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Date: March 28, 2012
Time: 05:32 AM
Personally, I regard the dciiinttson between an NFZ and an invasion as specious. If you occupy another jurisdiction's airspace,then that is an invasion, even if there are no boots on the ground. The May 2003 COW events in Iraq were not an invasion but an escalation, IMO.For most of human history, wars were fought without aircraft and at quite close quarters. It's understandable then that most people think of an invasion as occupation of terrain. Here though it is very clear that the enforcers of the NFZ are acting in concert with local forces on the ground, in an attempt to have one of the parties to the conflict defeat the other, however much they may hide behind the the obligation to protect . Given that the Gaddhafi forces are shelling population centres with heavy artillery, the dciiinttson between protecting civilians and acting at the TNC's air wing was always going to be hard to maintain. As long as the regime exists, it is clear that civilians will be in harm's way.The problem is a domestic political one in that the parties to the NFZ want to avoid mission creep. They do not want troops coming back dead or being captured and paraded. They want to maintain a quick and simple exit strategy. So long as this image can be maintained, the politicians backing the NATO-led forces can probably get away with it for the moment.It's worth noting though that they have a very significant investment in a speedy defeat of Gaddhafi. If that happens and a new and apparently legitimate regime rapidly coalesces in Tripoli, Obama and Cameron will have been vindicated in the eyes of most British and Americans. The tricky thing then would be what happens in places like Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and of course the Occupied Territories, for a precedent would have been set. Obama has tried very hard to cast this exercise in terms of its peculiarities, precisely in order to avoid being bound to act similarly elsewhere, but it is far from clear that this is how most in the Middle East will see matters. And of course if things go wrong in Libya and that only needs to be a protracted and expensive stalemate with a significant daily death toll then that is not going to play out well for Obama and Cameron at all.