In a blog that’s both wise and mischievous, the brilliant Middle East analyst Daniel Pipes asks “What Is the Goal in Libya?”. The money quote is in this puckish policy suggestion for what to do now with NATO’s feckless entry into the Libyan civil war:
This irresponsible undertaking means that Western forces are engaged in a weird roll of the dice: Mu‘ammar al-Qaddafi may be a monster but at least he is an isolated one who can inflict relatively little damage on American interests. The Cyrenaica crowd could be Islamist, in which case it might inflict much more damage on those interests.
As we know so little, I propose an unconventional policy which makes sense in these unusual circumstances: Not seek to drive Qaddafi from power but let him survive as ruler of Tripolitania (and Fezzan), while keeping him out of Cyrenaica. In other words, let there be two Libyas, one based in Tripoli, one in Benghazi, one ruled by Qaddafi and one by his opponents.
Over time, we can see which is the better of the two. When that judgment has been reached, we can help the better Libya defeat the worse one and assist it to take over the whole country.
The only question Dr. Pipes leaves unanswered is what to do in the wildly unlikely event that neither Libya turns out to be “the better Libya.” I guess we leave them to battle it out between themselves, which is, as it happens, where we came in.