The British are putting advisors into Benghazi and the CIA has long been in the field. There is no turning back now and no one can argue that NATO and the GCC have not taken the side of the rebels against Colonel Qadaffi, sons and supporters. This is regime change time and the only reason NATO and others are in it up to their air intakes is that the revolution against the regime was failing. Revolutions fail all the time but since no one really liked Qadaffi and the rebels were getting their collective asses kicked by tribes not favourably disposed toward them, Europe’s military stepped into the breach.
I have repeatedly asked “what now?” from the beginning of the implementation of UNR 1973. I reject the arguments that the resolution did not authorize attacks on ground targets. Those arguments are either politically motivated (Russia, China) or ignorant (some anti-war-no-matter-what innocents, and the African Union as a whole). The resolution clearly said that all necessary measures could be taken and anyone who thinks a “no-fly” zone does not involve ground attacks is, frankly, a moron.
Nevertheless, here’s the question again. What now? What we are seeing is a British decision to send British advisors to help the rebels win. Downing Street may have advised NATO and sought what amounts to a ‘no objection’, but the insertion of military officers was a national decision, taken outside of NATO. It is, despite denials, boots on the ground and it is just the beginning if they want to truly defeat Qadaffi.
Clearly, the rebels cannot beat Qadaffi’s military on the ground at this point or in the near future. NATO airstrikes can only accomplish what airpower historically has always accomplished with absolute control of the sky – establish the conditions for the boots on the ground to crush any defense. But, NATO is not going in with troops – or at least not those from Germany, a supremely unreliable Western ally. The British, however, may have opened the door for the French because something has to be done about the reduction of Misrata sooner rather than later. Qadaffi’s army will likely abandon the use of tanks, which have become nothing if not moving coffins, and hit the ground. Qadaffi is fighting for survival now that he knows most everyone is out to get him. What now? NATO is stuck to the fly-paper. Expect the intervention to escalate rapidly because the revolution, gentlemen, has failed, and negotiations which premise Qadaffi remaining in power are a non-starter.