The United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 1973 last night, authorizing international forces (Britain, France, and the other new, non-golfing Leaders of the Free World) to set up a no-fly zone, and take “all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas.”
This morning, Libya’s foreign minister declared a cease-fire. This was, understandably, cause for celebration among the surviving rebels, camped in cities that were about to be reduced to rubble. “We think Qaddafi’s forces will not advance against us,” rebel Colonel Salah Osman told the Associated Press.
Colonel Osman went on to say “Our morale is very high now… I think we have the upper hand.” That assessment has a certain Baghdad Bob quality to it. Qaddafi has rolled the rebels back to a couple of cities, and was poised to exterminate them. He doesn’t have to kill every last one of them immediately to secure victory. There were uneasy elements in Libya, particularly in the rebel capital of Benghazi, before this uprising started. Dictatorial power requires the suppression of dissidents, not their absence.
If I were Col. Osman’s troops, I wouldn’t be too quick to embrace that cease-fire. As I write this, Reuters says shells are still falling on the rebel city of Misurata. I would be leery of new rules of engagement for the government’s forces that say “don’t shoot until you see the whites of their flags.”
Qaddafi has every reason to declare a cease-fire now. Remember when the White House squeaked that he had “lost all legitimacy” as a ruler? Well, he’s got it back. Dictators brew legitimacy from blood and tears.
The U.N.’s very tardy declaration of a no-fly zone is a good thing, if it saved lives that would otherwise have been lost over the weekend. However, it also saves Qaddafi the trouble of razing cities that he’d rather not reduce to rubble. He’s not going to be terribly upset by news that he doesn’t have to pull out any more of his own teeth.
Qaddafi is in a very good position to play the new game of international diplomacy, which is like “Pin the Tail on the Donkey,” except everyone else will be wearing a blindfold. The BBC reports one of his psychotic sons is already whining that “the [no-fly zone] resolution was unfair as Libya had not been bombing civilians.” Of course they weren’t! They were exterminating the pill-popping drug slaves of al-Qaeda, some of whom were women and children.
Everything the Libyan dictator says from now on will be meant for consumption within his own country and the Middle East, not the ears of an international community that finally roused itself to action just in time to ratify his victory. Any rebel who tries taking up arms from this point forward will be violating U.N. resolutions and Qaddafi’s merciful cease-fire. The revolution is over. The cops showed up after Qaddafi beat his disobedient “family” half to death… prompting him to sigh in exasperation, pull out his wallet, and ask how much it will cost to make this whole unpleasant affair go away.