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Obama Policy Change Campaign Trick?

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TEHRAN, April 24 (ICANA) – In an interview with Press TV, former US diplomat Eugene Bird links Obama's 2012 presidential re-election campaign with the war campaign in Libya as war-buddy Senator McCain calls in for more munitions and an increase of drone attacks.
Sunday, April 24, 2011 9:12:34 PM
Obama Policy Change Campaign Trick?

Q: In recognition of the visit of US Senator John McCain, it's real interesting that he goes to Libya and asks for increased military support for the revolutionaries, including weapons, and more interestingly that he made a visit to Egypt. He's now in Egypt talking to the military chief and Foreign Minister including Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi. Are we going to hear news that perhaps Egypt will be broadened to the picture of Libya?

Bird: Yes, briefly put. I think what we're seeing is a reservation by the [US] president. He and, to some extent, Senator McCain - although he's in the opposite party - are very much a part of making the foreign policy of the Obama administration, it seems to me at this point.

And he's calling for weapons. He's not calling for US boots on the ground but he is, by implication, calling for whatever is necessary for the Europeans, for example, to put some boots on the ground; or Turkey, but that's very unlikely.

I think the credibility of the Obama administration, probably, has grown in the past week in terms of this Libyan policy because he's saying “let George do it;” that is, he's saying to let Europe do it, or anybody else including Egypt.

Egypt is a country that could very easily provide the military munitions, at least. I don't think there'll be Egyptian troops or anything like that. They have the capability, more than anyone else in the area, of providing the kind of support that the Libyan nationalists movement, if you want to call it that -the freedom movement - is going to require.

The president is building his credibility with a much more clever policy than it seems from the outside at this point.

Q: Can you tell us how you access the military aspects of this war in terms of the countries that are involved, in particular the United States which says it is not at the forefront of this but, rather, France and the UK.

Overall, what is the strategy? We're looking at a period of time that has surpassed the revolt which occurred in February and now we're looking at mid-March since the NATO operation began.

Bird: Yes, that's true. NATO is the choice of the United States for carrying out the effort as much as possible, and that's part of the cleverness of the Obama administration, if I can call it that.

He's looking at the credibility, next year, during the election in 2012. So, everything at the White House is done in terms of 2012.

That's partly true, I should think, from some of the GOPs. There's various pressures being exerted in Washington by the GOP and people like McCain and other strategic warriors in the House of Representatives, in particular, and in the Senate to some extent, which are recommending that he should have done it earlier and he should be more involved, etc.

I think most of the American people, and that's the consideration for the White House, are thinking that this is just about right. We'll just keep this up, keep the pressure up.

You can see that Gaddafi is in his withdrawal of his troops from around Misratah and giving it to the people's army, you might say, which to my mind means Bedouin troops who are going to be tougher and more difficult for the amateur soldiers of the opposition, of the nationalists.

I think that indicates that he is responding to some extent to international considerations. He doesn't want his army to have a huge number of civilian casualties in Misratah or anyplace else. That won't work for him throughout the whole of Libya.

I'm a little more optimistic that a month from now we will see a change in the situation and that the United States' effort in terms of giving pinpoint accuracy of bombing availability that is without pilots. We don't mind losing a drone but we don't want to lose another F-15 over Libya as we have already.

I think this approach, cautious, conservative, and looking at 2012 is what we're going to be seeing from the Obama administration.

The response from Gaddafi, of course, he has a lot of troops, a lot of armor on his side, but I think the nationalists have shown remarkable ability at lasting, coming back from minor battles that they lose.

And that this will continue in a month from now, maybe there will be some determination without Gaddafi.

Q: Do you agree in terms of asking for broadening the mission that would give allies a broader mandate to intervene in Libya?

Bird: Yes, but we are on a slippery slope in terms of that. I can't see a lot of foreign troops of any kind going into Libya at this point.

I do see the possible involvement of Egypt as a supplier and a trainer that they could do a whole lot if they wanted to. The Egyptian revolution is somewhat incomplete, of course, and that's why we are not seeing a lot of activity from the Egyptians. Libya's important to Egypt.

I think it's a matter of credibility for Britain, France, the United States, and Italy to some extent. I tend to think the drones are going out of Sicily but I'm not sure...

Q: Can you expand on that? I'd like to find out about these drones. To me, it's so interesting to know where they're landing, where they're charged - I don't know if they use fuel or not. I'm trying to understand where they're taking off from and the duration of time that they can actually go over the skies of Libya in terms of sorties that they do.

Getting to the point, is there a base that we don't know about, maybe you can assess it, in Libya or not? As you said, maybe they are coming out from Italy.

Bird: I don't think there is a base that would be useable in Libya.

There are bases in Italy that we used in Bosnia, in northern Italy. That's a bit far for the drones - but they can stay up for a very long time.

I think that the supply of military weapons to the nationalist forces in the east and, hopefully, in Misratah is far more important than the drones.

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