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CSIS: Libya Three Possible Outcomes and the Role of Governance, Money, Gas and Oil

Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy, the Center for International and Strategic Studies in Washington
March 22, 2011


Anthony H. Cordesman weighs the possible results of the Libyan Revolution and evaluates the roles governance, money, gas and oil play in the outcome.

The use of armed force to intervene in Libya still has no clear, meaningful strategic objective. In fairness, it may be impossible to get a consensus in controversial cases, and even partial agreement may be better than none. Waiting for Qaddafi to win by default was scarcely a functional option. Seeking full international consensus around a well-defined and strategic goal was a recipe for paralysis, and acting without any effort at unity and international support almost ensures broad international opposition.

A “No Fly Zone” That Is, or is Not, Actually a “No Fly Zone”

The fact remains, however, that the UN resolution leaves the ultimate objective undefined, and the limits to the use of force confused. The first French strikes to enforce a “no fly zone” hit advancing Libyan ground forces that have nothing to do with how many of Qaddafi's aircraft actually “fly.” Italy and France are feuding over command and prestige (and whether the mission should be performed) while Turkey opposes the mission and making it part of NATO.

The US is exercising de facto command because it has the special intelligence, targeting, and command and control assets needed to coordinate the effort, but is trying to minimize its visibility and is almost totally unconvincing in claiming that it will only use the “no fly zone” to protect civilians while simultaneously stating that it does not want violent regime change.

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