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March 22, 2011

Where’s the Mad Dog?

Roy Meachum

After French jets led the coalition in attacking Libya, neither The New York Times nor The Washington Post was able to locate Libya’s Muammar Gadhafi. And their reporters looked.


The sole indication the Mad Dog leader might be around somewhere was an audiotape – no pictures – played on state television, curiously. By design it seemed he wanted no background to reveal where he is. Meanwhile, rallying behind Paris were England, Canada, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, Italy and the United States. The United Arab Emirate and Qatar are part of the coalition. Muslim Turkey is enforcing the no-fly zone.


Playing their partisan game, Washington Republicans demand from the White House what the fighter jets and bombings are about? The door on Pennsylvania Avenue should have a sign pointing in Europe’s direction. Britain was chomping at the bit, fiercely determined to save people from the massive weapons and mercenaries that Libya’s oil paid for.


By the way, the Italian navy off the North Africa coast more than doubled the American presence. Rome ordered 13 vessels into the lower Mediterranean, and offered up airbases scattered around the peninsula nation. Its proximity to Libya was a key factor in why Mussolini grabbed the country, before oil made it wealthy.


Political opponents accuse Barack Obama of Machiavellian strategy, saying hiding behind a grand coalition was his sneaky way to intervene in what was none of America’s business. Presumably, the U.S. was directly affected by goings-on in Iraq and Afghanistan. In those wars and occupations Republicans and other conservatives endorsed the former GOP president’s “cowboy” tactics.


French President Nicolas Sarkozy grabbed the initiative; some say he was motivated by his failure to respond to the revolution in Tunisia, Paris’ former colony. He’s also facing an election with low poll numbers. Various news sources said, together with British Prime Minister David Cameron, M. Sarkozy pulled in Europe and the United States. The allegation that President Obama manipulated the situation makes no sense. The French are a proud people, nobody tells them what to do. Charles de Gaulle pulled all the way out from NATO because he felt personally snubbed by Washington and London.


By Monday evening in Libya, the Associated Press reported: “Burned-out tanks and personnel carriers littered the main desert road leading southwest from Benghazi, the rebels’ capital in the east of the country – the remains of a pro-Gadhafi force that had been besieging the city until it was pounded by international air strikes the past two nights.”


All day and into the night, coalition jets searched for targets of opportunity, poised to take out Libyan military capabilities. Monday morning a U.S. Tomahawk missile delicately destroyed a three story building in Tripoli’s Bab al-Azizya. A coalition spokesman said it was a command post, filled with computers and all sorts of electronic devices that controlled systems throughout the country.


Bab al-Azizya is Muammar Gadhafi’s personal compound. The missile took out the headquarters without touching a hair on the dictator’s head; some 200 loyal Libyans volunteered to act as a human shield protecting their leader. But then he was probably not there. His missing status was not solved going into Tuesday morning.


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