BRITAINCongress has it. Gaddafi wants it. And President Obama is trying to figure out how best to avoid it. What is it?  The answer: stalemate (noun \ˈstāl-ˌmāt\) … that unsatisfying state of affairs in which there can be no action or progress.

Admiral Mike Mullen, the four-star U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman, conceded the possibility of a stalemate in Libya way back on March 20, a day after U.S. forces and their allies started raining high explosives on Muammar Gaddafi’s military infrastructure and ground forces.

The acknowledgment raised worries that a stalemate would allow Gaddafi’s government to live to fight another day — in perpetuity – while delivering an embarrassing defeat to the U.S. and its allies.

The stalemate hobgoblin has haunted the U.S. debate on Libya ever since. The possibility is now increasingly palpable on the ground in Libya, where rag-tag rebel forces are demonstrating their inability to cope with pro-Gaddafi fighters, even as RTR2KFCB_Comp-150x150aircraft can be heard screaming overhead in prelude to the heavy thump of ordnance in the distance.

Obama and his advisers are said to be in a fierce debate about whether to arm the Libyan rebels in hopes of ejecting Gaddafi and avoiding a stalemate.