In a startling turnaround, the rebel forces in Libya have launched an offensive
that has brought under their control most of the major resources of the nation and isolated Muammar Gaddafi's stronghold in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. As the rebel army advanced on Zawiya, a strategic city about thirty miles from the ancient city, people began to flee from Gaddafi's capital. Over the past week, more and more of his allies have defected or fled. Surrounded by insurgents to the south, east, and west, and facing a NATO blockade to the north, the Mad Dog has been cut off. As of now, an unusual level of explosions are being heard throughout the capital city and a rebel leader has announced on Al Jazeera
that the rebels are working with NATO forces to lay siege to Tripoli right now and finally undo the tyrant Gaddafi.
Though there are now rumors circulating that Gaddafi may have fled
with his remaining sons, even if this were true it would not necessarily mean everyone in his government would give up without a fight. The rebel forces are prone to poor strategic mistakes and infighting, and would be unlikely to capture the fortified city without a long, bloody siege. Additionally, I fail to see how much NATO planes flying thousands of feet in the air will be able to help rebels fighting in a city as densely populated as Tripoli. Unless an airstrike gets lucky and kills off the tyrant and his inner circle, or unless he really has fled and his allies surrender, the hopes for rebel success in Tripoli are dim. If it is discovered that we ended up putting any boots on the ground during this siege, and if Congress just lets the president off with maybe a stern resolution for doing such a thing, I will have officially lost hope in our future as well.
In any event, Gaddafi's days are numbered and there will be a new Libya to reckon with. While reckoning with this crisis on the Mediterranean ought to have been a European problem, we have been dragged into it and thus have some sort of interest in what post-Gaddafi Libya looks like. When the strongman is gone, there are several troubling scenarios that could erupt-- a protracted civil war between the various tribes and/or the rise of Islamist groups chief among them. I think it is unlikely that the tribal factions will join together peacefully under a new government; at least not initially. When they are done fighting Gaddafi, they will begin fighting each other. The war has also ruined Libya's oil capabilities for at least the near future, meaning whatever comes up will be mostly bankrupt as well. In response to this, President Obama and other NATO nations will feel some need to get involved and begin yet another failed experiment in nation-building.
As said, this should be a European problem. It's France's mess; let France handle peacekeeping and humanitarian aid. But, with the Eurozone collapsing and the Europeans always being squeamish about these things, they will try get "NATO" (IE: the USA) to handle all the hard work. We cannot remain embroiled in the Libyan Civil War. We can hardly manage Iraq and Afghanistan as it is, have to keep an eye on growing problems posed by Iran, and are dealing with our own debt crisis that is likely going to include some cuts in defense spending. Leave this mess to the Europeans and the Libyans. Let the rebels handle the siege of Tripoli, and then let them try to sleep in the bed they've made. We ought not be as involved as we are now, and we simply cannot get more involved.