This cat has got to be the most professional damn moderator I've ever seen in my LIFE. Whether or not I agree with him is irrelevant. His posts are always top notch.Maggie,
I've commented in a few threads. My thoughts are as follows:
My preference would have been supplying arms to the anti-Gadhafi forces. A no-fly zone aimed at protecting civilians would be as far as I would go, but that was not my preference. As that is the direction things went, I strongly support the military men and women who are involved in the effort.
I continue to believe that it should be up to the Libyans to wage their revolution, fully recognizing that there is no guarantee that the revolution would be successful under such circumstances. I am concerned about the risk that the mission could morph into active intervention on the side of the revolution. While I support the anti-Gadhafi forces, I do not believe the U.S. should be helping wage their revolution. I just don't see the compelling U.S. interests that would justify such direct intervention.
I also remain concerned about the lack of broad-based support for the revolution. Col. Gadhafi still enjoys a significant reservoir of support, and not all of that support can be explained by coercion. I suspect that such support more than Col. Gadhafi's use of air power might have explained why the anti-Gadhafi forces ran out of steam and were in broad retreat until the no fly zone was implemented. The masses of people in areas from which Gadhafi's forces were initially driven out did not join the revolutionaries to to necessary extent that a building tidal wave of popular support would have toppled the regime. Therefore, no knockout blow was delivered.
Given that reality, should the Gadhafi dictatorship be driven from power--and that could still happen--the lack of broad support for the anti-Gadhafi forces and the poor political/military skill shown on their part raise real questions as to whether they could forge a sufficiently stable and broadly representative government quickly enough to avert the dangers of the power vacuum that would be left in the wake of the dictatorship's demise. There would be real risk of civil war if such a transitional government could not be formed quickly enough. Mere pledges of democracy would not be able to avert those risks.
Finally, while the no fly zone has been designed, in theory, to protect civilians, the rhetoric coming from Washington, Paris, and London has differed at times from the mandate and those differences raise credibility issues. For example, President Obama recently stated that it is official U.S. policy that Gadhafi leave. Yet, the military mission is much more limited (unless it has already evolved into something beyond a no fly zone). I favor a more limited military mission (as noted above, and would have preferred supplying arms to the anti-Gadhafi forces rather than the no fly zone). Nevertheless, the gap between the political rhetoric/stated policy and the actual military mission is not helpful. It is important that the rhetoric/official policy reflect the reality. Either the rhetoric/policy goals have to be reined in or the military mission expanded. I favor the former. Otherwise, U.S. policy and communication on the issue will be viewed as hollow.