Are we at war with Libya now, and if so, why?

Updated

Guest host Chris Hayes asked those questions last night, after President Obama gave American support to enforcing the new UN no-fly zone over Libya. It’s not clear what Mr. Obama means to do if Libyan Colonel Moammar Gadhafi continues firing on his own people. A staffer to the president says there’ll be no troops on the ground and no American planes involved. Yet Mr. Obama said in his remarks yesterday that if Colonel Gadhafi doesn’t comply with the UN resolution, it “will be enforced through military action.”

One answer to the first question comes from Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, who told us:

When I heard the president’s speech, I thought – well, gee, we might be. And here’s why: he said very clearly that as far as he’s concerned and the United States is concerned, Gadhafi has lost the legitimacy to lead. He has forfeited the right to be president of Libya, and he set these demands: Gadhafi not only has to stop, he has to withdraw, these are not negotiable and there will be consequences. So, that to me says we are going to use force to make Gadhafi do what we want him to do.

As for the second question, why Libya when Bahrain, Yemen and Syria have all been cracking down violently on their own people, NBC foreign correspondent Richard Engel told us this:

What we’ve seen coming from Libya is not just worse in terms of scale, it is also much worse in terms of severity. Yes, there has been a violent crackdown in Bahrain recently, but for four decades, there has been systemic repression by Gadhafi’s regime. There has been use of international terrorism. There has been the systemic use of torture.

I have spoken to people who came out of the prison in Libya and just described absolutely shocking and horrifying kinds of treatment and conditions.

Yes, Bahrain has chosen to use force to stop this demonstration, but Bahrain is not Libya, and I don’t think you can make that equivalency.

Libya

Are we at war with Libya now, and if so, why?

Updated