UPDATE 6:45 pm: The UNSC voted 10-0 for a no-fly zone. China, Russia, and Germany abstained.
UPDATE 5:45 pm: I guess when you go to war against someone, you have to demonize them, and it was so today with Secretary of State Clinton, who called Muammar Qaddafi a “creature,” while admitting that an NFZ over Libya would mean bombing the country. Said Clinton:
“A no-fly zone requires certain actions taken to protect the planes and the pilots, including bombing targets like the Libyan defense systems.… Qaddafi must go. [He is] a ruthless dictator that has no conscience and will destroy anyone or anything in his way. If Qaddafi does not go, he will just make trouble. That is just his nature. There are some creatures that are like that.”
UPDATE 4:00 pm: The UN Security Council is scheduled to vote around 6 pm today on Libya, and my guess is that the United States wouldn’t push for a vote unless they were sure that it would pass, i.e., that Russia and China won’t veto. The Guardian reports that military action will begin “within hours” of the vote at the UN. It adds:
“Britain, France and the US, along with several Arab countries, are to join forces to throw a protective ring around the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi as soon as a UN security council vote on military action is authorized, according to security council sources.”
UPDATE 12:15 pm: Russia’s President Medvedev has warned that Moscow won’t support a resolution at the United Nations that authorizes military action against Libya, though it appears that Russia, while skeptical of a no-fly zone, hasn’t ruled out supporting that. But he warned that the resolution that the United States seeks would permit all-out war. “The draft resolution proposes permitting ground operations. But you and I understand what ground operations mean: they probably mean the beginning of war, and not civil war but war involving an international contingent," said Medvedev.
“In terms of military effectiveness, the best option would be one combining limited air strikes against regime air and ground forces, the creation of no-fly and no-drive zones, and the insertion of ground forces to bolster rebel defenses in the east. This would best be carried out by a coalition of forces from the United States, NATO, and one or more Arab states (perhaps Egypt). Such an approach could be initiated rapidly and escalated in stages if necessary. Intervention on this level would likely cause the rapid collapse of government forces in the east, with forces in the west succumbing more gradually. In political terms, however, this option would be difficult to green-light.