A No-Fly Zone for Libya
WASHINGTON, DC – Leaders around the world are vigorously debating the advisability of establishing a no-fly zone to stop the violence unfolding in Libya. Some cite Bosnia, where NATO took too long to protect civilian populations in the mid-1990’s, as a reason to act. Others remember Rwanda, where President Bill Clinton later expressed regret for not acting to save innocent lives. But the stakes in Libya today are more appropriately underscored by the tragedy in southern Iraq in the waning days of the Persian Gulf War 20 years ago.
As coalition forces were routing the Iraqi army in February 1991, President George H.W. Bush encouraged the Iraqi people to “take matters into their hands to force Saddam Hussein the dictator to step aside.” When Iraqi Shiites, Kurds, and Marsh Arabs rebelled against Hussein, they believed that American forces would protect them against their brutal dictator’s superior firepower.
Instead, when Iraqi attack helicopters and elite troops began butchering their own people, coalition forces were ordered to stand down. The world watched as thousands of Iraqis were slaughtered.