The Obama Doctrine takes a lot of words to explain…

March 30, 2011

I still don’t believe there is such a thing as “limited war”. You are either at war or you or not and you either fight to win or you don’t, and in the case of the latter you likely lose, or at the least end up with a stalemate that is not satisfying to the American psyche. That is why we play or watch football where there are winners and losers, not soccer where you can tie 0 to 0.

The Obama Doctrine as I can make it out takes me a lot of words to explain: it seems to be we cannot act everywhere where there is terrible wrong, but we can sometimes if there is a real interest there and if the conditions are right and if we can get the backing and/or support of enough people, and if we do not have the bear the total responsibility and if we can back out of it at any time and we can make ultimatums such as Gaddafi must go because he lost the support of his people and because he is a mad man who would butcher his own people, but we will not put boots on the ground or actually enforce regime change to back up those words.

President Obama said somewhat over 24 hours now as I write this that those bombing sorties and missile strikes done by the U.S. and France and other members of the coalition had done the trick and the rebel forces had turned the tide (we‘re supporting the “rebels“ even though we do not know what they are really up to or whether in the end they will just open the way for Al Qaeda). But as far as the rebels beating back the Gaddafi forces, that is not what I am reading in news dispatches from the front as I am writing this (it is a fluid situation I am sure).

You would think with all the power arrayed against Gaddafi and all of it that is available, he and his forces could be wiped out pronto (then again that is not often the case, but there was that first Iraq war where we wiped out that nation‘s air force in a day or so and within weeks had his vaunted army surrendering to TV cameramen (ahh those were the days). Even then some people just could not stand to win, so we failed to march into Baghdad and hang Hussein at the time.

So even if there is enough pressure on Gaddafi to make him flee will there be a force to restore order or will it just be a new problem?

And just how does one take and secure territory without boots on the ground? Maybe the ragtag rebels can do it with air support from the coalition, but it does not seem likely since they are up against armed professional soldiers and mercenaries.

But if the rebels do prevail, what will they bring? Will they be co-opted by Al Qaeda if they are not just Al Qaeda in disguise already?

And where is Obama getting the money to pay for all of this, this war without congressional authorization?

How is it that we are nearly brought to our knees by trillions of dollars of national debt, but we can afford to pay for a war of choice, not defense? (We always can afford a war of defense — we have to afford that or we will not continue to exist.)

It is nice to have the support of the Arab world, such as it is, with all of its qualifications and equivocations, but why not let the Arab League sort it out?

Obama is not the first president to use the military as a tool of international relations. There is a long tradition in that. Teddy Roosevelt used gunboat diplomacy.

But I think the world has changed and gotten more complex and the military may be needed to be reserved more for defense.

Being a superpower may not be what it used to be. On the other hand that does not mean we have to let our own military be subjugated to the dictates of other nations or a world government.

Obama may well be trying to respond in a moral way to a crisis in which a dictator threatens to murder en masse his own people over rebellion, but without creating a mess like we did in a similar situation in Iraq, something that has not been totally resolved yet, although Saddam Hussein won‘t be bothering anyone anymore, thanks thousands of lives, to include thousands of Americans, and the hangman‘s rope.

Now if Obama can figure out a way to get at Gaddafi and hang him now and spare all the rest of the bloodshed, that would be good. But he seems unclear on whether Gaddafi can or should be forced to go.

But at the hour I write this Gaddafi forces seem to have taken the upper hand.

What is Obama and the rest of the coalition waiting for?

Either you know what or get off the pot, I’d say.

Ever since the 60s I have heard those debates ringing in my ears about whether to fight wars and if you do how to stop from “escalating” them, as if they were on some kind of dial you could turn up or down at will.

Yeah, I’m getting tiring and repeating myself, but come on, you either fight or not (and there is a decision to be made on that account). But if you fight, you fight to win — give it all you’ve got. This is football, not soccer.

P.s.

