Identification of unknown airstrikes in Libya revealed


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Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have admitted they launched combined air strikes in Libya this past week.

There are two aspects of this story that are significant. First:

Egyptian officials explicitly denied the operation to American diplomats, the officials said. It is almost as if the theme of ignoring and/or mocking US superpower status exhibited most recently by both China and Russia, is gradually spreading to even the more “banana” republics around the world. Because, while one can debate the pros and cons of any previous administration, it is very much improbable that any regime, especially ones as close to the US as the UAE, and to a lesser extent Egypt, would have conducted such military missions without preclearing with the Pentagon first.

Desperate to stop radical Islamists from taking over Libya, Egypt and UAE made the decision to act without U.S. involvement, on their own. They no longer felt obliged to get our advice, or even tell us what they intended to do.

Second, the air strikes illustrate how the Middle East is becoming increasingly destabilized. The U.S. is seen as weak and unwilling to act. Thus, the radicals move to grab power, and the status quo elites feel compelled to respond.

As long as Barack Obama is in power, expect this unstable situation to become even more unstable. When we occupied Iraq we brought stability and the promise of civilized rule of law. Until recently that stability was held together by either our presence or the belief that we would return if things got out of hand. Now everyone in the Middle East knows the U.S. will do nothing, no matter what happens. They are on their own. And the crazies are moving to take advantage of our absence to bring chaos to the region.

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4 comments

  • fred k

    This is insightful.

    Worth noting is that there aren’t really other powers willing to fill the gap.

    It is easy to predict that there will be increasing land and power grabs. Will China take another piece of Asia? Will Nigeria fall to radical Islamists? Will Russia be satisfied chomping off bits of Ukraine, or will then move into other regions? The details are hazy, but the pattern is clear.

  • DK Williams

    From the standpoint of Egyptian generals, Obama has been on the wrong side in Egypt TWICE. So why should they trust him? The last thing they want is a lecture from Kerry and the Obama Administration tipping off their targets.

  • BSJ

    Wasn’t it Bush that set the precedent? A nation has the unilateral right to strike anywhere by any means if it feels its “security” is threatened. Or does that only count if the US is pulling the trigger?

    Chickens coming home might apply…

  • I am puzzled by your comment. First, Bush, who I think handled the situation in the Middle East very poorly (and I am being kind in my wording here), went out of his way to get both Congressional and UN approval for his actions in the Middle East. He did not argue that we had a “unilateral right to strike anywhere by any means.”

    Second, this was not the point of my post. I was not arguing that acting unilaterally is good or bad. I was noting the increasing destabilization of the Middle East because of the lack of involvement by the U.S., under the leadership of Obama. At least with Bush he was involved and committed to keeping power there from the worst elements in the Islamic world. And he was somewhat successful, if overall he was unwilling to finish the job.

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