Sunday, August 21, 2011

The End May Be Nigh in Libya

If there is one name I trust for useful, clear-eyed, non-biased descriptive evaluations of what is going in a military conflict, it's Robert Farley of LGM (see, e.g., his early appraisal of Cast Lead, which I drew on heavily). What makes him distinct from so many other commentators is that he doesn't seem tied to a particular normative agenda regarding warfare -- he's neither a gun-toting neoconservative cheerleader, nor a reflexive anti-war peace protestor. That doesn't mean he doesn't have normative opinions, only that when he gives his predictions, I feel comfortable he's not molding them to craft a narrative either in support or against "war" as a concept.

Anyway, in that vein his thoughts on where Libya seems to be headed are well worth reading. Of particular interest is the evaluation of the "Afghan model" of military intervention (special forces logistical support combined with air power used to support indigenous forces on the ground) which, he claims, may be vindicated in the military sense while showing its fragility in the political sense. Avoiding real boots on the ground didn't seem to stop any flack aimed Obama's way (which was much of the point). But it does look like the rebels will be victorious and, Farley argues, there are real benefits to it being the rebel forces themselves who are seen as toppling the regime (and had to work together to do so), rather than it being swept away by a Western expeditionary force.

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