Monday, March 7, 2011

Libyan No-Fly Zone

Not long ago on the way to lunch with a Marine buddy I heard the call for a “Libyan No-Fly Zone” for the first time on the radio.  The call was made by Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman – two people with whom I rarely agree.  My buddy rejected the plan out of hand and I agreed at the time – but now I’m not so sure.  Seeing McCain go up against Secretary of Defense Robert Gates moved me further to the side of intervention rather than away from it.  With all due respect, McCain is a warrior and Gates is not.  Now even John Kerry (who wanted to be a warrior but failed) is in favor of a “No-Fly Zone” now that some long suppressed molecules of testosterone bubbled to the top.  I am now a supporter of a “No-Fly Zone.”  My rationale:

First:  You get nothing for not playing in the game.  Maummar Kaddafi is one evil bastard and making him go away would be a good thing.  I suspect that unless there has been a complete failure in our intelligence service that there is someone like Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud that should have been identified within the Libyan resistance.  We need to talk with that guy yesterday.  He and his followers can make our participation worthwhile just as they did in Afghanistan.  Without such a figure it may be wise to wait for one to pop to the surface however. 

Second:  We have the greatest military capability in the world.  It probably escaped most people that the Iraqis had the most modern anti-aircraft equipment that money could buy before the First Gulf War.  That equipment was assembled into a very effective defense in depth of Iraq by the French.  American military forces attacked it largely from the air.  Please think about that and let the irony sink in for a second.  We attacked their anti-aircraft system with airplanes.  Now that didn’t make the attack bloodless or without cost, but the Iraqis were in significantly better shape than Libyan air defenses are today.  Secretary Gates’ remarks that it would require an invasion of Libya to impose a “No-Fly Zone” are incorrect.  The U.S. Navy could do this and a Marine Expeditionary Unit could back them up for any ground operations (recovery of a downed aircrew for example) that would be required.  We would need to brace for some casualties – but it could be done. 

Something tells me that the Libyan response would be akin to the old joke about the Iranian Air Defense Radar who passed over the radio:

“Unknown aircraft you are in Iranian airspace. Identify yourself.”
Aircraft: “This is a United States aircraft. I am in Iraqi airspace.”
Air Defense: “You are in Iranian airspace. If you do not depart our airspace we will launch interceptor aircraft!”
Aircraft: “This is a United States Marine Corps FA-18 fighter. Send 'em up, I'll wait!”
Air Defense Radar: (no response .... total silence)

Third:  If we could get the Libyan resistance to stop shooting in the air by convincing them that the only airplanes that are going to fly above Libya for more than a few minutes are friendly – they will stop wasting ammunition and shoot it at Kaddafi’s forces instead.  We just need to find a freedom fighter in Libya – the Libyan equivalent of Ahmad Shah Massoud or better yet George Washington. 

Lastly:  We should send in food and medical supplies into “free” (that term will be relative in the Arab world) areas and make sure that it has American flags printed all over it.  While we should remain focused on recovering oil, digging a few wells for water in the “free” zones will help a great deal as well.  A rather modest effort on our part could be extremely beneficial in the long term. 

Remember – Marines have been to Tripoli before – look how well that turned out.  

To the Shores of Tripoli: The Birth of the U.S. Navy and Marines (Bluejacket Books)           First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps (Bluejacket Books)


  1. Amigo,
    You present a good argument but I'm not sure that I agree with you on this because of one thing: Libyans hate us.

    I understand your rationale but no amount of free cheese is going to change their mind on this. Remember the "aid" that we have sent Pakistan after the earthquake? Or the aid to Haiti? Or the aid to Iraq who are now protesting? Or the aid to Egypt who reject us hands down?

    I think that the Euro-weenies who benefit from Libyan oil should go to the rescue, whereas we should butt out. We have no national interest there. Supposedly 2% of our oil comes from there.

    If Libya erupts into a full-out civil war then good for them. We did it here, and we should not deny them the opportunity for better or for worse.

    If it's for the worse and that country evolves into another Iran, and then threatens us, we should turn it into a parking lot.

    Not one drop of american blood or one penny should be spent in my opinion.

    Zero is desperate to turn ANY middle east crisis into a political gain since he has dropped the ball on the others. He will no doubt "f" this one up too.

  2. Interesting points my pugnacious friend – a couple of thoughts.

    With the exception of the use of A-bomb #2 (Hiroshima), A-bomb #3 (Nagasaki), and the deterrent value of the rest of the nuclear arsenal we haven’t gotten much bang for our buck for all that stuff. Our reluctance to use nuclear weapons regardless of how badly anyone needed to get nuked – means that we aren’t going to turn anyone into a parking lot. That one is off the table.

    Right, wrong, or indifferent no one on the planet has the power projection capability that we have. That’s a reality that we have to deal with and a mantle we have to carry. While I value each and every member of the Armed Service more than any number of Libyans – none of those brave Americans would want to stay out of a fight that needs to be fought.

    As for our “national interest” I can’t wait to give it a whole new definition when my Ford Explorer’s tank is empty in a day or so. It doesn’t matter where Libya’s oil goes, shut it off and everyone’s price at the pump goes up. Our way of life runs on oil – I don’t have a problem with fighting for oil – there are dumber things to fight for. Fighting to free Muslims to deflect attention from a flagrant sex scandal in the Oval office is one example of something dumber.

