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Ragtag

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This leaves me feeling skeptical about the rebels chances:

After the uprising, the rebels stumbled as they tried to organize. They did a poor job of defining themselves when Libyans and the outside world tried to figure out what they stood for. And now, as they try to defeat Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s armed forces and militias, they will have to rely on allied airstrikes and young men with guns because the army that rebel military leaders bragged about consists of only about 1,000 trained men.

See also Drum. The Times article goes on to describe the leadership cadre, or lack thereof, of the rebellion. My thinking now is that, since we’re already committed, the best outcome is de facto partition between east and west, enforced by coalition airpower. This is not a good outcome, but it’s hard to imagine turning the rebels into a force capable of taking Tripoli. The alternative seems to be a degree of commitment, including at least special operations forces, that would essentially make a farce of the idea that the revolution is led by the Libyan people.

It’s possible that there’s an endgame I’m not seeing, but at this point there’s cause to doubt that the crisis would be resolved by Gaddafi’s exit. The battle lines have been drawn, positions have hardened, and it’s hard to see the Gaddafi Loyalists just handing power over to the rebel coalition.  The fluid, contingent moment seems to have passed.

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