Call war what you will -- it's still folly
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War always makes more sense in theory than it does in practice. In fact, wars don't make any sense at all when waged by Nobel Peace Prize winners.
The rap against President Barack Obama is that he has failed to present a coherent rationale for taking military action against Libya without formally consulting Congress.
That's a well-earned rebuke for our 44th president. The no-fly zone imposed over Libya by the United States and its allies lacks even the usual justification for nonsensical wars.
As the Libyan war enters its second week, cracks in the alliance are following the usual post-colonial pattern of blundering and obfuscation:
• The Americans believe their own hype that it will be a short war and that the term "war" is a misnomer. One Obama administration official described the "non-war" over Libya as a "kinetic military action." Mr. Obama promised to hand responsibility for the war to NATO within days and that America would remain engaged as a junior partner.
• The Brits say as politely as they can that the Americans are delusional and that the "kinetic military action" in Libya could go on for 30 years or more.
• Germany is recalling two frigates and an aerial surveillance crew deployed in the Libyan theater. It doesn't want to get drawn into the war if NATO assumes command. Germany also abstained from the United Nations vote to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.
• Italy wants NATO to assume control of the military operation and has threatened to take back control of its bases if that doesn't happen.
• Everyone hates the French, especially after they called for a committee of foreign ministers from Europe, the U.S. and the Arab League to oversee the military operation. The French don't want NATO to take political or military control.
• The Brits have suggested that the most efficient way to avoid a long, drawn-out conflict in North Africa is to assassinate Col. Moammar Gadhafi. Feigning shock, the Obama administration insists that it won't go beyond the U.N. mandate. The last thing our Nobel laureate war president wants to be accused of is trying to kill someone implicated in terrorist acts.
• Despite giving its blessings, the Arab League has yet to commit one plane to the operation. Meanwhile, the Russians describe the bombing of Libyan forces as a "crusade" that targets innocent civilians.
• China continues pouring its money into its infrastructure and its education system. It leaves the dirty work of being a world superpower to its American and European rivals. After all, you can't grow your economy if you're constantly bogged down in stupid and nonsensical wars. Every communist country knows that.
Eventually, the Libyan offensive by the great Western powers will collapse like a soufflé in the desert.
Predictably, the allies will point fingers at each other for not understanding the nature of war. They'll accuse each other of lacking a realistic plan to deal with Col. Gadhafi. In the end, the American taxpayer could be on the hook for several billion dollars a month to maintain a tenuous stalemate in a divided Libya.
Mr. Obama can take solace in the fact that the wars during his watch wouldn't be going well under any president, no matter his or her party. Wars are difficult to wage, especially for Nobel laureates.
The Republicans hypocritically berate Mr. Obama no matter what he does, despite the fact that their half-baked plans would fare just as miserably. There is no winning scenario when it comes to military intervention in Libya.
It is impossible to point to a war in the last 4,000 years that has gone according to the best-laid schemes of the generals, despots, popes, madmen, kings and presidents who have launched them.
There's a slipperiness to war that always defies the logic of those who presume to know what they're doing. There's too much flesh and blood churning in the machine to guarantee a particular outcome.
Ask Napoleon. Ask Darius of Persia. Ask Hannibal about "kinetic military action." They'll tell you a story as old as the world itself.
First Published March 25, 2011 7:26 am