Earlier today, General Carter Ham, who headed the Libyan adventure before it was turned over to NATO, briefed the Senate Armed Services Committee on how that conflict might go:
The United States may consider sending troops into Libya with a possible international ground force that could aid the rebels, according to the general who led the military mission until NATO took over.
Army Gen. Carter Ham also told lawmakers Thursday that added American participation would not be ideal, and ground troops could erode the international coalition and make it more difficult to get Arab support for operations in Libya. …
Ham said the operation was largely stalemated now and was more likely to remain that way since America has transferred control to NATO.
Stalemated: that is hardly a surprise. As we wrote when the bombing operation began, the limitations of air power have been clearly revealed in recent years.
[H]e noted that, in a new tactic, Muammar Qaddafi’s forces are making airstrikes more difficult by staging military forces and vehicles near civilian areas such as schools and mosques.
That is a “new tactic” only in Libya.
Asked if the U.S. would provide troops, Ham said, “I suspect there might be some consideration of that. My personal view at this point would be that that’s probably not the ideal circumstance, again for the regional reaction that having American boots on the ground would entail.”
Maybe before we do that, we can find out who the Libyan rebels are. But General Ham’s comments illustrate another point. Why, exactly, would “American boots on the ground” entail a negative “regional reaction?” That is, I guess, a long story. In the meantime, it is hard to put a positive construction on our involvement in Libya so far. I doubt that American troops will be committed to the conflict, but the fact that this alternative is being discussed sheds light on how successful Obama’s policy has been to date.