What does the world want of Libya?
A tank belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi explodes after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah.
Consider this: At first, the US seemed reluctant to join the military intervention in Libya despite repeated coaxing from the UK and France. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton quoted mammoth figures as the costs of sustaining a no-fly zone over 10,88,000 sq km of Libyan territory.
"Assuming an operational tempo similar to that of the no-fly zones in Iraq, the ongoing cost might be in the range of $100 [million] to $300 million per week," said a US State Dept report.
The full option would require taking out Libyan air defense systems in what the report says would be a "series of coordinated strikes" at a "one-time... cost between $500 million and $1 billion".
Admittedly, these are huge sums of money, and the US concerns seem justified. Moreover, Barack Obama would not want to be drawn into another military quagmire in the Greater Middle East, having burnt his finger enough with Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, as pressure mounted on Obama -- the head of the most powerful nation on earth -- to be seen as doing at least something in Libya, he endorsed and later embraced the British-French initiative.
On Tuesday, three days after Allied forces began pounding Col Gaddafi's forces, including his bastion in Tripoli, Obama said: "I have stated that it is US policy that Gaddafi needs to go."
"We've got a wide range of tools in addition to our military efforts to support that policy," he said, referring to US unilateral sanctions and push for international sanctions on the Gaddafi government.
Suddenly, from a playing a supporting role to UK and France, the US has become a mouthpiece for the war on Libya.
"Obviously, the situation is evolving on the ground," said Obama, "and how quickly this transfer takes place will be determined by the recommendation of our commanding officers that the first phase of the mission has been completed."
What does the world want of Libya?
A tank belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi burns after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah.

As a rider, almost as an afterthought, he added: "Our military action is in support of an international mandate from the Security Council that specifically focuses on the humanitarian threat posed by Col Gaddafi to his people," and that "the US will stick to that mandate".
Which brings us to the United Nations.
Moving swiftly in response to a request by Arab nations, the UN Security Council on March 18 paved the way for international air strikes against Muammar Gaddafi's forces.
This after Gaddafi refused any dialogue and expressly stated that the affairs of his country were his business and not the entire world's.
The UN vote was 10-0 with five countries abstaining including Russia and China, which have veto power in the council, along with India, Germany and Brazil.
Russia and China expressed concern about the United Nations and other outside powers using force against Gaddafi, and Germany expressed fear that military action would lead to more casualties. But the UN Resolution 1973 was passed anyway.
"This council moved with remarkable speed in response to the great urgency of the situation on the ground," US Ambassador Susan Rice said.
That was on Thursday. On Saturday, French and British aircraft bombarded location held by Gaddafi's forces and supporters. And, on Sunday, when bombs fell at the government headquarters in Tripoli, reportedly 50 metres from where Gaddafi was sitting, a very different question was raised: Is Gaddafi, ultimately, the actual target? Is this 'war' an Allied mission to fulfil Obama's refrain that "Gaddafi must go"?
"We are not going after Gaddafi," Vice Admiral William Gortney said at the Pentagon on Sunday.
What does the world want of Libya?
Rebel fighters gesture in front of burning vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after an air strike by coalition forces along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah.

UN rejects emergency meeting sought by Libya
But, what makes Gortney's comment seem hollow is the United Nation's strange stand on the Libya crisis, going back on the very premise that led it to war in the first place: Dialogue, or the lack of it, with Col Gaddafi.
On Monday, displaying blatant double standards, the UN Security Council rejected a Libyan request for an emergency meeting to halt what it called "military aggression" by France and the United States.
Council members held closed-door discussions in response to a letter dated Saturday from Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kousa who claimed that "an external conspiracy was targeting... (Libya) and its unity and territorial integrity."
According to the letter, obtained by The Associated Press, Kousa accused France and the U.S. of bombing "several civilian sites" in violation of the U.N. Charter and called for "an emergency meeting in order to halt this aggression."
So, why did the UN reject the dialogue offer? The answer is even more dubious.
What does the world want of Libya?
A supporter of Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi stands on a building, destroyed in what the government said was a western missile attack, inside Bab Al-Aziziyah, Gaddafi's heavily fortified Tripoli compound March 21, 2011.
India's U.N. Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said the resolution requires Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report to the Security Council "within seven days" of the passing of the Libya resolution on the implementation of its provisions, which also include a more robust arms embargo and additional Libyan individuals, companies, banks and other entities subject to travel bans and asset freezes.
"That seven days is on Thursday, so people didn't want to get into a discussion on who represents whom and what the letter is," Puri said. "They want to have a discussion on substance which will be on Thursday."
So, until then, the air strikes will continue.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin described the operation on Libya as a "crusade", although he was later censured for the remark by President Dmitry Medvedev.
"This absolutely reminds me of a medieval call to crusade, where somebody goads others to march into a certain area and free it," said Putin. "The degree of nonchalance at the international level about launching hostilities upon a sovereign state is unsettling."
In his letter to the UN, the Libyan foreign minister asked why the Security Council didn't similarly intervene in other conflict situations between a state and armed groups such as the Palestinians, Chechnya, the Lord's Resistance Army, Kashmir and Algeria.
"This indicates that the Security Council has double standards and raises suspicions that this is an attempt to seize Libya's resources, its funds deposited abroad and its oil revenues in order to pay off the debts accumulated by certain states as a result of the global economic crisis," Kousa wrote.
What does the world want of Libya?
And these sentiments have been echoed by MSN readers following the unfolding crisis in Libya.
14,144 readers responded to a poll conducted by MSN India. We asked: Western nations launched air strikes in Libya in efforts to defeat Col Gaddafi. Do you think Libya needs this intervention or should the world leave Libya to solve its own problems?
58 per cent (8,127 readers) said "Yes, we have seen no action against Iran and North Korea, why the interest in Libya?"
38 per cent (5,406 readers) said "No, a dictator like Col Gaddafi with no respect for human rights must be dealt with severely."
4 per cent (611 readers) offered no opinion.
So, why the interest in Libya? Is it because Libya sits on the ninth largest reserves of oil in the world, the largest in Africa? Libya is considered a highly attractive oil area due to its low cost of oil production (as low as $1 per barrel at some fields), and proximity to European markets. Is that why France and Britain are so enthusiastic about wielding the rod against Gaddafi?
Spain, Belgium and Canada have contributed fighter jets and other weapons to the Libyan mission, while Italian and Danish fighter jets have also been participating in enforcing the no-fly zone.
The Qatari air force will be participating in the enforcement of the UN-mandated no-fly zone over Libya, Qatari media reported Monday.
This would make the Gulf state the first Arab country to actively participate in the mission.
The UN states: "This resolution should send a strong message to Colonel Gaddafi and his regime that the violence must stop, the killing must stop, and the people of Libya must be protected and have the opportunity to express themselves freely."
One would hope the UN stands by what it says and that Libya does not turn into another Iraq.
Source: India Syndicate