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Analysis, publications, and articles


30-03-11, 12:22 PM

  : 1

Analysis, publications, and articles



Executive Summary

The imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya and the air attacks of Saturday garnered much attention by the Washington Think Tank community. And, ironically the community was in general agreement that Obama had failed. Everyone, from liberal to conservative criticized the lack of clear goals in the military intervention. And, despite Obamas promise to withdraw major American support within days, experts warned that involvement would be long term, especially since Obama refuses to provide the military support to guarantee a quick rebel win.

Our analysis focuses on the future military situation. Although the air attacks helped the rebels, Gaddafi will continue to push his advantages. Meantime, the rebels need to grow stronger while holding Gaddafi back. A long war seems to the most likely outcome.

Even the pro-Obama Center for American Progress, which has provided several members of the Obama Administration has its doubts about the Libyan intervention. They concluded, Given this tall agenda in the Middle East, the Obama administration should take great care in clearly defining what it is that it wants to achieve in Libya and what costs it is asking Americans to bear as another Middle East war unfolds. President Obama and his team have evaded the toughest questions tied to this latest war for now, but they wont be able to do so forever.

The Council on Foreign Relations looks at the confusing messages regarding Libya. A new Gallup poll shows more Americans approve than disapprove of the military action against Libya, while experts debate the wisdom of U.S. involvement. CFR President Richard Haass writes that Libya is the third war of choice the United States has entered in less than a decade, with no U.S. vital interests involved. Others argue that the situation in Libya is comparable to the humanitarian situation in Bosnia in 1995, and that the administration had a choice of "rescue or calamity. Benghazi would have been Barack Obama's Srebrenica, the town that the powers had left to the mercy of Ratko Mladic and his killers." Still others debate what the U.S. plan should be for Libya. CFR's Micah Zenko presses for a negotiated settlement and greater involvement from the African Union. Andrew Bacevich, a Boston University historian, says Qaddafi should be removed by force or inducements.

The Heritage Foundation encourages the Obama Administration to think through their Libya policies and decide what they are doing. They conclude, There is no magic button for solving the problems of Libya. No option is risk-free. The Administration and Congress, however, should adopt the most prudent course, recognizing that protecting U.S. interests and playing a positive role in the region will require limited but long-term engagement.

The Center for Security analysis hits the Obama Administration hard for its lack of clear objectives in Libya. They conclude, The significance of the US's descent into strategic irrationality bodes ill not just for US allies, but for America itself. Until the US foreign policy community is again able to recognize and work to advance the US's core interests in the Middle East, America's policies will threaten both its allies and itself.

The CSIS looks at possible outcomes in Libya. They conclude, If some form of stalemate follows, the end result is likely to be the worst of both worlds as all sides jockey for political advantage, try to use resources to support their side of the fighting and build up military forces, and outside governments and investors try to exploit the situation to their own advantage. The only good side would be that the rebels would be forced to gain experience in politics, economics, and governance although this may scarcely be the kind of experience that leads to an effective outcome. The practical problem will be that no real reform will be possible, there will be no stable or clear future that will inspire effective outside investment, and Libyas people will live in a divided dysfunctional country as long as the stalemate lasts. The violence may be minimal, but violence is only one side of the human problems that will last as long and control of Libya is contested.

The CSIS also is concerned about the lack of a clearly defined mission in Libya and the potential outcome. They, remain concerned that, after imposing the no-fly zone and neutralizing the Qaddafi forces, it would be up to the rebels to establish control of Libyan territory and force the regime from power. This puts the ultimate success of the mission in the hands of the rebels. They are a disparate, not well-organized group that has shown little military capability. In addition, they are not well known to the members of the coalition, which makes their possible assumption of power an uncertain proposition. If the war settles into a long stalemate with the rebels controlling much of the east of Libya and Qaddafi controlling the west, the coalition could be put under serious stress.

