With the use of U.S. military might in an assault on the forces of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, questions arise as to what the United States and other nations taking part in that attack can realistically achieve.
Our nation has no affection for Gadhafi. Libya was behind the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed almost 200 Americans.
What’s more, he has been engaged in recent weeks in the brutal suppression of an uprising by Libyans who are weary of his despotic rule.
Those considerations led President Barack Obama to have the United States join with several other nations in attacking Gadhafi’s forces. U.S. bombers and fighters hit Libyan air defenses and ground forces, according to news accounts. At this writing, U.S. military officials were still assessing how much damage had been done to Gadhafi’s military capabilities.
By including Libyan ground forces among the targets, the international coalition went further than the originally discussed goal of establishing a “no-fly zone” so that Gadhafi could not attack Libyan rebels and civilians from the air. It was thought that a no-fly zone would provide the rebels some “breathing room” to regroup and continue their attempt to depose Gadhafi.
But it is not certain how much Gadhafi’s forces have been weakened by the international attack. That raises the question of whether the United States and other nations will — or should — boost their military intervention.
We understand the desire to remove Gadhafi from power for the sake of Libya’s oppressed citizens. But we do not believe Gadhafi today poses such a threat to the United States or U.S. interests that any consideration should be given to sending U.S. ground forces into Libya.
The decision to aid Libya’s rebels with U.S. air power “from afar” was perhaps a “close call.” But keeping our soldiers off Libyan soil is not a close call. A ground invasion of Libya would be unwise, however much we may wish to see Gadhafi gone.