Doubt not that those pushing for a U.N./U.S. no-fly zone can enforce that goal themselves. Libya has less than 200 usable jet fighters of old vintage, flown by pilots who get less than 90 hours practice time yearly. Egypt has first-class F-16s that could pulverize any Libyan opposition. Saudi air power is even more formidable. That is to say nothing of the hundreds of top-grade fighters that London and Paris could deploy to bases in Egypt, Tunisia, or Italy. There would be no contest. Those arguing for a no-fly zone don't need a U.S. aircraft carrier. If the stakes are anywhere near as great as activists claim, they don't need a U.N. Security Council resolution either. Many is the nation that resorted to force without such international blessing. The hypocrisy here is monumental, even by traditional foreign-policy standards of baloney.
Gelb thinks the Arab League governments "have no real desire or intent to secure the skies over Libya and are using the U.N. as an excuse." Shadi Hamid differs somewhat:
Arab nations are weak, unimaginative, and crippled by rivalry. The region continues to be led by autocrats who speak for themselves, rather than their populations. They are largely dependent on U.S. and Western support (and arms), while their foreign policies are narrowly defined around regime survival.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.