This morning the WSJ reported that Gadhafi’s forces took the town Ajdabiya which is about an hour’s drive south of Benghazi, the rebels’ capital. His fighter jets bombed the center of Ajdabiya to ruins. Civilians are fleeing the city heading north towards Benghazi. The rebels retreated to the outskirts of Ajdabiya trying to regroup near the highway leading north.
Benghazi will be next. It is reported that the streets in Benghazi are empty after many residents have left the city with the intention of fleeing to Egypt on a desert highway.
The rebels have no chance against Gadhafi’s airstrikes, rocket launchers and artillery. It is only a matter of time until Benghazi will be conquered and that will spell the end of the rebels in Libya.
Is this tragic outcome really unavoidable? It seems so. Why? Haven’t France and the Arab League called for a no-fly zone? Hasn’t President Obama said: “Colonel Gadhafi needs to step down from power and leave. That is good for his country. It is good for his people. It is the right thing to do.”
But these are just words. There will be more words today when the United Nations Security Council discusses the draft of a no-fly zone paragraph by paragraph – as if they had all the time in the world to decide. From the White House we hear that the President hasn’t made up his mind yet if military action should be supported or not. In all likelihood he will come to the conclusion to support military action once it is safe to decide. And it is safe to decide after the rebels will have been crushed.
Clearly and tragically, the President of the United States lacks the will to assist the rebels in their attempt to defeat Gadhafi. Not long ago it seemed that Gadhafi was finished – and he would have been if at that time the US would have led the way by providing military and humanitarian assistance and by imposing a no-fly zone.
But he didn’t lead the way. Who knows why – and at this point who even cares why. Lack of courage? Or caught in the narrow-mindedness of his ideological belief that the United States should not be anything special or in any way stand out?
If he wanted to he could still lead the way. Max Boot writes in the WSJ today: “The job could probably be performed with just one American ship – the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, now in the Red Sea, which has 34 F/A-18F Super Hornets and 10 F/A-18C Hornets along with a full complement of electronic warfare aircraft. The Enterprise strike group could also unleash a devastating array of Tomahawk cruise missiles.”
But he won’t. We all know it – unless we believe in miracles and overnight personality transformations. The rebels by now must know it too. During their last days before being slaughtered they will ask themselves whom they despise more: Gadhafi and his minions – or the West, not led by the US and not coming to their help.
Mohammed Abdallah, a rebel commander near Ajdabiya, said: “The hands of the international community are covered in blood… Gadhafi will keep on bombing and killing us without fear of anyone stopping him.”
The President of the United States heralded hope and change. Plenty of change he brought – change that wreaks havoc and spreads fear around the globe.