The Libya Strategy That-Shall-Not-Be-Named

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Like Andrew, I'm ambivalent about military action in Libya -- not because the cause isn't just, but because Libya does not pose a significant national security threat to the United States (as Ross Douthat discusses here). And I'm ambivalent because we don't know the game plan. To borrow from David Petraeus in another context, if someone would tell me how we win this, I'd feel a lot better. That said (and like Andrew, once again) I'm pleased about the military advances we've seen against Qaddafi's atrocious attempt to murder his own country (though, of course, these advances can be reversed). And I'm hoping that President Obama's speech tonight lays out the next several steps. I was on This Week with Jake Tapper on ABC yesterday morning, and George Will noted, correctly, that so far, our strategy seems to be: Create a vacuum, and hope that something good fills it.

I noted, in this conversation, that the Obama Administration is actually engaged in the Strategy-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, which is to say, regime change. The Administration, which has done the right thing by intervening, will deny this, of course, and for good political reasons. But this is, nonetheless, the road we're on. Better to acknowledge this openly, and prepare for the changes ahead, then make believe that everything is in the hands of an opposition about which we know very little. If we are helping to rip the lid off of Libya, we should be deeply engaged in figuring out what comes next.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/03/the-libya-strategy-that-shall-not-be-named/73085/