Paul Lachine

A No-Fly Zone for Libya

The world must take concrete steps now to implement a no-fly zone immediately if Muammar el-Qaddafi starts using his airpower to kill large numbers of Libyan civilians. The US and the world community should also make clear – as in Bosnia and Kosovo – that they are taking a stand against a thug who is killing Muslims.

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.

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