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Foreign Policy

West all at sea over Libya

Apr 10 , 2011

It has been a while since Western forces launched air strikes on Libyan government forces. But it is a pity that they have not yet taken any measure to address the matters of uncertainty that go with such military operations.

On March 17, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1973, authorizing member states to "take all necessary measures" to protect civilians but exclude "a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory". The Security Council decided to establish a no-fly zone over Libya, too, to protect civilians.

On March 19 after a meeting in Paris, Western countries, including the United States, Britain and France, began aerial attacks on Libyan government forces.

The Western forces now claim to have made some headway. According to the US military, the coalition forces have damaged Libya's air force and air defense systems, and effectively established a "no-fly zone" over the country.

Libyan rebel forces have weathered the attacks of the government forces and already begun counterattacks. Besides, NATO has taken full command of the military action from the US.

Such "headway" is a performance-enhancing drug for the coalition forces. Shortly after the military action began, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told reporters: "The destruction of (Libyan leader Muammar) Gadhafi's military capacity is a matter of days or weeks, certainly not months, (although) you can't expect us to achieve our objective in just five days." He sounded quite assured, as if matters of uncertainty did not even exist.

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Gong Shaopeng is a professor of international politics at China Foreign Affairs University.

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