Since being at war seems to be our natural state it is hardly surprising that our three main wars have drifted in and out of media focus. Our most recent war, Libya, seems to be going the best. While we are providing critical air power and support, the actual ground fighting is not dominated by American forces. Also, this war has been rather cheap as far as wars go-mainly because others are involved and we are not (at least not yet) dumping truckloads of cash in an attempt at “nation building.”
At this point, the rebel forces seem to be well on the path to victory. The obvious questions now are “what happens next?” and “what will the role of the United States be?” As far as what happens next, the most likely scenario is that Gadhafi will come to a bad end and the rebels will be faced with sorting out who will run the show. This might lead to another round of fighting or there might be a more peaceful solution.
The role of the United States hinges, obviously enough, on how things pan out with the rebels. So far we have followed a a fairly limited engagement strategy and have not gone the invasion route that has proved rather costly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though the situation might change, I see little advantage in having yet another invasion. Given our economy and our involvement in two other wars it would make sense to keep our involvement in Libya limited.
That said, there is the concern that the post-Gadhafi Libya might be such that the United States will need to step up its level of involvement. After all, Libya has oil and has some strategic importance. We certainly would not want, for example, the Chinese to gain too much influence in the region. Ideally, of course, the rebels will create a stable and pro-Western government. Failing that, perhaps we can get the French to take this one.