Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Three parties missing in action on Libya plus two bonus observations

–Former regime element Peter Feaver asks an interesting question about the administration’s debate on Libya: Where in the world is Mr. Joe Biden? Normally you can’t get the guy to shut up. I once did an interview where I asked one question and he talked for 45 minutes straight. I fled with my other 9 ...

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

--Former regime element Peter Feaver asks an interesting question about the administration's debate on Libya: Where in the world is Mr. Joe Biden? Normally you can't get the guy to shut up. I once did an interview where I asked one question and he talked for 45 minutes straight. I fled with my other 9 questions unasked. Once I had escaped, I vowed not to interview him again, and have kept that promise. So maybe we should just count our blessings. Word (see update in the last paragraph) is he was against intervening in Libya, which would mean that "the Biden streak" of being consistently wrong remains alive.   

--Speaking of AWOL politicos, another friend asks: Whatever happened to the Tea Party? Was that just a little shenanigan to keep us entertained until the real world started revolting or melting down, as the case may be?

--And why are Arab aircraft MIA from this intervention? Time for a little tokenism, at the very least. Word Sunday was that Qatar had some planes heading to the fight. But the leader of the Arab League seemed to be scrambling away backwards from it.

–Former regime element Peter Feaver asks an interesting question about the administration’s debate on Libya: Where in the world is Mr. Joe Biden? Normally you can’t get the guy to shut up. I once did an interview where I asked one question and he talked for 45 minutes straight. I fled with my other 9 questions unasked. Once I had escaped, I vowed not to interview him again, and have kept that promise. So maybe we should just count our blessings. Word (see update in the last paragraph) is he was against intervening in Libya, which would mean that "the Biden streak" of being consistently wrong remains alive.   

–Speaking of AWOL politicos, another friend asks: Whatever happened to the Tea Party? Was that just a little shenanigan to keep us entertained until the real world started revolting or melting down, as the case may be?

–And why are Arab aircraft MIA from this intervention? Time for a little tokenism, at the very least. Word Sunday was that Qatar had some planes heading to the fight. But the leader of the Arab League seemed to be scrambling away backwards from it.

Also, a thought that has been missing from the discussion: One of the biggest differences from this and previous no-fly zones is the extraordinary growth of drone aircraft since the last time we did one. I would bet there are dozens of Predators and some Global Hawks and others orbiting over western Libya right now, identifying targets, intercepting signals and drawing fire from air defense installations. As an Air Force general once put it, every single one of them drones is willing to die for its country. 

Finally, I grow weary of talk of an "exit strategy." It is a canard and a false concept. Can anyone remember the last time there actually was an exit strategy going in that actually worked? Military actions aren’t interstates.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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