As Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi’s forces ramp up their attacks on rebel fighters, talks in the U.S. of a no-fly zone over the country are intensifying as well.
Washington needs to look carefully at the crisis instead of impulsively implementing a no-fly zone just to do something. Rather than giving the appearance of action while not making policy, the U.S. would do better to actually show leadership in the situation.
Qadhafi’s air force is just one factor—and a limited one at that. The aged and poorly maintained planes, mostly from the former Soviet Union and France, were fewer than 400 at the beginning of this crisis—many of those not operational. In addition, reports of pilots with poor skills further bring the effectiveness of Libya’s air power into doubt.
The tragic loss of life at the hand of Qadhafi’s corrupt regime deserves more from the international community than a gesture. Before jumping in to impose an expensive and possibly ineffective action, we need a plan, Mr. President—one that matches America’s interests with an appropriate measure of American leadership.