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.