About Those Ground Troops …

Apr 20 2011 @ 12:27pm

Spencer Ackerman asks whether the West can "stop short of joining the fight on the ground" in Libya:

The rebels want a lot more. Their emissary to Washington wants NATO to destroy Gadhafi’s military. And while the rebels once ruled out foreign ground forces themselves — desiring the glory of overthrowing Gadhafi — now they’re reconsidering. “[T]hat was before we faced the crimes of Gaddafi,” a member of Misurata’s governing committee told reporters. With Misurata suffering under a two-month siege that’s getting worse, “we need a force from NATO or the United Nations on the ground now.”

And the Brits, French and Italians have now put their foot in the door. If there is a more text-book case of mission creep, I'd like to see it. Worse: those arguing for mission creep can claim they always wanted us to act sooner and more decisively. So even many supporters of the current mission are actually pro-creep, not anti-. And Obama's position – while morally and intellectually  powerful – is, in the real world, hard to sustain.

Maybe everyone in this debate will eventually be able to say "told you so." And all – and none – of us will be entirely persuasive. Which, in my view, makes the case for strategically clean, if morally dirty, non-intervention stronger.