Virginia M. Moncrieff Headshot

The Libyan No Fly Zone and the Delay of Democracy

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The no-fly zone is denying the Libyan people their right to self determination. That may seem like the oddest statement, but watching the grass roots, home cooked and home grown revolutions over the past weeks and months, it has become obvious that now is the time for the Arab Spring.

Putting aside the muddled thinking about the endgame and outcomes of a no fly zone (can some one tell me please, what happens after its allegedly "over"?), and the mixed messages we are getting from the coalition forces - this is about regime change, this isn't about regime change...... there are also issues about the foundations of free societies that need considering.

Throughout the Mid East people have shown extraordinary courage and determination to be part of a movement that has exploded spontaneously (in some cases) and after years of suppressed opposition and bloody tyranny. This is a moment. This is their moment.

It's surprising then that so many who decried the Iraqi war and other Western interventions have supported the Libyan no-fly zone. It is, they say, unconscionable to watch Libyans being slaughtered. The no fly zone will not -- has not -- prevented further bloodshed. It also cannot fight the fight that leads to democracy and emancipation for Libyans.

Democracy rarely -- if ever -- comes without a bloody fight. Freedom fighters understand that -- embrace that -- and launch determined battles knowing that death is a constant threat. It's part of the process, and inescapable if the outcome is to have meaning sovereignty and durability.

I lived in Burma last decade and had many frustrating discussions with Burmese friends and colleagues who thought that the answer to their situation was an invasion by America. They watched in awe as George W Bush bigfooted his way round the world. Why won't he invade us, many lamented. We need rescuing! Why don't you do it yourself? I would ask. It will be hard and heartbreaking and bloody and long but it will work, it will work.

And this is what we have seen in Egypt and Yemen and Bahrain and Libya. Brave and determined people who want what is rightfully theirs and are fighting and dying for it. It is shocking to watch and it is also heartening and inspiring to watch.

This is a home-grown revolution that should be played out by the people, for the people. They will fight, they will die, but they will win.