Is The Situation In Libya A 'War'?

James Joyner:
John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, observes, “The goal of this mission is not to get rid of [Moammar] Gadhafi. That’s not what the United Nations licensed and I would not call it going to war. This is a very limited operation that is geared to save lives.”

Iraq War vet and CNAS scholar Andrew Exum observes, “When you resort to force to achieve a political aim that you could not achieve through peaceable means, that’s war.” The link goes to Amazon’s listing for Carl von Clausewitz’ On War.

Of course, Kerry knows something about war himself. A little known fact: He served in Vietnam. (Bonus trivia: So did John McCain.) By Kerry’s own definition, it wasn’t a war, since the goal of the mission wasn’t to get rid of Ho Chi Minh. But no one seriously doubts that it was nonetheless a war.

What's more is the price tag of the current operations:
With U.S. and coalition forces bombarding Libya leader Muammer al-Qaddafi's forces from the sea and air, the cost for the first day alone of the operation was well over $100 million with the total price tag expected to grow much higher the longer the strikes continue, analysts said.

Operation Odyssey Dawn appears to be focused on creating a limited no-fly zone mostly targeting Tripoli and other areas along the coast, which will require a wide range of military assets.

With allies expected to shoulder some of the bill, the initial stages of taking out Libya's air defenses could ultimately cost U.S.-led coalition forces between $400 million and $800 million, according to a report released by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments earlier this month.

Maintaining a coastal no-fly-zone after those first strikes would cost in the range of $30 million to $100 million per week - not pocket change by any means, but far less than the $100 million to $300 million estimated weekly cost for patrolling the skies above the entire 680,000-square-mile country.
My emphasis.

Geez. That sounds like a war to me.

Photo: Reuters