“At the Pentagon, Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, staff director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a news conference that the back-to-back assaults Saturday and Sunday had inflicted heavy damage. They largely silenced Gadhafi’s air defenses, blunted his army’s drive on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi and confused his forces…
“Gortney said Gadhafi himself is not a target, but he could not guarantee the strongman’s safety.”
“Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s compound was hit by a missile strike late today,as a barrage of airstrikes by U.S. and European militaries destroyed Libyan defenses, rocked the capitol of Tripoli and buoyed the spirits of the opposition.
“The strike, however, was not carried out by U.S. forces, an official said. Vice Admiral William Gortney said earlier today that the United States was ‘not targeting Gadhafi.’…
“Gortney said today that the United States will will soon hand over command to a coalition partner, a point reiterated by several U.S. officials.”
“What the Western powers and other Arab leaders hope for is clear: A show of force, followed by a swift collapse in Qadhafi’s inner circle…
“’Nobody believes – at least among the people who planned it – that it’s going to be a prolonged affair,’ said Aaron David Miller, a former State Department official now at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. ‘They intend shock and awe in an effort to strike so persistently and in such a sustained fashion that the regime cracks.’…
“‘We still believe that Qaddafi has lost his legitimacy to lead and must go,’ White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told POLITICO. ‘However the goal of this resolution is not regime change. Rather it authorizes the use of force with an explicit commitment to pursue all necessary measures to stop the killing.'”
“Speaking from an unspecified U.S. military aircraft, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the coalition would be unwise to target the longtime dictator. ‘It is unwise to set as specific goals things that you may or may not be able to achieve,’ he was quoted as saying.”
“The longer the operation drags on the greater the chance, strange as it may seem, that the Duck of Death will attract support. He certainly will, from all the fringe elements and crackpots of the world. Louis Farrakhan today came out in support of Khadaffi and so has Chavez. Farrakhan said that “they would love to go into Libya and kill brother Khadaffi and his children as they did to Saddam Hussein.” Obama faced hostile leftist crowds in Brazil. Even Joan Baez has recently expressed her misgivings. If a humanitarian crisis occurs in Libya, these protests will redouble; it will not matter whether it was authorized by the Security Council or led by France. It will be, as it always is, America’s fault.”
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Was the President wrong initially to say Gaddafi must go, getting in so far ahead of everybody?
ANDREW SULLIVAN, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I don’t think it’s wrong for a President of the United States to issue an opinion about some madman like Gaddafi. I do think that the American public might have been consulted before the United States goes to war. I mean, we now got, you know, the President tells people after the fact? I mean, you know, we go into a Middle Eastern country, we don’t know the consequences, it’s been hatched by Hillary and McCain. I mean, what could go wrong?
SULLIVAN: I mean, when you think about it. And I think it, I’m just, I’m just, I don’t know why anybody voted for Obama in the primaries. I mean this is a, this, this initiative, this, this, this no-fly zone, this war essentially, is, is a Hillary-McCain concept.
“Now let me be clear – I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.
“He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.
“But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.”