Several years ago, I was asked during a television interview why the U.S.-led coalition was not winning in Afghanistan. I responded by saying something close to: “Because we have not killed nearly enough of the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and their civilian supporters.” At the time my answer struck me as a withering blast of the obvious, but it shocked and won denunciation from much of the media, pro-Republican and pro-Democrat. The pro-Democratic media, however, were especially upset and surprised — notably the hilarious, ban-the-1st-Amendment folks at “Media Matters for America” — that anyone in this day and age could believe, as the Confederate cavalryman Nathan Bedford Forrest memorably said: “War is about fighting, and fighting is about killing.”
Now, with President Obama’s personal, unconstitutional war on Libya raging, the pro-war alliance composed of the Administration; the pro-Obama, pro-intervention media; that pair of zany, war-loving Republican senators McCain and Graham; and the Neoconservatives are finding the killing-shoe is on their foot. These folks combined to start a completely unprovoked, unnecessary, and illegal war which they knew would be short, successful, and so quickly forgotten by Americans. But last week they heard the most honest Flag Officer in the U.S. military — CJCS, Admiral Mike Mullen — publicly warn them that Gaddafi’s forces are nowhere near broken and that his troops outnumber the “democratic resistance” by 10 to 1.
Admiral Mullen came as close as a loyal serviceman can come to publicly schooling his commander-in-chief on the fact that if Obama does not want to be defeated — and so add to the Bush-Clinton legacy of feckless war-making — he must recognize that the White House is quickly nearing its last option; namely, the killing of large numbers of Libyans.
Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates, it seems, knew from the start that Obama and his war-to-spread-democracy team — Clinton, Rice, McCain, and Graham — would get the United States into a lose-lose situation in Libya. Both men flirted with insubordination by publicly advising against armed intervention, and Gates has courageously drawn a line in the sand by saying he would not authorize deployment of U.S. ground forces to Libya. Both men did their level best to serve and protect Obama and his Cabinet-level Viragoes, but their superiors’ desire to transform Muslim Libyans into secular democrats was too strong, arrogant, and self-righteous to stem.
And now it’s about time to admit defeat or pay the piper of war in the only coin he accepts as legal tender — corpses.
Obama is surveying a Libyan scene in which his warnings to Gaddafi, with those of fellow cash-strapped, interveners Cameron and Sarkozy, have gone unheeded; the UN’s warnings and war-approving resolution have been mocked; the arms and economic embargoes have not worked; U.S.-NATO air power has done what damage it can to create a no-fly zone; and the sainted “democratic” resistance is splintering. If he can master the new experience of absorbing reality, Mr. Obama will see his sole option. If there are — to pick a number — 40,000 pro-Libyan troops and 5,000 rebels the answer will be easy: Kill 30,000-plus Libyan troops and many of the civilians they are based or hiding among and you will win the game for the rebels and — if the Viragoes are right — secular democracy will triumph. If this is not done, Mr. Obama can always admit defeat — as he has in Afghanistan — and consign those he so nobly championed to a post-intervention blood-letting by the Gaddafi regime.
Sitting in the Oval Office later this week or next — perhaps with war lovers McCain and Graham — Mr. Obama will find that 51 cards from the U.S.-power deck have been played and only one lies on his desk. And when deteriorating conditions for the Libyan rebels move Mr. Obama to turn over the card and read his last option, he will find it inscribed “Dear Mr. President: I told you so” and signed by Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, C.S.A.
And then what will Obama, the Viragoes, McCain and Graham, the Neocons, and Media Matter’s free-speech haters do? No matter, America and its people will be the losers whatever they decide to do.