After Gaddafi

Muammar Gaddafi Image copyright Reuters

With the NHS sorted (or not) the prime minister now has two more big problems to crunch before packing his trunks and heading for the beach. They are sentencing - more on this later - and Libya.

No subject is, I'm told, taking more of David Cameron's time than Libya. No subject is causing him greater concern. After four months of bombing, Gaddafi remains in place and now, after weeks of willing it, after weeks of meticulous NATO efforts to avoid it the colonel has the propaganda boost of civilian casualties to rally his people and to unnerve the world.

The prime minister is pushing daily for ways to increase the pressure on the Libyan regime. I hear, however, that the military keep reminding him to focus more on what happens if/when Gaddafi does fall.

After all, that was the lesson of Iraq - winning the war was easy, winning the peace proved nigh on impossible and hugely costly both in terms of cash and men.

The generals are, I hear, echoing Colin Powell's famous warning to George Bush that "china shop rules" apply after you take military action - "you break it, you own it".

So today the focus may be on how to remove Gaddafi without further loss of civilian life. Perhaps it's time we all started to ask - what then?