Whether it was by design or because of Senator Richard Lugar’s broadside that the White House could not just roll into any conflict it wanted to without support of Congress, President Obama has kept American exposure in the growing conflict in Libya fairly minimal.
This is a good thing. The French are in the air and have begun to strike Libyan military assets. The British have imposed a naval blockade. The UAE and Qatar are allegedly part of the plan — but we haven’t seen action by them yet, and that is essential. It would be good to have Egyptian and Saudi forces in as well so that the other GCC support looked less fig leaf-ish.
While many think in best case scenarios, when the militaries of nations collide, worst case scenarios — and really the consideration of all scenarios — is the only responsible approach.
Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Brian Katulis has shared some of my concerns about downside scenarios of significant US military intervention in the Libya Civil War, but he has raised another really interesting possibility in this Financial Times clip today:
“There was this premature triumphalism about the passage of the UN resolution but what is the plan for dealing with this entity called Libya?” says Brian Katulis at the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based think-tank. “You could have this very awkward phase emerging where Gaddafi is entrenched while there’s a rump state in eastern Libya and some but not all states in the Arab world work to isolate the regime.”
In other words, the UN resolution was not a “regime change” resolution — and there is a scenario in which a standstill is achieved, where Gaddafi’s regime halts its offensive military moves, and then begins to get back to business with Turkey, Brazil, India, Russia, China, and other regimes who think that the UN Resolution box has been checked off.
Interesting and very credible scenario.
— Steve Clemons