Monday, March 14, 2011

No-fly zone (NFZ) debate for Libya

Robert Dreyfuss takes a look at the current situation on possible US/NATO military actions toward Libya in Pressure Builds for a No-Fly Zone in Libya The Nation Online 03/14/2011

Policy ... remains confused. The French are pushing hard for intervention and an NFZ [no-fly zone], and France has tacitly recognized the Libyan opposition. But earlier reports that Paris had officially backed the rebels appear to be wrong, and the Arab League, too, refused to support the Transitional National Council in Benghazi. Today, in Paris, Hillary Clinton will meet with the Libyan council. Her husband, Bill Clinton, ever the liberal interventionist, has publicly called for an NFZ. The latest liberal to join the pro-NFZ forces is Princeton's Anne-Marie Slaughter, in an op-ed in today's New York Times, adding her name to the long list of hawks, including Newt Gingrich, many neoconservatives, and John McCain.

Logistically speaking, if an NFZ is set up, nearly all of the patrols and military action to enforce it will be carried out by the United States, whether it's done unilaterally, under UN auspices, or with NATO or Arab League support. [my emphasis]
Yes, that mavericky Maverick John McCain just can wait to add another war to the current US military burden.

Robert Pape offers his thoughts on Avoiding a new ‘problem from hell’ in the Turkish Today's Zaman 03/14/2011:

With Gaddafi digging in, many have called for international intervention in Libya. Thus far, the focus has been on regime change, with proposals ranging from military assistance to the rebels to no-fly zones over the country, and even to attacks against the regime’s military forces. These proposals would almost surely be viewed as an effort at Western domination of an oil-rich Muslim country -- solidifying support for Gaddafi in Libya and inspiring anti-Western terrorism by al-Qaeda and others outside it.

Indeed, the focus on regime change takes our eyes off the crucial problem that the world community can and should seek to avoid -- an exploding humanitarian crisis in Libya on the scale witnessed in Somalia, the Balkans and the Kurdish areas of Iraq in the 1990s.

... America does not have a vital stake in the outcome of this contest and intervention now, even for humanitarian goals, has the potential for an open-ended, costly commitment. Instead, we should pursue a more cautious approach in the west [of Libya]. [my emphasis]
Pape frames the humanitarian situation this way:

Libya is already a failed state. Large parts of the government and military have disintegrated. Gaddafi is now simply the largest warlord in a country where unity will be difficult to regain, even under the best of circumstances. As a result, the nature of the humanitarian challenge is different in the eastern and western parts of Libya. [my emphasis]
Nicolas Pelham of the International Crisis Group has a background article on The Battle for Libya at the New York Review of Books site 03/12/2011.

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