In a joint op-ed published outside the U.S., President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron, and President Sarkozy have mentioned that the fighting will continue onto Col. Gadhafi has been driven from power. Of course, to avoid a technical violation of UNSC Res. 1973, they have denied that regime change is their goal. But in substance, if they vow to fight until he is gone, then regime change is the goal. Actions speak louder than words.
Some highlights from the op-ed, which is posted on the White House's website:
Joint Op-ed by President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron and President Sarkozy:Our duty and our mandate under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 is to protect civilians, and we are doing that. It is not to remove Qaddafi by force. But it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Qaddafi in power. The International Criminal Court is rightly investigating the crimes committed against civilians and the grievous violations of international law. It is unthinkable that someone who has tried to massacre his own people can play a part in their future government. The brave citizens of those towns that have held out against forces that have been mercilessly targeting them would face a fearful vengeance if the world accepted such an arrangement. It would be an unconscionable betrayal...
The regime has to pull back from the cities it is besieging, including Ajdabiya, Misurata and Zintan, and return to their barracks. However, so long as Qaddafi is in power, NATO must maintain its operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds. Then a genuine transition from dictatorship to an inclusive constitutional process can really begin, led by a new generation of leaders. In order for that transition to succeed, Qaddafi must go and go for good. At that point, the United Nations and its members should help the Libyan people as they rebuild where Qaddafi has destroyed — to repair homes and hospitals, to restore basic utilities, and to assist Libyans as they develop the institutions to underpin a prosperous and open society.
Given the lack of critical U.S. interests in Libya, the lack of broad popular support for the anti-Gadhafi movement, and the gross incompetence of the anti-Gadhafi movement, I do not favor regime change. Moreover, the contradiction between the statements that "It is not to remove Qaddafi by force" and "However, so long as Qaddafi is in power, NATO must maintain its operations..." leaves the operation to be judged by actions, alone. Following regime change, what is known as nation-building will be required. The op-ed acknowledges for perhaps the first time that nation-building will, in fact, follow. The three leaders write, "At that point, the United Nations and its members should help the Libyan people as they rebuild where Qaddafi has destroyed — to repair homes and hospitals, to restore basic utilities, and to assist Libyans as they develop the institutions to underpin a prosperous and open society."