One Month After Initial Rebellion, UN Imposes No-Fly Zone

One month after the February 17th revolt of young Libyans favoring Democracy, the international community has decided that it wants to be militarily involved.

The UN Security Council has voted to authorize and back a No-Fly Zone over Libya, something I have long argued against. Russia and China abstained from the vote. I still maintain that this is a mistake.

However, sometimes people do walk out of a casino with more money than when they entered. That is the best thing we can do here, hope that this poor gamble pays off. The first bombs may be dropping tonight.

This is a freeze frame from live video I am watching right now, at 4 pm Pacific Standard time. This is Benghazi, heart of the Rebellion. Celebratory fire is audible, as is jubilant chanting and singing. It isn’t visible in this particular grainy screen capture, but I believe I can see Iraqi, French (or Italian? Hard to tell.), Qatari and Palestinian flags flying in addition to pre-Gaddafi Libyan flags.
Libyans in Benghazi waving pre-Gaddafi flag of Libya

(Image Credit: Al Jazeera live)

I am reminded of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Communist Poland in 1979. This marked an important moment for the Polish people’s eventual transition to Democracy in 1989.

Poles cheering the Pope.

(Image Credit: Wikipedia)

One can assume offensive operations by Gaddafi have ceased, moral of government troops has just dropped substantially, and we can clearly see that Rebel morale just skyrocketed. It should be an interesting night. The protesters pictured above had better hope that combat air patrols are already in effect, or they are a very vulnerable target to Gaddafi’s air power at present.

The sweeping measure authorizes

…not only a no-fly zone but effectively any measures short of a ground invasion to halt attacks that might result in civilian fatalities.

Furthermore, in a move I strongly support, the temporary military regime in Egypt has

begun shipping arms over the border to Libyan rebels with Washington’s knowledge, U.S. and Libyan rebel officials said.

Other reports just coming out indicate that food shipments from Qatar had been flowing through Egypt for some time to Rebel forces, and that the Rebels themselves have restored captured Government aircraft to working order and launched air raids against Gaddafi’s forces for the first time, yesterday.

The Removal of Libyan Air Defenses

If airstrikes aimed at removing the Libyan ability to shoot down allied aircraft from the ground begins, a problem for civilians in Government held cities will be automated defense systems of international aircraft. Gaddafi will have placed his anti aircraft assets in populated areas, and when defensive weapons fired by international aircraft automatically home in on Gaddafi’s anti aircraft assets and destroy them, they will also be destroying the civilian building they were sitting on.

This will result in hundreds of civilian deaths.

How This Should Be Implemented

I’d still prefer no no-fly zone, but if we are determined to implement it… All cities except for one that are currently in Rebel hands are coastal cities. Allied aircraft 10 miles away from the threshold of airspace over Libyan soil can still kill Libyan aircraft approaching Rebel-held population centers. That is the best way to implement this with minimal civilian casualties. I don’t believe Libyan government forces have any surface to air missiles or anti-aircraft guns that can touch allied aircraft at that distance – about 9 miles being the maximum range of the most worrisome Libyan SAM. It isn’t known if many of Gaddafi’s much longer ranged SA-5/S-200 systems are operational but, if they prove to be operational and actually a threat to allied air superiority fighters (SA-5s are designed to defend against large poorly-maneuverable bombers such as the B-52, not fighters such as the US Navy’s F/A-18), things may be forced to be ugly.

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One Month After Initial Rebellion, UN Imposes No-Fly Zone