POLITICS

Opinion: No Macho in Libya

  • Anti-Libyan Leader Moammar Ghadafi gunmen stand on alert next to an anti-aircraft machine gun, as they watch the coast side in case any Libyan navy attack, in Benghazi, Libya, on Monday Feb. 28, 2011. The United States pressed its European allies on Monday to set tough sanctions on the Libyan government, while doubts emerged about the feasibility of a proposed no-fly zone to prevent Moammar Gadhafi's regime from launching aerial attacks against protesters. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

    Anti-Libyan Leader Moammar Ghadafi gunmen stand on alert next to an anti-aircraft machine gun, as they watch the coast side in case any Libyan navy attack, in Benghazi, Libya, on Monday Feb. 28, 2011. The United States pressed its European allies on Monday to set tough sanctions on the Libyan government, while doubts emerged about the feasibility of a proposed no-fly zone to prevent Moammar Gadhafi's regime from launching aerial attacks against protesters. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)  (AP2011)

  • Anti-Libyan Leader Moammar Ghadafi gunmen stand on alert next to an anti-aircraft machine gun, as they watch the coast side in case any Libyan navy attack, in Benghazi, Libya, on Monday Feb. 28, 2011. The United States pressed its European allies on Monday to set tough sanctions on the Libyan government, while doubts emerged about the feasibility of a proposed no-fly zone to prevent Moammar Gadhafi's regime from launching aerial attacks against protesters. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

    Anti-Libyan Leader Moammar Ghadafi gunmen stand on alert next to an anti-aircraft machine gun, as they watch the coast side in case any Libyan navy attack, in Benghazi, Libya, on Monday Feb. 28, 2011. The United States pressed its European allies on Monday to set tough sanctions on the Libyan government, while doubts emerged about the feasibility of a proposed no-fly zone to prevent Moammar Gadhafi's regime from launching aerial attacks against protesters. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)  (AP2011)

The farther they are from the fighting, the more old men call energetically for war. It is as if they feel political bravado will make them seem brave. Now these armchair warriors are demanding that President Obama announce a plan to remove Colonel Muammar Qaddafi from power.

It is not enough that our forces, without suffering a single casualty, prevented a massacre of "horrific scale" in the Libyan city of Benghazi.

Now the long-distance machos in Washington want the boogeyman boss dead or gone, without regard for what it might take to accomplish that admirable goal.

I saw this movie already in Iraq.

Saddam Hussein was a poster boy for bad behavior. He invaded his neighbor, oppressed his minorities, and even tried to kill our 41st president.

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Still, if we had known that it would take eight years, a trillion tax payer dollars, and over 4,000 dead GI's to get rid of him, how many would have said go for it?

I was against our taking the lead in Libya because it was someone else's turn to bear the awful cost of war -- someone like the French, with their enormous business interests there, or the Italians, who ruled Libya for a half century, and who still get most of their oil from their North African neighbor barely 200 miles away.

And those allies of ours are finally stepping up to the plate doing what they can. Because it's their turn.

Of course, with Gaddafi's armored columns closing in, it had to be us who averted the urgent humanitarian disaster in Bengazi. And our armed forces answered their commander's call with our mighty fleet, limitless cruise missiles and uncounted aircraft flown by the world's best pilots.

But deficit hawks duly noted that each of those missiles cost us $1.4 million a pop, and each aerial sortie probably another 100 grand each, minimum. So our courage and resolve has cost us about a billion tax dollars so far. And the meter is still running.

If the president had either asked some of these same congressmen who are complaining that he didn't do enough, for a declaration of war, or for a special tax to pay for this limited military campaign, would they have supported him in a timely enough way to save Bengazi?

Or, more likely, would they have continued to politicize and bluster and try to out tough the other guy with no risk to themselves?

The fact is, by accident or design, the president got this just right. At his direction our forces, with help from the Brits, and the surprisingly spunky French, got there right on time.

Now let NATO keep our iron grip on the Libyan dictator's nuts. He will howl, and for a time cling to a fragment of his realm; but it will hurt so bad he won't have the time or energy to do much more than survive -- until some once trusted bodyguard or relative or freedom fighter ends his crazy ride.

And when he's gone, all those ferocious Washington warriors who demanded more of Obama, sooner will find some other crusade.

Note: just landed in Cairo, Egypt en route to Libya. I want to find the good guys and find out who they are.

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