All of the above makes for a disturbing labyrinth that America and the West must maneuver through. But now that the West has committed itself to a no-fly zone, leaving Gaddafi in power as a wounded jackal may only make him more emboldened and dangerous. The West really has no alternative but to see this campaign through and make sure that Gaddafi’s regime is dismantled. This does not mean putting “boots on the ground.” What it means is for Western intelligence agencies to establish contact with the various factions of the resistance, and determine which ones are amicable to establishing, at the very least, a regime that will not be hostile towards the West. This will also have to include arming at least some of the factions who oppose Gaddafi.
Many have asked if the West may inadvertently be arming Islamists who will turn against the United States. (Recall Afghanistan and the Mujahideen.) However, the real question to be asked is whether the Libyan resistance can be any more murderous than Gaddafi. It should be remembered that Gaddafi did not have an extensive network of training camps in Libya — yet he was able to perpetrate the bombing of Pan Am 103 as well as support various terrorist groups over the decades. It must also be kept in mind that the Pan Am 103 atrocity was carried out in 1988, two years after President Reagan’s retaliatory raid on Tripoli and Benghazi in 1986. So much for the “colonel” keeping quiet. What will he do if the West now “cuts and runs” and allows his criminal regime to continue? It is likely that Gaddafi’s threats of revenge will culminate in a new campaign of terror against both European and American targets, convinced that the West has no resolve or backbone to remove him from power.
There is no doubt that the Libyan opposition is an unknown quantity at this point. America and the West are stuck with a Hobson’s choice of leaving a murdering terrorist in power or taking the chance on that unknown. Now, overthrowing Gaddafi and courting moderates among the opposition appears to be the West’s best — and only — hope.