In the abstract, the term "no-fly zone" sounds benign, almost peaceful, like a schoolyard peacemaker stepping between two fists-drawn belligerents. All so easy.
No, the world’s civilized governments could not watch idly as Moammar Gadhafi’s military, on the ground and in the air, indiscriminately murdered thousands of his own country’s civilians, any more than we could have observed from the sidelines if Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (does he now regret stepping aside?) ordered his military to attack those in Tahrir Square. In an age of instantaneous messaging, where foreign and military policy seems another reality television show, this would have somehow been too much to bear.
Darfur, not so much; Bahrain, our “interests” -- oil, hospitality to our troops, perhaps another Mubarak-like “solution” -- override our humanitarianism.
Gadhafi is no Mubarak, the former publicly swearing that “no mercy” would be demonstrated to Libyans who innocently stood in the way, let alone ragtag rebels who bravely, if somewhat naively, seek his head. For several weeks the world looked to the United States: Would we, the indispensable power, intervene?