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US Wars 'Short, Decisive, Rare;' Libya Bad Example

With the UN-sanctioned operations over Libya growing more complex by the day, with allied jets crashing, pilots being rescued, cruise missiles slamming into air defenses and aircraft taking out Libyan tanks and the costs to American taxpayers soaring, it's a good time to have some of our experts examine the basic question: is this a good idea?

Doug Macgregor, retired Army colonel and pungent national security analyst, argues below that the Libyan operations are exactly the wrong sort of operations for America's military to engage in. The goals, he argues, are unclear; Congress hasn't approved the effort. Expect to see Macgregor hitting the airwaves to make these points over the next few days.

Macgregor's views follow: The greatest danger to American national security and the restoration of American economic prosperity is Obama’s determination to impose political solutions with the use of American military power in many parts of the world where Washington’s solutions are both unneeded and unsustainable. Libya is just the latest in a series of interventions that will involve great cost to American strategic influence and economic prosperity; to date our operations in Libya have already cost the American taxpayer more than $250 million.

The Obama Administration’s failure to answer the questions of purpose, method and end-state makes a strategic debacle in Libya inevitable. The Bush Administration’s failure to answer these questions installed a Shi'ite Islamist pro-Khomeini'ist regime in power in Baghdad at the cost of a trillion dollars and thousands of lives. The squandering of blood and treasure continues today in Afghanistan for the same reason.

What Congress should demand is a national military strategy in which American military action is short, sharp, decisive and rare. Such a strategy involves knowing when to fight and when to refuse battle. Thus far, Obama and his supporters on the neocon right and liberal interventionist left are incapable of figuring this out.

The US armed forces should only be committed outside the US for a specific purpose described in an explicit declaration of war recommended by the president and enacted by Congress, or to counter an imminent, explicit, and specific threat to US territory or vital strategic interests beyond America’s borders. In this latter case, the president should either complete the operation or be compelled to seek a declaration of war within 30 days.

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