Diary

Meanwhile on Day 48 of the 'Days Not Weeks' War in Libya

As week 7 of the ‘days not weeks’ war nears its close, we get a few updates from meetings in Rome that Secretary of State Clinton is participating in along with representatives of 21 other countries and various international organizations.

“Everyone is always impatient. We expect things to be done immediately in our very fast world,” Clinton said.

Gee, she didn’t have a problem with her boss promising everything would be over in a matter of days, but now we’re supposed to be patient.

Clinton met with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini ahead of the meeting on Libya, which focused on financially helping the rebels, who say they need $1.5 billion in the coming months just for food, medical and other basic supplies.

Clinton said she would be formally presenting the U.S. pledge to provide $25 million in surplus, nonlethal goods to support and protect the rebels.

It’ll only take 59 other countries to also kick in $25M in order to reach the goal. No problem. Maybe the rebels are overestimating their needs, but at the same time we were promised that Europe would take the lead, so they should be kicking in more than we are anyway, right? And BTW it seems this is just to get through the next few months, not necessarily however many days / weeks / months / years it takes to bring this to a close.

With NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen among the participants, Frattini said “military pressure is not a goal per se but it is a very important tool.”

Since the uprising against Gadhafi broke out in mid-February, the two sides have largely been locked in a stalemate. A U.S. and now NATO-led bombing campaign, launched in mid-March, has kept Gadhafi’s forces from advancing to the east, but has failed to give the rebels a clear battlefield advantage.

NATO said earlier this week its warplanes will keep up the pressure on Gadhafi’s regime as long as it takes to end the violence in Libya.

Frattini’s remarks reflected increasing realization by NATO mission participants that air strikes and other military action alone won’t do the job of ending Gadhafi’s relentless assault on his people, and that funding the opposition as well as working for the Libyan leader’s ouster could be the key to success.

“Stalemate”, “as long as it takes” – next thing you know we’ll be hearing the ‘q’ word. Wait, never mind – here it is. Sorry Minister Juppe, I think we’re already there.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, whose country is at the forefront of the military campaign in Libya, has said the military intervention must end “as rapidly as possible,” and warned that sending in international ground troops would set the stage for a “quagmire.”

And Frattini has said while it was impossible to set a date for an end to NATO’s military operation the “political goal is for military action to cease as soon as possible.”

Haven’t we heard all this sort of political claptrap before? In addition to his ‘days not weeks’ promise, wasn’t candidate Obama always demanding that Bush set timelines in Iraq and Afghanistan and promising that as CinC he wouldn’t get us into military action that didn’t have a clear plan / mission / end game? We’re more than a month and a half into this, and still no one has the slightest clue what the goal is, much less any plan to meet it.

Lastly, Secretary Clinton’s comments at the start of the article remind me of the close of a famous movie scene. Aren’t we looking more and more like this poor guy, except that we’re bleeding cash?

“We have made it abundantly clear that the best way to protect civilians is for Gadhafi to cease his ruthless, brutal attack on civilians from the west to the east, to withdraw from the cities that he is sieging and attacking and to leave power,” Clinton said. “This is the outcome we are seeking.”