In Libya, Richard Perle Gets His War — Sort Of
Speaking at Yale University last week, Richard Perle criticized the Obama administration’s handling of the unrest in the Middle East, suggesting more military force should have been used much sooner. This is interesting because in the run-up to the war in Iraq, Perle recommended a plan for toppling Saddam Hussein that bears a certain resemblance to the civil war that has unfolded against Qaddafi’s regime.
Under the Perle plan, a mere 40,000 troops would be inserted into the north and south of Iraq to seize the oil fields and effectively starve Saddam Hussein out of his financing. The north and south were also expected to be hotbeds of anti-Saddam resistance, given the Kurdish and Shia uprisings in the past, and it is likely that under the Perle plan (although as far as we can tell Perle never explicitly said this) there would have been a tremendous amount of liaison, supplying, and advising going on between these groups and US troops.
Now take Libya: as the civil war unfolded, the rebels seized key oil facilities and fought to hold them. The intention was to assault Tripoli step-by-step by taking the coastline cities along the way and to cut off Qaddafi’s oil profits. The US quietly supported the arming of these rebels and there was even talk of dispatching ground advisers.
There are key differences, of course: no US ground troops have been deployed in Libya. But the kernel of the idea — the too-clever-by-half plan to grab the money source and hold it while the regime crumbles in the distance — seems clear enough in both cases. The result is that while Perle’s plan was totally ignored in the Iraq War, in Libya we have an opportunity to see how it might have unfolded.
[Source: Bellum, The Stanford Review, Yale, 17Apr11]
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