"Winning" In Libya


Matt Steinglass believes that the administration's vague goals are purposeful:

The United States may not be willing to commit the military force that would be needed to guarantee driving Muammar Qaddafi from power. In that case, the way to guarantee production of "victory" in Libya is to define the war aims as something like "striking a blow" against Mr Qaddafi.

On the other hand, an open-ended commitment to preventing tyranny and regime atrocity seems almost guaranteed to fail to produce victory. On the third hand, it seems a bit perverse to judge the performance of our political leaders based on how well we think they're manipulating us. It's our job to try to focus as little as possible on how opinion shapers try to produce "victories" in the public mind, and instead to look at what's actually happening in Libya. It might, however, be useful to look at what the Libyan public defines as their expectations of "victory", and whether what America and Europe are doing right now makes any sense in their eyes. 

(Photo: People look at a crater in the destroyed Boussetta Libyan navy base on March 22, 2011, the day after it was bombarded some 10 kilometres (six miles) east of Tripoli center. By Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images)