By Amar C. Bakshi, CNN
President Obama just gave a news conference on Libya, stating:
“Now, once more, Moammar Gadhafi has a choice. The resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Arab states agree that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop. …
I also want to be clear about what we will not be doing. The United States is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya. And we are not going to use force to go beyond a well-defined goal, specifically the protection of civilians in Libya.”
Max Boot at the Council on Foreign Relations found it "curious that [Obama] did not reiterate what he said before, which was that Gadhafi had to go."
Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute “was amazed that Obama didn’t say Gadhafi must go. He seems to have changed his position and to have enshrined this horrible stalemate into U.S. policy....It’s always interesting to see a President’s passion when he speaks. The only time he [Obama] appeared to light up was when he said what he was not doing.”
Boot asked: "How can you protect Libyan civilians while Gadhafi remains in power, unless we want an indefinite no-fly zone and military intervention? There is a lot of definition which still needs to happen in terms of what objectives we and our allies will try to achieve."
Michael Tomasky of the Guardian pretty much agreed:
“Just watched [Obama’s] press statement on Libya. The sentence that mattered was the one in which he defined the mission: to protect the Libyan people from further abuses. Not to overthrow Gaddafi. To protect the people.
That's the right thing to say now, and I'm sure that's the mission ... now. But will it remain the mission? It seems to me that, ineluctably, the mission will become regime change. Isn't that the only logical end point of the whole business?”
Boot hopes that with the help of international air and sea power, and with arms coming in from Egypt, Libyan rebels would be able to beat back Gadhafi's forces.
“It would not take that much because they're not facing the Wehrmacht of 1939,” he said. “This is a pretty ramshackle force that Gadhafi has put together that is great for slaughtering civilians but cannot stand up very long to advanced firepower.”
In the end, he notes, the real ground action is going to come not from Western troops, but from Libyans.