REBELPatrickBaz:Getty

Josh Marshall, while not quite the drama queen that I can be, comes to roughly the same provisional conclusion:

Maybe the introduction of outside force to buoy the rebels will shake things up and turn the momentum against Qaddafi. Things are so fluid in the Mideast today that I do not discount that possibility. Maybe there's more our people know that makes them think that's likely. But from the outside, I don't see it. Or more specifically, it's not clear what steps we can take to make it more likely.

It looks more like once we've closed down Qaddafi's air forces we've basically taken custody of what is already a failed rebellion. We've accepted responsibility for protecting them. Once we recognize that, the logic of the situation will lead us to arming our new charges, helping them get out of the jam they're in.

So let's review: No clear national or even humanitarian interest for military intervention. Intervening well past the point where our intervention can have a decisive effect. And finally, intervening under circumstances in which the reviled autocrat seems to hold the strategic initiative against us. This all strikes me as a very bad footing to go in on.

Josh may be wrong here. So may I. As bloggers, we do not have the luxury of staying quiet for a few days and penning a judicious column. My job here, as I see it, is not to get everything right, but to be as honest as I can in real time, and ensure that contrary views are also fairly aired and discussed. And to acknowledge when I am proven wrong.

I should add, of course, that I hope this ends well. Of course I do. Qaddafi is a monster; to see him be toppled by his own people would be immensely satisfying. But that cannot happen now. If he falls, M Sarkozy and Mme Clinton will be responsible. If he doesn't, then we've just created another oil-rich protectorate in the Middle East, a source of new grievance and terror and suspicion.

(Photo: A Libyan rebel holds the rebellion flag as he stands over wrecked military vehicles belonging to Moammer Khaddafi forces hit by French warplanes on March 20, 2011. Dozens of Kadhafi military vehicles, including tanks, were destroyed in morning air strikes by the coalition west of Benghazi, as a semblance of normality returned with cars out on the road and street markets reopened in the rebel bastion. By Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty.)

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