Obama's dilemma: Is Libya mission a success if Qaddafi stays?
President Obama wants Qaddafi out, but doesn't want to use military operations to do it. How that tension plays out could determine the success of the mission.
As President Obama prepared to address the nation Monday night about US operations in Libya, some defense analysts are arguing that there remains a fundamental tension in America’s goals on the ground.Skip to next paragraph
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President Obama has said that it is time for Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi "to step down from power and leave.” Yet administration officials have also said that they can envision a scenario in which operations end, and yet Mr. Qaddafi remains in power. This raises the question of whether an operation that does not result in Mr. Qaddafi’s ouster could be considered a success, expert say.
The tension facing Mr. Obama is being called the “Goldilocks” dilemma: He wants to find the right mix of economic and diplomatic pressure to oust Qaddafi without targeting him militarily. But experts ask if it is strategically viable to aspire to push Qaddafi out, but to be unwilling to use the US military to do it.
On the one hand, President Obama has made it clear that he wants Qaddafi gone, says Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. On the other hand, however, the United Nations Security Council resolution makes it clear that Qaddafi’s overthrow is “not the explicit goal.”