Let's face it: NATO's probably going to have to send peacekeepers to Libya

But there remains a real danger of catastrophe, a la post-Taliban Afghanistan and post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, which each succumbed to chaos after the ouster of their dictators. To avert such a dire outcome, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or failing that, the U.N., will have to offer economic assistance, expert advice and, most likely, peacekeeping troops.

At a minimum, an outside stabilization force will be needed to prevent government weapons stockpiles, including reported stores of mustard gas and other potential weapons of mass destruction, from falling into the wrong hands. Already there are reports of some of Kadafi’s portable antiaircraft missiles being looted; if they find their way to the global arms market, the likelihood of their use by terrorists against civilian airliners rises. A stabilization force would also give the Transitional National Council time to train and stand up its own security forces.

There is little appetite in the United States for another commitment of ground troops, which is why it will be important for European, African and Arab allies to carry the bulk of the peacekeeping burden.