You should be applauding the way Barack Obama is handling the Libya situation. It is realpolitik in a most self-aware, calculating, interest-driven, human rights driven, cold-blooded form. It's something you claim to want in our foreign policy.
The US is not leading this, and probably won't, ever. That is why Barack Obama is not making a public drive for support. In fact, we were moved toward a no-fly zone by Arab countries largely, and Europe, decisively. When was the last time that happened? Ask yourself why Obama is acting this way.
Evidently both Clintons wanted this action, likening it more to that Administration's success in Bosnia, particularly getting NATO to take their part, than invading with mainly American troops. But Obama may have done the Clinton's one better:
But notice that unlike Clinton in the case of Bosnia, and unlike Bush in the case of Iraq II, Obama has managed to get something his predecessors could not: UN support for what could be a major multilateral intervention led by states other than the U.S. Doesn't this remind you in some ways of how he handled healthcare, and succeeded where his predecessors had failed, to do something of real significance through patience, reserve, and a commitment to process?
And then there is, interestingly enough, an important ally in Egypt:
Egypt has an open border with the rebel-controlled east of Libya, and just one brigade of the Egyptian army would be enough to stop Gaddafi’s ground forces in their tracks. The Egyptian air force could easily shoot down any of Gaddafi’s aircraft that dared to take off, especially if it had early warning from European or American AWACS aircraft. The Egyptian army would probably not need to go all the way to Tripoli, although it could easily do so if necessary. Just the fact of Egyptian military intervention would probably convince most of the Libyan troops still supporting Gaddafi that it is time to change sides.
This is the first war President Obama has chosen that wasn't a remnant of previous Presidents. To me it's where we'll see his true Commander-in-Chief character, as even Afghanistan, for all the talk of him now owning it, was essentially a mulligan from the Bush Administration's failure to capitalize on their initial success, due to their pathological and Oedipal focus on Iraq.
I don't know if Sullivan's fighting the last war (a common error) and I don't want the U.S. in another long slog either, but I really want to see Qaddafi at The Hague, if not hung by rope or meathook first. Bad is bad, and he's essentially paying a mercenary army to do his dirty work -- yours and my gasoline credit card purchases paying for the leveling of villages controlled by the rebels. So I like the idea of making Libya's neighbors do the policing.
With weapons they bought from us.