Monday, March 14, 2011

Let's Give Gaddafi A Way Out

Watching the drama unfold in Libya, I am struck by how helpless the international community seems to be. Whatever else may be going on behind the scenes, the only solutions presented publicly by world leaders are woefully unimaginative. Only two options seem to have occurred to them. One, scold Gaddafi and tell him that killing his people is unacceptable and it is time for him to stop it. Or two, embark on some form of military action.

Option one is silly. Gaddafi is not going to throw up his hands and agree to stop fighting and killing people just because the President of the US or the UN Secretary General says so. He believes, and rightly so, that he is in a fight for his life.

Option two is crazy. If we learned nothing else from Viet Nam, Afghanistan and Iraq, we should certainly have taken the lesson that it is much easier to get into a military action than it is to get out of one.

So what is left? I want to believe that surely there are smart people in the international community with better ideas than just these two options.

Another possibility is to figure out how to give Gaddafi an exit strategy. At the present time, he has nowhere to go. He's a trapped animal. He can't leave Tripoli. If he ventures out of his compound he is an easier target for the rebels. Even if he wanted to leave Libya, where would he go? He has no allies. From his point of view, his options have come down to this: he will either prevail and reestablish his grip on power or he will die trying. He has no other choice.

So why not create another option for him? For example, how about the Napoleon option? Find an island the international community can agree on as the place for him to be exiled (just, please, not Guantanamo). He agrees to leave, never to return, and be incarcerated for the rest of his life. In exchange, he gets -- his life, what's left of it. He may not agree to that right off, but I'll bet there are ways to coerce him into accepting that option. And the quicker he goes, the sooner the task of rebuilding the nation of Libya can begin.

(Then again, maybe he would prefer the Republican option. This year, the Rs are celebrating the 100th birthday of their patron saint, Ronald Reagan. In honor of the centennial, a repeat of Reagan's bombing of Gaddafi's house could be arranged. Yes, I'm kidding. But not about the 1986 bombing of Mo's house - Reagan really did do that.)

What do you think? What option can you suggest? Put on your thinking caps, folks, because, seriously, time is running out for the Libyan people.