Obama on Libya: We will explore "the full range of options"

The headlines tonight are that he never mentioned Qaddafi specifically, but I think that’s a simple matter of not wanting to provoke a rabid dog any more than he has to with de facto death squads roaming the streets of Tripoli. The goal here was to express solidarity with Libyan rebels; mission accomplished. What this achieved in practical terms, I have no idea, but if you believe that the president of the United States is obliged in moments of international brutality to check the box with a statement of official moral condemnation, consider this box checked.

The one meaningful thing he said here was that we’re considering a “full range of options” on how to deal with Qaddafi, which in diplo-speak is a notch below “all options are on the table” as a wink-wink about military action. The more I read on the wires, though, the more unlikely it seems that external force will be needed. The news arc today has been all about more cities falling to protesters, with Qaddafi relegated to shrinking territory in and around the new terrordome of Tripoli. The Journal:

Forces loyal to strongman Col. Moammar Gadhafi imposed rough order in Libya’s increasingly fearful capital Wednesday, witnesses said, that stood in sharp contrast to rebel gains in much of the rest of the oil-rich country.

Gunshots echoed through the night in Tripoli as Col. Gadhafi clung to power even as the international community discussed ways to isolate him with sanctions. More territory slipped from his control, and rebels began to set up rudimentary governments in outlying areas under their sway…

In the eastern coastal city of Baida, where opposition forces overcame pro-Gadhafi fighters on Tuesday, sheiks, academics and businessmen met in a domed meeting hall to discuss how to oversee security, distribute food and fuel and recollect weapons spread widely amid the uprising…

“Everything is in chaos now,” said Hamdy Yaqoub, a professor of environmental science at Omar Mukhtar University, an elder at the meeting.

One ominous note: Apparently, the White House is worried that Tripoli might still be well stocked with conventional weapons, Scud missiles, and … mustard gas or other chemical weapons. If rebels close in on the city and Qaddafi reaches his breaking point, who knows how bad it could get.

Two clips for you here. The first is of Obama, who notes that Hillary will be meeting in Geneva with the UN Human Rights Council. The second, via UN Watch, is of the UN Human Rights Council in action as a helpful reminder that it’s quite possibly the most worthless, loathsome NGO on the planet. How loathsome? Libya is a member. Exit question: Who said this? “This statement could have been put out by the first President Bush. It has the aspect of an Arabist statement. I shouldn’t be too strong here, but it doesn’t have any dignity. I mean – Ronald Reagan – to his credit, said ‘evil empire’ before the fall of the wall.” Surprise!