    Most people who “hate” us don’t really know us – the balance of the people that hate us have met us up close and personal and have good reason to hate us. Libyans fall into the former category for the most part. I think that if you look at Afghanistan you might see what is possible. The Afghan army even today is dominated by people from the north. While the reasons for that and the relationship is complicated, I think that in large part that is because Americans have been engaged in a positive manner with them for several decades. They are Muslims and they don’t hate us. The Kurds are Muslims and they don’t hate us. I don’t think that the majority of Iraqis hate us. It’s a matter of technique.

    A baby step towards befriending Libyans might be to give the rebels the combat vehicles we refurbished for Kaddafi. I like the irony in that move.

    I do not advocate putting combat troops in Libya at this point. But keeping Kaddafi’s airplanes on the ground would be a pretty good contribution, wouldn’t cost us that much in treasure and would probably cost few if any American lives. When a Libyan pilot hears that there are F/A-18s up there with trigger happy Sailors and Marines in the cockpit, I think most of them will pee down both legs and become non-combatants. So far that has been the typical response. The great tradition of Arab Air Forces that goes back to 1967 is for the planes to be destroyed on the ground. I don’t know why Arab countries even buy combat airplanes.

    I think that a modest effort on our part could develop into a good relationship. Watching a civil war in Cuba didn’t work out very well for us. Nicaragua on the other hand was a different story. My principle point was made on the basis that we could talk with, support, and count on a Massoud-type figure – if that person doesn’t exist – then we aren’t ready to make a move of any kind.

    Lastly – the other people who have urine running down both legs is the Saudis – we might be able to get them to bank roll the effort.

  3. I just built a fence for a Marine Cobra pilot who has had his pump jumped up by three months to go sit off Libya. For his sake and the sanity of the Marines with him, I encourage a no-fly zone and a no walk zone. I believe there are still enough warriors in our armed forces that they will jump at a chance to fight - even if it wasn't necessary. Turn them loose and let God sort 'em out.

  4. Amigo,

    I would like to think that you are correct in your assessments. I'll agree, that once any caveman gets to know Americans they usually love us. However, do we want to get involved into another nation building gambit?

    I'm with you on getting the Saudis to bankroll this venture. In the meantime, this mess will be the pitchfork time that we need to get Zero and the tree-humpers to shut-up about drilling. In order to fix stupid sometime you need to use a hammer.

    As far as nuking... I didn't mean Zero. I was refering to the new POTUS that might actually have some cajones, like a President West. When we get hit again, and we will, I recommend a number of Jihadi Holy sites. That action might very well stop this crap in its tracks.

    We know the sand-nazis can't fight a real fight, they can only resort to cowardly tactics that kill innocents. If the ante were high enough the funding to the Jihadis will dry up.

  5. Patriot,

    I agree with you completely. However, Zero won't let our warriors fight the way that they should.

  6. HNox - I didn't say anything about "nation building" - my proposal was very modest in comparison. Declare a "no fly zone" - shoot down anything that comes up off the ground. Drop in some food behind rebel lines and at most dig a couple of wells for clean water. Low risk stuff, cheap, and potentially endearing to the natives.

    Forget the nukes - no one has nuked anyone for over 65 years. If we didn't light up that little bastard in North Korea - we'll never do it. The only people who will possibly use them are terrorists.

  7. Amigo,

    Ok, if that's the mission then fine but we ALWAYS end up fixing stuff after we break it. Politicians just can't help themselves. They always want some bridge or hospital named after them and the PR that comes with it. Then in the process we get sucked into all that other BS and ultimately get blamed for everything even if wasn't our fault.

    Cases in point, Iraq and Afghanistan. We insisted that they have a constitution that we (mostly the left) approved. It included a required number of women political representatives. That concept, was and is, anethema to their culture.

    I'm not suggesting that we nation build in Lybia, but watch what happens. Zero will "f" it up for sure. It's guaranteed.

    I'll bet you a steak dinner over it.

    The problem is that we fight wars in PC fashion nowadays and it gets us nowhere. We don't even fight pirates anymore.

    PS. POTUS Hardnox would have nuked NK and would be on the phone with prez I'm-a-nut-job in Tehran and said you're next if you don't abandon your nuke program.

  8. President Hardnox - OMG. Even you wouldn't be "weapons free" with Nukes - just won't happen.

    Will BHO (Zero)get it wrong? He has wrong written into his ideological DNA - he isn't capable of getting it right unless he gets some adults in the room with him and he listens - something he is not prone to do. The last adult walked out of the room when Jim Jones left.

    My modified McCain plan would work if and only if we can influence the action. My plan would be low cost (in dollars and lives), and would show our good intent. We have influenced the action in a variety of places without the large scale deployment of US troops - El Salvador, Nicaragua, Afghanistan (under Ronald Reagan), and many more. It can work. But I understand your concern with BHO at the helm and Hillary Clinton singing the praises of Al Jezeera TV.

  9. P.S. This is the second day that the leading news story was about the trouble the rebels are having coping with Qaddafi's air force.

  10. I've really enjoyed the post, and follow up comments here. Lots of stuff to think about. I haven't formed much of an opinion yet.

    Hey CommonSense, could you email me?
    Thanks buddy.

  11. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just pointed out that a "No-Fly Zone" over Libya would do no good. That is at least circumstantial evidence that it is the right thing to do.