There’s no hope for Ted Van Dyk. At least that’s what he says, and I am forced to agree….
On Libya: Defense Secretary Bob Gates, just before the U.S. decision to intervene in Libya, stated that “anyone should have his head examined” who decided to add yet another offshore intervention to those being undertaken in Iraq and Afghanistan, specifically citing establishment of a no-fly zone in Libya as just such an overreach.
Umm…no he didn’t.
Secretary Gates did, indeed, make a statement to West Point cadets on February 25 that included a quip about cranial scrutiny:
But in my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should “have his head examined,” as General MacArthur so delicately put it.
Even out of context, it is clear that Gates was not making a sweeping claim of the insanity of any type of U.S. intervention. He was explicitly discussing the problem of a “big…land army” type invasion or occupation. This is clear from the statement immediately preceding the money quote:
Looking ahead, though, in the competition for tight defense dollars within and between the services, the Army also must confront the reality that the most plausible, high-end scenarios for the U.S. military are primarily naval and air engagements – whether in Asia, the Persian Gulf, or elsewhere. The strategic rationale for swift-moving expeditionary forces, be they Army or Marines, airborne infantry or special operations, is self-evident given the likelihood of counterterrorism, rapid reaction, disaster response, or stability or security force assistance missions.
[…] But as the prospects for another head-on clash of large mechanized land armies seem less likely, the Army will be increasingly challenged to justify the number, size, and cost of its heavy formations to those in the leadership of the Pentagon, and on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, who ultimately make policy and set budgets.
[…] The odds of repeating another Afghanistan or Iraq – invading, pacifying, and administering a large third world country – may be low. But in what General Casey has called “an era of persistent conflict,” those unconventional capabilities will still be needed at various levels and in various locations. Most critically to prevent festering problems from growing into full-blown crises which require costly – and controversial – large-scale American military intervention.
In other words, large scale land invasions are too damn expensive. But Gates also asserts the likelihood of “critical” military actions to prevent full-blown crises.
You know what isn’t in Gates’ speech? The expression “no-fly zone” and the word “Libya”. Ted just pulled that notion out of his ass.
Van Dyk continues:
Yet here we are, not only establishing a Libyan no-fly zone but, contrary to early assurances, putting American special-operations teams on the ground to assist Libyan rebels.
Earth to Ted: intelligence personnel have likely been “on the ground” in Libya for years, and covert Special Forces have, no doubt, been “on the ground” for at least weeks. Obama never stated that there would be no covert activities in Syria.
Obama did, however, categorically rule out a land invasion, saying such an invasion was absolutely out of the question1.
Either way, he conducts journalistic malpractice pretending that in-country covert operations are equivalent to a ground invasion.
To be clear, I am not staking an ideological position on our military action in Libya…I have mixed and complex feelings about it that I won’t go into here. The bone I have to pick is with Ted’s sloppy-ass, off-the-cuff journalism and his pseudo-analysis driven by factual inaccuracies.
On the other hand, maybe he’s suffering from, well…something…. I won’t speculate on specifically what without evidence. I’ll only suggest that Ted ought to have his head examined.
1 Obama’s gave a speech while I was editing this post this evening. In it, he confirmed that there would be no U.S. ground invasion.