A reader writes:
I want to look at Meghan O'Sullivan's piece in more detail later, but while the dangers in Libya are manifold, her analogy is flawed in many respects. Most notably, "you break it you own it" does not apply fully to Libya, because we didn't break it. That doesn't mean that extricating ourselves from a postwar mess will be easy, but we won't have the same level of engagement or responsibility, e.g., boots on the ground.
Also, while Obama's two-tier goals – preventing murder of civilians by military intervention, and ousting Gaddafi by other means – may be too intricate to work, it's not a "recipe for confusion." It's a recipe for keeping options, or exits, open. If swift military action doesn't cause Gaddafi's overthrow or negotiated departure, there's a fallback strategy – contain and cut off. Obama has in effect put in place several disengagement levers. He's a trimmer, as you once said. For better and worse.