As to the feasibility of a no-fly zone, I pointed out several weeks ago what I couldn't avoid noticing on two brief visits to Libya: The entire country is in effect a long strip of coastline, with a vast hinterland of desert, bordering a sea, where the strongest force by far is the Sixth Fleet. This elementary point has been taken up and elaborated in a very considered—one might almost call it realist—Wall Street Journal article by James Thomas and Zachary Cooper. These two experts at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments emphasize that "[u]nlike in the Balkans and Iraq, Libya's most populated cities and airbases are situated near its coastline, with most situated less than 10 miles from the shore" (my italics). This sheer geographical fact gives us the option of using ship- and aircraft-based missiles without sending any planes into Libyan airspace, what the authors call a "stand-off no-fly zone."-Ignore the "realists." If we do nothing, the situation in Libya can only get worse.
I’m not a fan of Christopher Hitchens. I found this absurdly decontextualized piece by Hitchens, written for Vanity Fair in 2007, all but fawning over the dictatorial delights of Tunisia–people can hold hands, so it’s okay if they can’t vote–and was especially amused by this passage:
Mongia Souaihi cheerfully explained to me the many reasons why the veil is not authorized by the Koran and why she is in danger for drawing this conclusion in print. “The fundamentalists from overseas have declared me to be kuffar—an unbeliever.” This I know to be dangerous, because a Muslim who has once been declared to be an apostate is also a person who can be sentenced to death. “Which fundamentalists? And from where overseas?” “Rachid Ghannouchi, from London.” Oh no, not again. If you saw my “Londonistan” essay, in the June Vanity Fair, you will know that fanatics who are unwelcome in Africa and Arabia are allowed an astonishing freedom in the United Kingdom.
Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda (Renaissance Party) has long been symbolized by Rachid Ghannouchi, among the most liberal Islamists in the world. His opinions would certainly not jive with those of hardline Islamists in places like Pakistan. Yet here is Hitchens, taking at face value the word of a professor who certainly serves at the pleasure of one of the most politically oppressive states in the world, talking smack about a religious figure who is identified as an enemy of the state.-Why Christopher Hitchens Writes About Things He Doesn’t Understand: Tunisia, Islam, and Sources