The Libya stalemate

President Barack Obama at the National Defense University, March 28, 2011.

From the Editors of the Washington Post:  The contradictions at the heart of U.S. policy in Libya are becoming more acute. On Friday President Obama joined the leaders of Britain and France in declaring that the NATO air campaign, which was launched in the name of protecting civilians, will continue for as long as dictator Moammar Gaddafi remains in power. Yet in an interview he gave to the Associated Press the same day, Mr. Obama acknowledged that the war between rebels and Mr. Gaddafi’s forces is stalemated, 10 days after U.S. ground attack aircraft were pulled from the operation on his orders.

The supreme NATO commander, an American, told the allies Thursday that eight more ground attack planes were needed for precision strikes. But the Associated Press quoted Mr. Obama as saying that he didn’t foresee recommitting American planes to such missions.

Let’s see if we can sum this up: Mr. Obama is insisting that NATO’s air operation, already four weeks old, cannot end until Mr. Gaddafi is forced from office — but he refuses to use American forces to break the military stalemate. If his real aim were to plunge NATO into a political crisis, or to exhaust the air forces and military budgets of Britain and France — which are doing most of the bombing — this would be a brilliant strategy. As it is, it is impossible to understand.  (photo: Getty)

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