President Obama Again Rules Out Ground Forces – Should We Believe It?

According to an AP story, President Obama has again stated that the US mission in Libya is limited and that he has ruled out the use of ground forces:

Obama was asked in an interview with the Spanish-language network Univision if a land invasion would be out of the question in the event air strikes fail to dislodge Gadhafi from power. Obama replied that it was “absolutely” out of the question.

Asked what the exit strategy is, he didn’t lay out a vision for ending the international action, but rather said: “The exit strategy will be executed this week in the sense that we will be pulling back from our much more active efforts to shape the environment.”

“We’ll still be in a support role, we’ll still be providing jamming, and intelligence and other assets that are unique to us, but this is an international effort that’s designed to accomplish the goals that were set out in the Security Council resolution,” Obama said.

Is this believable after all of the huffing and puffing about Qaddafi having to go?  Maybe Obama now wants to disown his policy, one that seems to have been so poorly thought through.  But will the same liberal interventionists who brought us the no-fly zone mission stop pushing for more action if (as is likely) Qaddafi stays in power in the west or even starts to make gains again vs. the rebels?  If you need a guide to understanding what the administration is saying, here’s some help.

3 thoughts on “President Obama Again Rules Out Ground Forces – Should We Believe It?

  1. I don’t think this kind of talk about ruling out options is in our strategic interests, even if he has decided not to. How does showing your hand promote your interest in this situation.

    In some game theoretic models, making a credible commitment is in your interest, and some times it is better to be vague–it always depends on the payoff matrix. I’m just not seeing how it makes sense in this context.

  2. Agreed if we were talking about a one-level game. But Obama is playing a three or four or five level game. One with the enemy. One with the American public, especially his base. One with Congress. One with our allies. One with the Arab League.

    Reminds me of his discussions of leaving Afghanistan by a certain date. Only makes sense – if it does at all – if you think of it through the lens of a multi-level game.

    But good points Sven and I like your thinking.

  3. “we will still be in a support role.” I know this is an obvious question: who will we be supporting? The coalition looks a big frayed already.

    I am still trying to get my head around the logic of Operation Hope and Change. The president announces that Qaddafi must go. He then joins in establishing a no fly zone at the point where it is going to have minimal impact. He tells us that his commitment largely times out in a week and there will be no boots on the ground thereby making it highly unlikely that Qaddafi will take any of this seriously. Am I missing some overarching strategic logic?

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