The Obama administration may not care to admit it, but it did make a decision, and one of benefit to Gaddafi. Why? One factor was surely Obama’s preference for a less activist foreign policy in general.
But there were special considerations in Libya, and they were clearly stated in a piece by General Wesley Clark for the Washington Post last Friday. The former US commander in Kosovo and a 2004 Democratic presidential candidate wrote: “We don’t have a clearly stated objective, legal authority, committed international support or adequate on-the-scene military capabilities, and Libya’s politics hardly foreshadow a clear outcome.”
The key phrase here is “Libya’s politics”. For the past few days, Washington policy circles have been worrying over a piece of research circulated last week: “On a per capita basis ”¦ twice as many foreign fighters came to Iraq from Libya ”“ and specifically eastern Libya ”“ than from any other country in the Arabic-speaking world. Libyans were apparently more fired up to travel to Iraq to kill Americans than anyone else in the Middle East. And 84.1 per cent  of the 88 Libyan fighters ”¦ who listed their hometowns came from either Benghazi or Darnah in Libya’s east.”