Running out of time in Libya

AP reports today that Qaddafi’s forces are pressing forward along the coastal highway that connects most of the populated areas of the country. They have taken a significant rebel stronghold and continue to move forward. Given their qualitative military superiority, Qaddafi’s forces may crush this rebellion absent outside intervention.

This isn’t to say that we necessarily should intervene. We probably don’t have the military resources to engage fully in a stabilization and rebuilding effort, and intervening without full commitment may be worse than worthless. Lot’s of smart policy-makers oppose intervention – see Richard Haass for example. The Daily Beast has a good cheat sheet on the issue.

But Qaddafi’s recent gains do indicate that we need to make a decision fast. Our window of opportunity on intervention is closing quickly. Right now it’s hard to tell whether our inaction on the issue is a deliberate policy choice or merely dawdling on the part of the administration. I hope that it’s the former because indecision on the part of the world’s leading power would be quite worrisome.

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