Trying to determine what President Barack Obama's end goal is on Libya has some scratching their heads. While the president has said Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi must relinquish power, his administration has also sent clear signals that regime change is not the aim of the military campaign in Libya.
On Monday's "Special Report" on the Fox News Channel, Brit Hume explained why this is a problem and how with the confusion failure is a potential outcome.
"As he explained it today, President Obama's policy toward Libya consists of two apparently unconnected parts," Hume said. "One part is regime change – getting Gaddafi out. But those bombs over Benghazi and elsewhere including the British missile attack on Gaddafi's own compound are not about that. No, they are for the sole purpose of preventing the humanitarian calamity that Gaddafi seemed ready to unleash last week. It was apparently OK for Gaddafi's force to crush the rebels but just not as savagely as he threatened. As for getting him out of power – that will be left to what they called wide range of other tools to isolate and pressure him in to stepping down. Now, all of this may work out. Gaddafi may be brutal, but he is not brave and nothing gets his attention like bombs on his compound, as Ronald Reagan proved in 1986. Gaddafi basically vanished for two years. The current allied attacks whatever their ostensible purpose may allow the rebels to gain the upper hand and hasten Gaddafi's downfall. If neither of the outcomes occurs, there is no sign that the president is prepared for further, tougher step to accomplish his stated goals. His emphasis is instead is on how brief the mission will be, how limit and how soon the U.S. leadership role will be ended. Failure it seems in this case is an option."
Hume also noted that Obama is restricted by wanting to improve the country's image around the world and by a potential "mutiny" from the anti-war left.
"I think one thing is the president believes that the United States is in such bad odor in the world, especially the Middle East, that the appearance of American leadership and anything like this is a major negative – that's point number one," Hume explained. "Second thing, in political terms he feels his freedom of movement is limited because of the likelihood of mutiny on his left. He has some on the left of the Dennis Kucinich variety squawking now. It hasn't erupted to a full uprising on his left but it could if he prosecutes this aggressively and appears to be in the lead. So I think he is worried about a number of things, those things included."