President Obama has announced that America would stop attacking Col.Muammar Gadhafi's forces in Libya. He instead hopes that others can force out Gadhafi -- or that the dictator will leave through economic and diplomatic pressure.
It will apparently be up to NATO to finish the war -- without direct American combat participation. The relieved Obama administration had never quite explained what the mission was in the first place -- or for whom and for what we were fighting. Was the bombing to stop the killing, to help the rebels, to remove Gadhafi, or to aid the British and French, who both have considerable oil interests in Libya?
Were we enforcing just a no-fly zone, establishing a sort of no-fly zone with occasional attacks on ground targets, or secretly sending in American operatives on the ground to work with rebels? Did the Obama administration go well beyond the Arab League and United Nations resolutions by trying to target Gadhafi for a while and ensure that the rebels won? If so, did anyone care? Was the administration ever going to ask for congressional approval -- at a time when we are running a $1.6 trillion annual budget deficit and have about 150,000 troops committed in Afghanistan and Iraq? Was Libya a greater threat to our national security than Syria or Iran, or a greater humanitarian crisis than theCongo or Ivory Coast? Are our new allies, the rebels, Westernized reformers, Islamists, or both -- or neither?