Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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A brutal dictator toppled with uncommon finesse

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

With rebel forces nearly in control of Tripoli, Moammar Gadhafi’s 42 years of despotism – which began when Richard Nixon was a rookie president – have ended.

This is, among other things, another big international success for Barack Obama. Some of the president’s critics continue to insist that the president is running a weakling foreign policy, but the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and now Gadhafi would beg to disagree.

From a strictly American perspective, the toppling of Gadhafi’s loathsome dictatorship played out nicely. The U.S. intervened powerfully at the outset by hitting key Libyan targets with Tomahawk cruise missiles, disabling the regime’s air defenses, and making it possible for NATO aircraft to operate freely and strike Libyan military assets with impunity.

Then the United States handed off the lead to NATO, especially Britain and France. With intense Western air support, Libya’s ragtag opposition forces gradually coalesced and began to prevail against the Libyan army, finally breaking into the capital over the weekend.
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U.S. defense budget needs Gates-style scrutiny

Robert Gates

This editorial appears in Wednesday’s print edition.

The Cold War ended in 1980s after leaders of the Soviet Union realized they weren’t buying more security with unsustainable military spending – just more antagonism abroad and poverty at home.

The United States isn’t in the same hole, but a growing number of defense advocates – people who genuinely care about the nation’s military strength – are recognizing that something’s got to give.

Foremost among them is Robert Gates, who’s stepping down this week as secretary of defense. Serving under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Gates has skillfully outmaneuvered Pentagon power blocs to kill or curb immensely expensive weapons programs – the F-22 Raptor, example – designed to fight large conventional wars.
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The trick: Keep the allies and lose Gadhafi

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Today – as Barack Obama announced Monday – the United States hands off the war in Libya to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It will be hard to tell the difference.

NATO isn’t exactly a third party. The U.S. military is the muscle of the alliance, and NATO can’t reduce Moammar Gadhafi’s armed forces from the air without American support.

The Air Force and Navy provide essential surveillance, targeting, transport, drone, electronic warfare and aerial refueling capacity. American pilots will remain in the battle in a very big way. The Air Force has recently deployed C-130 gunships and A-1 “Warthog” attack aircraft in Libya – slow-moving, low-flying warplanes that have devastating firepower and can target Libyan forces dug into cities.

Meet the new intervention, same as the old intervention. But as Obama argued persuasively Monday, labels like “NATO” and “U.N. Security Council” and “Arab League” mean a lot in an operation like this. Read more »


Wednesday’s editorials: More troops for Afghanistan, new boss at Boeing

One of the major blunders in Iraq was the failure to deploy enough troops to secure the country. NATO commanders appear to have learned that lesson and are asking for more boots on the ground.

A change at the top at Boeing Commercial Airplanes is a good chance to push the reset button on labor problems, outsourcing practices and a lot else.

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