Libyan rebels are demanding an explanation from NATO after an allied airstrike killed opposition fighters instead of Moammar Gadhafi's forces in two separate incidents this week. Allied military leaders acknowledged that their missiles may have landed on rebels driving in captured tanks, but said it was an honest mistake, as NATO thought only Gadhafi's army had armored vehicles. Meanwhile, rebels — under heavy bombardment by Gadhafi loyalists — were forced to retreat from recently conquered turf back toward their stronghold in Benghazi. Is the international coalition's effort to help the Libyan opposition get rid of Gadhafi turning into a disaster?
Yes, we're blowing it in Libya: "What a mess," says Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal. We're just three weeks into this latest military adventure, and "Libya seems sunk in stalemate." Despite U.S. and NATO airstrikes, the rebels keep losing territory as fast as they gain it, "casualties continue, and civilians are packing their bags." Meanwhile, the turmoil is sending oil prices higher and higher. Perhaps moderation, rather than rushed action, would have been a smarter course.
"Would Ike have gone to Libya?"
Gadhafi is just tougher than we thought: The West has handled this intervention "clumsily," says Peter Beaumont at The Guardian. But our biggest problem is that Gadhafi's regime isn't as "fragile" as everyone thought. And with American close-combat planes and flying gunships now gone from the battle, the coalition is "increasingly toothless." The rebels will never take Tripoli, so NATO should just help them gain enough ground to negotiate a ceasefire under which Gadhafhi steps down.
"Libya: The mission keeps on creeping"
Standing up to tyrants is never easy: As the Arab spring unfolds, "we need to be on the side of democrats everywhere," says Michael J. Totten at Reason. "Obviously we can't impose a no-fly zone over every police state. But we had little other leverage with Gadhafi, so here we are. Mistakes will be made, but the civilized world just can't "tolerate the slaughter of unarmed demonstrators," and maybe thugs elsewhere will look at Libya's uprising and realize that "if Gadhafi isn't safe, no one is safe."
"The war in Libya and the Arab spring"
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