Under George Bush, our troops were told that they were going to Iraq and Afghanistan to protect American interests. One can, of course, quibble with whether those wars have served American interests (which is not a quibble I want to have at this post). But the point I want to make is that our young men and women were told that they were putting their lives on the line for their country. They were protecting and defending.
In Libya, Defense Secretary Gates has stated explicitly that Libya itself has nothing to do with America’s vital interests, although it’s in a region that is important. As best as I can tell, he hasn’t taken the next step, which is to say that what happens in Libya, though, will necessarily affect America’s interests in that region.
Obama has come out with a mountain of mush which boils down to a claim that the U.N. thinks this is a good idea for protecting some people in Libya, and we want Qaddafi out of there, although we won’t do anything actually to get him out of there, because that’s not our mission, even though we plan on having him leave. We’ve since learned that significant sectors amongst the people who want Qaddafi out even more than Obama does — i.e., our allies — are Al Qaeda. For people with long memories, we’re fighting Al Qaeda all over the world, with American troops actively under fire in Afghanistan.
With those thoughts in mind about Libya — it’s an internationalist mission with no clear goals, that doesn’t necessarily benefit America, that sees us helping the same people who are trying to kill our guys in Afghanistan, one has to ask whether American troops have a sense of mission here? Are they feeling the warm glow of altruistic humanitarians who are in the line of fire for people who have little to do with America and her interests (or are even routinely trying to kill Americans? Do they have any sense that they are fulfilling their mission to protect and defend” if the people they’re protecting and defending are neither Americans nor American allies? Or are they simply people who are doing their jobs, without a whole lot of mission analysis?
I’m a highly politicized, conservative, anti-Obama, pro-American, middle-aged armchair warrior. With that bias, I know that I would not be happy to have my life on the line so that Libyan oil can flow to France and Al Qaeda can take over the Libyan government. But that’s just me. Do any of you have any sense about the boots on the ground thinking?