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The Corner

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Arab Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most



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The Tunisians got rid of Ben Ali in nothing flat, Mubarak took a couple of weeks longer to hit the road, and an exciting new “Islamic Emirate” has just been proclaimed in South Yemen. But, with his usual unerring instinct, Barack Obama has chosen to back the one Arab liberation movement who can’t get rid of the local strongman even when you lend them every functioning NATO air force. From the Washington Post:

U.S. officials are becoming increasingly resigned to the possibility of a protracted stalemate in Libya, with rebels retaining control of the eastern half of the divided country but lacking the muscle to drive Moammar Gaddafi from power.

Such a deadlock — perhaps backed by a formal cease-fire agreement — could help ensure the safety of Libyan civilians caught in the crossfire between the warring sides. But it could also dramatically expand the financial and military commitments by the United States and allied countries that have intervened in the six-week-old conflict, according to U.S. officials familiar with planning for the Libyan operation.

As to that “formal ceasefire agreement,” in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen it was the dictators offering to trade and compromise and negotiate their departure from the scene. But in Libya the only guys pleading for a ceasefire are the rebels:

Colonel Muammer Gaddafi’s government has scorned rebel conditions for a nationwide ceasefire in Libya.

Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim rejected the offer outlined by the Libyan opposition on Friday as “mad.” Troops loyal to Col Gaddafi would never withdraw from the rebel-held cities they were besieging, he said.

And why would they? The United States military has just announced it’s taking some indefinite r-&-r in Italy:

The U.S. is following through on a pledge to shift the main combat burden to Britain, France and other NATO allies.

Starting Sunday, no U.S. combat aircraft are to fly strike missions in Libya. NATO’s on-scene commander can request American strikes in the days ahead, in which case they may have to be approved in Washington.

Ah, right. I’m not sure David Cameron is the fellow I’d rely on to break the enemy’s will, so I guess it all comes down to how serious President Sarkozy is about knocking off Qaddafi. If he’s not, then Libya will be yet another in America’s six-decade-long pantheon of unwon wars. And so Arab spring falls back to Afghan winter, and another decade of ineffectual “nation”-building and “peace”-keeping by transnational sitting ducks for ever more ravenous predators.

But that’s what comes of a war without a mission. A cynic might almost think the point of the exercise was to demonstrate to the world the superpower’s impotence . . .



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