I'm pretty glad that we are finally going to bomb Kadhafi with the very planes he didn't want to buy from the French. However there is one question that nobody has truly answered yet: why are we going in?
Military operations usually fail when they are open ended, when they are launched without a vision and a clear objective in mind. Such an objective is very important because it determines from the beginning the shape and scope of the military, diplomatic and humanitarian components of the operation. When leaders focus on urgency and don't take the time to think about the road ahead, the risk is to implement the wrong strategy, adopt the wrong tactics and deploy means of action that are unadapted to local needs and conditions. The two Gulf Wars provide us with great examples of why such a vision matters. Operation Desert storm was a resounding success because there was a clear plan and everybody stuck to it. George Bush 1 courageously resisted calls to go further and capitalize on the momentum to topple Sadam. Operation Iraqi Freedom on the other hand was launched based on fallacious evidence and with no clear objective. Was the goal to topple Sadam and get out? Establish a democracy? Of what kind? Was securing the country and kicking out Al Qaeda part of the plan? What about Pakistan? Nobody took the time to answer these questions and we all know the result: a dead end war that can't be won but still costs America billions of dollars and thousands of lives (not to mentions those of Iraqi civilians).
With Libya, the dream scenario would be for Kadhafi loyalists to abandon the ship and create the right conditions for the regime to finally die. However what happens if Kadhafi hangs on and intensifies repression on the ground? Is a ground intervention on the table? If so lead by who? With what forces and what objective? We need to answer these questions now otherwise we risk finding ourselves with a pretty difficult situation on our hands and images of western soldiers killing civilians may replace those of Libyan rebels waving French flags in Benghazi.