By Patrick J. Buchanan
Now that Benghazi has been spared what we were assured would be a massacre by Moammar Gadhafi’s army, why are the U.S. Air Force, Navy, CIA and Special Forces still attacking in Libya?
If our objective was to spare the defenseless people of Benghazi from slaughter, why, mission accomplished, did we not stop bombing? Why are we plunging deeper in?
Did Gadhafi attack us? Did he attack a NATO country, thereby triggering Article 5 of the treaty requiring us to go to war? Have his forces carried out massacres of such magnitude in recaptured towns and cities as to morally mandate our humanitarian intervention?
Where? What has Gadhafi done in any rebel city that has fallen to him to compare with what Syria’s Hafez al-Assad did in Hama, when he rolled up his artillery in 1982 and slaughtered between 10,000 and 20,000 to teach the Moslem Brotherhood a lesson in loyalty?
Not a decade after Hama, Assad was the welcome ally of George H.W. Bush in Desert Storm.
With Benghazi secure, by what right did we attack the Libyan soldiers defending Ras Januf, Brega and Sirte? What crimes were they committing by defending their cities from rebel attack and their government from being overthrown by force and violence?
Is this not what all soldiers take an oath to do?
None of this is written in defense of Gadhafi, a loathsome man and murderer of innocents, but to ask: Why is this small civil war in a North African desert country America’s war?
The White House will not even concede America is at war. And understandably so. For that would trigger follow-up questions.
If we are at war with Libya, who started it? What was the casus belli requiring us to go to war? Did Libyan troops attack U.S. citizens or ships in the Mediterranean? Who is the aggressor in this war?
The truth: America is fighting another war of choice in Libya, and this one without any constitutional sanction. Congress not only did not declare this war, Congress was not even consulted.
Yet, once begun, wars create new political realities.
Now that Obama and Hillary Clinton have declared that Gadhafi must go, and U.S. military power has been put massively in on the side of the rebels, Gadhafi cannot win without Obama losing face and the United States being humiliated.
Saving Obama’s face and preserving our superpower image may be the cause for which we kill a number of Libyans who did nothing to us.
There is, however, a more compelling reason Gadhafi must go.
Should he survive our drive to dethrone and kill him with that cruise missile into his compound the first night of our attack, he is likely to return the favor, as he did at Lockerbie after Ronald Reagan’s 1986 attack on his compound.
Should Gadhafi retain power at the end of this war, with friends and family dead, how safe will U.S. airliners be on the North Atlantic run? If, as Reagan rightly said, Gadhafi is the “mad dog of the Middle East,” can you leave such a wounded and rabid animal alive?
Our intervention raises other questions that should have been asked and answered before Obama plunged us into this civil war.
Absent some lucky air or cruise missile strike, how do we remove him from power? How do we de-claw him so we do not awaken some morning to a horrific reprisal on U.S. citizens for what we did to him?
The rebel army is not up to it. It did not just retreat from Sirte after tribal forces joined the Libyan army to repel them. It fled in a Mad Max rout, abandoning town after town until some rebels had fled all the way back to Benghazi.
Even with the United States and NATO imposing a no-fly and no-drive zone on Gadhafi’s army, the rebel army is not a force that can march to Tripoli and depose him. And it is unlikely to become such a force anytime soon. The rebels lack the arms, training, equipment and numbers to march 600 miles and capture and hold half a dozen towns along the way against hostile tribes and Libyan troops.
Who, then, is going to do it?
Obama has said we will not put boots on the ground. But if we don’t put U.S. advisers in, who will train, arm and lead the rebels? The Germans and Turks want no part of this war. The most bellicose allies, Britain and France, had a hellish time in Bosnia before the Americans came and pulled their chestnuts out of the fire.
As for the Arab League, Qatar has sent a few planes, but where is the Egyptian army, half a million strong and right next door? Why is Arabs fighting Arabs an American rather than an Arab problem?
The truth: There is no “international community.” There is Uncle Sam. He does it, or it does not get done.