The Washington Institute argues for a more aggressive role in the civil war. They conclude, Going forward, allied forces should press aggressively to reduce or eliminate Qadhafi's ground capabilities. This should include broad attacks on regime ground forces wherever they can be identified and struck, along with attacks on storage areas, supply and transportation units, and regime logistical operations involving movement of heavy equipment and resupply. In addition, the rebels should be provided with the military means to take the offensive: arms, training, intelligence, and C2 help. This approach would entail accepting some risk of collateral damage, allied losses, and mission creep. But there is no reward without risk, and the swift departure of the Qadhafi regime seems worth the risk.


Libya and the Obama Doctrine

The Obama Administrations response to the civil war in Libya can be summed up in how they briefed congressional leaders last week. A dissatisfied congressional leader walked out of the briefing noting that he learned more about the situation by watching CNN and Fox News.

One politician noted, It may very well be that one of the reasons he [Obama] didnt go to Congress was that he didnt know what his goals were or what the mission would be. And you cant go to Congress and ask for support if you dont have some reasonable precision as to what it is you plan to do. And weve heard varying views as to what the goal is. One person says its to have Gaddafi eliminated and taken out of office other people say, no, thats not the mission. So theres so much confusion about it and it struck me that maybe the reason they havent gone to Congress is that.

One unnamed Democrat said, "They consulted the Arab League. They consulted the United Nations. They did not consult the United States Congress."

The Obama Administration dithered for nearly a month and sent widely differing signals to the world community. In the end, instead of acting to rid Libya of Gaddafi (a stated goal of Obama), the US intervened militarily in response to a UN attempt to save lives. Clearly the administration has no objectives to its current military actions. And, that will impact the region as this civil war continues.

No matter the reason, the military intervention has saved the Libyan rebels. Not only has it been a boost to their morale, it has had a significant impact on the balance of power between the warring sides. The bulk of Gaddafis air and armor assets have been destroyed. In one strike on March 19, some seventy combat and support vehicles were destroyed, largely blunting Gaddafi's offensive power in the east and likely giving pause to other loyalist units operating in the open. In addition, with aircraft patrolling, it will be harder for loyalist forces to run the convoys of trucks necessary to supply large numbers of troops in the east.

The outside world is also beginning to help the rebels too. Egypt has begun to ship arms to eastern Libya and there are reports that Egyptian soldiers are on the ground training rebels. This aid will undoubtedly be followed by support from other countries in the region.

But, Gaddafi isnt defeated. Although the no fly zone will make resupply harder, he is getting supplies from friendly nations like Belarus. He also has a large gold reserve that can be used to make no questions asked purchases of arms.

In some ways, it could be argued that time is on the side of the rebels. They are receiving more arms and training, while Gaddafi has seen his two major assets, armor and airpower, destroyed. However, there are other factors to consider.

Gaddafi will change his tactics. Since Obama maintains that the no-fly-zone is only to save civilian lives, Gaddafi will use his irregular forces and secret police to infiltrate rebel held towns and engage in close quarters combat with the rebels. This will negate allied airpower, especially American airpower, which will probably be held back by Obama.

He will also attempt to implement a political and media strategy with a goal of cracking support for the NFZ. The allies must reckon with the possibility that its ability to impact the civil war may soon peak. If it does not achieve a quick knock-out of Qaddafi, it will need to fashion a sustainable political and military strategy for a long campaign.

The no-fly-zone operations will also evolve. Obama has made it clear that US assets will pull back and only engage in intel, electronic warfare, and refueling operations. Ground support of the rebels will have to come from other countries. This means fewer sorties from allied nations supporting the rebels. At the same time, several countries involved in the effort are threatening to pull out.

As we noted in an earlier report, this looks like a long war. Obama has made it clear that he wants Gaddafi to face charges for genocide at the International Court, which means that Gaddafi doesnt have the option of going into exile. As a result, he will fight to the bitter end.

