We Own Libya Now, For Better Or Worse

Libyan rebels

As a Vietnam veteran, Former Secretary of State Colin Powell knew a quagmire when he saw one. Before the Iraq invasion, he cautioned President Bush’s inner circle that “once you break it, you are going to own it.” Always-wrong NYT columnist Tom Friedman called this “the Pottery Barn Rule” despite the fact Pottery Barn has no such rule.

Powell was right, and a large part of the U.S. Army is still in Iraq eight years later. You can bet that Libya won’t end soon either. And we have no plan worthy of the name.

The bottom line is that we own Libya now, for the long term. We won’t abandon the rebels, regardless of how utterly feckless they are. We also own the Libyan aftermath – and we have no idea of how that looks like. We have a lot of hopes for what it may look like, but as we learned in Iraq, hope is not a plan. And that’s why those of us who served in Iraq and Afghanistan were so bloody reluctant to get involved in Libya – because in some key respects, it bore a highly uncomfortable resemblance to what we experienced.

Reports from Libya indicate the anti-Gaddafi insurgents consist of about a thousand mostly-amateur fighters, and they are up against an army of at least 10,000. Gaddafi’s forces are starting to hide their tanks and artillery and advance in pickup trucks, which are harder to target from the air.

The defection of Libyan foreign minister (and former terrorism mastermind) Musa Kusa may be a turning point, or it might not.

Whatever footwear the CIA people on the ground in Libya may have, President Obama rules out boots.

If the Gaddafi regime falls, some predict an extended civil war as tribal factions fight for power.

Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Libya. No mire is too quaggy for the good old USA. People have forgotten we still have troops in Bosnia, as part of the NATO occupation there. Stay tuned for updates.

UPDATE: Cloud cover over Libya has hampered the NATO/USA air campaign for the last three or four days.

UPDATE: Libyan opposition lays out conditions for cease-fire

Sources close to Gadhafi told CNN that political solutions are still possible but that the Libyan leader would relinquish power only to others within his inner circle.

UPDATE: Gaddafi rejects rebel truce offer.

UPDATE: On FDL, Phoenix Woman examines the European concerns about stemming a Libyan refugee crisis.

UPDATE: It’s surprising it took this long to happen. A U.S. A-10 Thunderbolt mistakenly destroyed four rebel vehicles including an ambulance, killing at least 13.

Spencer Ackerman:

For the next few days, A-10 gunships will continue to fly over Libya, where they’ve conducted strikes against Gadhafi regime armor and artillery for the past week. But Defense Secretary Robert Gates Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Thursday that after NATO takes full control of the strike operations, the A-10s will go on “standby,” to be used in Libya only if non-U.S. aircraft fail to stop a new humanitarian emergency.

UPDATE: So much for the supposed patriotic duty to support the Commander in Chief no matter what. That was then, and this is now. Fox Relentlessly Bashes Obama Over Libya.

Previously on One Utah: Archive for category Libya.

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