US: No Timeline for Libya War

Gates: UN Didn't Set Time Limit, So Neither Will US

Though President Obama and other officials were talking up the possibility of the new war in Libya scaling back, that does not mean it is going to be short. Speaking today during a visit to Cairo, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates confirmed that the war in Libya is open-ended.

Gates pointed out that UN Security Council Resolution 1973, upon which the US-led war is predicated, is “not time-limited” and that he therefore thought it wasn’t reasonable to set a timeline for when the war would actually end.

“I think no one was under any illusions that this would be an operation that would last one week, or two weeks, or three weeks,” Gates insisted. More concerning is that they don’t appear to have any endgame at all.

That was the clear message from several officials over the past several days. There are no clearly defined goals, no exit strategy, no conceivable policy at all, beyond launching massive air strikes across the nation. Gates says the war will take more than weeks, but with America’s other two wars in their 9th and 10th years, respectively, one has to take the administration at its word when it talks about an open-ended war.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.