There is a fine line of when a boxing referee should call a fight. If he acts too soon, he may be found to be meddling in the fight, but if he acts too late, he risks getting one of the boxers killed.
If the U.N. Security Council is trying to be a referee in the fight for Libya, they waited way too long to call this fight.
Follow the latest developments in Libya at CBSNews.com.
The U.N. Security council voted on Thursday to approve a no-fly zone over Libya. Overall, this idea would have the potential to make a huge difference in the rebellion’s ability to overthrow the despotic Moammar Gaddafi, if it had been made a few weeks ago.
The headlines from Libya have been quite different over the last week than they were in the beginning of the uprising. Instead of news of the uprising finding success in every town but Tripoli, the news has been about the enemies of Gaddafi being crushed by far superior weapons and forces.
Establishing a no-fly zone now that Gaddafi can finish his dirty work with ground forces is like locking the candy store from the hungry hordes after they’re already inside.
Gaddafi has already used his air superiority to crush the rebellion. Taking away the airspace at this point is a moot point.
So, if this fighting has been so one sided, why would the U.N. take this long to act and why does this seal the fate for the rebellion?
The simple answer is of the first question is that the success of Egypt and Tunisia spoiled the U.N. and they were too optimistic about Gaddafi being defeated by his own people. The U.N. was hoping they would never have to get involved.
But this isn’t entirely about the U.N.’s generally misplaced optimism. This is also about China and Russia who abstained from the vote on the no-fly zone, but were also the main hurdles of it going through before now.
China and Russia aren’t necessarily allies with Gaddafi, but they are both okay with the West not getting its way. The effect on oil prices hasn’t saddened Russia either.
In answering the second question, this seals the fate of the rebellion because the U.N.’s delay now makes possible the very worst scenario.
With the no-fly zone in place, Gaddafi can pretend to pursue a ceasefire while he systematically does whatever he wants to on the ground. Remember the key element of the U.N. resolution is that no ground forces may be deployed. At this point, Gaddafi doesn’t need his air force since his ground forces can be much more methodical about eliminating the rebels. By taking the upper hand in the air while the U.N. decided what to do, Gaddafi can now park his jets and simply impose his will on the ground.
Since they waited too long to tilt the fight, but are getting involved now that Gaddafi doesn’t need air superiority, the suffering of the rebels who have already died may be in vain.
For the record, I hope I am completely wrong about this one. I hope the no-fly zone turns the tide and the next time we hear from Gaddafi is from his new home in exile.
All I am saying is that the delay from the U.N. may prove that trying to do the right thing way too late in the game, is exactly the wrong thing to do.
About The Blogger
- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.