The Obama administration has apparently decided to support a “No-Fly Zone” in Libya – but then went even further. The current draft language being considered at the UN:

contains controversial language authorising all necessary measures to protect civilians, which some interpret as permitting strikes against government ground forces if civilians are under attack.

Now, Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN has weighed in, stressing the urgency of the situation and saying:

“The US view is that we need to be prepared to contemplate steps that include, but perhaps go beyond a no-fly zone, at this point, as the situation on the ground has evolved and as a no-fly zone has inherent limitations in terms of protection of civilians at immediate risk.”

Al Jazeera reports:

Rice said the Obama administration is “fully focused on the urgency and the gravity of the situation on the ground, and it’s my hope that we may be in a position to vote a serious resolution as early as tomorrow. We’re working very hard toward that end.

And adds:

Al Jazeera’s Scott Heidler said that Rice’s call for “a resolution that should go beyond a no-fly zone, is something that we haven’t heard before.

“We are hearing from diplomatic sources that change came overnight on Tuesday when an initial draft resolution presented and discussed yesterday afternoon.

“She came into the discussions today [Wednesday] with a different point of view. And that was yes to no-fly zone and even a step further beyond a no-fly zone.”

The Washington Post describes the new US position as:

The Obama administration sought greater United Nations authority Wednesday to confront Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s forces by land, air and sea, while insisting that Arab governments play a central role in any possible military action.

After a day of negotiations inside the U.N. Security Council, it remained unclear whether the United States or allied governments are making concrete plans to intervene militarily against Gaddafi’s forces, now making significant gains on the ground.
But U.S. diplomats sent the clearest signal yet that the Obama administration is willing to contemplate military operations even beyond a no-fly zone to resolve the crisis in the oil-rich nation.

Mark Mardell, the BBC’s North American editor does mention that:

I’ve read one article, which I can’t seem to link to, quoting an unnamed European diplomat, suggesting it is a deliberate plot to provoke a veto.

But then concludes “That’s too cynical for me.”

So, does anyone out there have a clue what’s going on here?

Video: Audio of Susan Rice presser on new US position.