March 8, 2011
Point Of No Return: U.S. And NATO Prepare For War With Libya
March 7 was a pivotal moment in plans by Western powers to launch military operations against Libya.
In an interview she gave to The Australian newspaper immediately before her departure for the U.S., Gillard stated that she supported the "US placing more military forces on Australian soil if it believes this is necessary in the light of the growing might of China and India." Her government is also on record as backing military action in Libya.
On the same day North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen held a press conference at the military bloc's headquarters in Brussels and while formally disavowing plans to intervene in the North African nation said that "as a defence Alliance and a security organisation, it is our job to conduct prudent planning for any eventuality."
"We can see a strong wind of change blowing across the region -- and it is blowing in the direction of freedom and democracy."
"This is a humanitarian crisis on our door-step that concerns us all. The civilian population in Libya is the target of systematic attacks by the regime. So we must remain vigilant. The whole world is watching events in Libya and the wider Middle East. Many of our Allies have been evacuating their nationals and helping other people in need. We strongly condemn the use of force against the Libyan people. The violation of human rights and international humanitarian law is outrageous."
Rasmussen also announced that the defense ministers of NATO's 28 member states, including American Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, will meet at NATO Headquarters on March 10-11 to "discuss the situation in Libya, and the longer term prospects for the region" and to "consider how NATO can do more to help partner countries in North Africa and the wider Middle East."  NATO partnership nations include Libya's neighbors to the east and west, Egypt and Tunisia, members of the Alliance's Mediterranean Dialogue.
Almost simultaneously, the U.S. permanent representative to NATO, Netherlands-born Ivo Daalder, informed reporters that on the same day NATO military planners had completed an assessment for enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya in time for the defense chiefs meeting three days later and had decided to conduct around-the-clock air surveillance of the country using AWACS aircraft. The no-fly operation assessment had been presented to the ambassadors of NATO's 28 members, who planned to meet again on March 8 and 9 to deliberate on the issue.
Daalder also stated that "In coming days, military assessments should be completed into a no-fly zone and how to enforce an arms embargo." 
In 1995 Operation Deny Flight gave way to Operation Deliberate Force, directed against the Republika Srpska with 400 aircraft flying 3,515 missions against 338 targets. Daalder also supported the U.S. and British no-fly zone over Iraq in the 1990s and in 2006 co-authored an article for Foreign Affairs, journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, entitled "Global NATO" in which he applauded the military alliance's role in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Darfur region of western Sudan.  At the time the article appeared many in the U.S. were calling for a replication of the no-fly operations employed over Iraq, Bosnia and later Yugoslavia for Sudan.
Daalder criticized his then-former chief President Bill Clinton in 1999 for not introducing ground troops into Kosovo in conjunction with the 78-air war the U.S. and NATO mercilessly prosecuted against the nation.