There are three scenarios when "no fly" zones are put in place. The first is when nations are at war and serve notice that they will not tolerate each other's aircraft flying over their respective airspaces. The second is when people are fleeing a military action between two or three belligerents and they need protection from aerial and local bombardment, and the third is when a superior force or forces institute(s) a full or partial no-fly zone over a country's territory to protect civilians on the ground from enemy aircraft on both sides of the conflict.
Ostensibly, Libya falls in the third category. Under the rubber stamp of the United Nations a coalition of western nations have attacked Libyan strong man and despot, Col. Muammar Gadhafi's aircraft, airports, anti-aircraft batteries, tanks and other military infrastructure to satisfy their own interpretation of the UN Security Council mandate. This fig-leaf of legality used to justify a militaristically punitive action using overwhelmingly superior force against a political pariah is fraught with as yet unknown dangers.
Libya and Gadhafi are no match for the military might of the United States, France -- the aggressive, gung-ho European power leading the charge -- England, "America Lite," Spain and a few other nations with two Arab lackey countries thrown in for good measure. President Barack Obama, sounding as arrogant and hawkish as former Republican President George Bush, has given Gadhafi a western-style "leave town before sundown" ultimatum harkening back to the grand old days of a belligerent imperial United States.
But while the military actions are couched in language that appears to justify the protection of Libya's civilians there is an essential fact that is not in dispute -- whenever a country or countries intervene in another one for whatever intensions or reasons, it (they) are intervening on the side of someone else. In the Libyan scenario the United States, France and Britain et al are doing so on the side and in favor of the rag-tag band of rebels that have no present capability either to oust the hated dictator or no history of political dexterity that would lead to the conclusion that they are better suited to run Libya if or when Gadaffi goes.
Ah, when fools rush in.
The reality on the ground is that these so-called rebel groups are co-joined at the hips only in their collective hatred of the Libyan despot and his cronies. They have been historically hostile toward each other and suffer from the traditional suspicion of Libyan tribes and various ethnic factions. So that even as President Obama and his "western allies" wax eloquently one time, and alternatively tough another time, they must know that battering Gadhafi and empowering the hodge-podge group against him is not a guarantee of political stability or western-style democracy.
Further, intervening on some suspect and spurious moral ground is just so much western hypocrisy. The western "democracies" motivation can be attributed to a mix of defending the concept of self-determination of all peoples to freedom and justice and the tactic support for a favored faction. Both are illogical. The overarching reaction to the so-called Arab Revolution (I favor the word "revolt") by the west is both naïve and simplistic because the reality of the situation on the ground is far more complex than law and order breakdown and enforcement in Libya.
True, there still is much regional unrest and different kinds of reactions by governments to these unrests. In Tunisia, where this domino effect started, the unrest spread to all sections and areas of the entire country making it impossible for the hated government to stay in power. By contrast, in Egypt the unrest that drove Hosni Mubarak from power was accomplished with little bloodshed and by limited involvement from many sections of the Egyptian working and laboring classes. It was easy for the army to contain the unrest and limit it to one very tiny sliver of Egyptian land. In many ways Egypt is a revolution deferred. The counter-revolution is gaining momentum.