The Magazine

Qaddafi Must Go

Mar 28, 2011, Vol. 16, No. 27 • By MAX BOOT
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We should also dispatch special forces and CIA operatives to meet with the resistance and assess their needs. There is an obvious need for outside specialists to help train the rebels and to coordinate any offensive they undertake with allied forces. We saw in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001 how devastating an indigenous force can be when backed by precision American airpower directed by tactical air controllers on the ground. A similar combination should work as well in Libya’s deserts as it did in Afghanistan’s mountains—especially considering the fact that Qaddafi has significantly fewer supporters than the Taliban had. Few if any Libyans have been converted to the loopy gospel of Qaddafi’s “Green Book.” The bulk of his forces are mercenaries. It is doubtful that they will fight to the death. Many will desert once they see they are backing a losing cause.

We don’t want to discount the difficulties of toppling Qaddafi. Like any other military operation, it will be filled with risks, costs, and hardships. In many ways, however, the harder issue will be cobbling together a post-Qaddafi government. The Transitional Council, under the leadership of Qaddafi’s former justice minister, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, has made a good start in Benghazi. Behind the scenes, we and our allies should be working to build the most durable and democratic regime possible—while assuring Qaddafi’s allies, especially in the army, that they will be welcome in the new Libya. A good start would be to recognize the Transitional Council as Libya’s lawful government, as France already has done.

The passage of U.N. Security Council resolution 1973 is a step in the right direction. But it is only the beginning—not the end. Much dangerous and difficult work remains to be done to create a decent post-Qaddafi state where (in the words of the U.N. resolution) civilians will not have to fear “attacks” and “abuses.”

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