Top officials from the US and European allies have stepped up their threats against the floundering Gadhafi regime, insisting that a full military invasion of the entire nation to oust him from what amounts to just part of a single city remains a very real possibility.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, one of the top advocates of the military occupation, insisted that Libya could “become a peaceful democracy, or it could face protracted civil war” depending on whether or not the US chose to intervene militarily.
Top Pentagon official Gen. James Mattis also told the Senate the military was preparing to bomb Libya’s air defense systems to set the stage for a “no-fly” zone. This would be particularly problematic as the indications are virtually all of the air defense systems, outside of the capital city of Tripoli, are under the control of the rebels, and have been used against Gadhafi’s warplanes.
The US has been bringing its warships ever closer to the Libyan coast while announcing a broad asset freeze against Gadhafi, including demands that he immediately resign. The reality of Gadhafi’s already tenuous position, however, makes the threats have very little impact.
Indeed, the protest movement is on the brink of ousting him, and while the dictator has shown surprising resilience in the capital his grip on reality also seems to be slipping in his major speeches, as he shifts blame for his impending ouster from Osama bin Laden to Nescafe sometimes in mid-speech.
The protesters have insisted they don’t want Western “help” in any military form, but it doesn’t appear that anyone really intends to ask them beforehand. While the French deployment of humanitarian aid to the east will doubtless be welcomed, there is also concern that it will be the back door through which a full scale Western occupation emerges, and through which NATO imposes its idea of democracy (likely Afghan-style) on the protest movement.