A response to Libya

March 6, 2011 • Editorial

Britain led the calls for U.N. sanctions while we have frozen the Libyan leadership’s assets in this country. Nevertheless, such moves will take time to work, and there are growing calls for a military response.

The Prime Minister has said that military options are being considered, especially for imposing a [auth] no-fly zone. But that is a more problematic option than it might look. The idea of preventing Moammar Gadhafi from using his air force against rebels is attractive. Despite denials from the regime and from the two Libyan pilots who defied orders and defected to Malta, show that Gadhafi is regularly bombing protesters.

Yet China and Russia would be unlikely to support a no-fly zone: China was halfhearted even in supporting sanctions. Moreover, any western military intervention, especially on the ground, could delegitimize the protesters and encourage waverers to rally to Gadhafi.

Libya has a raw history of resistance to (Italian) colonialism, while U.S. intervention anywhere in the Muslim world now risks being counterproductive. Britain and the West should continue to consider all options for ending Gadhafi’s rule. But, in the end, it would be better if the Libyans themselves deposed their tyrant.

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