The problem now is that the West is simply clueless on what post-Gaddafi Libya could turn out to be. The "rebels" include everyone from progressive, secular intellectuals to hardcore Islamists and neo-liberal-addicted businessmen. Libya is not Tunisia or Egypt - which can be monitored and even relatively tamed by Washington/Brussels.
Libya without Gaddafi could be a complex collection of clannish tribes with no experience of Western-style political culture slouching towards "anarchy". Thus the reasoning for a NATO intervention; so "we", the enlightened, can control those barbarians' worst impulses, facilitate an "orderly transition" (US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, anyone?) and profit from their energy wealth. Besides, the Mediterranean is a NATO lake already.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up