Could we win in Libya?

Tony Scott Macauley doesn't want to see U.S. troops on the ground in Libya.As U.S. attacks increase and Libyan president Moammar Gadhafi is being sought for crimes against his own people, the question of how far NATO and the U.S. should go in order to oust the leader is being asked around the world. Macauley, a former Army Ranger who also taught at Ranger School , believes the answer to that question has less to do with the skill of our troops, but rather, the unpredictability of the rebels. "We should absolutely be helping the rebels and the NATO bombing raids are a good way of supporting them," said Scott, also author of A Dream Before Dying ( "But we should be wary of committing to an escalation of our involvement without understanding the nature of the rebels and their battle." Macauley's point is that we need to look back on our past involvements in the civil wars of foreign countries to remember how we would define victory. "On the one hand, the definition of victory in the Libyan conflict seems simple," he added. "We'd go in to get Libyan president Moammar Gadhafi out. If he's out, we win. Right? Well, maybe not. It's not just about getting him out, but it's also about who replaces him. As a foreign military inserting ourselves in another country's civil war - under the principle of promoting democracy - we can justify our actions. After all, the rebels asked for and want our help, and help them we have. But if Gadhafi leaves, who takes his place? The rebel leaders who have been oppressed and victimized by Gadhafi's regime? What makes us think they'll be any less oppressive to their opposition once they're in power? Will we open the door to the same human rights violations we saw before, only at different hands? Most importantly, would be setting the stage for the departure of American troops after the war is over, or would we find ourselves in a situation in which we couldn't leave, because the rebels might need help maintaining power?" Macauley said that military operations are typically planned with a clear picture of what constitutes a victory, but in Libya , the goal posts keep moving. "At issue for Americans is the Libyan oil business," he said. "We're being hit with high gas prices at home because the oil market is frightened of the repercussions of the Libyan unrest. And here we are again, sending our sons and daughters to a foreign country to protect oil interests. It stands to reason that if we helped the rebels win, oil from Libya would flow freely to the West, but since when has reason ever played a part in the outcome of these civil wars. When we went to Kosovo to protect people from the genocidal Serbs, we discovered that victory only paved the way for corrupt leaders to make the country a hub for the international narcotics and drug trade. Moreover, the very people we protected began committing atrocities similar to their oppressors after the conflict was over. How can we commit to an all-out Libyan effort, stretched as thin as we are, when the definition of victory is so unclear and potentially unreachable?" Macauley said we need to clearly define victory before we commit and we should remember why we send troops to foreign countries in the first place. "The Rangers have a creed," he said. "It's part of our training. One element of it states that we energetically meet the enemies of our country and defeat them in the field of battle. But how does one reconcile that creed when the solider you're fighting alongside today could be the one you're firing at a few months from now? This is not why the people in our military became soldiers. Of course, we follow orders and execute our missions as we've been trained, but the consequences of our actions or missteps can be too easily revisited upon us. Moral character is also part of our creed, and I think that before our leaders commit us to a mission with amorphous moral consequences, we should first evaluate what happens if we should succeed in our mission." Tony Scott Macauley, an ordained non-denominational Christian minister, is a former US. Army Ranger, serving with 1/75, 3/75 Ranger Battalions, and finally for the Department of the Army Ranger School as instructor/trainer.

********** Published: May 19, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 5