The initial indecision and later the dithering of Barack Obama which resulted in the lack of any strategy regarding Libya has achieved what many thought would happen: a stalemate and a potential prolonged civil war. It is becoming increasingly likely, short of voluntarily leaving for money and guarantees, that Moammar Gadhafi will not be removed.
The front is Libya is barely moving as the country remains split between rebels and Gadhafi's troops. The rebels are complaining of not receiving enough air support, but NATO is hardly in a position to ramp it up after the withdrawals of US fighter jets.
Within NATO, there is also increasing frustration at the slow progress on the ground. The seemingly rudderless attacking and fleeing of the untrained fighters in the face of government soldiers is causing Western allies to despair. And this mutual disillusionment suggests that the second phase of the civil war is now beginning. The situation which critics had feared from the start has now seemingly occurred: a stalemate.
"Libya appears to be sliding into a prolonged conflict with no light at the end of the tunnel" [per Fawaz Gerges of the London School of Economics]
Every day that Gadhafi remains in power, pressure is growing on Western politicians and military leaders. The question of how long the intervention will last is increasingly being asked out loud.
No one has so far come up with an effective formula for ending the Libyan stalemate. The Western-Arab alliance is hoping steadfastly for one of two outcomes: Either the rebels win a military conflict against all escalations, or Gadhafi voluntarily steps down. Ether event would come as a surprise.
[Not getting rid of Gadhafi] would mean a loss of face, which no Western government wants. The crucial question is: Who has more patience, NATO or Gadhafi?
It is also becoming more evident everyday that much of the rebel "army" is made up of various jihadist groups. How then to justify shipping them arms to fight Gadhafi and ultimately be used against those who supplied them in the first place? If the Western countries succeed in giving Gadhafi enough money and guarantees to leave, who takes over the government in Tripoli? How can they prevent the Islamic radicals from doing so?
So the United States is now faced with the very real possibility of another disaster in the Middle East. Foreign policy run by inexperienced ideologues, such as Barack Obama, who do not have the best interest of their native country in the forefront of their thinking invariably create chaos wherever they tread. Libya was never in the vital interest of the United States.