Below is much of an encouragingly sane (or naïve?) take, run in the prominent UK Guardian, on NATO's Libya campaign and the range of desirable (or acceptable, or even possible) outcomes. Some rather encouraging comments (and a few frustrating ones), worth a read, also follow the piece.
Why no mention of a ceasefire for Libya, Obama?
The best way to protect desperate Libyan civilians is for Nato to reverse its mistake of taking sides
guardian.co.uk, Friday 27 May 2011 23.00 BST
Beware ministers' claims that a military campaign is making slow but steady progress. It nearly always means the opposite. If "progress" was really being made in Libya, why would it be necessary for Britain and France to send attack helicopters? Why would General Sir David Richards, the chief of the defence staff, call for Nato to bomb infrastructure in Tripoli?On the bolded, NATO: "How dare you, sir! We never target individuals! However, if we happen to carefully target a building with him and/or his family inside it, or religious leaders seeking a peaceful resolution inside of it, it's not our fault if we then call it a 'command and control bunker.'"
Above all, why has Barack Obama used his European tour this week to abandon his public caution and make it clear that regime change is now the western objective in Libya? The more Nato escalates in word and deed, the clearer it is that the campaign has stalled. What is going on in Libya is civil war but one that is stalemated, and has been so for at least a month. Gaddafi's forces will not be able to recapture Benghazi and the other major cities of eastern Libya just as the rebels will not be able to capture Tripoli. In light of this, Nato is doing all it can to assassinate Gaddafi in the fragile hope his death will lead to his regime's implosion and rebel victory by a different route.
The word absent from Obama's remarks this week, as well as from Sarkozy and Cameron, is "ceasefire". An "immediate ceasefire" was one of the main demands of the UN security council resolution, which also authorised a no-fly zone at the start of the crisis, but it has been consistently ignored by Nato. On Thursday, almost unreported anywhere, an African Union summit called for a halt to Nato's airstrikes as well as a ceasefire and negotiations on transforming Libya into a democracy.This is nothing new, really. Many efforts have been made, but neither side has been able to meet the other's mutually exclusive demands. And the rebels and the NATO bloc has just watched these flitting efforts die, with quiet pleasure, like tiny moths in a bug zapper.
The same evening the Libyan prime minister, Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, said for the first time that his government was ready to talk to rebel leaders to prepare a new constitution. Meanwhile, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, the UN secretary general's special envoy on Libya, has been quietly shuttling between Tripoli and Benghazi, trying to broker a ceasefire and talks.
The obstacles are mainly on the rebels' side. Flushed with military support from Nato, they insist that Gaddafi must leave power before any ceasefire. Sending Apache helicopters and escalating Nato's offensive role only hardens the rebels' intransigence and further delays a political resolution.
Nato officials promptly kicked the Libyan government's offer of a ceasefire into the long grass, insisting it is "not credible". How can they know that? They claim previous ceasefire offers were shams since Gaddafi's forces never acted on them. But if they are to stick, ceasefires have to be mutual and the rebel side has never offered one. First, they wanted to be saved from defeat, and the initial Nato strikes achieved this for them. Then they thought Nato would help them win so they saw no value in stopping fighting.Fat chance. That does NOT meet the main objective - the subduction and restructuring of Libya and the looting of its wealth. Watch this effort to fail too, even if it shouldn't.
The time has come to test the latest ceasefire offer by accepting it in principle and working out a monitoring mechanism. The best way to protect Libya's desperate civilians is for Nato to reverse its mistaken policy of taking sides. It should declare support for the talks on transition that the Libyan government now says it favours.