LIANE HANSEN, Host:
We are joined now by Dirk Vandewalle, an associate professor of government at Dartmouth College, and the author of "A History of Modern Libya."
Welcome to the program.
DIRK VANDEWALLE: Good morning.
HANSEN: You wrote that the no-fly zone introduces more problems than it solves in the immediate future. What do you mean? Why?
VANDEWALLE: Well, it seems to me that what - the resolution, of course said - and we have to remember that the resolution was cobbled together a somewhat in haste. And so one of the clauses was that it should not contain troops on the ground, as so to speak.
It seems to me - and that this presents to the international community with a major problem because do we leave Libya for all practical purposes then divided in an area held by the rebels, and an area held by Gadhafi? Does that give Gadhafi then the ability to kind of play a cat-and-mouse game, being able to try and infiltrate the eastern part of the country through all kinds of means?
Because of what we know, because of what Gadhafi has already threatened that he could use all kinds of actions in the Mediterranean against European interests, and so on, it seems to me that that is not a solution that is really a satisfactory in the long run to the international community.
HANSEN: But the U.S. military has been stressing that the aims of the strikes in Libya are limited.
VANDEWALLE: Indeed, that is what we have been saying. That simply, we want to disengage the two sides, or we want to make sure that Colonel Gadhafi can no longer kill civilians, particularly in the eastern part of the country.
And if that's indeed what we are satisfied with, then the action could be over relatively quickly; as President Obama said, in days and not weeks. But again, it doesn't solve the underlying problem, I think, of what really should happen with Gadhafi. And if potentially divided Libya is really in the interest of the international community.
HANSEN: Who actually is being helped by this no-fly zone? I mean, do you have a sense of who these rebels are?
VANDEWALLE: Well, we know that the rebels are really a collection, first of all, of mostly people in the eastern part of the country. And that in itself, of course, is another problem because if you were to have kind of a protected area in eastern Libya, would mean that these people would perhaps be seen as the representatives of Libya.
And that opens up whole can of the difficulties in terms of who should represent Libya, and whether or not it's really in the interest of the international community to see a strong eastern province emerge, perhaps with weapons, as delivered by the international community and so on knowing that down the road somehow Tripoli will have get folded back into a united Libya.
HANSEN: What does this mean for Gadhafi?
VANDEWALLE: Well, I think it really is an endgame for Gadhafi. But, of course, we don't know and certainly he's a very wily and in many ways a very intelligent strategist. And, you know, so this could take a little while. I think certainly beyond the days that President Obama was talking about.
But I think in the end, with everything against him now, and really with his support now very closely concentrated in Tripoli and Tripoli alone, it seems to me that in the long run there really is no way out for Gadhafi. I truly think that this is the beginning of the end. But again, when that end will come precisely I think is still undetermined.
HANSEN: Dirk Vanderwalle is an associate professor of Government at Dartmouth College. He's also the author of "A History of Modern Libya." Thank you.
VANDEWALLE: My pleasure.
HANSEN: You're listening to NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.