If current news reports are accurate, Muammar Gaddafi has been using war planes and helicopters to murder peaceful protesters in Libya. Surely our intelligence apparatus knows whether or not this is true, and if it is we must declare a “no fly zone” over all of Libya immediately.
This should not require agreement with any other nation. We can seek the agreement of the UN Security Council (quickly, in the form of a yes or no question) just to be able to say we asked (because China and Russia will say no), and NATO, but if not we and a coalition of the willing should bomb 2 or 3 of Gaddafi’s airfields today. We should also declare all airspace over Libya a no fly zone, and when tested shoot down any helicopter or fighter jet that takes to the air.
The first reason for this is a moral issue. How can the United States stand by while Gaddafi launches airstrikes against unarmed, peacefully protesting civilians? We cannot! There will be many who say “we cannot be the world’s policeman”, but the fact is that sometimes we can, should, and must be. Because without us doing the right things, who will? We don’t need another Bill-Clinton-apologizes-after-800,000-deaths-in-Rwanda incidents. No apologies for not doing the obvious right thing– we need action.
The second reason we should impose a no fly zone, a distant second reason but still an important consideration, is the message this will send to those seeking freedom elsewhere, and to those who would oppress them. As an illustration, it is said that many of the protesters in Egypt felt that America let them down, that we didn’t support their cause, that we are only for supporting our interest in stability and propping up oil friends. Surely these questions are being asked elsewhere, “where do the Americans stand in our fight for freedom?” Well, an American imposed no fly zone would send a crystal clear message to the Libyan people, the Libyan government, Egyptians, Bahranians, Tunisians, and young Saudi’s: The United States stands with those fighting for freedom and we are willing to back that up with action. The message to despotic leaders would be equally strong: America is willing to take a stand against you, and for your people.
We cannot afford the constant indecision we are experiencing in the White House and State Department. We must act now on behalf of the tens of thousands of Libyan men, women, and children who are or may be murdered from the air.