As recently as last Friday, Kathleen McFarland, a security analyst at Fox News, was lecturing President Obama on America's "missteps" in .
"Libya and Syria are the textbook examples of why it's important to pick your battles, and then make sure you win the one you pick," . "President Obama picked the wrong fight by going to war against Libya, and so far is not succeeding."
Just three days later, the Gaddafi regime is almost gone and it's looking as if Obama picked the right battle after all. The real test, though, is further down the line. One year from now, will Libyans be living under a government that is significantly better than the one that tyrannised them for almost 42 years? Will they be able to speak their minds freely and engage in the country's politics without fearing the consequences?
The next few months in Libya are not going to be easy – only a fool would imagine that – but nor are the grimmest predictions likely to be fulfilled. Libya is unlikely to turn into another Iraq, let alone .
The first encouraging sign is that the National Transitional Council – a diverse alliance forged out of necessity – has begun making the right noises. Its , published last week, acknowledges the need for give and take. It recognises the rights of the and, while accepting a role for Islamic law, also sets some limits to it.
As far as retribution is concerned, initial indications are that it intends to go by the book. Gaddafi's most prominent son, Saif al-Islam, has so that he can be put on trial.
Like Iraq (and many other Arab countries, for that matter), Libya has its social faultlines. Tribal, ethnic and religious rivalries that were swept under the carpet by the Gaddafi regime will now emerge into the open. Allowing them to do so is the only way to address them in the long term, though in the short term they could easily become an obstacle to democratic processes.
On the plus side, however, many Libyans insist that the social divisions are nowhere near as deep as in Iraq (we shall soon know if they are right) but, perhaps more importantly, in Libya they are less likely to become a proxy battleground for foreign powers.
There is also no reason to suppose that Libya will turn into a failed state. Under Gaddafi, it ranked 111 out of 171 in the – closer to Finland and Norway (the least failed states) than to Somalia or Afghanistan.
Regardless of the eccentricities of its leader, and despite the corruption and the secret police, Gaddafi's Libya also had most of the apparatus for government that would be found in a "normal" country. The need here is to heed the lessons of Iraq and not dismantle it at a stroke and then start again from scratch but to take control of it and reform where necessary.
Libya also has a couple of advantages over its revolutionary forerunners, Tunisia and Egypt, which could prove important in the immediate aftermath.
The first is that it has a substantial economic cushion: large oil revenues, a small population (6.5m) and $70bn in its sovereign wealth fund. Unlike Tunisia and Egypt, its tourism potential – Mediterranean beaches and spectacular historical sites – is virtually untapped, so there is room for some relatively easy growth, especially if exiled Libyans start returning in large numbers.
The contrast here with Tunisia and Egypt is striking. With more limited financial resources, neither of those countries has been able to seriously tackle the economic problems that were a major factor in the uprisings that led to the overthrow of their presidents.
Libya's other advantage, noted by Tom Gara in , is the defeat of Gaddafi's security forces.
"The backing of Nato air strikes means the physical infrastructure of the regime, from intelligence offices to security headquarters and military equipment, has been severely downgraded to the point of collapse," he wrote. "The country will be the only [one] in the Arab world where an opposition movement greets the new day with an old regime that is physically broken."
Exactly what this means for Libya is still unclear, but we have only to look at Tunisia and Egypt to see its potential importance. In Egypt, where the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces took charge after Mubarak's fall, and to some extent in Tunisia too, the survival of unreconstructed security forces is proving a barrier to political change.
The difference in Libya is that the destruction of Gaddafi's army does at least open up the possibility of politicians, rather than the military, gaining the upper hand.
At the moment, of course, there's little we can be certain about. But let's hope for the best, stop predicting the worst, and prepare for something in between.