It remains to be seen what sort of government will emerge from the Libyan revolution, but as the rebels consolidate their hold on the country and begin moving their government to Tripoli, I think it is time to reassess my position. So far the rebels have committed no more in the way of atrocities and revenge killings than happen inevitably in every war, so I would say that their conduct has been good, and the odds for some kind of reasonable settlement seem better than 50-50.
I opposed NATO intervention in the war because I thought the main effect would be to drag the fighting out for years, with the combatants on both sides becoming increasingly bloody-minded and the rebels forming factions that would be as likely to fight each other as Gaddafi, leading in the end to far more death and destruction than Gaddafi would have visited on his opponents had we let him win, all in pursuit of a goal (Libyan democracy) that is by no means guaranteed even now and looked much less likely in March.
Things have gone differently than I supposed.
The rebels' surprising (to me, anyway) success has had two parts, political and military. Much of the anti-war commentary from "realists" argued that because Libyans identify mainly as members of tribes, they could never work together well or form a united government without a dictator to lead them. This seems to have been greatly exaggerated, and even if it was true before the war, nothing changes people's identities like working together in a successful rebellion. So far the rebel government has achieved legitimacy in the eyes of many Libyans and in the eyes of the international diplomatic community, including hard-eyed cynics from authoritarian Arab governments. They have managed to keep normal life going on pretty well in the eastern areas they have controlled. They already have much to be proud of, even if the hardest work is ahead of them.
I find the military success of the rebels even more surprising. Amateur soldiers can sometimes fight well on the defensive, but they find it very hard to mount attacks. Thus we have had many wars in modern times, like the one in Bosnia, in which the combatants sit on opposite hills and launch rockets at each other for years, without anything much changing. Somehow the Libyan rebels, after six months of mostly low-level combat, managed to raise their game to a very different level. Instead of grinding slowly toward Tripoli, fighting in twenty places at once, they put together a bold plan that could have come from the Pentagon to bypass most of Gaddafi's forces and attack his "center of gravity" in Tripoli. Thanks to their bravery and the steadily declining morale of Gaddifi's men, it worked, and a war that looked set to last another year at least is now for all practical purposes nearly over. The way this operation was coordinated, with rebels in the capital timing their uprising to meet offensives coming from both the east and the southwest, bodes well for the ability of Libyans to work together after the war is over.
Things could still go badly in Libya, but for now they look very good. I was wrong, and the men who led NATO intervention -- especially Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron -- were right. They saw an opportunity to rid the world of a noxious dictator at a reasonable cost and to put the West on the side of freedom in the Arab world, and they took it. Their gamble has paid off. I am still bothered by the dishonesty of the war -- the way Britain and France have pretended to be "protecting civilians" as they bomb Gaddafi's army into oblivion, the way Obama refused to seek Congressional approval for the war because bombing people itsn't really "combat" -- but that just seems to be the way wars are fought these days.
Instead of disaster, or bloody stalemate, NATO intervention in Libya has led to freedom for another of the world's nations, to a great triumph for the Libyan people, and to a huge policy victory for the West. I was wrong to oppose it, and I am very happy about that.