If you haven't seen Gen. Barry McCaffrey on NBC trashing the president for a military action, it's probably because the president isn't named Bush. On Monday's Diane Rehm show on NPR, McCaffrey didn't hold back on Libya: "And then the rebellion, of course, doesn't know how they're going to break into Tripoli if NATO has announced, for God's sakes, that they intend to bomb the rebels also if they so-call 'threaten' civilian populations. One of the more Bizarro World military operations I've ever observed."
At National Review's The Corner, Mark Steyn has noticed that the liberation of Libya is not exactly headline news any more, so how is this war going? Are Obama and "Old Europe" showing those incompetent Bush people just how to free a country?
What with all the budget talk, I was just wondering whether that third war – or kinetic scope-limited whachamacallit – was still going. You remember, it was in all the papers for a couple of days. So I guess things have gone quiet because it’s all wrapped up now? Apparently not:
NATO has said it strongly regrets the loss of life after a “friendly fire” attack on rebel tanks in eastern Libya which left at least four dead.
Earlier, a Nato commander had refused to apologise, saying that until Thursday’s strike, the alliance had not been aware the rebels had tanks.
Ah. Well, these things happen between allies, especially when allies in the air aren’t aware their allies on the ground have tanks. But how about the general outlook?
The battle for Libya is heading for deadlock, a top general said Thursday.
U.S. Gen. Carter Ham, who led the coalition air campaign in Libya before NATO took over last week, said it was unlikely the Libyan rebels could beat Col. Moammar Khadafy.
Asked at a Senate hearing about the chances that the rebels could reach Tripoli and oust Khadafy, Ham said, “I would assess that as a low likelihood.”
He said the situation was becoming a stalemate.
As I wrote a week ago:
The Tunisians got rid of Ben Ali in nothing flat, Mubarak took a couple of weeks longer to hit the road, and an exciting new ‘Islamic Emirate’ has just been proclaimed in South Yemen. But, with his usual unerring instinct, Barack Obama has chosen to back the one Arab liberation movement who can’t get rid of the local strongman even when you lend them every functioning NATO air force.
That’s a bit unfair on the poor old rebels. But, if you wanted to devise a forlorn emblem of the impotence of the hyperpower, this non-war for non-victory is hard to beat.