Top of the Agenda: United States to Use Drones in Libya
President Barack Obama approved airstrikes in Libya using U.S. Predator drones following criticism from Britain and France about Washington's previous decision to halt attacks on Qaddafi's forces. Two drones (FT) will now be on round-the-clock duty above Libya, focusing on targets beyond the capability of other NATO aircraft – particularly in urban areas. Defense Secretary Robert Gates denied that the drone deployment indicated mission creep (BBC) in Libya, saying there were still no plans to put U.S. "boots on the ground."
Analysts suggest the drone deployment demonstrates U.S. resolve to European allies, who have been pressing for increased involvement by the U.S. military (WashPost) in the weeks since it took on a supporting role in the mission. The ability of drones to hone in on targets using night-vision cameras is considered to be one way of helping rebels in the besieged city of Misurata (Guardian), where a humanitarian crisis has unfolded in the last week. Senator John McCain, an early advocate of aiding rebel forces in their fight against the Qaddafi regime, arrived in Benghazi to meet with members of the Transitional National Council.
As some NATO countries move to send advisers to help Libyan rebels, debate remains unsettled on whether charting a path to greater military involvement or a negotiated political solution is the right approach.
In this op-ed for the Washington Post, Michael Chertoff and Michael V. Hayden examine a future without Muammar al-Qaddafi in Libya.
NATO's failure to apply sufficient military force to oust Qaddafi and protect civilians is a blow to the credibility of the alliance and the United States, says expert Robert E. Hunter.
In this article for Foreign Affairs, Michael Scott Doran writes that not since the Suez crisis and the Nasser-fueled uprisings of the 1950s has the Middle East seen so much unrest. Understanding those earlier events can help the United States navigate the crisis today.