March 28, 2011

Hosford and Exum on Libya

Zack Hosford and I have collaborated on a new policy brief for the Center for a New American Security. The .pdf is just five pages, so you should take a few minutes to read it. The following bullet points will not do justice to the arguments Zack and I advance, so, again, read the entire thing before making a comment. In summary, we argue:

  1. No matter what anyone else says, the United States and its allies are at war in Libya.
  2. The United States has very few interests in Libya.
  3. Unlike with respect to Afghanistan in 2009, the Obama Administration went to war in Libya without a deliberate planning process that forced policy makers to articulate U.S. interests, goals and assumptions. This helps to explain why the administration has had so much difficulty articulating, for the American people, our interests in, goals toward and assumptions about Libya.
  4. Now that we're in this mess, a policy of regime change in Libya makes the most sense.
  5. We see two possible outcomes in Libya: either a rapid collapse of the regime, or a stalemate. We assess the latter as more likely.
  6. In order to avoid the latter and in light of U.S. interests, we believe the United States should establish a structure of incentives to get Moammar Gadhafi to leave. Kinetic military action by U.S. forces is not part of our proposed incentive structure. In fact, we think the United States should halt direct military action and work to broaden the international coalition to include more countries who do have interests in Libya.
  7. We should be prepared to accept the status quo antebellum, though. Why? See #2.

Anyway, again, read the whole thing.