While Arab public opinion should not be the sole consideration in shaping American decisions on this difficult question, Americans also should not fool themselves into thinking that an American military intervention will command long-term popular Arab support. Every Arab opinion leader and Libyan representative I spoke with at the conference told me that "American military intervention is absolutely unacceptable."
Their support for a No Fly Zone rapidly evaporates when discussion turns to American bombing campaigns. This tracks with what I see in the Arab media and the public conversation. As urgently as they want the international community to come to the aid of the Libyan people, The U.S. would be better served focusing on rapid moves toward non-military means of supporting the Libyan opposition.
Exum likewise remains skeptical.
(Photo: Libyan rebels direct a traffic of fleeing people at the southern entrance of the coastal city of Benghazi on March 15, 2011, as Libyan government forces assaulting the key city of Ajdabiya outflanked insurgents and cut the road north to the rebel capital of Benghazi, rebel sources said amid scenes of chaos in the town. By Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)