Since the breakout of clashes in Libya a month ago, Washington has been debating the worthiness of toppling the balance in favor of the rebels and helping them depose Muammar Qadhafi. But not so fast, according to a few prominent American figures who called on their government to weigh the pros and cons before going after the Libyan autocrat. The most senior to throw his lot behind opposition to American involvement in Libya was General Wesley Clark, the retired general who commanded the US troops during the war in Kosovo in the late 1990s.
“Libya isn’t worth the risk,” retired American General Wesley Clark argued in an article in The Washington Post. He cited six reasons to substantiate his argument. “Intervention is not in our self interest,” he wrote. “Libya doesn't sell us much oil, and it doesn't pose a direct threat to us, so there would be little national interest in our committing to fight to Qadhafi’s finish,” Clark added.
According to the retired general, America does not “have a clear objective.” He argued: “If we want to mount a humanitarian effort, we shouldn't involve the military, and if we want to involve the military, we need to mount a full invasion.”
The third reason to stay out of the Libyan debacle, Clark continued, is that America does not know “who would replace Qadhafi. Even if the West ousts Qadhafi, what's the political endgame? The best-case scenario is a constitutional convention and multi-party democracy, but it's just as likely that the most organized, secretive, and vicious elements would take over." He added: “We're in no shape to take ownership of that struggle.”
Fourthly, Clark reasoned that America has no mandate to interfere, but such an argument can be refuted now that the Arab League has requested that the UN Security Council impose a no-fly zone to ground Qadhafi’s air force.
Finally, Clark warned that any American intervention might prove to be long and complicated, rather than “clean or easy.” He said that the longer an American operation takes in Libya, the “more can go wrong.”
Whether Washington takes Clark’s points into consideration or leans more toward the likes of Senator John Kerry and former George Bush figure Paul Wolfowitz, who call for intervention, remains to be seen. Until then, what is certain is that Libya’s rebels are on the back foot and expecting to be further pounded by a better-trained, better-armed and better-organized Qadhafi force that is proving to be bloody and brutal.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
While Qadhafi’s forces push rebels back, America debates military intervention