What the No-Fly Zone in Iraq Reveals about the Challenges in Libya

Daniel L. Byman
Daniel L. Byman
Daniel L. Byman Director and Professor, Security Studies Program - Georgetown University, Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Center for Middle East Policy

March 25, 2011

Facing a brutal Arab dictator who wouldn’t budge, the president declared: “The best way to address that threat” is through a new government “that is committed to represent and respect its people, not repress them.”

Those were not the words of President Obama this past week, though he has repeatedly said that Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi must go. Instead, that was a statement that President Bill Clinton made in 1998, when he openly embraced the goal of removing Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from power.

In the years between the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the start of its successor in 2003, the United States and its allies set up no-fly and no-drive zones for Iraq, imposed economic sanctions, bombed Iraqi military forces and otherwise engaged in actions that look a lot like the limited war the Obama administration is helping wage against Qaddafi’s regime today.

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