03.18.11

Libya No-Fly Zone: Opinion on the Intervention

The Daily Beast offers a Cheat Sheet of opinion on the no-fly zone and the U.N.-backed intervention.

Will the no-fly zone work? The Daily Beast offers a cheat sheet of opinion on the U.N.-backed intervention.

• Peter Worthington at the Frum Forum wonders whether the U.N. knows what it's doing. “Pity the U.N. vote came three weeks late,” he writes. Though he thinks the U.S. and U.N. may have dithered for too long, instituting a no-fly zone when after it was too late to do much good, he thinks it's a good think the U.S. Didn't take the lead. Speculating on whatever regime follows Gaddafi, he doubts it will be democratic.

Julian Borger at the Guardian, says “the time pressure is intense” if the U.N. intervention is to have an effect, but it also has to look like a cooperative effort between Europe, the United States, and the Arab League, and coordinating everyone will slow things down. “There is a trade-off between speed and making it look right,” Borger writes. On the other hand, having Benghazi fall before the air operation gets off the ground would be “the worst of all worlds.”

• Kevin Drum at Mother Jones wonders whether it was the U.S.' reluctance that ensured international support. Acknowledging that the strategy wouldn't be intentional, he says, “Still, it strikes me that if the United States had aggressively endorsed action against Libya from the start, this would have created a tremendous amount of suspicion around the world about our intentions, and that might have been enough to derail global support.”

Leslie H. Gelb, on The Daily Beast, argues that if the Arab league really wanted to intervene, they could have done it themselves. Instead they made a bet that a resolution would never make it out of the U.N. They lost, and now both Europe and the Libya's Arab neighbors are looking to a rightfully reluctant United States for military leadership. “The Arabs and the Europeans live there, and if they truly see hell coming, they should act, and they can act. If they do, President Obama will give them proper humanitarian aid and other backup.”

Roger Cohen, in The New York Times decries no-fly zones as a useless half-measure, intended more to “assuage Western consciences” than help those on the ground. Saying the U.S. Must either be ruthless or stay out, he weighs the pros and cons of both and concludes that the U.S. Probably shouldn't go in, unless it really wants to. “The case against going in prevails unless the West, backed and joined by the Arab League, decides it will, ruthlessly, stop, defeat, remove and, if necessary, kill Qaddafi in short order. I’m skeptical that determination can be forged. Only if it can be does intervention make sense.”

• Patrick Cockburn at the Telegraph agrees that no-fly zones aren't enough. The threat of airstrikes might intimidate, “A no-fly zone alone would not have saved the Shia or Kurdish uprisings of 1991.” To be effective, the U.N. Needs clear goals. “Is the aim to defend the rebels in the east of the country? Will it extend to any surviving rebel strongholds in the west, such as Misurata, where there has been street fighting? Is the aim to get rid of Colonel Gaddafi?”

• Alex Massie in the Spectator worries that the U.N. Will get sucked into the conflict. Pointing out that the U.N. is still in Bosnia and Kosovo, he writes that “Like it or not we are now in it for the long-haul.” By intervening in a civil war, he worries, the U.N. has embarked upon a policy of regime change in Libya. “One way or another I think we're going to be there for a long time. That being so let's at least, again, endeavour to do this one properly.”