Cat and Mouse with Gaddafi

With a show of force, the Sixth Fleet pressures Libya's leader

The public explanation was disarmingly simple: the Navy, U.S. officials said, was engaged in "a show of resolve" that it would not be deterred from operating in international waters. But the show was certainly impressive. The aircraft carriers Coral Sea and Saratoga, carrying about 100 supersonic aircraft, cruised toward the Gulf of Sidra off the coast of Libya. Sailing protectively with them were at least 23 auxiliary vessels from the U.S. Sixth Fleet. The jet fighters blasted off the carriers on patrols that seemed to edge ever closer to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's Soviet-armed nation.

In fact, the U.S. maneuvers were far...

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