As news pours in about the freedom-seeking rebels closing in on Tripoli a mere five months after the attack on Benghazi, I was thinking of the momentous changes that we have helped with in the Arab world and what a different model we have used than the one in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are on the verge of overthrowing a tyrant in Libya – a tyrant every bit as evil as Saddam was. Muammer Khaddafi’s 42 year reign of terror is coming to an end. Unlike Iraq this war was fought exactly right. Here are some numbers to ponder:
Iraq War 4500
Afghanistan War 1600
Libyan War 0
Cost to the U.S. (so far)
Iraq War $800 billion
Afghanistan War $450 billion
Libyan War $1 billion
What a difference a war of liberation fought right makes!
Make no mistake – the Libyan rebels and NATO could not have done it without American help. Obama, after taking his time building a consensus with our European allies and with the Arab League, decided to go to war but with America in the back seat to NATO who would have operational responsibility. This was March 18, 2011. The no-fly zone was established entirely by American air power – no other country has the capability. The execution of the support operations involved extensive American military power including drones and intelligence. The only thing missing, in typical Obama fashion was the jingoistic talk and American ground troops.
Our power was projected quietly, discreetly and effectively. Only five months later the tyrannical Libyan dictator is effectively ousted. This is now a victory that belongs to the Libyan rebels. It is not tainted, as the Iraq war is, as being an American war for oil or an American occupation of a Muslim land.
Good leadership and execution! Of course the Republicans, McCain and Lindsay Graham, while touting the ouster of Khaddafi still had this to say:
We regret that this success was so long in coming due to the failure of the United States to employ the full weight of our airpower.
Amazing! The Libyan freedom fighters won in 5 months! Our airpower was there when needed. The victory had the necessary empowerment of the Libyan people and the Arab street. Civilian casualties were minimal and the siege and massacre of Benghazi was prevented. It was perfect! Can’t these ideologues show some grace?
Any chance that the Republicans will credit Obama with saving $1 trillion in government spending (over the next 10 years, the Congress debt debate time frame) by not getting embroiled in Libya Iraq style?