With growing demands for President Obama to clarify the international mission in Libya and with many calling for the escalation of military force in support of those challenging Muammar Gaddafi’s rule, it is crucial to identify and move to the next stage of the intervention in Libya.
That stage should not be targeting Gaddafi, which would surely be viewed as tantamount to an attempt at foreign-imposed regime change. That would break the international coalition and congeal support for Gaddafi inside Libya. Airpower designed to kill leaders has been tried numerous times over the past two decades, but it has never on its own solved a significant military or political problem. In April 1986, U.S. forces bombed Tripoli and tried to assassinate Gaddafi from the air. The effort only strengthened his hold on power.