Remember That Timely Debate About Libya Policy That We Never Had?

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on April 19, 2011

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.

  • Andy Quinn

    My Intro to American Politics prof. drilled into my freshman-year skull that “where you stand depends upon where you sit!” But with that said, I am still insufficiently cynical to understand exactly how people who (rightfully!) interrogated the living bejeezus out of every single of the numerous rationales Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, et al put forth for the Iraq War are not even *slightly* curious (1) who we’re helping; (2) what we’re doing; (3) by what right we’re doing it; (4) how we’ll know when we’re finished; (5) how do we know we aren’t reading from the same “Charlie Wilson’s War” script wherein some negative consequences might inhere in, I don’t know, dishing out armaments to fundamentalist Muslim rebels faster than soup kitchen volunteers can ladle lukewarm mulligatawny.

    The absolute disingenuousness of the left will never, it sadly seems, cease to amaze.

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