Establishing a no-fly zone is substantially more than ordering your adversary to stop flying aircraft and helicopters over his own country. Establishing a no-fly zone is a substantial military venture requiring pre-emptive aerial action against your adversary's air assets to establish the no-fly zone.
Simply said, the adversary's air capability, in this case, Libya's, must be obliterated. This enables the enforcing power to fly patrols safely over the no-fly zone free from threats of attack.
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates explains a no-fly zone in this manner: "Let's just call a spade a spade. A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses. That's the way you do a no-fly zone. And then you can fly around the country and not worry about our guys being shot down. But that's the way it starts."
Libya, relatively speaking, is a big country and no doubt would require more aircraft for enforcement than are available at the present, certainly more than the aircraft of a single U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.
U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are expressing support for a no-fly zone to prevent Libyan jets and helicopters from attacking civilians and anti-Gadhafi rebel ground fighters. Sen. Kerry has ruled out the use of U.S. ground forces to unseat the Libyan dictator.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking at a Pentagon press conference, said that a no-fly zone would be "an extraordinarily complex operation to set up. Lots of people throw around the phrase of 'no-fly zone' and they talk about it as if it's just a game, a video game or something, and some people who throw that line out have no idea what they're talking about."
Meanwhile, rebel forces continue battling for military and diplomatic advantage against Moammar Gadhafi's regime.
France gave recognition to Libya's newly created Interim Governing Council last Thursday, saying it planned to exchange ambassadors after President Nicolas Sarkozy met with two representatives of the group based in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.
Commenting on France's recoginiton of Libya's new ruling authority, opposition spokesman Mustafa Gheriani said, "It breaks the ice. We expect Italy to do it, and we expect England to do it."
Following the United States' lead in freezing some $30 billion of Libya's assets, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, and other countries have also frozen Gadhafi's assets.
Fighting has intensified on the main front line between the Mediterranean oil port of Ras Lanuf and the city of Bin Jawwad where the rebels appear to have established better supply lines, enabling them to bring in heavy weapons, including multiple-rocket launching trucks.
A mix of defectors from Gadhafi's special forces have joined the civilian rebels in fighting the government forces some 12 miles west of Ras Lanuf, according to Yousef Fittori, a major in the opposition forces.
Red Cross President Jakob Kellenberger reported that local doctors over the past few days observed a sharp increase in casualties arriving at hospitals in Ajdabiya in the rebel-held east and Misrata in government territory. Both had undergone heavy fighting in addition to air strikes.
He said that 40 patients were treated for serious injuries in Misrata, and 22 dead were delivered there.
Gadhafi forces claimed victory in the west, recapturing Azzawiya, the city that had fallen into rebel hands.
As of Thursday, March 10, forces loyal to Gadhafi were clearly taking the upper hand against the rebel uprising that began in Benghazi three weeks ago. The euphoria that existed in the rebel capital a few weeks ago is giving way to fears of a drawn-out military conflict as Gadhafi lives up to his vow not to follow the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt into capitulating.
Libyan rebels have abandoned the strategic oil port of Ras Lanuf amid a barrage of fierce artilliary fire, air strikes, and rockets.
Hundreds of rebels left Ras Lanuf in cars and pickup trucks mounted with machine guns.
As Libyan rebels came under air strikes and heavy assault by forces loyal to Gadhafi, NATO Defense Minister and the American Defense Secretary Robert Gates agreed to tighten sanctions on Libya and called for Gadhafi to step down.
The new sanctions covered the Libyan investmemt authority and the country's central bank with the expectation that the sanctions could extend to the Libyan national oil company.
NATO's secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said that NATO military authorities were "considering a range of options," including humanitarian help, but that any move would be governed by three principles: a demonstrated need, a "clear legal basis" and strong support in the region.
"Each day, each hour, we have reports about new violence perpetrated by the regime against civilians, that is to say, by Col. Gadhafi against his own people," Mr. Rassmusen said. Despite his words, it remained unclear what, if anything, NATO would do, or whether there would be any kind of agreement.
This seems to be the way of the world today. The need for real leadership is everywhere apparent and yet the void is ever expanding.
There are enough international organizations in existence today to take the necessary action to stop Gadhafi from committing crimes against his own people. Some of these crimes may be approaching genocide.
E. Ralph Hostetter, a prominent businessman and agricultural publisher, also is a national and local award-winning columnist. He welcomes comments by email sent to email@example.com.
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