And now, thanks to the New York Times, which I may be pay walled out of reading soon (I guess it’s only fair), I read that there is now a debate within the Obama administration and within the Pentagon over whether to arm the rebels. Well let’s see, we wanted one side to win in the Vietnam War and President Johnson vowed at one point he would not send American boys in to do what Vietnamese boys should be doing for themselves and 50,000 Americans dead and thousands wounded later we gave up — he did send them because the job was not getting done and if America is backing something it kind of has to be in charge. Oh, and I also read that the administration is trying to get all the intelligence it can on who exactly these rebels are. That’s comforting.


One-world government moves forward via Libya…

March 28, 2011

Listened to nearly all of  President Obama’s speech on Libya and read the full transcript.

MY TAKE OR REACTIONS:

The move toward one-world government has taken a dangerous and major step forward.

We are wasting treasure in or on or above the sands of North Africa.

How do you limit a war?

All these things jump out at me and make me nervous.

I think it is preposterous or at least contradictory of him to suggest that it would not be correct of the U.S. or its allies to effect regime change in Libya. Obama already demanded that Gaddafi step down, saying he must go. So which is it? He must go or not? If not, then why are we expending all of the military power and money that it takes to use it? If what Gaddafi is doing and has done already is so bad that the U.S. must act, then how on earth could he be allowed to remain? And is this a new type of foreign policy? Every time something untoward goes on within another nation’s borders that the U.S. or other nations of the world do not approve of we send in the jets for some bombing runs?

On the one hand, the president says that we cannot go in everywhere where there is trouble, but on the other hand, where we can and where our interests are involved, we should. It would be in our interest if all the world lived under democratic rule as we and if all the world liked us and if all the world traded freely with us. We would certainly feel better if people everywhere had no fear of torture and repression. But we are a world of individual nation states, of which the United States of America is one (and right now the strongest). It is my belief that while nations may want to cooperate with one another that they also must be allowed to run their own affairs internally. Not all peoples want to live under the same customs and standards. And, look at it this way: it’s easier for a disaffected or oppressed people to throw off the shackles of one localized tyrant or national government than an all-powerful world government. 

I am concerned that by interfering in another nation and by submitting ourselves to the dictates of the United Nations and by turning over military command to NATO we are indeed moving toward one-world government. I realize that the United States has used both the UN and NATO, and as I noted in a previous blog, SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organization), as essentially a cover to conduct military actions, but we all knew full well that the U.S. was in charge. The reality of it is that other smaller or weaker nations might want to join with us for their own protection. But it is not necessary nor is it in the best interests of the United States to surrender its sovereignty, and in fact it would seem, at least, to be unconstitutional and certainly not patriotic.  While I would hope that the president’s intentions are in the right place, I think he has made a grave mistake and has set this nation on the wrong course.

Somehow I missed what our vital interests are in Libya or even if we do have vital interests then why in that case we would not go to all-out war and get something accomplished.

Half-way wars for unclear purposes have been mighty expensive for us in my lifetime in both blood and treasure and even self-esteem of the nation.

P.s.

To a degree, Obama trying to justify why we must go into Libya, sounded a lot like George W. Bush making his case for going into Iraq. Obama just has a better command of syntax.

I think, though, that Bush’s actual intentions revolved around the idea that the U.S. should have hegemony in the Middle East and that it must protect its source of oil at all costs.

Obama must have some of the same considerations, but he probably is looking somewhat more at what he feels is a moral obligation (and Bush probably thought he was considering that as well — both talked of mass killings and torture being perpetrated in the respective nations, Iraq and Libya).


We’ll listen to what Obama has to say Monday night, but I’m wondering how is it we cannot afford to fix things here at home but we find money to fight overseas?

March 26, 2011

UPDATE: So after my original posting of this blog I see that President Obama is going to give his version of what this Libya thing is all about and our progress so far on Monday night (7:30 p.m., Eastern Time). I may be working, but I hope I can catch it on radio. I’d like to know. UPDATE to the UPDATE: Actually, the president has already given his rationale for acting in Libya in his weekly address, something I never catch. Guess I am one of those people who actually prefers the “filter” of the media. But if you missed it too: http://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/weekly-address

——————–

George W. Bush plunged the nation into a fruitless and needless and bloody and terribly expensive war in Iraq while putting a seemingly at the time slightly more reasonable war in Afghanistan on hold, only for a new president, Barack Obama, who castigated him for Iraq, to ramp up the effort in Afghanistan and then start his own new war (or at least military operation) in Libya (although supposedly just part of a coalition of sorts).

