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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Obama's problem from hell

Jackson Diehl discusses how President Obama's 'leading from behind,' which Diehl overly generously refers to as a 'light footprint,' is likely to plague the President in the second term.
A new report by the Rand Corporation concludes that “this lighter-footprint approach has made Libya a test case for a new post-Iraq and Afghanistan model of nation-building.” But the result is that, a year after the death of dictator Moammar Gaddafi, Libya is policed by what amounts to a mess of militias. Its newly elected government has little authority over most of the country’s armed men — much less the capacity to take on the jidhadist forces gathering in and around Benghazi.
The Rand study concludes that stabilizing Libya will require disarming and demobilizing the militias and rebuilding the security forces “from the bottom up.” This, it says, probably can’t happen without help from “those countries that participated in the military intervention” — i.e. the United States, Britain and France. Can the Obama administration duplicate the security-force-building done in Iraq and Afghanistan in Libya while sticking to the light footprint? It’s hard to see how.
Obama’s team may be betting that it can control the jihadist threat in North Africa the way it has countered al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula — with drone strikes and training for local special forces. But the drone leg of Obama’s strategy is looking shaky, as well. Opposition to drone strikes is growing steadily domestically and among U.S. allies — not to mention in the countries where the attacks take place.
A paper by Robert Chesney of the University of Texas points out that if strikes begin to target countries in North Africa and groups not directly connected to the original al-Qaeda leadership, problems with their legal justification under U.S. and international law “will become increasingly apparent and problematic.” And that doesn’t account for the political fallout: Libyan leaders say U.S. drone strikes would destroy the goodwill America earned by helping the revolution.
At best, Libya will be a steady, low-grade headache for Obama in his second term. But the worst blowback from his policies will come in Syria. What began as a peaceful mass rebellion against another Arab dictator has turned, in the absence of U.S. leadership, into a brutal maelstrom of sectarian war in which al-Qaeda and allied jihadists are playing a growing role. Obama’s light footprint strategy did much to produce this mess; without a change of U.S. policy, it will become, like Bosnia for Bill Clinton or Iraq for George W. Bush, the second term’s “problem from hell.”
 Read the whole thing.

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At 2:54 PM, Blogger Empress Trudy said...

We have to conclude that the purpose of any of this wasn't to topple Gadaffi or nation building or any of that. The sole purpose of this entire endeavor was to end it. Just do something to end it as quickly as possible and leave. There's no plan no strategy. Two things happened which drove all of this - 1) Gadaffi said he would kill everyone in Bengazi. Regardless of what tyrants do, they can't say they plan on a genocide 30 minutes from Italy by plane. The EU simply won't allow itself to go down in history as doing nothing about that - not after Bosnia. 2) Italy was terrified of the prospect of hundreds of thousands of Libyan refugees washing ashore and which under EU law, they can't send back or send anywhere. They'd be stuck with them. So they needed to end the worst of the fighting ASAP. That's all this was about.


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