Obama Stampeded Into War?
Patrick J. Buchanan
by Patrick J. Buchanan: How
Killing Libyans Became a Moral Imperative
"NATO is moving
very slowly, allowing Gadhafi forces to advance," said rebel leader
Abdul Fattah Younis, as the Libyan army moved back to the outskirts
of Ajdabiya, gateway city to Benghazi.
"NATO has become
Younis is implying
that if NATO does not stop Libyan soldiers from capturing Ajdabiya,
the rebels may be defeated – and NATO will be responsible for that
And who is
Abdul Fattah Younis?
Until six weeks
ago, he held the rank of general and interior minister and was regarded
as the No. 2 man in Moammar Gadhafi's regime.
Yet his military
assessment does not appear too far off.
Gadhafi's forces were again on the offensive, after having been
driven by U.S. air and missile strikes all the way back to his hometown
What gave the
Libyan army its new lease on life?
handed off the war to NATO and moved to the sidelines, restricting
U.S. forces to supporting roles.
As of today,
however, it appears that if the U.S. military does not re-engage
deeply and actively in this war, the Libyan uprising could go down
to defeat. And we will be blamed.
How did Barack
Obama get us into this box?
Sen. Jim Webb questioned Gen. Carter Ham, head of the U.S. Africa
the United States, nor its citizens, nor any U.S. ally had been
attacked or imperiled, Webb asked, what was the justification for
the U.S. attack on Libya, whose government, Gadhafi's government,
the State Department still recognizes as the legitimate government
lives," was Ham's response.
Yet, as last
week brought news of the slaughter of 1,000 civilians by gunfire
and machete by troops loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the man we recognize
as the legitimate president of the Ivory Coast, a question arises:
Why was a real massacre in West Africa less a casus belli for us
than an imagined massacre in North Africa?
Was Obama stampeded
into war by hysterical talk of impending atrocities that had no
basis in fact?
That is the
issue raised by columnist Steve Chapman, that ought to be raised
by a Congress that was treated almost contemptuously, when Obama
launched a war without seeking its authorization.
On March 26,
over a week after he ordered the strikes on Libya, hitting tanks,
anti-aircraft, radar sites, troops and Gadhafi's own compound in
Tripoli, 600 miles away from Benghazi, Obama told the nation he
had acted to prevent a "bloodbath" in Benghazi.
"We knew that
if we waited one more day, Benghazi – a city nearly the size of
Charlotte – could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated
across the region and stained the conscience of the world."
Middle East expert Dennis Ross reportedly told foreign policy experts:
"We were looking at 'Srebrenica on steroids' – the real or imminent
possibility that up to 100,000 people could be massacred, and everyone
would blame us for it."
A hundred thousand
massacred! And our fault? But that is seven times the body count
of Katyn, one of the Stalinist horrors of World War II. Was Benghazi
truly about to realize the fate that befell Carthage at the hands
of Scipio Africanus, at the close of the Third Punic War?
How did the
White House come to believe in such a scenario?
In this low-scale
war, the cities of Zwara, Ras Lanuf, Brega, and Ajdabiya have changed
hands, some several times. Misrata, the only rebel-held city in
the west, has been under siege for seven weeks.
Yet in none
of these towns has anything like the massacre in the Ivory Coast
taken place, let alone Srebrenica. The Guardian's Saturday report
read, "Fierce fighting in Ajdabiya saw at least eight people killed."
Saleh's security forces killed six times that many civilians just
to break up one rally in his central square.
True, on March
17, Gadhafi said he would show "no mercy." But as Chapman notes,
he was referring to "traitors" who resisted him to the end. And
Gadhafi added, "We have left the way open to them."
those who escape go forever." Gadhafi went on to pledge that "whoever
hands over his weapons, stays at home without any weapons, whatever
he did previously, he will be pardoned, protected."
there is, as yet, no evidence of any such slaughter in any town
his forces have captured. Nor do the paltry forces Gadhafi has mustered
to recapture the east – Ajdabiya was attacked by several dozen Toyota
trucks – seem capable of putting a city of 700,000 to the sword.
With the Libyan
war now seemingly a stalemate, and pressure building for the United
States to renew air and missile strikes, and train and equip rebel
forces, Congress needs to learn how we got into this mess.
Was Obama stampeded
into this war by the panic and hysteria of his advisers? Because,
quite clearly, he did not think this thing through.
J. Buchanan [send
him mail] is co-founder and editor of The
American Conservative. He is also the author of seven books,
the Right Went Wrong, and A
Republic Not An Empire. His latest book is Churchill,
Hitler, and the Unnecessary War. See his
© 2011 Creators Syndicate
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