In order for the United Nations to act on a no-fly zone, all 5 permanent members of the UN Security council would have to agree. Those members are China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Both China and Russia are against military action. However, NATO is another matter, and in response to a request from the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, president Obama and NATO are discussing the possibility.

Gulf Cooperation Council Requests No-Fly Zone

Please consider Qaddafi Airstrikes Spur NATO Talks of a Libya No-Fly Zone

Libyan government warplanes repeatedly bombed rebel positions near the oil hub of Ras Lanuf, adding urgency to discussions among U.S. and allied governments about imposing a no-fly zone.

President Barack Obama said members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are consulting on a “wide range” of potential responses to the turmoil in Libya, including military options. Arab Gulf nations advocated a no-fly zone as oil rose to the highest level in 29 months in New York.

U.K Foreign Secretary William Hague told Parliament that discussions at the United Nations Security Council on a resolution authorizing a no-fly zone are focused on setting a “clear trigger” for UN action and the legal basis for military actions. NATO defense ministers plan to meet March 10 and 11 in Brussels to discuss potential military and humanitarian actions in response to the Libyan clashes.

“I can’t imagine the international community and the United Nations standing idly by if Qaddafi and his regime continue to attack their own people systematically,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters yesterday in Brussels. “NATO has no intention to intervene in Libya, but as a defense alliance and security organization, our job is to conduct prudent planning for any eventuality.”

Obama said yesterday he authorized $15 million for aid organizations in addition to the $2 million the U.S. has already provided to support emergency evacuations of foreign workers who fled to the borders of Egypt and Tunisia.

The six Persian Gulf states of the Gulf Cooperation Council called on the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians caught in the battles, the group’s Secretary-General, Abdul Rahman Al Attiyah, said in Abu Dhabi after a meeting yesterday.

NATO is already increasing its surveillance of Libyan airspace, said the U.S. ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder.

The U.S. alliance has been flying Airborne Warning and Control System radar planes for 10 hours a day over the Mediterranean Sea and will increase that to round-the-clock coverage, Daalder told reporters on a conference call yesterday. Information from that monitoring and from NATO planning will be assessed by defense ministers, he said.
Decision Time

“Towards the end of the week, we will be in a position to know what it would take to do a no-fly zone,” Daalder said. “We will have a pretty good idea what kinds of options are available.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney said yesterday that it is “premature” to discuss sending weapons and supplies to the rebels. While providing arms to the rebels ‘is one of the range of options that is being considered,’’ Carney said, “it would be premature to send a bunch of weapons to a post office box in eastern Libya. We need to not get ahead of ourselves in terms of the options we are pursuing.”

Rebels Requests No-Fly Zone

CBS News Reports Libya rebels beg for no-fly as bombings persist

CBS News was en route to the front line when a government warplane dropped two bombs on a road leading there. The shrapnel from those bombs was still warm when CBS News arrived at the blast site.

Near the craters was the wreckage of a pickup truck. A family with three children was in it when Qaddafi’s air force struck. Two of the children died.

The survivors were slashed by shrapnel. The circling warplanes made for a very jumpy day on the front line

Britain, France Seek No-Fly Resolution

Yahoo! News reports Britain, France ready Libya no-fly zone resolution

A British-French resolution demanding a no-fly zone over Libya could go before the UN Security Council as early as this week, diplomats said Monday.

While Moamer Kadhafi’s offensive against rebels is intensifying, any demand for military action would set off a new diplomatic battle at the Security Council.

Anticipating opposition, Britain’s foreign minister has insisted that there must be “a clear legal basis” for the zone and set other conditions.

“You should expect something on Libya this week,” one UN diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity, confirming that France and Britain are drawing up a resolution. “There is a feeling of urgency now.”

“There are elements of a text ready which can be distributed to the council. It could well be this week,” said a British diplomat.

Britain and France have made the most aggressive calls among Western powers for a no-fly zone to hamper Kadhafi’s offensive. The United States has said it is studying the possibility while warning of the major military operation it would entail.

The UN Security Council unanimously passed sanctions against the Kadhafi regime and ordered a crimes against humanity investigation on February 26. Any new move toward military action is likely to face tough resistance from China, Russia and other members of the 15 however.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week called the no-fly zones “superfluous” and said international powers should concentrate on the existing sanctions.

“We do not consider foreign and especially military intervention a means to resolve the crisis in Libya,” Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying Monday. “The Libyans must resolve their problems themselves.”

China’s foreign ministry also indicated last week that it was cool to military action.

India, also a member of the Security Council, has opposed no-fly zones, though diplomats said it could be swayed if the Libya fighting worsens.

How Do You Make a No-Fly Zone?

Slate Magazine addresses the question: How Do You Make a No-Fly Zone?

American politicians are debating whether to establish a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent Muammar Qaddafi from bombing rebels. The Pentagon and White House advisors warn that such an operation would be complicated and tantamount to war, while several senators say it could be accomplished with relative ease.

How do you set up a no-fly zone?

Generally speaking, the first step in creating a no-fly zone is to blow up nearby anti-aircraft guns, missile batteries, radar installations, or anything else that might be used to shoot down a no-fly air patrol. Not every military commander takes that step: NATO planes didn’t wipe out the air defenses in northern or southern Iraq, or the former Yugoslavia, prior to launching patrols. But Defense Secretary Gates has made it clear that he won’t send combat planes into Libya without first laying the proper groundwork. If his plan were put into action, the United States would destroy Qaddafi’s defenses, then send pairs of fighter jets, mostly F-15s and F-16s, to fly around the country in irregular patterns for six-hour shifts. If the pilots were threatened by ground-based fire, they would engage in evasive maneuvers—quick acceleration, climbing, diving, and sweeping—to thwart the gunners before noting their position and responding with missile strikes.

Some fighter pilots get pretty stoked about patrolling a no-fly zone, because it’s one of the few missions that might actually lead to air-to-air combat. (The last American flying ace—that’s a pilot who shoots down five or more enemy planes—earned his title during Vietnam.) But those looking for a dogfight in the no-fly zone have usually been disappointed. NATO pilots shot down just one Iraqi plane during the 1990s, and it had barely entered the zone when it was destroyed. After that incident, neither Saddam Hussein nor Slobodan Milosevic wanted to risk his expensive aircraft in a showdown with American pilots, so they kept their planes on the ground and hidden as best they could. Pilots report that no-fly zone patrols involve a few hours of boredom, and a few minutes of excitement evading any ground-based defenses that weren’t destroyed ahead of time.

Count me in the group that thinks this would be a piece of cake. The Libyan air force would be no match for US fighter pilots.

The first few Libyan planes that attempted to fly would be immediately blasted from the sky and that would end the flight attempts right then and there.


Several people thought what I wrote above implies definitive support for a no-fly zone. It doesn’t.

I can make a case either way. Here is the no-fly zone case.

  1. We were invited to the party, not only by the rebels but by the Gulf Cooperation Council.
  2. The mission is easy to define with easy goals.
  3. The mission curtails little risk.
  4. The mission has a low cost.
  5. The US and Europe both have a strategic interest should Qaddafi suddenly decide to start blasting the refineries in a final act of desperation.

Some will find that list compelling, others not. In general terms, I think all 5 of those conditions are necessary before one can even think about a military option. Compare those points to Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan and it is tough to explain how any of those wars met any of the above conditions (simplifying point 5 to the general case “strategic interest”).

Nonetheless, I have a great deal of sympathy for the one-point position “this is not our battle”.

Either way, I strongly oppose sending in US ground troops in any circumstances.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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