If the war looks like it will drag on indefinitely, both the rebels and their supporters in the West may quietly encourage establishment of training camps inside and outside Libya. Operating from such a sanctuary, Special Forces advisers could recruit, train, and equip a much better quality rebel forces than has been in the field thus far.

If the equipment being received by Egypt is adequate and training standards for the rebels improves, they might have a clear path to victory over time. Their first goal, however, would be to clear the Gaddafi forces from eastern Libya as soon as possible. This includes eliminating the loyalist threat to Ajdabiyah, which is a gateway to the rebel rear. Gaddafi is currently using his heavy artillery to gain control of the city. However, if the allied air forces continue to hit military convoys heading east, the artillery should run out of missiles and ammunition to carry out the continued bombardment.

With the east secured, the rebels can launch an offensive operation west towards Tripoli, without fear of Libyan air strikes. At the same time, they couldd infiltrate arms and trained soldiers into western towns that supported the rebels. These forces can start an insurgency in Gaddafis rear that will drain forces from the front.

Much of Libya is open terrain and without his tanks or aircraft, Gaddafi will not be able to hold them against an armed, well trained rebel force. At the same time, well executed insurgencies in towns in the west will prevent the cities from becoming strong points where loyalist forces can stage protracted defenses.

Providing allied nations prevent Gaddafi from receiving too many supplies from outside while maintaining the NFZ, Gaddafi should be slowly but surely pushed back to Tripoli. If Obama shifts from wanting Gaddafi to stand trial and allows him to go into exile, it is possible that a final battle in the streets of Tripoli can be averted.

Libya is engaged in a civil war. And, civil wars mean terrible loss of life. Neither side has shown any inclination to back down. And, both sides have arms and men. Unless Gaddafi decides that it is in his best interest to go into exile, this war will continue for a while.

Meanwhile, the world wonders if Obama can remain committed for the time it takes for the rebels to prevail.


Washingtons To-Do List for Libya: Next Steps Must Be Measured
By James Carafano and James Phillips
Heritage Foundation
March 21, 2011

The President has committed U.S. forces in Libya. The question now is: What next? The President has yet to outline a clear and certain course. The best option would be to minimize the commitment of the U.S. military, look after the best interests of Libyas civilian population, and limit the spread of terrorism and instability throughout the region. The President and the Congress should take the following actions. First and foremost, the President must clearly articulate the mission of U.S. operations in Libya and clarify U.S. interests. Neither stating that the U.S. is helping protect civilians nor declaring that American ground troops will not be applied is sufficient. Stating that the U.S. is not pursuing regime change is a declaration of what the mission is not, not what it is. A clear declaration of purpose is vital to avoid mission creepan expansion of commitments beyond the original goal of the operation.

Libya: Three Possible Outcomes and the Role of Governance, Money, Gas, and Oil
By Anthony Cordesman
Center for Strategic and International Studies
March 22, 2011

The use of armed force to intervene in Libya still has no clear, meaningful strategic objective. In fairness, it may be impossible to get a consensus in controversial cases, and even partial agreement may be better than none. Waiting for Qaddafi to win by default was scarcely a functional option. Seeking full international consensus around a well-defined and strategic goal was a recipe for paralysis, and acting without any effort at unity and international support almost ensures broad international opposition. The fact remains, however, that the UN resolution leaves the ultimate objective undefined, and the limits to the use of force confused. The first French strikes to enforce a no fly zone hit advancing Libyan ground forces that have nothing to do with how many of Qaddafis aircraft actually fly. Italy and France are feuding over command and prestige (and whether the mission should be performed) while Turkey opposes the mission and making it part of NATO.