But it occurs to me, just as Iraq, even under the terrible tyrant and butcher Saddam Hussein, posed no direct threat to the U.S., neither does Gaddafi — although it is hard to argue that he should not be gotten rid of, but maybe an embargo and total freezing of his bank accounts  would be a better way to go.

(A German official commented about the seeming hypocrisy of the coalition of Western nations still buying oil from Gaddafi (thus funding him) while attacking him — I’m not sure what his point was, but it is a kind of strange situation — but you know, people still need oil and business is business and war is war. Germany has chosen to stay out of the Libya mess, even though other NATO partners are involved. And sometime I need to re-check this, but I often cite something I read that said Germany sold its then enemy Great Britain ammunition, via Krupp Steel in World War I.)

I put an add onto my last post that suggested maybe that gaining hegemony in the Middle East is what we should do (just a maybe) seeing as how we have pressured some Arabs to support us. But then I read a column by Bob Herbert in the New York Times and I snap out of such thoughts (it‘s his last column, he‘s moving on).

He rightly asks why we seem to find money to fund foreign military actions but none to rescue ourselves from a dire economic and social breakdown here at home.

To heck with geopolitical gamesmanship, I’m thinking. Let’s just keep our own Fortress America safe from attack and get our own house in order.

There well may be a freedom movement around the Middle East, but that is up for Middle Easterners to work on. Let us not get in their way, but let’s us stay out of their way.

Check out the Herbert column if you have not already: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/26/opinion/26herbert.html?_r=1&hp

P.s.

The web can be frustrating to me. If I read a newspaper I can go back to a headline and read the story, but I just surfed past one on the internet somewhere that said Europe is worried that Libya could become its Afghanistan — European nations who depend upon Libya more directly for oil than even the U.S. are said to be the main instigators in the no-fly zone operation (okay so maybe we should hand the operation over to them and get out). ADD 1: Okay, I found that item I was referring to at the Der Spiegel (German news magazine) site: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,750852,00.html

P.s. P.s.

And hopefully my next post will not be about Libya. I’m kind of worded out on the thing.


Obama may be wagging the dog; moon shot approach to energy independence needed…

March 25, 2011

At this time it still seems unclear who is actually in charge of the no-fly zone Libya military operation by the West aimed against Muammar Gaddafi and his regime, officially to prevent civilians from being attacked by their own government, but in all practical terms aimed at toppling the mad-man Gaddafi (he is kind of clever, but he is also quite mad, by all appearances).

Supposedly NATO is taking over. In the real world that would seem to mean the United States will bear the heaviest burden in cost and probably resources. It always has in the past, although most or all of that is of our (the U.S.’s) own doing, because we have used the cover of NATO to conduct wars, example Korean War, or the cover of SEATO (less well-known perhaps, but Southeast Asia Treaty Organization) in the case of Vietnam.

I still maintain that going into Libya, only by air or otherwise was not a wise decision. But since the decision was made, I am puzzled why the planners and initiators did not come up with a more coordinated and comprehensive approach and call it like it is:

(The only answer is that there is always that false hope for “limited war”. But war is unpredictable. If you could actually limit it, you would limit it to nothing.)

The problem:

Gaddafi has finally gotten totally out of hand. In the past he was judged responsible for sponsoring terror operations, most notably the downing of a civilian airliner over Scotland.

In the past we have shot down Libyan jets who menaced our own aircraft, and President Ronald Reagan took it a step further and authorized the bombing of his tent. But somehow we missed him.

But now, by all reports, Gaddafi has threatened and is trying to liquidate his own people. (That is what convinces me he is indeed not just bad, but nuts. I mean how can you be a dictator if you get rid of all your dictatees?)

The solution:

Demand that he step down. That was done, but he did not. Next: Deliver an ultimatum that if he does not we will go in and get him. But of course before you do all of this you have to make sure you have the power to back it up and everything in place. His military leaders should have been warned in private that we were coming and that they could jump to our side or that they could convince him to step down.

