-ed in the New York Times this morning, James M. Dubik draws attention to the very obvious need for U.S. leadership in the Libyan campaign, as follows:

In war, leadership is not exercised from the rear by those who seek to risk as little as possible. Washington must stop pretending that we’ve passed the leadership for the Libyan operation on to NATO. We did so in Bosnia, claiming Europe would take the lead, only to have the 1995 Srebrenica genocide jolt us back to reality. Like it or not, America’s leadership has been crucial to most of NATO’s successes. The same will be true in Libya (emphasis added).

–James M. Dubik, “Finish the Job,” New York Times, April 25, 2011 (op-ed).

You almost have to pinch yourself in the arm to realize that the coalition acting against Qaddafi is comprised of the strongest military alliance in the world, plus other countries from the region.

Could U.S. leadership make a difference in the results, and the time and lost lives required to achieve them?

We may never know.

What is certain, however, is that the Republicans will use Obama’s “leadership…from the rear by (one) who seek(s) to risk as little as possible” against him in the 2012 presidential campaign.

The Trenchant Observer

Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #2 (April 23)

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

Qaddafi’s troops are reported to have withdrawn from the siege of Misurata. See

Charles Levinson (Misrata), “Libyan Rebels Drive Army Out of Misrata,” Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2011.

Juan Miguel Muñoz (Bangasí / Enviado Especial) / agencias, “Las tropas de Gadafi se retiran de Misrata tras casi dos meses de ofensiva: Un portavoz rebelde confirma el giro en la estrategia de guerra del régimen libio, acuciado por los bombardeos de la OTAN,” 23 de abril de 2011.

Xan Rice (Misrata) “Libya: ‘If people in Misrata put down their guns, Gaddafi will kill all of us’: More than 1,000 people have died in Misrata since protests began in February, but its volunteer fighters remain defiant,” The Guardian (guardian.co.uk), April 23, 2011.

The breaking of the siege of Misurata is a very significant victory for the insurgents in Libya.

Possibly, it could be a turning point. But the need for foreign troops on the ground to end the assault on civilians by Qaddafi and his forces can not be excluded.

It is clear that the civilian population of Libya will not be secure from the bombardment of civilian populations, assassinations by snipers, extrajudicial killings throughout Libya, and being tracked down one-by-one by Qaddafi’s state security forces, often in the still of the night, until he is prevented from committing further war crimes and crimes against humanity by being removed from power.

The Trenchant Observer

Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #1 (April 22)

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

For vivid accounts of what is happening right now in Misurata, see

Andrew Malone, “The moment a Libyan sniper targeted two Mailmen, firing a bullet that tore into rebel guide’s side,” The Daily Mail, April 22, 2011.

Xan Rice, “Misrata rebels strike back against Gaddafi snipers: Libya rebels seize tallest buildings, favoured by pro-Gaddafi snipers,” The Guardian, April 22, 2011.

For an overview of the current situation, by the reporter providing perhaps the best day-to-day coverage of the war, see

Juan Miguel Muñoz, “La guerra de Libia se eterniza: Occidente descarta el desplome inmediato del régimen de Muamar el Gadafi — Los rebeldes resisten, pero no logran victorias para cambiar el curso bélico,” El País, April 22, 2011.

(The article can be translated by Google translate, at the bottom of this page.)

The U.S. has decided to send two drone aircraft to be used over Libya, but it is highly doubtful they they alone can turn the tide.

Security Council Resolution 1973 authorizes the use of “all necessary measures” to protect the civilian population of Libya. That includes the use of ground troops if necessary. It is the text of the Seurity Council resolution that has binding force. Consequently, any country is legally authorized to send ground troops into Libya to protect the civilian population, if it so decides.

Too little attention has been given by the nations of the world to the risks of failing to halt the attacks on civilians in Libya.

Coaltion governments agonize over the risk of inflicting civilian damage and hesitate to act, while hundreds of civilians die.

That is the collateral damage to the civilian population that the failure to act decisively has caused.

Senator McCain is in Libya urging stronger action, and also laying the foundation for a Republican campaign argument in 2012 that Obama is a weak leader on the international stage. In Libya, he stated,

“It is still incredibly puzzling to me that the two most accurate close air support weapons systems, the A-10 and the AC-130, have been taken out of the fight,” he said.

“I just came from a hospital where I saw the dead and dying, and it argues for us to help them and to get this thing over with and Gaddafi out.”

–Michael Brissenden, “McCain visits Libya to support rebels,” ABC News, April 22, 2011

So far, Obama’s debacle in Libia continues, unabated.

The Trenchant Observer