Since our leaders evidently have no clue what to do in Libya, let’s give them a few ideas. The basic rules are easy: don’t do anything that is likely to make things worse, and you can forget about “negotiated settlements” once the bloodshed has reached the dimensions now engulfing Libya. Finally, forget the UN (see point 1).
The first thing to do is deprive Gaddafi of as many instruments of mass murder as possible. The most obvious of these is the Libyan Air Force, which is a small and outdated collection of aircraft, many of which belong in a museum. More specifically: some French F-1 fighters, some old Sukhoi's, some old MIGs, and some helicopter gunships. (h/t Steve Bryen)
Destroy them. It’s easy. Our Air Force can probably wipe them out in less than half an hour. If we want to play “good ally” we can invite other NATO countries to join in. It seems the Brits are available (as they should be, after their disgusting liberation of the Lockerbie bomber), and I’ll bet you anything that the French and Italians, both of whom have decades of complicity with Gaddafi, will be happy to participate. And the French have the Foreign Legion in the area, if memory serves.
That won’t “solve” the problem, but it will ease the people’s pain, and it might lessen the dreadful impression we have created, especially during the Obama years, that we only talk or negotiate slow-acting sanctions; we don’t go in for decisive action (that is so Bush).
The destruction of the Libyan aircraft is a good start, but it would be nice to do more. Once upon a time, the CIA cultivated ambitious military officers (typically colonels) in such places for emergencies such as this. We’d give the word and they’d execute a coup.
I am not up to speed on the capabilities of the clandestine service, but I doubt they have any colonels on the shelf ready to move. I'd love to be wrong, needless to say, and I'm rooting for them, in the unlikely event the president pushes that button. Even if the CIA can't do it, maybe our military guys have someone.
Yes, I know it’s meddling in another country’s “internal affairs,” and a strike against the Libyan Air Force may be considered an act of war in some lawyers’ offices. But if we did those things we’d save a lot of innocent lives and enhance our chances of being more effective in the future.
We should have done it in Sudan years ago, by the way. We’d have saved a lot of southerners and speeded up the whole process.
Finally, the president should issue an executive order requiring the removal of all those bumper stickers that read “war never solved anything.” As the Marines say, except for fascism, Nazism, communism and warlordism.