I guess the Libya issue has entered the twigh-light zone for a while with Gaddafi still at large. When I first heard about the aid plans I was very skeptical and like Germany opted against it but when it actually started I said to myself OK you had your day in court and I began arguing for the air support, no boots on the ground mission because I accepted that Britain and France had so much info as necessary to change the regime. It did not come without cost for the Libyans though. I saw one figure of 20,000 casualties, a large enough figure that leaving Gaddafi in power might have caused less loss of life, but wars of liberation are often quite bloody. NATO has apparently flown some 20,000 sorties of which 7,500 involved bombing missions. Less than Kosovo in the 1990s, but still significant.
Obama's approach was leading from behind this time around. Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the mission would not have been possible without American intelligence and the initial wipe-out of air defenses was also dominantly American. On the positive side is that the rebels have done this on their own unlike in Iraq and if an involvement like the last 6 month's does not lead to winning the hearts and minds of the Libyans, nothing will, which would be good to know. A Libya that in the future is friendly with the West would obviously be a great asset. Iraq trades mostly with Syria though so we enter a sensitive face now where people Like Nicholas Sarkozy, the savior of Benghazi, might play an important role. The Libya mission is of course in line with Sarkozy's effort with the Club Med that Germany wasn't particularly enthusiastic for.
So, enter nation building. Gaddafi had held his people down with low emphasis on education which could mean that serious nation-building would not take place within a generation which is a problem. The US asked quietly before the NATO mission begun if the European nations involved had thought through how expensive it would become, well aware that they had spent 3trn in Iraq already and that the EU was facing a debt crisis. Improving the prospects for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the Libyans is of course worth a lot and might have a stabilizing effect on the multiculturality of the EU. Well managed the oil wealth of Libya could mean a success rather than failure since it amounts to independence with the right development strategy.
On the most positive side then is that Europe might be in on a collaboration with the Arabs in moving North Africa closer to Europe. France , who was not in on the Iraq mission, is now in the front. Germany said initially that they would not mind helping out humanitarily and it would of course be good with a unified EU approach to supporting Libya. With some luck Libya might turn out to become more of a success story that the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, which would depend on a reshuffling of the security personnel in addition to a change of government.