Total deaths = death rate * duration of conflict.
By intervening, we prevented the death rate from spiking, but stretched the duration. Consider one more equation:
Total destruction of cities = destruction rate * duration of conflict.
Since the goal on both sides was liquidation of the enemy, there was an upper limit on the destruction rate. In fact, since losing their tanks, Gaddafi's troops have resorted to shelling indiscriminately and the destruction rate now is probably higher than it would have been had we done nothing. The end result of our white-gloved intervention is likely to be at least as many deaths and a lot more destruction.
Who cares? Does it even matter? Is it all OK so long as we feel good about ourselves? Everyone is measuring success by whether or not Gaddafi will be killed or forced out. Meanwhile, the original purpose of our intervention, protecting civilians, is in shambles.
Napoleon once said, “If you start to take Vienna - take Vienna.” Don't do things in half measures. Way back when this all started, I was in favor of removing Gaddafi. What I had in mind was more of a Mafia rubout than this prissy failure. I'd have sent in sufficient forces, destroyed the Gaddafi compoud, killed or captured Gaddafi and then left leaving a note along the lines of this: "This is what happens to people what cross the US."
In the end, it's a good bet that Gaddafi will lose. The Obama Administration will claim success and his 3,000 press secretaries in the media will trumpet his brilliant strategy. In the meantime, we've failed utterly at accomplishing what we set out to do.