Ricks is right.
It’s fallacious to compare the recent action in Libya with the Iraq War. Regime change isn’t likely to happen without a sizable troop commitment, and with Qadaffi firmly in control of western Libya. (That also means neither is a long-term occupation) And unlike Iraq, the US is going to war with the added bonus of a UN Security Council resolution, and the tacit backing of the Arab League (though the Arab League quickly reneged on its approval).
Yet, could NATO claim success if it simply brokered a cease-fire between Qadaffi and rebel forces? And even if there were a cease-fire, what would be the terms? Qadaffi doesn’t seem the sort to share power. Would he simply let the rebels–hardly a monolithic group–keep what they’ve seized thus far?
More importantly, would NATO continue to enforce the cease-fire with a No-Fly Zone? And if so, for how long?
In that case, maybe Iraq does prove a useful analogy. That is, if you’re referring to the Iraqi No-Fly Zone, circa 1991-2003.
In that conflict, the US contained Saddam Hussein–and attempted to shield Iraq’s minority groups–through a decade of constant combat air patrols, and almost weekly aerial strikes. Are we prepared to do the same in Libya as well?
Update: I just read this piece. Is The New Yorker hiring?
Update 2: At least I’m not the only one confused as to where Odyssey Dawn is headed.