When stories like this one from the New York Times are still cropping up a week after hostilities begin, it cannot be a good sign:
Having largely succeeded in stopping a rout of Libya’s rebels, the inchoate coalition attacking Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces remains divided over the ultimate goal — and exit strategy — of what officials acknowledged Thursday would be a military campaign that could last for weeks.
The United States has all but called for Colonel Qaddafi’s overthrow from within — with American commanders on Thursday openly calling on the Libyan military to stop following orders — even as administration officials insist that is not the explicit objective of the bombing, and that their immediate goal is more narrowly defined.
France has gone further, recognizing the Libyan rebels as the country’s legitimate representatives, but other allies, even those opposed to Colonel Qaddafi’s erratic and authoritarian rule, have balked. That has complicated the planning and execution of the military campaign and left its objective ill defined for now.
Only on Thursday, the sixth day of air and missile strikes, did the allies reach an agreement to give command of the “no-fly” operation to NATO after days of public quarreling that exposed the divisions among the alliance’s members. (emphases added)
And on it goes. The entire piece is truly a depressing thing to read — on its own, but also because we’ve been hearing similar things since before the intervention began. It is stunning that our government and our allies managed both to wait until Qaddafi had beaten the rebels to a pulp and to rush headlong into action without a plan.
So, while Daniel Henninger’s obituary for the “internationalist approach” to foreign policy still looks about right, I must admit I was wrong last week to suggest that there was ever a time when when the Obama administration could have been trusted to begin a new air war in another country with even a modicum of coherence.
In terms of sheer competence, from fiscal management to military “strategery” and everything in between, Barack Obama has doubled down on just about every mistake George W. Bush made.
And it’s only been 26 months.
– By Kyle Wingfield
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