07 May 2011

NATO Caught Dozing While Gaddafi Employs Cropdusters to Bomb Misrata's Fuel Depot into Smithereens

Most of besieged city's fuel supply lost in a raid 
that flattened four tanks and set the rest on fire

Initially reported as being a rocket attack (what else could it be?), we now hear the hugely successful aerial strike on Misrata's only real fuel supplies was actually conducted by pesticide-spraying farm planes late last night: they achieved all apparent objectives, bombing the tanks with jerry-rigged, flying clunkers...

Shocked? The rebels aren't- they will tell you Gaddafi had no problem running recon for the mission in helicopters flown right under NATO's noses at low altitude last month, either. And at that time -as is again the case today- encircled opposition forces in lone western Libyan holdout town claim to have notified NATO prior to the attack-- yet received no response.

How can the various allies behind NATO's presence in Libya be so unfocused and ineffective? This is almost as bad as when they bombed the rebel armor then grumbled like idiots "we didn't know they had tanks!"

Maybe Gaddafi's intuition was right in that the western powers wouldn't have the stomach for it medium/long-term if he made enough trouble and dug-in. Oddly, John Bolton probably would agree with that... as he put recently in a Boston Herald Op-Ed, Obama is already "going wobbly": dithering and glaringly out-of-his-depth, the President simply refuses to do what it would take to secure victory- and nobody wants to die for a tie:

First, we must reverse course now and declare regime change to be our objective, followed by substantial airstrikes against Gadhafi’s forces, whether or not they are imminently threatening civilians. Even now, U.S. airpower should be intimidating enough to permit an opposition victory. 

Our NATO allies will welcome our return to active strike missions. So too will the Arab League, whose leaders must be appalled that Obama and NATO are risking failure, thus risking an armed and dangerous Gadhafi remaining in power in their back yard. 

Second, because Libya’s opposition leadership is still inchoate at best, we must identify anti-Gadhafi figures who are pro-Western and find ways, overt or covert, to strengthen their hands. Failing to identify reliable leaders now may make any post-Gadhafi regime, already problematic, even more dangerous. 

Thus far, however, Obama can’t bring himself to act. Instead, he contends that Gadhafi is being “squeezed” in other ways, most notably that his regime is running out of money — an ironic concern for a president who acts as though no such constraints apply to him. 

It is similarly troubling that Obama could say, “I think over the long term, Gadhafi will go, and we will be successful.” There is no better road to “quagmire” than to see Gadhafi’s departure as “long term.” 

Our president’s most muscular recent action was to co-author an opinion article with Britain’s David Cameron and France’s Nicolas Sarkozy. This reflects Obama’s view that writings and speeches are all that a president is real- ly required to do. Op-eds don’t constitute leadership.