Military engagement is not bloodless and Obama is hampered by his ambiguous language about Qaddafi's ultimate fate. French and UK officials are at odds with their respective military chiefs about how to deal with the dictator. Interestingly, the politicians clearly want him dead, while the military seem to be of more delicate, or devious, sensibilities.
What Obama is not making clear is that, while the mission was right and necessary, it is most likely going to commit the United States to a course of action that will be full of gyrations for several months.
The odds are that, whether Qaddafi is driven from power or stays, Libya is going to undergo some sort of partition. In Iraq, for example, even when Saddam Hussein was in power, the Kurds ran an autonomous region in the north.
Obama should call upon the United Nations — either in public or in private — to anticipate such a partition and to prepare to assemble a peacekeeping force.
The model Obama seems to be following is patterned not on Afghanistan and Iraq, but on Bosnia.
If he can be as successful in Libya as President Bill Clinton was in Bosnia, history will judge that Obama, the United States, and its NATO allies did the right thing.
If, on the other hand, events take a different course, then the intervention to save lives in Benghazi might have been the least Obama could have done.