The Libyan people deserve help in their fight against Gaddafi's butchers, but direct U.S. or European military intervention would have several drawbacks. Western troops, not speaking Arabic, would make deadly mistakes. Even if successful, this intervention would diminish the sense of local and Arab ownership of the revolt.
I suggest that the UN Security Council invite Egypt to intervene, if Libyans approve. A small part of Egypt's army would dwarf Gaddafi's forces. Without even having to fight, it could join and support the Libyan rebel forces that have already liberated eastern and southern Libya. This would change the situation completely.
Gaddafi and his officers surely hope to reestablish their power over all of Libya by defeating the rebels one region at a time. If Gaddafi's troops crush opposition in the area of Tripoli, they might then able to retake the east and south piece by piece from the small rebel forces. When they try, it will be very bloody. Against an Egyptian division or two, however, they would not dare try.
Once Gaddafi's forces realize they have no route to victory, I think most of them will desert, and Gaddafi will fall easily.
A neighbor's help would not have the drawbacks for Libya that Western intervention would have. I hope the Libyan rebels will be offered this option. If the Security Council is paralyzed, the rebels could declare themselves a government and ask Egypt for recognition and assistance.
As of March 7, it seems that Gaddafi has started attacking rebel towns.
Copyright 2011 Richard Stallman Released under the Creative Commons Noderivs license.