Shoes - Not "Boots" - On The Ground, Ctd

Andrew Exum's view:

I was not too angry about the fact that the United States is conducting clandestine operations in Libya. Frankly, I support liaising with the rebels (though not arming them), and I also support observing air strikes. Air strikes are generally more effective at doing what you want them to do -- and not doing what you do not want them to do, like kill civilians -- when they are observed. 

If all the CIA is doing is ensuring a more effective no-fly zone, fine. But as I said before, count me suspicious. And the line between liaising with and supporting the rebels is a very fine one. We know where these things lead. The key test will be if Qaddafi regains control of the country even with a no-fly zone. He's already adjusting:

Rebels also said many loyalists now roamed the battlefield in pickups, making them indistinguishable from rebels when viewed by pilots overhead a shift in tactics that could render air power less effective.

To be perfectly clear, Qaddafi may be capable of achieving his ends without the kind of obvious brute force he displayed theatrically (and foolishly) at the start of this. If that happens, it seems vital to me that NATO not recast its mission as regime change. We did what we could. We can still isolate the regime, debrief defectors, freeze assets, etc. But we should do no more militarily - or risk getting sucked into Iraq II.

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