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Regrettably, I didn’t begin to understand the Obama administration until roughly 20 years before he was born. That’s not subtle self-praise. I should have caught on even earlier.
It began the day Mother and Aunt Selma gave me different reasons why we couldn’t go to the beach. Mother blamed the car. Selma blamed the weather. Daddy chimed in saying he’d heard there were a lot of jellyfish along the shore.
We’re told of the man whose neighbor called and asked if he might borrow his power saw for an hour or so. “You know,” said the power saw owner, “I only use it myself for a few minutes at a time because I’m afraid mice will build a nest right there in the garage if I leave it out for longer.”
The man’s son, who’d heard what his father said, then said, “Dad, that’s the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. We don’t even have mice.” “Son,” replied the father, “when you don’t want to do something, one excuse is as good as any other.”
The Obama administration doesn’t want to aid the Libyan rebels in their increasingly hopeless effort to overthrow Gadhafi.
The president cites the need for further study and analysis. And the secretary of state insists we need a “strong international consensus.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates tells us a no-fly zone over Libya starts with an attack on Libya to take out its air defenses and radar, and, gee, one carrier doesn’t carry enough planes to do the job. And Libya is too vast a country. And White House press secretary Jay Carney chimes in wondering who these rebels really are and whether it makes sense to send weapons to “a P. O. Box in eastern Libya.”
As a child I lacked “standing” to question Mother’s “car” lament or Selma’s weather wisdom or Daddy’s jellyfish sources, but, for the second week in a row now, I’d like to promote myself from former private first-class to military analyst challenging our leadership.
Secretary Gates is right. One way to start a no-fly zone is to attack Libya’s air defenses. But couldn’t America begin by warning Gadhafi we are “declaring” a no-fly zone and will destroy his air defenses only if his warplanes fly? Or, base American fighter planes in the region close enough to take off and engage the Libyan planes as they head for their target, then shoot them down and pursue them homeward and bomb their runways? Gates’ comment about Libya’s vastness should give the administration’s game away clear down to below junior high school. The only relevant part of Libya’s “vastness” is – just like in World War II – a 40-mile strip inland from the Mediterranean Sea. Iraq, over which Gates declared a no-fly zone reasonable because of its relative smallness, IS FOUR TIMES THE SIZE OF THAT RELEVANT HUNK OF LIBYA!
It sickens enemies of tyranny to hear the brilliant and courageous Fox News correspondent Leland Vitter report the rebels’ disarray, and their lack of any command and control or discipline; they waste ammunition firing rocket-propelled grenades at airplanes and, in their dreadful rout, “They don’t know what they’re doing.” I’m not saying such a picture is inaccurate or that Vitter should spin us a brighter one. I’m just saying it sickens. Like those from Norway to Greece who took up whatever arms they could find against the Nazis, they may not have known what they were doing, but they offered up their lives to try to do it. At least Norway’s “gutta i skauen” (the boys in the forest), the French Maquisards, the Serbian Partisans and Chetniks and their allies in every German-occupied country knew powerful help was on the way. All the Libyan rebels get is analysis, strong international consensus and power saw-type excuses.
By the time this column sees print al-Qaida may have jumped in as the sole ally of the Libyan rebels. As liberal columnist Pete Hamill used to say at moments like this, “Beautiful!”
My suspicion: Washington knows the rebel failure will let all dictators know that Gadhafi’s murder policy beats Mubarak’s moderation. And that’s exactly the message this administration wants to send to the leaders and people of Saudi Arabia! Too much of this toppling of too many dictators can play hob with oil flow and oil prices, which, among other “disasters,” can defeat Obama in 2012! Tunisia can go. Egypt can go. But like the male raccoon said to the accommodating lady skunk, “Ma’am, I’ve enjoyed about as much of this as I can stand.”
How good that the French in the 1770s didn’t frown at sending military aid to “P. O. Boxes in Lexington and Concord.” And how good that 1939 America didn’t sniff at sending arms to “a P. O. Box in London.” Or that 1950 America didn’t flinch from sending aid-plus-troops to a “P. O. Box in Seoul, South Korea.”
We may not know who the rebels are, Jay, but we know who they’re against. But fret not over-much, pal. You won’t have any P. O. Box in east Libya to bedevil your conscience much longer.