Not Another Iraq, Yet

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Marc Lynch defends Obama's attacks on Libya but isn't blind to the risks:

[M]y conversations with Arab activists and intellectuals, and my monitoring of Arab media and internet traffic, have convinced me that the intervention was both important and desirable.  The administration understood, better than their critics, that Libya had become a litmus test for American credibility and intentions, with an Arab public riveted to al-Jazeera.  From what I can see, many people broadly sympathetic to Arab interests and concerns are out of step with Arab opinion this time.   

In the Arab public sphere, this is not another Iraq -- though, as I've warned repeatedly, it could become one if American troops get involved on the ground and there is an extended, bloody quagmire.  This administration is all too aware of the dangers of mission creep, escalation, and the ticking clock on Arab and international support which so many of us have warned against.  They don't want another Iraq, as Obama made clear.... even if it is not obvious that they can avoid one.  

(Photo: Smoke billows and a missile drops (R) in the vicinity on the tightly-guarded residence of leader Moamer Kadhafi and military targets in the suburb of Tajura, as two loud explosions rocked the Libyan capital Tripoli on March 29, 2011. NATO-led coalition aircraft had been seen in the skies over the capital earlier in the afternoon. By Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images)

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