Operation Odyssey Dawn: Deja Vu All Over Again?


The cover of Time magazine heralds "Target Gaddafi." Haven't read it yet? Read on.

This Time magazine cover is from April 21, 1986, approaching 25 years ago.

What are the implications for "Operation Odyssey Dawn," launched March 19?


Here's a sample of Time's 1986 article:

By Sunday morning they were back on station in the central Mediterranean north of Libya: the carriers America and Coral Sea, 14 escort warships and two other support vessels. Once again, as in the clashes around the Gulf of Sidra three weeks ago, the flattops were prepared to launch their 160 fighters and bombers against targets in the desert country of Dictator Muammar Gaddafi. But this time there was no pretext that the exercise was to assert the right of free passage in international waters.

Nor was there the expectation that any American attack would depend on whether Libya fired first. Libya had already fired--choosing once again the weapon of a terrorist bomb. After countless unheeded warnings and after futile attempts to counter terrorism with economic and political sanctions, the U.S. Sixth Fleet was poised to strike the type of blow the Reagan Administration had threatened--and anguished about--for so long.

The world watched something it had never seen before: the U.S. Navy moving into position so that the Commander in Chief could have the option of militarily punishing another nation for its sponsorship of international terrorism. As West European allies fretted about the potential consequences, and as Senate and House leaders gave qualified support while waiting to be consulted under the War Powers Resolution, the pilots of the F/A-18 Hornets and A-7E Corsairs stood ready for the command, should it come, to attack and destroy Libya's airfields, radar stations, Soviet-built missile sites and terrorist training camps. No matter what the outcome, regardless of when and if the President issues a final order, the week's drum rolling dramatized Ronald Reagan's world view in action. It also illustrated some of the frustrations of putting that view into action. Leaks about the details of the proposed operation prompted pressure from the National Security Council to postpone action. In addition, Admiral William Crowe, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was concerned that more firepower was necessary, and the CIA needed to extract key Libyan agents from the country. But the more vexing problems were the political ones. Reagan and his advisers found themselves caught between their immediate temptation to strike Libya as they had warned they would and a growing awareness of the costs and risks of such a venture.

All week these uncertainties stoked tensions toward a fever point. It began with American officials pointing a menacing finger of suspicion at Libya as instigator of the bombing of a West Berlin disco that left an American serviceman and a Turkish woman dead. Then the Pentagon cryptically noted that the Sixth Fleet, which had scattered after the Gulf of Sidra battle, was steaming back toward Libya. Almost simultaneously, President Reagan at his Wednesday-night news conference called Gaddafi "this mad dog of the Middle East" and proclaimed that the U.S. would "respond" whenever the perpetrator of a specific terrorist act could be identified. Why had the U.S. once again targeted Gaddafi? Of all the evils and perils in the world, there is none that galls Reagan more than terrorism. Of all the anti-American thugs who hang out in the back alleys of the Third World, there is none Reagan despises more than Gaddafi. Last week those two hates came together, prompting Reagan to put the Libyan in the sights of the Sixth Fleet.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,961140,00.html#ixzz1HB…


More like this

Scene: Berkeley, California, April 1986. A bar. Five conference attendees, myself included, grabbing a hamburger and a beer in a fern-bar on or near Telegraph. All eyes are on the TVs mounted over the bar, where we watch footage of an air strike against Libya. This is the retribution by…
As Libya and Gaddafi move to a more prominent place in the news, I thought I'd point to a few posts on the topic. As an Africanist Archaeologist, I've got a special interest in Libya (though I've never worked there or visited). Haua Fteah is there. Haua Fteah is a cave facing north and…
Declan Butler of Nature has issued a call for help from the scientific and medical blogosphere in protesting and raising awareness about an utter travesty of justice, a vile and utterly vicious miscarriage of justice. This is one that I can't help but throw the paltry weight of my own blog behind.…
Long-time readers of SciBlogs might remember the physicians and nurses working in Libya in the late 1990s, who were accused of purposefully infecting children with HIV-1, the "Tripoli 6". Science established that they were innocent. Basic logic established they were innocent (not only was there no…