This would prevent Gadhafi from ordering the Libyan air force to attack protest zones.
Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, has asked the international body to impose a no-fly zone, and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has also backed the idea. But support for a no-fly zone is not universal.
At The Nation, Robert Dreyfuss offers two arguments against the no-fly zone:
It's dangerous: Like the no-fly zone in Iraq from 1991–2003, the enforcement of such a policy would be run by the United States and its junior partner, the British. It means war: a no-fly zone is worthless unless the United States is prepared to back it up with overwhelming military force.Writing at Foreign Policy, Peter Feaver agrees that if the U.S. imposed a no-fly zone, it could lead to unwarranted American involvement in Libya:
It's not needed: It isn't clear that Libyan pilots are willing to bomb their own citizens. And the revolution playing out in Libya isn't likely to go on for months, or even weeks. Either Moammar Qaddafi surrenders or falls, or (far less likely) he somehow recovers to take control.
The Obama administration needs to do more, but I would not go as far as some who advocate having U.S. forces impose a no-fly zone. I share their outrage at the way Qaddafi had his Air Force strafe defenseless citizens, but involving the U.S. military in this way would constitute a major escalation and it would be hard to walk back if the situation further unraveled. What if Qaddafi shifted to tanks? Would we then be obligated to have our planes destroy the tanks? And without U.N. authorization, the United States would be entirely on its own. Not even our European allies, who otherwise would join in condemning the Qaddafi regime, would approve of U.S. military action without U.N. authorization.Michael Rubin, an American Enterprise Institute scholar and Middle East expert, disagrees. In a USA Today op-ed, he points out that a no-fly zone would protect Libyan protesters and facilitate efforts to evacuate other nationals from the country:
Obama should take action: First, he should order U.S. fighter jets based in Sicily and on Mediterranean aircraft carriers to enforce a no-fly zone over northern Libya. Not only would this prevent Libyan planes from again strafing civilians, but it would also enable safer evacuation of non-Libyans.The American Spectator's John Tabin says a no-fly zone is necessary to halt Gadhafi's "crimes against humanity":
If Gadhafi's henchmen continue their slaughter, Obama might impose no-drive zones for military vehicles and leaflet Gadhafi's units, warning them that further violence might lead to war crimes trials. Obama should not emulate former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan who, as head of peacekeeping, stood aside during Rwanda's genocide.
[T]he President should order the enforcement of a no-fly zone as soon as possible (bringing along the U.N. Security Council and/or NATO is fine but not essential). Libya may be descending into the abyss no matter what, and I certainly wouldn't want American troops on the ground playing referee as armed factions turn on each other, but U.S. forces can at least limit Gaddafi's capacity for mass murder by keeping his bombers grounded.Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz has joined those advocating a no-fly zone:
The U.N. Security Council needs to do more today than just pass hortatory resolutions or impose sanctions that will have no immediate effect. ...
More public statements, or even the imposition of sanctions, are of absolutely no use at this point. Much more urgent action is needed. The United States should be seeking U.N. approval for ... imposition of a NATO-supported "no-fly" zone over Libya to halt further bombing by Qaddafi's forces.
More Libya coverage from Surge Desk:
Tripoli Evacuations: Nations Rush to Get Their Citizens Out of Libya [VIDEOS]
Oil Tops $100 a Barrel Over Libya Unrest
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