Seizing the Multilateral Moment in Libya
By Mark Quaterman
Center for Strategic and International Studies
March 22, 2011

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Libya presenting the world with a multilateral moment and how the UN Security Council had taken a positive step in meeting that moment by adopting resolution 1970. At that point, calls for military action against the regime of Muammar el-Qaddafi were only beginning and had gathered little support. Now, the Security Council has adopted resolution 1973, which is extraordinary in its scope for military force and is one of the toughest resolutions adopted by the council in recent years. The resolution calls for the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya and provides a mandate for strikes on Libyan government forces on the ground to protect civilians. It is impressive that the resolution goes much further than the initial idea of a no-fly zone, which in the current situation might have been ineffective, and allows for attacks on Libyan military assets under a wider range of circumstances. It also strengthens the arms embargo and expands the asset freeze to include more individuals and Libyan state entities. Taken together, resolutions 1970 and 1973 show that the multilateral system can respond to difficult challenges that cannot be addressed through unilateral means. These resolutions open a new chapter in the Security Councils enforcement of the developing international norm of the responsibility of states to protect their civilians from violence.

America's descent into strategic dementia
By Caroline Glick
Center for Security Policy
March 21, 2011
Jerusalem Post

The US's new war against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi is the latest sign of its steady regional decline. In media interviews over the weekend, US military chief Adm. Michael Mullen was hard-pressed to explain either the goal of the military strikes in Libya or their strategic rationale. Mullen's difficulty explaining the purpose of this new war was indicative of the increasing irrationality of US foreign policy. Traditionally, states have crafted their foreign policy to expand their wealth and bolster their national security. In this con****, US foreign policy in the Middle East has traditionally been directed towards advancing three goals: Guaranteeing the free flow of inexpensive petroleum products from the Middle East to global market; strengthening regimes and governments that are in a position to advance this core US goal at the expense of US enemies; and fighting against regional forces like the pan-Arabists and the jihadists that advance a political program inherently hostile to US power.

Operation Odyssey Dawn and the Course of the Libyan War
By Jeffrey White
Washington Institute for Near East Policy
March 22, 2011
Policy Watch 1781

The ongoing allied intervention in Libya, dubbed Operation Odyssey Dawn, represents a major change in the military situation, but perhaps not a decisive one. It has definitely been a blow to the regime and a boost for the rebels. Nevertheless, UN Security Council Resolution 1973 and its implementation to date leave a number of military issues unresolved. Under some circumstances, the regime and its forces could weather the attacks and continue to hold the territory they have regained from the rebels.

Air Strikes, and Questions, Mount over Libya
By Deborah Jerome
Council on Foreign Relations
March 23, 2011

Troops loyal to Libya's Muammar al-Qaddafi pounded rebels in the coastal city of Misurata and in the capital of Tripoli during the fifth day of an international air campaign to impose a no-fly zone over the country, as debate grew about the campaign's objectives. Questions also mounted about what principles are guiding the decision of the United States and allies not to assist other popular uprisings across the Middle East. U.S. President Barack Obama has been trying to resolve allies' differences about the role of NATO in the Libya campaign. Uncertainty remains about how engaged Arab League states will be, although it was the league's initial support for a no-fly zone that emboldened the United States and allies to move forward with it. Over the weekend, Arab League chief Amr Moussa criticized coalition airstrikes, though on Tuesday he repeated support for the UN resolution authorizing them. The strikes seem to have support in the Arab world.
Read more

The Slippery Slope of Unclear War Aims
By Brian Katulis
Center for American Progress
March 22, 2011

It only took a few hours of military strikes in Libya by the United States and European countries over the past weekend to achieve the thing most of Washington debated for the past few weeksa no-fly zone. The fact that the Qaddafi regime lost its ability to conduct air operations so quickly was no big surprisedespite a lot of time and energy misspent debating a no-fly zonebut that was hardly the most difficult question.
As with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the most important question also is the most basic question: What do we want to get done and how much are we willing to sacrifice in lives, money, and strategic opportunity costs to achieve those ends? And with another Middle East war now underway, the Obama administration now faces a second important question: How does it strike the right balance in its overall approach in a region experiencing historic developments every day?




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