By Sylvia Gurinsky
So who are these rebels in Libya?
What's their purpose? How organized are they to topple Moammar Khadafi and then govern?
Those are the questions President Barack Obama and his top foreign-policy officials have been pondering.
Unlike his predecessor, Obama thinks before he acts. He also thinks beyond the next election, which seems beyond the capacity of a lot of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who have been second-guessing Obama's initial hesitation to OK military action until it was clear Khadafi was going to create a bloodbath.
What happens next? One thing, apparently, that the rebels don't want is to return to pre-1969 Libya, which was ruled by a royal family. There has been little discussion about that.
But what do they want? Some fear that they're a front for Al Qaida or other terrorist groups; they're insisting otherwise.
Egypt and Tunisia may flank Libya, but a better analogy for Libya may be what happened in Yugoslavia, when that nation broke apart into war during the 1990s. Then as now, NATO and the United Nations had a strong involvement in the war. And the United States, led by President Bill Clinton, had a strong involvement in the peace.
As Obama said in his speech last night, the United States is invested in protecting people around the world - and in defending American interests and values.
In this case, doing so will require some thought about what - and who - might replace Khadafi.