There are things we should do and things we should not do.
The president of the United States should not make vain boasts and empty statements. As the president has said Qaddafi must go, we (the United States, not just the president) will look weak and foolish if he stays on and wins his war. Qaddafi can’t be permitted to defeat the United States.
Accordingly, I think we must ensure that he loses power and leaves the country. In the end, this may require a no-fly zone, and I do not think we should shrink from it. But there are many ways we can try to ensure Qaddafi’s defeat without having our guys fly over Tripoli 24 hours a day. We can ruin their runways, use missiles from offshore, ensure they get no further arms shipments by sea, stop any payments for oil shipments, interfere with command-and-control frequencies, help arms get to the opposition, give intelligence to the opposition. As it seems clear Gates and Mullen want to do nothing, the president ought to look for some independent advice (much as Bush did on Iraq) as to what is doable. And then he should do it.
— Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, was the deputy national security adviser on the Middle East in the George W. Bush administration.