Everyone should applaud the new European muscularity, but understand it in a context of Obamism, in which the United States—unlike building past coalitions in which we gladly did the heavy lifting and faced the political fallout—has developed a new sort of 'sneaky coalition'. We will shoot most of the cruise missiles, provide most of the air support and infrastructure, but outsource the visibility and credit to our European and Arab allies. Accordingly, they will like all this, because they will receive global kudos without expending a lot of blood and treasure.
As a result, Obama's laureate status is not endangered by a third Middle East war against Muslims, and we are acting in accordance with a new multilateral posture sanctioned by the Arab League and the UN, although what we are actually doing is somewhat unclear.
Paradoxes abound: Obama soared to office talking about unpopular and illegitimate wars: yet, polls show he has not built public support to intervene nor obtained an October 2002-like approval from Congress; Obama was the reset un-Bush, but once again we are bombing an oil-rich Arab country for idealist purposes given the fact that opponents of the regime will lose if we don't.
Perhaps readers might better fathom our aims; I cannot, since our generals and politicians insist that we are only doing no-fly zones that seem to include bombing ground targets, that we only wish to protect rebels, though intervened after the president demanded that Qaddafi step down but are not pursuing that goal, and so far have not explained why the difference in the American response compared to Iran slaughtering its protestors and Saudi Arabia intervening in Bahrain.
So far all I can come up with is the following: if there is a mass protest against a Middle East regime, and if it seems almost certain that the regime will fall, then the U.S. at the opportune time will insist that the regime does fall days before it does. That seems a better barometer than whether the regime is pro-US, anti-American, merely authoritarian than genocidal, theocratic, monarchial, oligarchic, or dictatorial, etc. Obama thought Qaddafi would go; he didn't as planned; the pesky Europeans got up on their hind legs and made a stink, so now Obama is forced to enforce his rhetoric and to wage a sort of war against and not against Qaddafi, one that is and is more than a no-fly-zone, in support of and out in front of the Europeans. If Qaddafi falls, we will learn that it is due to Obama's unappreciated and underscored efforts; if he does not, and things get Mogadishu like, then he reminds us why he adopted such a low-profile intervention.