I am ambivalent about the imposition of the no fly zone over Libya.
The big negative I see here is if the rebellion fails to overthrow Gaddafi anytime soon. At what point would we be able to lift the no fly zone. I’m guessing never. There is the additional problem of the world seeing us stick our nose into issues that are not our concern. Right now, few see it that way, but over time….
It strikes me that there were/are no good choices here. And given that, I think Obama has done pretty good.
Tunisia and Egypt managed to have essentially bloodless revolutions. Big props to the Egyptian military for refusing to fire on peaceful demonstrators. But Gaddafi’s remaining military is largely (all?) mercenary. They are ready to fire on whoever Gaddafi tells them to fire upon.
If no intervention had taken place, Gaddafi guns down untold numbers of his people.
Notice the difference between Libya, where an active revolution is in progress and Iraq, where no revolution was in progress at the time we invaded.
If Gaddafi was allowed to gun down his own people and put the revolution down, how would that have effected Libya’s neighbors Tunisia and Egypt? If Gaddafi was allowed, how would that effect events in Yemen?
In Yemen, government snipers shot down more than 50 people. A few hours later, the no fly zone was put into place. Today, the situation in Yemen still hangs in the balance, but the government has shown restraint. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.
I am appreciative of Obama waiting until the international community endorsed the no fly zone. If things stretch out, I am sure many will be critical of what they once supported, but at least the record of support is there. I have already seen or heard something about Italy beginning to make noises of pulling its support (which means air bases).
It would have been nice if Obama had gotten some kind of approval from Congress in the days leading up to the action. But I guess there was the possibility that Congress would have refused to give it to him. Better to ask forgiveness than permission. Besides, at this point there is the long established history of Presidents ignoring that bit of constitutional requirement, so I find it difficult to get too worked up over this.
Finally, there is the problem of what happens after Gaddafi is overthrown. Will the Libyans move towards democracy? Civil war? A new dictatorship? No guarantees here.