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For example, NATO’s 1999 air campaign against the regime of Slobodan Milosevic targeted Serbia’s power structure - its military, internal security headquarters, armament factories and even Milosevic’s country home. Bombs took out electric power and struck multiple targets in downtown Belgrade.

There has been no such strategic bombing of Libya, leaving Col. Gadhafi relatively free to command his forces.

Mr. Pike said NATO, which has few, if any, troops on the ground, needs to improve battlefield surveillance to better identify Col. Gadhafi’s men from rebels and civilians.

“There’s got to be some way to put eyes on the battlefield and figure out who the good guys and the bad guys are,” he said. “There are evidently things we can do that NATO cannot.”

The U.N.’s no-fly zone resolution language to “take all necessary measures” to protect civilians, “if properly interpreted, would let them do anything they wanted to do,” Mr. Pike said.

He rejected assessments that the war is a stalemate, saying that as long as the rebels keep fighting, backed by NATO air power, Col. Gadhafi at some point has to fall.

“I dispute the proposition it is a stalemate,” he said. “We always encounter that storyline at about this point in a war. We did it in Kosovo. We did it in Afghanistan. We did it in Iraq.

“We’re not achieving quick, decisive, brilliant victory [but] when Gadhafi’s operation falls apart, it’s going to fall apart fairly quickly,” Mr. Pike said. “The logic of the situation is the rebels will continue to be armed, and they will continue to fight, and Gadhafi does not have the benefit of air power, which the rebels do.

“I think, over time, his forces are going to get worn down, and they will decide that it’s not worth the fight and collapse.”