Patrick J. Buchanan writes in The American Conservative:
On March 26, over a week after [Obama] ordered the strikes on Libya, hitting tanks, anti-aircraft, radar sites, troops and Gadhafi’s own compound in Tripoli, 600 miles away from Benghazi, Obama told the nation he had acted to prevent a “bloodbath” in Benghazi. “We knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi — a city nearly the size of Charlotte — could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”
White House Middle East expert Dennis Ross reportedly told foreign policy experts: “We were looking at ‘Srebrenica on steroids’ — the real or imminent possibility that up to 100,000 people could be massacred, and everyone would blame us for it.”
By the way, until leaving in 2009 to join the Obama Administration, Dennis Ross was chairman of the Israeli government's Jewish People Policy Planning Institute. I doubt if that fact is terribly relevant to America's latest war, but it is fascinating how the very existence of the JPPPI, much less the JPPPI's highly interesting publications, is almost never even acknowledged in the U.S. press. As far as I can tell, I'm the only American journalist to review JPPPI's 2010 book, 2030: Alternative Futures for the Jewish People.
A hundred thousand massacred! And our fault? But that is seven times the body count of Katyn, one of the Stalinist horrors of World War II. Was Benghazi truly about to realize the fate that befell Carthage at the hands of Scipio Africanus, at the close of the Third Punic War? How did the White House come to believe in such a scenario?
In this low-scale war, the cities of Zwara, Ras Lanuf, Brega, and Ajdabiya have changed hands, some several times. Misrata, the only rebel-held city in the west, has been under siege for seven weeks. Yet in none of these towns has anything like the massacre in the Ivory Coast taken place, let alone Srebrenica. The Guardian’s Saturday report read, “Fierce fighting in Ajdabiya saw at least eight people killed.”
True, on March 17, Gadhafi said he would show “no mercy.” But as [Stephen] Chapman notes, he was referring to “traitors” who resisted him to the end. And Gadhafi added, “We have left the way open to them.”
“Escape. Let those who escape go forever.” Gadhafi went on to pledge that “whoever hands over his weapons, stays at home without any weapons, whatever he did previously, he will be pardoned, protected.”
Perhaps Gadhafi is lying. But there is, as yet, no evidence of any such slaughter in any town his forces have captured. Nor do the paltry forces Gadhafi has mustered to recapture the east — Ajdabiya was attacked by several dozen Toyota trucks — seem capable of putting a city of 700,000 to the sword.
If the U.S. hadn't started the war a month ago, the most likely thing that would have happened is that the core group of rebels would have done what they had been doing for the previous week: jump in their cars and flee on down the road from Benghazi to the next city (probably Darnah).
Now, what would have happened to the regular folks who stayed in Benghazi? Well, down through history, bad things often happen to the residents of a city after a long siege, even when the man in charge wants them to be treated well, as Gaddafi claimed to do. But, President Obama's rationalization for his starting his war immediately, without any public debate, was that there wouldn't have been a long siege of Benghazi, that it would have fallen within a day or two.
As for the hard-core rebels, well, there are two possibilities: Kaddafi would have come after them, so they would have fled from Darnah to Tobruk, and from Tobruk they would have headed for the Egyptian border, becoming the problem of the new "democratic" government of Egypt. Or Kaddafi would have bogged down in Benghazi, his supply lines hugely long.