Map from The Guardian.
Based on what I'm reading, here's how I might gin up the desired exit glidepath:
- By most accounts, Qaddafi is down to Tripoli and a couple other chunks of the country.
- We fear he'll go out Gotterdammerung-style with chem weapons. He also has some air capacity to bring significant pain to rebel-held territories (how very Saddam-like, yes?).
- So you establish the no-fly-zone (NATO, preferably, but mostly USN in practical terms, although one assumes flying across the Med is no big deal logistically speaking) and lock up the Tripoli and Sidra with naval blockades, committing no troops for now. You do let the people flow (outbound) proceed, especially whenever it's countries like Turkey trying to get workers out.
- You also lock down Qaddafi's financial network (I assume this has proceeded apace already) and essentially starve him out, taking the hit on higher oil prices in the meantime.
- They guy survives primarily on a praetorian guard dynamic, so . . . You do your best to signal inward to his forces that there is only one ending and it would be nice if somebody took care of the meddlesome colonel. Or maybe the rebels simply finish the job with acceptable civilian losses.
- If Qaddafi does go to chem, well then, there's your more vigorous intervention made to order, the justification shifting to humanitarian protection and inevitable roundup of the ICC-indicted war criminals.
To me, this is an ideal sort of SysAdmin intervention opportunity: keep it small and proportional and elevate in response to events. Big point: not pre-emptive but responsive. You want to ride with globalization's natural tide as much as possible, letting the "new map" tell you where to apply pressure next, thus making local demand your primary guide.
Naturally, the fearful and paranoid will see the usual Western plot to grab oilfields, but denying the bottom-up nature on this one reduces them to sheer lying.
Me? I see a beautiful, globalization-driven process at work here. Let it roll! Because I like our longer-term odds versus those of the Iranians, al-Qaeda and the Wahhabist Saudis. Then again, victory was never in doubt--just timing and cost.