Arm the Libyan Rebels to Fight Gadhafi


Mar 24, 2011

This commentary originally appeared on CNN on March 24, 2011.

The no-fly zone and air strikes on military targets of the Gadhafi regime bear close parallels to events in Bosnia in autumn, 1995, when NATO air strikes and the threat of further attacks halted the Bosnian Serb military onslaught against Bosnian Muslim targets.

If effective, the international action might prevent the Gadhafi forces from crushing the rebellion in Libya, but it will not end the conflict.

The Gadhafi regime retains overwhelming military superiority over the Benghazi-based Interim National Council. Unless the military imbalance is redressed, Gadhafi will retain the ability to threaten or renew his attacks on his opposition. As long as this situation persists, international military involvement in Libya—to enforce the no-fly zone and prevent ground attacks by Gadhafi's forces—will likely have to continue.

What the United States did in Bosnia might hold the key for an effective response to the crisis in Libya. In Bosnia, the United States sought to redress the military balance, which since the onset of the war in 1992 had heavily favored the Bosnian Serb army....

The remainder of this op-ed can be found at

Angel M. Rabasa, a member of the Bosnia Train and Equip Task Force in the early 1990s, is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corp., a nonprofit institution whose mission is to help improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis.

More About This Commentary

Commentary gives RAND researchers a platform to convey insights based on their professional expertise and often on their peer-reviewed research and analysis.