As Max observes, NATO faced another embarrassment yesterday, when a triumphant, fist-pumping Qaddafi languidly rode his open-top SUV past cheering crowds in Tripoli. It’s clearly not a coincidence that he chose to take this highly-publicized joyride while NATO officials were holed up at a summit trying to breath life back into their ineffective intervention.
Qaddafi’s actions yesterday are the latest sign that he’s not interested in striking any sort of deal to concede power. So while there’s been a lot of talk about removing him through diplomatic channels, it appears that removing him by force may be the only option.
But there are internal conficts within NATO about whether regime change would be beyond the scope of the UN mandate. France has been leading the charge to remove Qaddafi, but French Defense Minister Gérard Longuet said regime change is not covered by the current UN resolution and a new resolution would have to be voted on.
If a new resolution is proposed, it’s questionable whether the U.S. would even support it. For awhile now President Obama has said that Qaddafi must go, but he’s also been eager to distance the U.S. from the intervention. It is doubtful that he’d be anxious to escalate the military operation, especially in the current political climate with presidential elections on the horizon.