Hard News by Russell Brown



There has been some demand for a discussion of the UN Security Council authorisation of a no-fly zone over Libya and the subsequent air attacks. I've love to oblige in depth, but a brief bout of the flu and a TV deadline today leaves me without the time. So …

I'm basically down with Juan Cole's Top Ten Ways that Libya 2011 is Not Iraq 2003, and simultaneously harbouring qualms about where this will go -- not least because we don't really have a very clear idea of who exactly the rebels are and what they really want. It does seem true that Gaddafi had essentially lost the country up until the point that he began his present campaign of slaughtering and torturing civilians.

The Guardian's roundup of Middle East opinion suggests relatively broad support for the intervention, and claims that in Egypt, "support for the western military intervention seems close to overwhelming."

And I'm mindful of this Saudi-American blog's reiteration of what a no-fly zone actually is:

A no-fly zone is, by definition, a military action, not a political statement. If a country upon which a no-fly resolution is imposed does not accede to the demand, then it must be enforced. To be enforced means that aircraft and pilots must go in and shoot down offending aircraft. Before they do that, they want to ensure that they themselves will not be shot down. That means attacks on anti-aircraft installations, the rendering of airfields unusable, the destruction of all likely threats (such as radar) to their own aircraft. That means bombs and missiles will be used. Bombs and missiles create big explosions; explosions are not precise in destroying only equipment. Anyone near the equipment being destroyed is likely to be injured, if not killed. Just what did Amr Moussa expect here?

And that President Obama, who has spent two weeks being harangued from all sides for allegedly dragging the chain on the imposition of such an order, is now facing criticism at home and abroad for backing it. But if it's very clear that this is not another Iraq -- what exactly is it?

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