Then if the warnings fail (which they did), go in with a coordinated air, sea and land approach — maybe not everything at once, but everything at the ready.

Now this would be terribly expensive and dangerous. But what is being done now, air power only, seems awful limited and still terribly expensive. It might not have as high a potential for loss of life, but it seems the cost-benefit ratio could be far less if it is not successful or if it ends in a stalemate or just sets off a civil war.

I am thinking that nations have to work out their own problems within their own borders and should not be subject to attack unless what is going on there directly affects other nations. Now that latter could be the case in Libya (the West needs the oil and refugees cause a problem for other nations). So if it is all that important, then don’t hold back. Go in and get the job done. And as I said in a previous post, it seems a provisional government would have to be set up, and that would have to be done by outside forces.

The Arab world seems mixed about its support for this operation. But the United Arab Emirates has agreed to send jets in support. The UAE is not exactly a beacon of democracy itself, but it is an ally of the U.S. and it has lots of oil. The emirs there would rather side with the U.S. and the West as long as the West buys their oil and helps them keep the Islamic fundamentalists at bay.

I also understand that Turkey, not an Arab nation, but a largely Muslim one, has agreed to take part in the Libya operation as a member of NATO.

When it is all said and done, as far as the U.S. is concerned, we would do better to slack off of being the world’s policeman and become energy independent. Our interventions are predicated more on resources than a desire for human rights, and that is only practical. Can you imagine what would have happened if we tried to intervene deeper down in Africa where most folks are black? This statement has nothing to do with racism on my part. Just be realistic.

There is a lot more to being energy independent than putting up windmills or turbines (even though it helps) or fanaticizing about running around in battery-operated cars (and where does the battery energy actually come from?).

A wise use of federal government money (better than military operations) would be a moon shot approach into research on energy, as well as a careful continued development of our own conventional energy resources, to include oil, natural gas, and coal.

The government needs to do the research, but in the end, private enterprise will likely find the answer, with pure economics dictating that answer.

I really think that President Obama has lacked leadership on this, but then again, none of his would-be rivals promise anything better.

I also think Obama has played a little wag the dog in the Libya operation. He also may have fallen into a trap. Republican opponents crowed that he was weak and timid on the Libya issue — so he acted and now they don’t like that either.

(It occurs to me that if the Republican Party could find a candidate with real ideas, well thought out and articulated, not just the standard criticisms, and not just hot-button wedge/social issues that have little to do with governing, such a candidate might be a real threat to an Obama second term. No one has emerged, yet.)

ADD 1:

I am not one who necessarily stays doggedly with one point of view. If the U.S. can successfully get enough Arab/Muslim states to go along with it in this action and other endeavors, then maybe we are achieving the hegemony in the region the neocons pushed for during the last decade. It is not cheap. It may or may not be worth it. We may live by the sword and we may die by the sword. But the only way to do this is with our current all-volunteer professional military. It would not be right to demand ordinary citizens put their lives on the line, not for self-defense, but for world domination. I am not being sarcastic or facetious here; this is a real issue we all need to think about.


Why not Blitzkrieg Gaddafi? And I go out on a limb and predict Romney for 2012 Republican nod…

March 24, 2011

Most of my blogs are on one subject, but because of time considerations, I am going to throw in two items here: Operation Odyssey Dawn (the bombing of Libya) and the possibility that Mitt Romney might get the Republican nomination for 2012.

First, Odyssey Dawn.

We all know the real intent here is for Gaddafi to leave his seat of power in Libya (and maybe hang him — okay, I just threw that second part in). So why didn’t they just send in some special forces and do just that? Or if that is not possible, then why not a coordinated land, sea, and air attack — lightning war (the German in me — Blitzkrieg), oust Gaddafi and his henchmen and set up a provisional government?

It does seem as if Gaddafi could hardly hold out indefinitely with the continued air attacks — but who knows?

But apparently no one has an idea of who is going to take charge once he is gone . In fact, no one I am reading seems to know what the actual makeup of the hodgepodge of untrained rebel forces of all ages is and whether they will begin to fight among themselves if or when Gaddafi leaves. I mean, even though the civilized West would like to think that they are just the “people” all thinking with one mind, I doubt it works that way there. That is why I think a provisional government has to be set up for the Libyan people.

