Libya: Just who-the-heck is running things?

**Posted by Phineas

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the administration’s decision to look into the composition and leanings of the Libyan rebels — after we decided to go into battle for them.

That was stupid odd then, but now it’s taken an even stranger twist: two rival generals, one a CIA protege, claim to lead the rebel forces. And, while we’ve put drones into action against Qaddafi, we’ve cut off non-lethal aid … to our “allies?”

Ed Morrissey has video and analysis:

It’s no small matter to the US, either. Haftar appears to be the reason that the US feels sanguine enough to provide military and diplomatic support to the rebellion. After his defection, Haftar reportedly worked with the CIA to create and maintain a militia in Libya, according to a French book titled Manipulations Africaines. He only returned to Libya in the last few weeks, reportedly to “knock the rebel force into some kind of shape.”

That sanguine feeling appears to be dissipating, however. Foreign Policy reports that the White House has blocked the transfer of $25 million in “non-lethal” aid to the rebels, but isn’t sure why:

  • On April 15, the State Department notified Congress that it wanted to send $25 million of non-lethal military aid to the Libyan rebels, but as of today that money is being held up by the White House and no funds or goods have been disbursed. …
  • “One of the reasons why I announced $25 million in nonlethal aid yesterday, why many of our partners both in NATO and in the broader Contact Group are providing assistance to the opposition – is to enable them to defend themselves and to repulse the attacks by Qaddafi forces,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on this morning.
  • “There’s an urgent situation here and they need our help,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters on Wednesday.

Suddenly, though, something more urgent has come up which has delayed that assistance. FP tried to find out why, but the White House won’t comment.

I’d be surprised if the White House did comment; presumably the CIA or another intel agency found out something they didn’t like. Perhaps they uncovered corruption, as in the diversion of aid to the pockets of one of the generals and his followers. Or maybe “our guy,” doesn’t have the influence he claimed, and we’re reluctant to support the other, who was Colonel Quackers’ Interior Minister? We were burned a bit by Iraqi exiles making big claims and failing to deliver after the liberation of Iraq, so maybe we’re gun-shy here? Perhaps the situation is so unclear, it’s impossible to tell right who is in charge. Or, maybe, the credible reports of an al Qaeda presence have turned out to be truer than we feared, and we’d just be funneling money to our sworn enemies?

There’s just no way of knowing why promised aid has suddenly been held up, without an explanation from Washington, which we’re unlikely to get. This does, however, bring up again a problem I pointed out in my earlier post and elsewhere: the decision to intervene in Libya was undertaken in a casual, haphazard, and slapdash manner with no real prep work or intelligence investigations beforehand. We went in with one eye closed, and now it looks like we’re uncovering things that… give us pause. There was no need for this rush, and proper leadership on the part of the people in charge (supposedly) would have seen that the preliminary work was done first, before committing American prestige, treasure, and lives to battle.

As I wrote on the day after this started:

If there’s one thing Obama’s efforts overseas have shown us, it is that he is a Leftist ideologue who lacks a strategic vision and is in over his head. Whether it’s because of an innate passivity, a disinterest in foreign affairs, or a Left-liberal reluctance to act like an “imperial” and “colonial” power, our policy lacks any sense of coherence or strategy. I seriously doubt he has asked himself and his advisers “What outcome do we want?” From that one question would come answers that would shape the nature of our intervention, giving it direction and logical consistency. We would know how to proceed.

But I just don’t see that from Barack Obama, which means the outcome is likely to be muddled and costlier to reach than if we had acted with clarity and decisiveness when Daffy Qaddafi was still on the ropes.

And it looks like we’re seeing that play out.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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