Sunday, April 10, 2011

Opinion: Libya: What is NATO's goal?

What is the international community's strategy in Libya?

First the U.S. and it’s allies France, Britain, and to a lesser degree Arab League countries launched military strikes to secure a no-fly zone over Libya, all under a U.N. Security Council resolution.

Then the United States backs off it’s leadership role and transfers it’s powers to NATO. All the while the Libyan rebels, or should they more accurately be called freedom fighters, are being outgunned by Gaddafi’s professionally trained army.

Once again it appears that the world has gone in with guns blazing, but after a short period of time, their interest wanes, and those whom they were tasked to protect are left to fend for themselves.

If the goal of the international community is to depose Col. Gaddafi, then that should be stated clearly and the goal should be achieved using all military means at their disposal. Unfortunately, the goal of this action is not very clear, some may even say muddled. At a news conference in the Chilean capital Santiago, President Obama said the military objective in Libya is to guard civilians from attacks, not to oust Gaddafi from power.

Clearly the U.S. government would like to see Gaddafi removed from power after his 40+ year reign, but politically our President can’t come out and say it. Gaddafi has been a thorn in the side of the international community for may years. Libya’s role in the downing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing all 259 passengers on board is well documented.. According to Mustafa Mohamed Abdel-Jalil, the former Libyan Justice Minister: Colonel Gaddafi personally ordered the Lockerbie attack. “I have proof that Gaddafi gave the order about Lockerbie,” Mustafa Abdel-Jalil was quoted as saying in an interview with Expressen.

Today it is being reported that the rebels are losing ground to Gaddafi’s forces in and around the town of Ajdabiya. There are claims of street fighting between the forces and the rebels appear to be on the retreat. Reporters speaking with rebels on the ground have voiced anger toward NATO and the international community. They feel that they are not getting the support that they need to take the fight to Gaddafi’s army.

Can we blame them? The international community and NATO must make their goals completely clear. Once this is done they must use all means at their disposal, including military ones, to achieve these goals.

The United States has now taken a backseat in this conflict, but I question whether we should have. Although we certainly won’t win any popularity contests in the region, with clearly defined goals it could be argued that we are the most capable of achieving them.

I have become increasingly concerned that bowing to constant international opinion has weakened our status in the world. It seems that regardless of what actions we take or what sides we support around the world we will be vilified by someone. If that is the case, then we should pursue what we feel as a country is morally right and put less emphasis on international public opinion.

Let us do what is right for the people of Libya and put an end to reign of Col. Gaddafi if that is the path that has been chosen. While we wait, more innocent men, women and children continue to die.

Article first published as Libya: What is NATO's goal? on Blogcritics.