Right Wing Nut House

4/7/2011

THE UNREALITY OF THE LIBYAN CAMPAIGN

Filed under: FrontPage.Com — Rick Moran @ 11:45 am

My latest is up at FrontPage.com and it’s another update about what is going on with NATO’s mission in Libya.

A sample:

Pro-government forces have changed their tactics, says French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe. Gaddafi’s army is now using human shields, hiding their tanks and artillery in what appears to be heavily populated areas. “”We’ve formally requested that there be no collateral damage for the civilian population … That obviously makes operations more difficult.”

This hasn’t convinced the rebels whose NATO-recognized commander, General Abdel Fattah Younes, is accusing the alliance of dragging its feet. “No, it’s not convincing at all. NATO has other means. I requested there be combat helicopters like Apaches and Tigers. These damage tanks and armoured vehicles with exact precision without harming civilians.”

NATO has been reluctant so far to use combat helicopters because Gaddafi’s forces are known to possess shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons that proved to be very effective against Russian helicopters in Afghanistan. Such caution has been the hallmark of the air campaign as NATO governments not only want to avoid civilian casualties, but also coalition casualties as well. The war is not overly popular in Europe and national leaders are afraid that the people will turn against the conflict if their sons start to come home in coffins.

While it may be admirable to do everything possible to avoid killing innocent civilians, the rebels have other complaints about NATO’s air campaign as well. There has been a slowdown in support for rebel attacks outside of the key city of Brega, with no explanation coming from NATO. The opposition was routed from that key western oil city and driven back more than 40 miles as NATO planes did not make an appearance. NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said that “the pace of our operations continues unabated. The ambition and the position of our strikes has not changed.” But the problem appears not to be the number of sorties, but rather where NATO chooses to assist the rebels.

The confusion about the conflicting goals of the UN mandate to “protect civilians,” while being prevented from affecting “regime change” has given NATO military chiefs pause when it comes to offering benefits to the rebels such as close air support. Whether by design or simply as a consequence of NATO’s attempt to maintain an arm’s length relationship with the rebels, there is little or no coordination with the rebel troops on the ground when they attack, or while they are retreating. If NATO patrols circling Misrata catch site of Gaddafi’s forces in the open, they pulverize them. But they are refusing to attack targets inside the city, despite rebel claims that most of the population has left.

The rebels also complain that it sometimes takes hours - 8 hours in at least one instance - for NATO to respond to requests for air support. Could it be that the infamous “political committee” made up of all NATO countries, the Arab League, and a few other nations are gumming up the works? I haven’t heard anything about that committee since its formation, but 8 hours to decide to support a rebel operation? It really does sound as if NATO is fighting a war by committee.

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