Confusion reigned Monday among U.N. and NATO nations about who’s in charge of the multi-country attack against Libya, even as an international coalition continued air strikes against Moammar Gadhafi's forces.
President Barack Obama’s White House hasn’t definitively addressed that essential issue about an operation that has cost the United States well more than $100 million, and is increasingly rapidly. Other questions looming:
* Are the United States and its allies attacking Libya to save the country’s citizens from slaughter at the hands of their leader Gadhafi, as the U.N. resolution endorsing the enforcement of the no-fly zone called for, or are they ultimately trying to push him out of power? That oust-Gadhafi question resonates with echoes of previous statements from both Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the ruthless dictator must go. And how do those messages mesh with a top admiral’s statement that Gadhafi could remain in power?
* How, and when, will the United States hand off leadership of the military attack to other countries?
* What is the potential for this to become a U.S. police action and/or extended involvement like that in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday that the United States anticipates giving control of the military campaign soon to a coalition, probably headed by either the French and the British or NATO. That campaign, which the U.N. resolution approved Thursday night, opened on Saturday with U.S. and British naval vessels launching 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles, which cost an at least a half-million dollars apiece (some estimates range as high as $1.2 million), at Libyan military installations. The allied attack, dubbed “Operation Odyssey Dawn,” also including French jets, continued Sunday and today with more missiles and U.S. jets involved.