If the no-fly-no-drive zone fails to protect Benghazi from Qaddafi, are we then obliged to intervene on the ground? What the UN Resolution seems to require is protection of civilians. But if the methods authorized fail to do so, do we then just give up and give Qaddafi not just a victory against his own people but also against the West?
On the other hand, what are the US's obligations if the protection of Benghazi is successful? Are we required to provide food or arms to the rebels? And if the UN Resolution passes, hasn't the US essentially told the rebels to fight on? Having done that, do we not have a moral obligation to support them in an open-ended civil war?
How much is this estimated to cost? What programs are being cut in order to afford this?
It seems to me that this new war ignores every single lesson of the recent past. There is no clear goal. There is no exit plan. The American public opposes it. However tarted-up the coalition is, in the end, we all know that this will become a US responsibility. And we do know that if we break it, we own it, do we not?
If we are prepared to do this in Libya, why not in Congo, where the casualties and brutality have been immensely greater? Or Zimbabwe?
In endorsing the rebels, have we not forgotten the nonviolence that was the core mainspring of the Arab 1848 and legitimized much more divisive means of regime change?
(Photo: Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice speaks to the media after a U.N. Security Council meeting on the situation in Libya March 16, 2011 in New York City. By Mario Tama/Getty.)