Since mid-February, Libyan citizens have been revolting against their government. The Libyan President has been taking military action to quell the rebellion including using mercenaries and air power on his own people. President Obama has asked for a contingency plan for a no-fly zone over Libya, but has been hesitant to put it in place.
Obama has asked for Libya’s President Muammar Gaddafi to step down and stop attacking the people of Libya, but with this, as in most difficult decisions, he provides little-to-no leadership. Now, perhaps, we know why.
According to a Bloomberg.com article, China and Russia signaled their opposition to a no-fly zone over Libya.
China joined Russia today in signaling potential opposition to imposing a no-fly zone over Libya if fighting continues between protesters and forces loyal to leader Muammar Qaddafi.
Li Baodong, China’s ambassador to the United Nations, didn’t explicitly rule out support for a move by the Security Council to police air space over Libya.
While pressure from Russia and China are certainly of significant influence, there are many other factors the President must consider. His own military chiefs are telling him that their resources are already stretched due to Obama’s surge into Afghanistan and the failure to draw-down forces in Iraq.
The action in North Africa will not be bloodless. Libya has anti-air assets that will require action immediately. Creating a no-fly zone will first require that all of it’s air defense capabilities are rendered useless whichwill require significant military action – in yet another Mid-East nation. As Defense Secretary Gates testified to Congress, ”Let’s just call a spade a spade, A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya.”
Obama is in a tough spot, but that comes with the job. If he supports a no-fly zone and the military action that comes with it, he looks like he is positioning the U.S. in a conflict solely for Libya’s oil production. If he does not support the protection of the Libyan people, he is choosing a dictator over the revolutionaries.
Afghanistan is going to be a long slog that the American population may not have the will to continue and a revolt in northern Africa would most-likely not yield an outcome much better than the Gaddafi regime. Without international assistance, Gaddafi may well remain in power and take out his anger on the revolutionaries once the rebellion is put down.
There are no easy choices here, it’s 3am Mr. President, the phone is ringing – what do you do?