MacAskill said that Tripoli had promised to handle Megrahi's homecoming in a "low-key and sensitive fashion." President Obama said that he told the regime that Megrahi should not be "welcomed ... but instead should be under house arrest." Then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was gulled in similar fashion.
It is a clear sign of Gadhafi's scorn for Washington and London that Megrahi landed on the tarmac to a flag-waving hero's welcome. Having won it all back, Gadhafi gave the United States and United Kingdom the middle finger.
Since Libyan rebel leaders sought international help in overthrowing Gadhafi, I've been torn. Gadhafi is a thug who is holding on to power by killing his own people. And he's not afraid to lash out against enemy powers.
But I listened when Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned that establishing a no-fly zone would not be as easy as some Beltway swells seemed to think.
Besides, America already is fighting two wars.
About the only conclusion I have reached so far is that it's wrong to think there's an easy answer as to what Washington should do.
Sure, there's the hypocrisy angle. A conservative can hit Obama for sending U.S. troops to fight another unfunded war against a country that presents no imminent threat without an exit strategy. But none of that matters.
What matters is what happens next.
America, Great Britain and France have superior firepower, but we just want to get on with our lives. Gadhafi wants to get even.
He has bags full of cash, an army of nasty henchmen and more resolve than can be found in all of Washington.
Gadhafi, 68, has proved to be a dangerous man to fight if you don't destroy him.
It must be music to Gadhafi's ears to hear that Obamaland won't use the word "war." Last week, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes called Operation Odyssey Dawn a "kinetic military action."
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe added to Western Europe's wet-noodle image when he announced that the destruction of Gadhafi's machine will take "days or weeks, certainly not months." These remarks were delivered during the anti-Gadhafi alliance's disquieting weeklong tussle over whether NATO would exercise command control over the coalition.
It's the post-Pan Am 103 scenario all over again. The international community just wants to end the conflict. He wants to win.
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