The Arab League and the No-Fly Zone

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After a mere 24 hours, the Arab League is already reconsidering its support for a no-fly zone over Libya:

The Arab League secretary general, Amr Moussa, deplored the broad scope of the U.S.-European bombing campaign in Libya and said Sunday that he would call a league meeting to reconsider Arab approval of the Western military intervention.

Moussa said the Arab League’s approval of a no-fly zone on March 12 was based on a desire to prevent Moammar Gaddafi’s air force from attacking civilians and was not designed to endorse the intense bombing and missile attacks — including on Tripoli, the capital, and on Libyan ground forces — whose images have filled Arab television screens for two days.

Most of the commentary I’ve seen about this has basically consisted of derision: either of the Arab League itself, for doing a U-turn so fast, or of the Obama adminstration, for believing that the Arab League was ever likely to maintain its support in the face of a genuine military effort.

But I’d rein in the mockery a bit. Moussa is right, after all: aside from taking out Libya’s anti-aircraft capability, Operation Odyssey Dawn has turned out to be a major assault anchored by dozens of ships, B-2 stealth bombers, Marine Harrier jets, Tomahawk cruise-missile strikes, and attacks by French and British fighters. This may or may not be necessary to accomplish whatever it is that the coalition is trying to accomplish (that’s less than clear at the moment), but it really does go pretty far beyond what the Arab League thought it was signing up for.

For more on all things Libya, see our continually updated Libya explainer here.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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