Things need to be stabilized as quickly as possible and the oil needs to continue to flow, because, be honest, that is what it is all about.

(I know there were volunteers who went over and fought for the cause of freedom loving people in Spain all those years ago. I read “For Whom the Bell Tolls” too. But the U.S. did not intervene. We intervene when we see our interests (read oil in this one) are at stake.

There is no clear leadership in this operation and it does not even have a clear official goal. It still might accomplish something positive, but I am doubting it.

ON TO ROMNEY:

Nothing much to say here really, except that I read an item in Time Magazine online that suggests Mitt Romney is scoring highest among the Tea Party as a Republican candidate for the 2012 presidential election.

I went out on a limb and predicted early on that he would be the candidate last time. It is not that I care for him or his politics. I just thought he had the look and smirk and business credentials that Republicans demand. I also thought he had the ability to unabashedly waffle enough to appeal to a cross section of voters.

An example (besides his flip flop on abortion): un-modern Republican-like he pushed through a health care plan when he was governor or Massachusetts and then had the cajones to criticize Obama for pushing through what many consider a quite identical plan on a national scale.

(I will admit I get lost in the health plan debates. I have not seen the improvement. Rates are still going up as the amount of coverage received goes down, even under the new health care law. Give it time they say. Hey I’m, 61, not so old maybe, but old enough I don’t feel I have enough time to see the benefits. But that’s just me. But then again, I would prefer a more nationalized plan, but I usually don‘t say that in mixed company.)

But I am willing to go out on a limb and even earlier predict that Romney is it.

If unemployment stays high as it is and if the economy does not remarkably improve, I think Mitt has a chance of beating Obama in the main election.

I would be interested in hearing his foreign policy ideas.

And I don’t see me ever voting for him.


This Odyssey Dawn thing (Libya operation) leaves a lot of questions…

March 22, 2011

Just scanning the news I see we’ve lost one expensive fighter jet in Libya now, but fortunately, according to reports, the crew ejected safely and in rebel (presumably friendly) territory. But, you see, war is war, and it is dangerous and expensive.

And it seems that there is a question as to whether President Obama acted unconstitutionally in ordering the military action in that he did not even consult congress. I’m so used to seeing presidents essentially act on their own deploying the military that this fact almost escaped me. I see that Republican Newt Gingrich is criticizing Obama (the Democrat) for intervening in Libya. Strange, right up until Obama did, Gingrich was carping that Obama was dithering over Libya when he ought to act. 

I’m sticking with my opinion that intervening in Libya is a bad idea, but at the same time, if we do (and we did), then we have to know what we are about and get it done and we have to be in charge (Obama seems to think we get it going and then step aside, as to control). I see that there seems to be some questions as to what the mission of what is being called operation Odyssey Dawn (someone said the name sounds like a porn star) is. There is also a question as to who is or should be in charge, the UN, the U.S., NATO, and the Arab League seems to be equivocal in its support. First it thought it was a good idea, and then not so much.

Are we just trying to get rid of one man (Gaddafi)? Are we just trying to make him behave (fat chance)? What?

Personally I do not care for the idea of war (military operation, whatever) waged by committee or by the UN. If the U.S. is involved in war it is in charge or it does not get involved. I know we have accepted the help of other nations in the past, but we are generally in charge because we are the biggest kid on the block and everyone expects us to supply the brunt of the resources.

What if the UN decided it did not like something we (the U.S.) were doing and declared war on us (I guess we could veto that idea in the Security Council, but you know what I mean)?

ADD 1:

More questions:

Are we really intervening in a civil war? What is the history of intervening in civil wars? Who are these forces we are supporting? Will they eventually turn against us? Isn’t this really more about oil than anything else and why don’t we just admit it (it would be good for the soul to be honest)? If it is about saving people, why don’t we intervene in those terrible genocides further south in Africa?


Arabs backed West’s Libya no-fly zone action right up until the bombs started falling; The U.S. should take charge now that it has begun, war by committee not the way to go, and we probably should not have gotten involved, but we have, deal with it!

