Will Italy Help Keep U.S. and NATO Airstrikes on Libya From Becoming Another Afghanistan?

In an op-ed at Foreign Policy in Focus on U.S. and NATO airstrikes on Libya titled Attack on Libya May Unleash a Long War, Phyllis Bennis writes:

President Barack Obama says the U.S. will transfer command authority very soon, that military action should be over in “days, not weeks,” and that he wants no boots on the ground. But the parallels with other U.S. wars in the Middle East don’t bode well. The Pentagon may indeed transfer its command to some other military leadership. But what happens when London and Paris decide they don’t have sufficient weaponry, or can’t afford it any longer–what will President Obama do then? And what about that “no U.S. troops on the ground” line? . . . What if a stalemate leaves Libya divided, with military attacks continuing? . . . And what if these attacks lead to an escalating, rather than diminishing, civil war? . . . The UN itself acknowledged that this could be the beginning of a very long war. The resolution asks the secretary-general to report on military developments in Libya “within seven days and every month thereafter.” So much for “days, not weeks.”

When it comes to charges that President Obama may be embroiling us in another war without end, a chance exists that another country might come to the rescue and not only spare Libya some bloodshed, but save the president’s political skin in the process. At the Guardian, Julian Borgen and Richard Norton-Taylor report:

Efforts appear to be under way to offer Muammar Gaddafi a way of escape from Libya, with Italy saying it was trying to organise an African haven for him, and the US signalling it would not try to stop the dictator from fleeing. . . . Italy offered to broker a ceasefire deal in Libya, involving asylum for Gaddafi in an African country. . . . A senior American official signalled that a solution in which Gaddafi flees to a country beyond the reach of the international criminal court (ICC), which is investigating war crimes charges against him.

Still, with the United States, there’s always the chance it will turn the state in which it’s intervening into . . . “A Squalid Protectorate,” as Tariq Ali also writes in the Guardian (useful paper, eh wot?).

The frontiers of the squalid protectorate that the west is going to create are being decided in Washington. . . . The US state department is busy preparing a new government composed of English-speaking Libyan collaborators.

While references might have made the second sentence more credible, anyone who puts that past Washington has been asleep during our Iraqi and Afghan expeditionary adventures.