Muammar Quaddafi, in the words of Charlie Sheen, is "winning." His characteristic lack of shame, his back-against-the-wall determination, the oil reserve money and his filthy use of mercenaries and air power in an unholy mix has shifted the balance of power back in his favor. Quaddafi just this week recaptured oil plants in Ras Lanuf from rebel fighters and the Obama administration -- historically corrective to the rash, unilateral Bush administration -- urged caution.
"Gen. Abdel-Fattah Younis, Libya's interior minister before joining the rebels, said that pro-government forces now control the town and oil facilities in Ras Lanuf, located about 410 miles east of Tripoli on the country’s central coast, the Associated Press reported. The rebels captured Ras Lanuf a week ago. Their retreat was another sign that momentum in the battle was shifting in favor of Qaddafi, who offered amnesty to rebels who laid down arms, Al Arabiya television said.
As residents reported that Libyan forces were besieging another rebel-held town, Misrata, 90 miles east of Tripoli, Arab League leaders were meeting in Cairo to debate options to halt the burgeoning civil war, including a no-fly zone. NATO leaders meeting in Brussels yesterday said they lacked the authority to impose a no-fly zone to ground Qaddafi's air force, saying more planning and a United Nations mandate were first needed."
The problem is that so long as Quadafi has the advantage of combat aircraft -- and, to a lesser degree, an artillery advantage, and experienced, battle-hardened Tuareg's and mercenaries -- the war appears at to stall at the very least at stalemate, and at the worst veers inexorably in favor of the forces of darkness.
Obama, in his cautious approach, is right. Until Americans flood the streets urging the President and his administration to liberate the people of Libya, I don't think Obama is going to be moved by the crocodile tears of the neocons, howling at injustice and megadeth.Thus far, politically, the average American is far more concerned with crushing unemployment, the rising price of gas and the glacial pace of the economic recovery rather than in questionable neoconservative loin-lust for yet another foreign incursion-distraction.
Do the neoconservatives even blink at the scope of our massive deficits, the two foreign theaters in which we are already engaged, or even Secretary Gates' recent warning in his farewell address to the army against land wars in Africa. "Any future Defense Secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined,' as General [Douglas] MacArthur so delicately put it," said Gates. If that is so, then someone ought to examine the contents of John Podhoretz's thick, fat skull.