Libya – Scylla And Charybdis Redux

Posted on Tue 03/22/2011 by


The modern day reference for this old saying, Scylla and Charybdis, is that you are caught between a rock and a hard place, but I prefer to use the original term from Greek Mythology:

Odysseus had to pass through the narrow Straits of Messina between Sicily and Calabria. There were two monsters guarding the Straits. One monster was the seven headed Scylla who  inhabited a cave on the Calabrian land side and reached out and grabbed and ate sailors who passed too close. Charybdis was the monster in the sea who created a huge and horrendous whirlpool. What Odysseus had to do was to choose which direction to take as he navigated his ship through the Straits. Rather than sail too close to the whirlpool and risk losing his ship, he chose Scylla, and even though he lost some of his sailors he got through the Straits. The legend is more evocative than the modern day term of caught between a rock and a hard place, because it better indicates the real dilemma faced.

Just one time I’d like to see the U.S. say, “No! You guys work this out amongst yourselves.”

This is what happens when you are the major World power.

If ever there’s any trouble across the Planet, then there is uproar, and the people in that Country cry out for help.

The United Nations, that body set up to stand up for the underdog, steps in and makes decisions. They take steps to protect those people in that Country, and pass resolutions to do something about it. Everybody is relieved because they fervently hope that two things come as a reult of this decision. A ruthless dictator is deposed, and the people are protected.

However, what happens then is that the United Nations then has to find the requisite force that can indeed accomplish a task such as this.

For so long now, that body, the United Nations has asked the United States if they can assist, because the U.S. military might is the only (Western World) nation that has the military capability to actually accomplish something like this.

The U.S. comes to the aid of the UN, and even with that military might, things always take time, as has happened in so many cases.

It has happened again in this current Libyan situation.

Everybody looks to the U.S. because only they have the force superiority able to do the job.

While other Air Forces have to send in physical aircraft piloted by real men to effect any bombing, it then becomes a problem that those real men in those aircraft might get shot down and killed.

The U.S. can stand off with Submarines and large ships protected by air cover. From those Subs and ships, the U.S. can launch Cruise Missiles. Each can be specifically targeted with its own target, and the GPS coordinates can be entered into the Cruise Missile on board computer. In it’s simplest form, it’s almost set, launch and forget, but again it’s more complex than that. The Cruise Missile will then fly direct to the designated target, and destroy it. There’s no drama about an overflying aircraft with a live pilot in it running the risk, albeit very small, so capable is the USAF, but with cruise missiles, there are no such problems. The U.S. can also use their ‘smart weapons’ that can similarly be specifically targeted without the aircraft carrying them actually flying ‘into harm’s way’.

So here we see just that happening. U.S. launched Cruise missiles are raining down on specific targets, and some innocent people are in fact being killed.

Now, those people who originally pleaded for help are saying ….. ‘Hey! Wait a minute. this isn’t what we wanted, because innocent people might be getting killed.’

And this is exactly what has happened here. Even the Arab League who screamed out for help are now saying that this has gone beyond what they wanted, and they too are blaming the U.S.

There’s no mention that Gaddafi is using his own people as human shields for just that express purpose, so that when those innocent people do get killed, it looks bad for those doing the bombing, and he, Gaddafi, can claim that the oppressor is killing the innocent people they were sworn to protect. In a way, he then looks almost reasoned in this assertion, and even though it is propaganda, it’s somehow painted as a victory for him.

So, where are all eyes now turned?

Back onto the U.S.

So now, the US becomes the bad guy.

Not the evil dictator.

Not the pure squeaky clean United Nations.

Not the Arab League, so suddenly sympathetic, when barely days before they were screaming for vengeance.

Not the other foreign Countries that the UN co opted to assist them.

No, the bad guy is now the U.S.

How many times has this happened in the last number of decades?

This will get worse before it gets better, and because Gaddafi did not instantly turn chicken and give up, this might now drag out, as they always seem to do.

Every single day longer that this goes on, opinion will only harden.

And who will it harden against?

The U.S.

In the end, it will become a problem of the U.S. only, and not one for those others who asked for their help in the first place.

So just for once, I would like to see the U.S. tell all those who ask for their help to work it out amongst themselves.

Scylla and Charybdis.

Either way you lose something.