The world is in turmoil with the Middle East experiencing something like a social revolution, so what’s the last remaining superpower to do? I’m serious. Colonel Qaddafi is bringing heavy armor and air power to bear against the rebels opposing him in Eastern Libya and inflicting some serious casualties. The rebels are calling for U. S. air strikes or maybe a U. S.-enforced no-fly zone. But Defense Secretary Robert Gates, sitting already on two regional wars he can’t win, doesn’t want to get involved in yet another. Anything discussed so far that Obama might do will only make new enemies or long-term problems for America, but then so will doing nothing. So while the big brains at the Pentagon and White House think their deep thoughts, I’ll just throw out my own idea of what to do, which seems brutally obvious to me — electronic warfare.
The U. S. President has already come down on the side of the rebels, but setting-up a no-fly zone from the USS Enterprise parked in the Mediterranean, while feasible, is probably not practical. Libya is a big place and policing from the sky every hectare is bound to be costly and holes will be found in that defensive fabric. Another alternative would be preemptive air strikes to take out the Libyan Air Force so it no longer presents a problem. If either of those moves are being seriously debated I am sure the Pentagon is suggesting they be done together as a one-two punch.
But think about the strategic goal here, which is simply to level the playing field. If the people of Libya want Qaddafi out, then it is up to them to push him out, with the most democratic conflict being man-to-man, not tank-to-man or MiG-to-man. That’s where electronic warfare comes in.
While the United Nations and NATO come to their own policy positions, here is what I would do were I the Commander-in-Chief. In the middle of the night (tonight!) I’d send stealth aircraft and drop electromagnetic pulse weapons on all 13 Libyan Air Force bases as well as on selected Libyan Army bases and current battlefield targets. It’s hard to imagine needing more than 24 devices. These devices would destroy all command-and-control capability on both sides, fuse all military electronics, take out the mobile and wired phone networks, and probably shut down large parts of the Libyan electrical grid, ideally with little loss of life.
There are two ways to inflict such electromagnetic damage: 1) detonate a nuclear device in the atmosphere high over Libya, or; 2) use quite simple explosive devices pioneered in Russia and Los Alamos in the 1950s, each capable of doing the damage of dozens of simultaneous lightning strikes.
I’d choose door number 2.
By dawn, with the exception of the odd surviving tank, the Libyan war would be down to boots and AK-47s with the victor being he who commands more of both.
One more thing, though. If I were the President and ordered such a strike, I’d also order that it remain a state secret, which is the only reason that stealth aircraft would be needed — to avoid a radar record of the attack.
Maybe the Libyans will pretend nothing happened. Maybe they won’t know who to blame. Ideally they’ll just fade away.