As has been the case from the beginning, I’m unconvinced of the prospects of the rebels for winning a military victory. I don’t think it’s right to say that Gaddafi is “winning,” (his forces appear to be losing ground on several fronts) but NATO and the rebels are on the clock; sooner or later, they’ll have either win or decide to accept/impose some kind of de facto partition in Libya. Dan Byman and Matthew Waxman do a good job in FP describing the asymmetrical stakes in the war, and explaining why Gaddafi has been so difficult to pry loose. See also this update from Camile Tawil (via Brian Ulrich).
Some other links:
- Juan Cole, Ten Mistakes. On the first he’s obviously right; the Obama administration clearly believed that this would be over before the WPR ever became at issue. This was a ridiculously stupid error, and hopefully we’ll find out someday just how the administration’s thought process played out. I’m not sure that the second mistake (“shock and awe” vs. close air support) is actually true; seems to me that most of the air effort has been focused on real, tactical military goals. #3, #4, #6, and #10 were predictable. #5, again, I’m uncertain of; there’s just a limit to how much focused air attacks can do against ground forces in an urban area. Regading #9, I’m not sure why Juan thinks that such an offer has not already been made, or why he thinks that Gaddafi and family would be quick to accept. 7 and 8 are reasonable, but are probably the result of incoherent NATO war aims. Carl Prine (no, not that Carl Prine) being brutal but, I would have to say, fair on the subject of Juan Cole’s approach to the Libya War.
- Micah Zenko on the justifications for the Libya war. I think that the British and French commitment to Afghanistan loomed large here, along with the belief that it would be a cakewalk.
- Dan Trombley thinks through some lessons of the war so far, and brings the snark regarding the French decision to supply the rebels with arms: “Upset about improper distribution? Well, madames et monsieurs, if your distribution method is just chucking weapons out the back of aircraft into the middle of the mountains and hoping that the notoriously disorganized Libyan rebels do the right thing, that is on you. Naturally, the rebels are not cooperating as a cohesive group and instead the arms are going to whatever rebel commanders get them.”