Late yesterday afternoon, within minutes of the U.N. resolution calling for the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya aimed at stopping Muammar Gaddafi from killing his own people by the truckload, the usual suspects on the left began their wailing and gnashing of teeth. It was a reaction you could've seen coming from six football fields away -- an almost giddy and irrepressible need to immediately proclaim that the neo-cons were at it again and the U.S. would soon be embroiled in a lengthy war with an Arabic country.
Well, this morning there's this:
CSM: Libya Declares Ceasefire as Leaders Move for Military Strikes/3.18.11
Yes, it took less than 24-hours under the specter of having seven or eight countries participate in turning his fighter jets into scrap for Gaddafi to back down, at least for the moment. Why? Because he's had the living crap bombed out of his country before and for all of his bluster he doesn't want to see it happen again. I'd like to believe that some of the world's smarter leaders -- particularly of the military variety -- knew this in advance and understood that there are some cases in which the mere threat of overwhelming and unequivocal military retaliation gets the job done. I hate to sound reactionary here, but despite our recent folly in the Middle East the ability to wield the proverbial big stick does still have the potential to do some good, particularly when a substantial portion of the rest of the world happens to agree with the use of it.
Of course I'm not naive enough to think that Gaddafi isn't playing the only hand he has at the moment and this whole miasma is far from over, but it's important to remember that he follows a very specific and predictable psychology -- that of the despot whose only goals are to remain in power and stay alive. He knows that the rebels trying to oust him -- and he will eventually be ousted -- will be a lot less effective without the might of the U.S. and Europe's military behind them. He also knows that with the help of the U.S. and Europe's military, he could very well be dead by the end of next week.