What would Gingrich do?
President Obama may be in hot water with lawmakers who think the U.S.-led military mission in Libya is a big mistake. But some GOP voices are calling for an escalation of U.S. involvement — or at least an expansion of U.S. goals.
Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who is considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination, tells NBC’s Today show that the United States will face defeat in Libya if the current mission ends with Muammar Gaddafi still in power.
People might have a hard time arguing with that point.
But what would he do now, if he were president?
Gingrich’s answer sounds just like the message John McCain conveyed on the same TV show a day earlier, when he called for arming the Libyan rebels to ensure the end of Gaddafi’s 41-year rule.
“We should be very clear to the Libyans that Gaddafi is going to go,” Gingrich says. “We should help equip the Libyan rebels.” Otherwise he’d let the Pentagon, the CIA, etc, determine what needs to be done “to win”.
But there may be problems with the arm-the-rebels idea. Reports from the field suggest the rag-tag Libyan rebel force wouldn’t be able to defeat Gaddafi in its present state. According to accounts, some rebels are so innocent of martial tactics that they may not even be sure which end of the gun goes ‘Bang!”
And so, how could they succeed without training? And how could they be trained without the West sending in those boots that politicians care so much about? And would Europe send boots to Libya if the U.S. didn’t?
Footwear aside, one consideration greatly vexing budget-cutting American lawmakers comes straight from the accounting department: How much will military intervention cost and how will that cost get paid?
One might be reminded of those popular TV ads for MasterCard:
Taking out Gaddafi’s air defenses? $400 million to $800 million. Patrolling the no-fly zone? $30 million to $100 million a week. The look on John Boehner’s face? Priceless.
Reuters Photo Credits: Brian Frank (Newt Gingrich); Suhaib Salem (Libyan Rebels); Jason Reed (John Boehner)
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