With the Gadhafi regime’s warplanes still launching occasional attacks on the protester-controlled cities across the nation, international calls for a “no-fly” zone continue to emerge, with prospects of a unilateral US imposition and a NATO version touted as possible means for keeping the jets out of the skies.
But while some US officials seem eager to launch such a plan, there is a split not just amongst NATO member nations, but the US leadership as well over what is being called an extremely serious move.
“Let’s just call a spade a spade. A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya,” noted Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Indeed, others say such a move would require mass attacks on anti-aircraft defenses first and foremost, and since those assets are mostly under the control of the protest movement, it would mean the US attacking anti-Gadhafi protesters.
The Arab League seems to be asserting itself as a darkhorse candidate for imposing such a no-fly zone as well, though whether the organization could even pull off such a measure or not is very much in doubt, as military officials say a no-fly zone would require enormous amounts of air power.
Such a zone “requires more airplanes than you would find on a single aircraft carrier,” noted Gates. And while that’s probably not a physaical obstacle for NATO, particularly with Europe so close to the Libyan coast, the costs and ramifications of such a move are likely underappreciated.
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