Friday, March 18, 2011

No Fly Zone Could Create Worst Case Scenario

Somewhat surprisingly (I had expected Russia and China to veto, instead they abstained, as did India, Brazil and Germany) the UN Security Council passed with a 10-0 vote a so-called "no fly zone" as well as other measures short of ground troops againt the Qadaffi regime.

While the authors behind the resolution may have good intentions, the effects could be to greatly aggravate the problems.

Given that the Qadaffi regime appears to have the upper hand against the rebels, the direct effect of actions against Qadaffi will be to prolong the civil war. That will both mean more civilian deaths and a more severe blow to the world economy because oil supplies will be disrupted for a longer time.

Meanwhile, while it is possible that this action could help the rebels win, it is also possible that Qadaffi may still prevail in the end. And given his anger over Western action against him, this could put him back in the terrorism sponsoring business, just like the 1986 American-British bombings led Qadaffi to blow up a plane over Lockerbie, Scotland.

So, the short-run effect of this half-measure could very well be to prolong the civil war, damaging both Libya and the rest of the world and the medium to long term effect could be to again make Libya a sponsor of Islamic terrorism like Iran.

The best solution would have been to stay out of this civil war, just like we stay out of the countless other civil wars around the world. But if we are to intervene, we should make sure that it leads to the total defeat of the group we're attacking. The kind of half-measure now proposed runs a high risk of leading to the worst of both worlds.

UPDATE: New surprise as Qadaffi announces cease fire. However, unless he is willing to resign, this will mean at most a temporary end to violence since the rebels won't accept a continued Qadaffi rule and Qadaffi son't accept rebel control over large parts of the country.