The opening salvo of the international operation, which military officials have described as a "multi-phase" operation to protect Libyan civilians, drew cheers from rebels across eastern Libya and a defiant warning from Gadhafi, who said he is prepared for a "long war."
"There is a big misunderstanding," Gadhafi's son, Saif, said on "This Week." "The whole country is united against the armed militia and the terrorists. Simply, the Americans and the other Western countries, you are supporting the terrorists and the armed militia. That's it."
The U.N. Security Council authorized an international coalition of 22 countries, including several Arab states, to use "all necessary measures" to protect Libyan civilians from attacks by Gadhafi and prevent a humanitarian crisis inside the country.
President Obama has stressed that military action in Libya will be "limited" to protecting the Libyan people, and administration officials say U.S. forces will only play an active, leading role in operations for "days, not weeks."
"We've seen the people of Libya take a courageous stand against a regime determined to brutalize its own citizens," Obama said in a speech in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. "From the beginning, we have made clear that the change they seek must be driven by their own people."
But the international effort has also appeared aimed at directly hastening Gadhafi's fall from power, creating a window for Libyan opposition forces to go back on the offensive.
"We want the Libyan people to be able to express their will, I've said … and we consider that it means that Gadhafi has to go," French ambassador to the U.N. Gerard Araud said on "This Week."
It's unclear what would happen if they don't immediately succeed and Gadhafi clings to power.
"Before any further military commitments are made, the administration must do a better job of communicating to the American people and to Congress about our mission in Libya and how it will be achieved," House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement today.
Arab League support for international military action against Gadhafi, which had been a key factor in U.S. involvement in the effort, waned Sunday when the group's leader criticized the coalition airstrikes as breaking with the objective of the mission.
"What happened differs from the no-fly zone objectives," Amr Moussa told reporters after cruise missiles and B2 bombers pummeled Libya overnight. "What we want is civilians' protection not shelling more civilians."
U.S. military officials said the campaign, which included four American stealth bombers and several U.S. Harrier jets and Navy "growlers," carefully targeted Libyan air bases and aircraft, mobile air defense units and some ground forces loyal to Gadhafi.
The operation followed the launch Saturday of 122 cruise missiles from U.S. and British ships 500 miles off the Libyan coast at more than 20 targets around Tripoli, Misratah and Surt.
Libyan television reported that 48 people were killed, including civilians, and more than 150 wounded in the missile strikes, but there was no independent confirmation of the numbers.