I am having a hard time understanding Obama's Libya policy. It appears that he has two. On the one hand he has stated clearly that it is US policy that Qaddafi leaves. On the other hand, he has stated clearly that the United States will abide by the UN resolution, which only gives coalition forces authority to protect Libyan citizens from Qaddafi's bombs. It does not give authority to remove Qaddafi from power. These are two different and conflicting policies.
The latter of the policies is not very logical. Joint Chief of Staff Mike Mullen argued on Sunday that it is very possible that the US mission in Libya will end with Qaddafi still in power. If so, then what is the point in the first place? Are we going to kindly ask him to play nice as we leave his country? The rebel forces were literally on the verge of being destroyed by Qaddafi's forces when the West intervened this past weekend. They simply are not equipped to defeat Qaddafi by themselves, which is why they pleaded for Western help. Unless we completely destroy Qaddafi's military, I don't see how this equation changes in a couple of weeks when Western powers grow tired of their Libyan adventure.
The bottom line is that I don't think that we can fight a half-way war. Either the West is prepared to remove a 41 year old dictator or the West should not intervene at all. That is why I don't understand why Obama has announced that he will not send in American forces. Actually, I understand the domestic politics of the announcement, but it is counterproductive to the United States' war objectives. I am not sure if American ground forces are needed, but I certainly wouldn't announce that to Qaddafi. Let that monster think long and hard about his next move.
There may be several ways to get rid of Qaddafi: American troops, British and French troops, bombing Qaddafi's government buildings, supporting financially and militarily the rebel forces, CIA covert action, etc. However, the objective needs to be that Qaddafi is ousted from power. If he doesn't leave, then Libya could have catastrophic consequences on the new found love for democracy in the Arab world. And that is not in American interests.
Cross posted at The Cross Culturalist.