The one that we still aren’t having, even in the aftermath of the President’s address a couple of weeks ago? Here is why that debate is necessary, and why our failure to hold it in a timely manner, and to do justice to the topic is positively scandalous:
In case you didn’t see this yesterday, six U.S. Air Force F-16CJ Wild Weasels and five Navy EA-18G Growlers have been flying “defensive” strike missions against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya since NATO took charge of the air campaign there.
So, what qualifies as “defensive” missions? Why suppression of enemy air defenses, so yes, technically the Weasels and Growlers are helping protect allied aircraft from Gadhafi’s antiquated air defenses even though they’re hitting air defense targets targets with 500-pound bombs to pave the way for more strikes by NATO jets. Wait, how does Gadhafi have any air defenses left, at this point? And interestingly, it sounds like the Growlers didn’t use their HARM anti-radar missiles.
There was nothing resembling a sustained debate in the run-up to Operation Odyssey Dawn. There is no serious, sustained debate going on now. Again, as a thought experiment, imagine if the Bush Administration were this disdainful of the need to engage in the American people in advance of military operations, instead of doing what it did in taking its case to Congress in the aftermath of 9/11, getting an Authorization to Use Military Force, and engaging in further efforts to persuade the public by arguing for months why it was necessary to get rid of Saddam Hussein before the first bombs dropped in Iraq.