Obama wants Qaddafi to leave, but a no-fly zone may not be doable or adequate. Also a humanitarian crisis may demand a stronger response.
This week, the president and many leaders in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe are trying to make good on such objectives. Their success would not only save civilian lives but also influence pro-democracy rebellions in other Arab lands.
Time is short to decide if outside intervention is needed. Preferably not. But the well-armed military of Mr. Qaddafi has a strong advantage with the use of fighter aircraft and appears to be holding the ground forces of ragtag rebel groups to a stalemate for control of key cities along the Mediterranean coast.
The UN says more than a million people are fleeing the fighting – and in urgent need of aid. Human rights groups say at least 3,000 people have been killed.