This article is also posted on The Policy Think site.  Go to this link: http://jaygaskill.com/ObamasBayOfPigs.htm


My own analysis immediately follows that of David Rothkopf, Thomas Friedman and Davis Brooks as quoted and linked below.


Foreign Policy Magazine, “The Fog of War at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” by David Rothkopf (visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

“The President’s men are very agitated that the New York Times narrative that they were led to war by Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Gayle Smith and are now arguing the President was the leader of the move to act. While the final decision clearly rested with the President, the Amazons In-Charge narrative is going to be hard to dial back because these strong, capable women did actually drive the decision process against the opposition of Gates, Donilon, Brennan and others.”


New York Times OP Ed “Looking for Luck in Libya”, by Tomas Friedman

“…if the fight there turns ugly, or stalemates, people will be calling for our humanitarian help again. You bomb it, you own it. Which is why, most of all, I hope President Obama is lucky. I hope Qaddafi’s regime collapses like a sand castle….”

“Dear Lord, please make President Obama lucky.”


David Brooks, “The Defection Track”.  New York Times OP Ed.

“The result is a strategy you might call Squeeze and See. The multilateral forces ratchet up the pressure and watch to see what happens.”


“All of this is meant to send the signal that Qaddafi has no future. Will it be enough to cause enough defections? No one knows. But given all of the uncertainties, this seems like a prudent way to test the strength of the regime and expose its weaknesses….It may turn out in the months ahead that we simply do not have the capacity, short of an actual invasion (which no one wants), to dislodge Qaddafi.”


Saturday, April 02, 2011



Jay B Gaskill

President Obama’s US-led attack on Libya’s regime has been compared with President Bush’s Iraq invasion.  That just doesn’t work for me. Let’s leave aside the “whole declaration of war vs. war powers resolution” sidebar discussion for now.

Mr. Obama’s Libya exercise has much more in common with two historically problematic presidential exercises: JFK’s abortive Bay of Pigs Cuban invasion of April 1961 and Carter’s failed attempt to rescue the captive US embassy in Iran of April 1980.

Presidents Kennedy and Carter each reluctantly agreed to actions that neither man was willing to follow up in the event of a failure.  Kennedy was unwilling to invade Cuba or to bomb the recently discovered Soviet nuclear missile sites on Cuban soil.  And Carter was unwilling to attack Iran.  When each president’s efforts failed, both attempts left the USA worse off than before.

In each instance, the real opponents at the time (Soviet Russia and radical Islam) were emboldened and continued to act out in an escalating pattern.  Sensing American weakness, Russia brought the world to the very edge of World War III.  And the radical jihad consolidated power in Iran and – through proxies – began to test US resolve by bombing US Marine barracks in Lebanon, followed by a long series of increasingly brazen attacks leading up to the savage attacks of 9-11-01.

Our new president is strongly attracted to the grand gesture and the convenient notion of leaving the follow-up to others.  And his management style resembles something old line CEO’s used to deride as “bull’s eye targeting.”  This is the ploy that some managers use to appear prescient and on top of events.  Deliberately vague promises and assurances are made up front in order to allow “flexibility” in claiming credit or avoiding blame later.  When something good develops, no matter that the manager didn’t see it coming.  A moveable bull’s eye is slid over the chart, after the fact, placing the center of the circle right on the to-be-claimed “accomplishment.”  Of course, in case of failure, the bull’s eye never leaves the prop storage room.

To John Kennedy’s credit, he squarely took the blame for the Bay of Pigs failure.  But he was a WWII naval officer who had served under fire.

The entire Middle East is sinking into a regional civil war and we seem to have an aloof professor in charge, more willing to lecture at length on obscurely framed doctrines, than to squarely address reality.

The facts on the ground are dangerous on a scale beyond anything the West has faced since 1960-63.  With more than 100 nuclear warheads, Pakistan alone has enough nuclear “throw weight” to trigger a nuclear winter – that was something serious enough to change Soviet policy.  But then we had Mutually Assured Destruction.  Now we may face Mutually Assured Martyrdom.  Did you ever think that the Cold War would seem like the good old days?

The civilized, liberal players in the larger Middle Eastern countries, the ones that CNN captured on video in those early heady moments of the Egyptian tumult, form but a fragile, thin veneer on a vastly larger, hugely more fundamentalist population.  The civilized liberals of Germany’s Weimar Republic were far more numerous and influential in relation o the Nazi thugs who took power in the 1930’s. And those thugs sealed Germany’s fate with a single election. Does anyone seriously doubt that a major change of governance in the Middle Eastern region is likely? Or that militant Islam has a realistic shot at forming a regional power block?  Just how long would Pakistan’s atomic warheads remain under the control of sane and responsible officials under those circumstances?

Every war starts with a reckless miscalculation.  And every such miscalculation starts with the opportunistic exploitation of another nation’s perceived weakness.

When we are forced to live through something this dangerous, and the leader the helm is an unknown, untested figure, we usually say, “I just hope they know what they’re doing.”

But Tomas Friedman has said something distinctly different.  “Dear Lord, please make President Obama lucky.”

I suspect that Mr. Friedman has already answered the earlier question.


Jay B Gaskill is a California Attorney

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