The UN Security Council has apparently got the votes for a resolution for a no-fly no-drive zone to protect Benghazi from Qaddafi's forces and a vote is imminent. Military action could occur immediately after the resolution passes. It is not just a no-fly zone, and will involve bombing roads and military personnel in Qaddafi's mercenary and paramilitary forces. There is apparently language in the resolution that establishes a "responsibility to protect" the civilian population of Benghazi. The coalition will apparently include the British and French and unknown Arab countries. Why unknown?
Several Arab countries have promised to provide planes, but insisted upon their identity being withheld until the resolution was passed. Speculation as to which countries would participate include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Ground troops are ruled out - unless there are downed aircraft or captured airmen (which there well may be). There is no indication of what would happen if the bombing of Libya fails to halt Qaddafi's forces, or if it succeeds in protecting the Benghazi-based revolt. Qaddafi is threatening retaliation across the Mediterranean if the resolution passes and a war begins.
And so the US is at war in a third Muslim country. And yes of course this is a war.
If bombing another country's military in its airspace is not war, then what exactly is? No vote to authorize such a war was taken by the Senate, and no debate was truly aired among the general public, who oppose the action by overwhelming margins. It is very hard to think of another action in direct contravention of Obama's promises as a candidate. So let me ask one simple question at the outset: what is going to be cut to afford this new open-ended conflict? And what will it cost? Or is that as irrelevant now as it was before Iraq?
In all this, Americans may well find themselves at war tomorrow - and their president will not even have explained to them why. This makes the Iraq war look very well considered and deliberated. And one can only hope for the best.