March 20, 2011

So the powers that be decided to go to war in Libya to oust Gaddafi after all, even though I had blogged (they probably don’t read my blog) essentially that to do so would likely be a fool’s errand or at least not in the best interests of the United States (technically the goal is to just get Gaddafi from shooting at his own people or something like that).

__________

ADD 2:

I should mention for clarity that the “powers that be” are supposedly members of the United Nations Security Council, with China and Russia abstaining from the vote in favor of the no-fly zone over Libya, instead of voting no, which could have prevented it. Germany, Brazil and India, non-permanent security council members, also abstained from voting.

To add to the confusion and to demonstrate why you can’t expect Arabs to take care of their own problems, the Arab League had endorsed the no-fly zone, right up till the time the bombs started falling and the missiles flying. The West will always be criticized in their world no matter what — so why don’t we just stay out and save the money and blood? really!

As far as their oil, we have our own we can drill for. I hope they drown in theirs.

—————–

And I do call this a war. While Gaddafi may be forced to chicken out with all the bombs falling around him and having his air force destroyed, he may not, and besides the likely result may well be the whole country being pushed into civil war and then what do we (the U.S.) do or what does the United Nations do?

In addition I do not see how you can run a military operation by committee, with each member nation involved deciding what it will and will not do.

One nation and one representative of that nation, such as the United States in World War II and Supreme Allied commander U.S. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, needs to be in charge.

Fighting war by the leadership of a committee does not stand much of a chance of working. Like I have said, if Gaddafi just collapses and things go well after that maybe, but then one has to ask, why wasn’t someone just sent in to knock him off (instead of spending millions of dollars for each Cruise missile and for all the jet fuel and so on) ?

Yesterday I heard the French were the first in. Good luck with that. When was the last time the French ever won anything (and didn‘t they lose next door Algeria a long time ago now?)? Didn’t we have to save them from the Germans two times in the last century, all because we felt beholding to them for the help of one French volunteer Gen. Lafayette in our own Revolutionary War (yes I realize the French nation itself supported our cause back then because at the time we had a mutual enemy, the British Crown).

I am appalled that U.S. President Barack Obama has stated more than once now that no U.S. troops will be put on the ground in Libya (just airplane and missile strikes). While I would not want to see us get bogged down in another Middle East war, war is war and the only way to fight it is to win and generally ground troops have to go in some time to consolidate things and to hold the ground.

———————-

ADD 1:

It just gets worse and even more absurd. I just read a story in which the U.S.’s top military man Admiral Mike Mullen is quoted as now saying we are not necessarily going after Gaddafi, that the maniac could conceivably stay in power, that we are just trying to keep him from attacking his people. So this is in contradiction now of what Obama and his administration has been saying, that is Gaddafi must go. And so, do we just send in air strikes every time we don’t like certain policies or internal actions by another nation ? Hey, I knew Eisenhower, and Mike Mullen is no Gen. Eisenhower and Obama is no President Eisenhower or FDR or even Harry Truman (well I didn’t personally know Eisenhower, but I was around when he was president, although I was only a little kid).

———————- 

Probably we have no business going into Libya anyway. We would not want to have had a third party interfere with our own Civil War back in the 1860s (the South had hoped and the North had feared, I think I recall in my history, that Great Britain might take the side of the South — needing their cotton for their mills).

And we are applying the double standard, as has been already pointed out by many observers, in that we are not attacking the governments of Bahrain or Yemen or even Saudi Arabia for holding down their own dissidents. And in fact, we really have egg on our face for supporting Gaddafi up until recently because he had cleverly pretended to play nice with the West.

But of course the reason Europe and the United States are interested in Libya is because it has OIL.

But since the war is on, let’s get a military leader, and that leader has to be American because the United States is the super power of the world and whether we like it or not the world has already decided we own this military action anyway.

So far, however, Obama seems indecisive (he and those who agree with his methods might just say “cautious”).

But Obama needs to appoint a military leader for this operation and then get out of his way, but of course Obama still must be in charge as the ultimate authority, albeit in the background.

If things go well and this whole thing is over with shortly, maybe I am wrong.

What are the chances of that (not me being wrong, but things going well)?