We are witnessing the inevitable mission creep in Libya.
The original stated goal was to create a no-fly zone supposedly to prevent the Libyan government using their air power to attack innocent civilians. That quickly changed into destroying the Libyan air forces even while they were on the ground. Then the US-led NATO air attacks started targeting those Libyan forces that were fighting rebel forces and threatening to push them back. Then the air attacks started hitting those Libyan forces that were away from the fighting, even those in their barracks.
Now the air attacks are supposedly targeting munitions stores. We are also told that CIA operatives have been in Libya for several weeks already meeting with rebel forces and that Obama has authorized covert support for Libyan rebels, which likely means including supplying arms. This escalation in involvement has happened remarkably rapidly.
So what is going on? Obama says that Gaddafi must go but that regime change is not part of the mission. Taken at face value, what we seem to be seeing is the US acting as the de facto air force of the Libyan rebels, and slowly increasing its contribution to the war effort to balance ay success by Gaddafi’s forces. In other words, the goal seems to be to create either a stalemate or marginally tilt the balance in favor of the rebels.
What is the point of this? After all, a protracted civil war causes immense pain for ordinary people and results in the destruction of a country’s infrastructure, causing long term hardships.
And what if Gaddafi stays in power and his forces can withstand the current NATO campaign? The US is far too deep into the conflict now to allow that to happen. So expect to see the next stage of ratcheting up, with bombings of supposedly military targets in cities as a sign to the Libyan people who still support him that his government is incapable of protecting them and thus pressuring them into rising up against him and join the rebel forces. Then we will begin to receive the inevitable reports of a hospital or a school or a mosque or marketplace being hit, resulting in civilian casualties, which will of course be regretted as unfortunate ‘collateral damage’.
So we will end up with civilians killed, the very thing that the US action was supposed to prevent. No doubt the dead and their families will be pleased that they were killed by a ‘humanitarian’ military force rather than by their own government.
And that will set the stage for the final step, sending in US troops or surrogates from other countries or mercenaries.