We don’t know. There hasn’t been any kind of public debate about our involvement. No presidential addresses to the nation, no Congressional hearings, no “authorization of force” votes, nothing. Clinton walked into the UN and we weren’t at war with Libya, then she walked back out and we were. We just got led into a war by an outgoing secretary of State. That has got to be a first.
It’s safe to assume that we’ll be taking action before any of these debates are held — because we can’t continue to sit idly by all while all those civilians we’re now pledged to defend are still being slaughtered of Gaddafi’s rent-a-thug outfits. Or maybe an Anglo-French coalition will do the boots-on-the-ground stuff which the UN may or may not have just authorized us to do. Or will we fob this off on the Egyptians?
Is there a rebel government we recognize? Will it send a delegation to the UN? Or is Libya to become a UN protectorate until elections can be held? If so, who does the protecting? What do we do if (when!) the rebel factions turn on each other and kill civilians? Are we pledged now to protect all Libyan civilians from all attacks, or just from attacks by Gaddafi’s forces? Is this a war of necessity, Mr. President — or is it a war of choice?
Why — why haven’t we been discussing these issues since shortly after February 25?
The only thing we know for sure is that we’re at war. Again. So here’s to hoping we can win quickly and get back out just as fast.
Update: Also read up on Obama’s statement on Libya at the Tatler.